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District lines opposed

Bronx Times

Leaders in Morris Park are up in arms over the recently proposed State Assembly lines that would effectively divide the community in half, therefore reducing the community’s voice..

Under the Legislative Task Force of Demographic Research and Reapportionment redistricting plans for the 80th and 82nd Assembly districts, that were made public on Thursday, January 26, the center of Morris Park, an area roughly bound by Tenbroeck, Radcliff, Morris Park, and Sackett avenues will be removed from the 80th Assembly district, represented by Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, and placed into the 82nd Assembly district, currently represented by Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, said Morris Park Community Association president Al D’Angelo.

The move will diminish the political power of the MPCA because it divides the community, D’Angleo stated. A group of concerned Morris Park residents and business leaders are collecting petition signatures opposing the proposed district lines, and a group is headed to the LATFOR hearing on Tuesday, January 31 at the Bronx Museum at 1040 Grand Concourse to voice their opposition. LATFOR is the commission in charge of district apportionment for Congressional, Senate, and Assembly districts in response to the 2010 Census.

“What seems to be happening is a diminishing of the power of this community,” D’Angelo said. “You have organizations that speak for this community, and when you diminish their power, you diminish the voice of the people,” D’Angelo stated. “We are not going to go quietly. This community is not going to be cut up. They are not going to buffalo this community.”

The MPCA is concerned that under the proposed district lines, elected officials, however capable, will not be as quick to react when the community makes a request because a smaller portion of their district will be in Morris Park, D’Angelo said. Neither he, nor the association have anything against the current elected officials, D’Angelo stated.

“To just divide up a community for political reasons is not acceptable,” D’Angelo said. “These lines are the politician’s will, and not the people’s will, and that is not right. The politicians work for us.”

The 80th Assembly district would also now include a portion of Pelham Gardens and Allerton that was previously part of the 82nd Assembly district in the proposed plan, D’Angleo stated. He is especially concerned because he has seen the impact that dividing representation has had on Van Nest.

The Morris Park Business Alliance is also stanchly opposed to the new lines, said its president, Robert Ruggiero. Since the Alliance was founded in 2007, it has faced an uphill battle in dealing with several different state electeds, particularly in the Van Nest community.

“The damage done to the Van Nest community due to decades of turf battles between politicians is reprehensible,” Ruggiero stated. “Unresponsive political figures disregard the most basic support services available to them knowing that the community will pressure the assistance needed from the neighboring political figure. Now we’re going to spread that poison around the St. Francis Xavier parish and alienate it from the rest of its community to what positive purpose?”

These new assembly district lines represent a major shift in power, said community leader Mark Gjonaj, who called the changes “ludicrous.”

The new lines take a perfectly strong community and divides it to satisfy the needs of elected officials, and takes redistricting to a level where politicians can choose the community they represent, Gjonaj stated.

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