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Thank Progressives for New NY Congressional Districts

And more links to be grateful for this Wednesday.

A rainbow over New York City
(Hell Gate)

On Tuesday, New York's Court of Appeals, led by Chief Judge Rowan Wilson, ordered the state to redraw its congressional districts ahead of the 2024 election, in a 4-3 ruling. The Independent Redistricting Commission has until February 28, 2024 to set new district boundaries across the state—boundaries with the potential to flip two to six seats in the House of Representatives currently held by Republicans  to the Dems, a move that could shift control of the House. 

It's a big potential win for the national Democratic establishment—and one that probably wouldn't have been possible without decisive action from several of the state's DSA-affiliated State Senators earlier this year, who were the first to oppose Governor Kathy Hochul's more centrist nominee to lead the Court of Appeals, Judge Hector LaSalle, with the backing of prominent labor unions. 

To rewind a little bit—in 2014, the New York state constitution was amended to take the power to draw congressional districts away from the courts and place it into the hands of a nominally bipartisan body, the Independent Redistricting Commission (a signature Cuomo administration accomplishment). But that commission failed to draw those new districts in 2022, when the commission deadlocked. The state's Democrats had passed a law that would allow the legislature to step in and draw districts if the commission failed to do so—a law that was struck down as gerrymandering by the Court of Appeals, then led by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who's notably more conservative than the court's current chief judge. Control of the district lines went back to the state court system, and the resulting boundaries led to Republican victories in several districts that voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Now, the IRC is getting a second chance to draw district lines, thanks to a Wilson-led Court of Appeals.

"[Democrats] got Rowan Wilson and of course they were hoping that with the new Chief Judge, they would get a better result with regard to the redistricting," Albany Law School professor Vin Bonventre told City & State. "And that is exactly what they got." 

But how did they "get" Wilson in the first place? Through an organizing campaign by leftists and progressive Dems that applied unprecedented pressure on state legislators to vote against Hochul's initial nominee for Wilson's role, LaSalle. As City & State reported earlier this year, the campaign picked up steam as some of the state's most powerful labor unions began applying pressure to the governor and state representatives before LaSalle was even formally nominated, with DSA-endorsed State Senators Jabari Brisport, Kristen Gonzalez, and Julia Salazar were the first state legislators to publicly oppose LaSalle. We all know what happened next—LaSalle eventually became the first-ever Court of Appeals nominee that the State Senate rejected, and Wilson took the chief judge role with comparatively little drama. 

Now, that organizing campaign is bearing fruit for Democrats, despite the fact that many mainstream Dems showed little public support for the anti-LaSalle campaign until his rejection was pretty nigh-on inevitable.

Of course, the redistricting process won't be perfect—there are already rumblings about the fact that the IRC's chair, Ken Jenkins, works for Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who announced his run against incumbent Congressman Jamaal Bowman earlier this month and who has said that Bowman favors the "national stage" over the needs of his district. But it could be taken as a signal to the state Democratic establishment that, hey, maybe progressive legislators are worth listening to and shouldn't be systematically pushed out of office? Just a thought.

More New York-centric food for thought below:

  • A high school on Long Island is extremely grateful to the Suffolk County Police Department for its swift investigation into the fact that an off-duty cop accidentally left a loaded gun in one of the school's bathrooms.
  • This alleged mobster's attorney says his client is too old for prison.
  • Not to make you paranoid or anything, but a brand of weed gummies sold in licensed New York dispensaries just got recalled because they didn't undergo proper testing.
  • The MTA is promising a new, better bus system for beleaguered Queens commuters.
  • New Christmas-themed recession indicator just dropped.
  • The makers of a fake COVID-protection "shield"—boosted in the past by then-future Sheriff Anthony Miranda—will have to pay $150,000 after settling a Federal Trade Commission complaint.
  • "[City contractor] DocGo receives up to $33 a day per migrant for providing three meals a day for each of the roughly 4,000 migrants in its care. From Oct. 22 to Nov. 10, more than 70,000 meals were recorded by DocGo as being 'wasted,' according to internal company records obtained by The Times."
  • Eric Adams hired the head of a political consulting firm that's also worked with Bill de Blasio, Eliot Spitzer, and Adams's 2021 mayoral campaign to lead fundraising for his legal defense fund.
  • I guess the person behind the official New York State Twitter account is a Swiftie...?
  • "Excited delirium"-induced delirium has hit New York police training materials.
  • An 11-year-old migrant from Venezuela reportedly died by suicide in an Upper West Side shelter.
  • The City Council is expected to vote on a bill that would ban solitary confinement on Rikers Island—advocates hope as soon as next week.
  • And finally, some advice for New York Republicans from the outer limits of their party:
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