With the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a major piece of the Voting Rights Act involving federal oversight, not just the South, but the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan are also affected.
They’ve also been under VRA monitoring since the early 1970s, with any redistricting or other political changes all subject to Justice Department review.
With at least two-thirds of the borough’s voting age population minority, there haven’t been any major problems – yet.
For the Bronx Democratic Party, the court’s ruling “just means it makes life simpler,” said one high-ranking Dem organization member.
““Some of the bureaucratic stuff we had to deal with won’t be missed. Now, when we’re trying to get polling sites moved, changing the boundaries of an election district, there’s one less hoop to jump through.”
And, they argued, “It doesn’t mean opening ourselves up to discrimination. It’s still one person, one vote.”
But there IS a potential dark side to that, said noted election law attorney Henry Berger, who has handled a number of Bronx cases.
“Every change, no matter how small, has consequences. If you move a polling place in a minority neighborhood three or four blocks away, maybe across a busy highway, you make it harder for some people to actually get to the polls. Now they have free reign to do it.”
Unless Congress steps in to adjust the legislation, Berger said the court’s ruling will have its biggest impact on redistricting in 2021.
For example, if Rep. Joe Crowley were to wind up back in the Queens half of his district (Joe LOVES the Bronx, so don’t read anything into this), his current east Bronx territory would be considered a Hispanic seat, with one savvy political operative noting “You’d probably see [Borough President] Ruben Diaz running for it.”
Or maybe a cabeza-a-cabeza contest between Ruben and ex-BP Adolfo Carrion – if AC doesn’t win for mayor on the Independence Party line, of course….
Whether its democracy or lack of the Dem Party keeping its troops in line, Bronx Democratic electeds are all over the farm on endorsing mayoral candidates.
Latest to place his bet, northeast Bronx Councilman Andy King, joining Parkchester/West Farms Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda backing Bill De Blasio.
The party, read that Party Boss Carl (The Silent One) Heastie, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. are backing Bill Thompson, while a host of City Councilmembers are paying their dues by not biting the hand that feeds them and supporting Council Speaker Chris (Rosie) Quinn.
But with the new city budget passing and member allocations decided, you can bet some of the more sheepish councilmembers now out from under Quinn’s retaliatory thumb, will finally be naming their favorite mayoral wannabes.
Or as west Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who has opposed Quinn over legislation in the past, put it to the Politicker blog:
“I didn’t expect anyone to get cut this year. It’s an election year. The press would have buried her.”
RUNNING FOR OFFICE
And speaking of running for office, Andy King recently opened his new district office in Co-op City June 19.
King is running for his first full four-year term. He won his seat in the 12th C.D. covering Williamsbridge/Wakefield and environs in a special election to fill out the term of ex-councilman Larry Seabrook, currently a guest of the federal Bureau of Prisons.
The district office is at 135 Einstein Loop, Room # 44, and will be open to the public from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
It’s been a bumpy road, but the borough’s gay and lesbian has been making a dramatic resurgence, with both Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Bronx Democratic Party joining the Bronx LGBT contingent at the Sunday, June 30 Heritage of Pride Parade in Manhattan – not that it also couldn’t hurt come election time.
The Bronx LGBT front took a major hit a few years back when Lisa Winters, executive director of the Bronx Communith Pride Center, was arrested and recently sentenced for dipping into the group’s finances.
Major props to Lew Goldstein, leader, spokesman, advocate and exec board member at the Bronx Democratic County Committee, who has long been at the forefront for gay pride and rights in the borough, and to Diaz’ longtime chief of staff Paul DelDuca for working behind the scenes over the years to advance gay rights in the borough.
STRANGE MOJO AT HOJ
A judge friend and their staff are trying to figure out if they need to visit a Santeria after finding a bird’s wings – with the rest missing – on the ledge outside their chamber’s window.
With the new Bronx Hall of Justice, or HOJ as inhabitants call it, badly designed and falling apart, one wag wondered if it might have been built on an old graveyard.
Okay, we goofed in last week’s column, misspelling the name of Ralina Cardona, the only Bronxite among a heavy field challenging East Harlem/South Bronx Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in the September primary, with backing from Bronx Republicans.
The talented and lovely Marlene Cintron, whose day job is running the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., sent a letter to the editor (see page 12), writing – as she so delicately put – that I “totally butchered” Cardona’s name.
With a last name like ours, we shoulda known to double check. Apologies and props to both.