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NYS Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos objects Redistricting Reform


Now the world knows exactly what state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos‘ word is worth. Bupkis.

Last fall, Skelos gave former Mayor Ed Koch his solemn, written pledge to support a ban on partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts. This would be a critical step toward bringing real democracy to Albany.

Skelos’ vow gained him a “Hero of Reform” halo from Koch’s New York Uprising campaign – and no doubt helped the GOP retake control of the Senate on Election Day.

But yesterday, Skelos made plain to Koch and to all New Yorkers that he has absolutely no intention of keeping his promise.

His message to voters: You screwed up. You trusted me.

By way of excusing his blatant weaseling, Skelos claims to believe that delegating map-drawing duties to an independent, bipartisan commission – which is what he pledged to do – raises unspecified “constitutional concerns.” Funny, he never mentioned that back in October.

He also mewls that the commission proposed by Gov. Cuomo would be stacked against Republicans – because the governor and Democratic legislative leaders would fill six of eight seats.

But that objection went pfft when, as Koch reports, Cuomo offered to share two of his picks with the Senate GOP.

Don’t be distracted by these smoke screens. Skelos’ real motives could not be more obvious: He’s desperate to save his Republican Senate majority against rising Democratic registration by drawing district lines to his advantage. A little thing like a bond with voters won’t get in his way.

Fortunately, Skelos’ broken word is not the last word. His fellow Republicans, all 31 of them, signed Koch’s pledge, too – and they have the power to override his shameless anti-reform obstructionism.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – who didn’t join Koch’s campaign, but now supports reform – can also head off any return to gerrymandering.

Even if the whole Legislature follows Skelos’ weaselly pawprints, Cuomo has veto authority to stop them.

Koch – bless his soul – isn’t letting any of them off the hook. He’s planning robocalls to constituents of turncoat Republicans to let them know what liars their representatives are.

Good for him. Rarely in history has a politician been more naked about backtracking on a commitment to voters than Skelos has. For the good of the state, he cannot get away with it.

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