“From a personal point of view, I’d like him to include it, but I have no problem in understanding why he hasn’t,” said Koch, who founded New York Uprising last year to push the issue.
signed the Uprising pledge sent a letter of support during his gubernatorial campaign, but the governor has not made redistricting part of his recent push to fulfill a few remaining items on his legislative agenda: a property tax cap, ethics reform, and a same-sex marriage bill. [A reader points out Cuomo did not technically sign the pledge, but sent a letter echoing its aims, which was good enough for Koch to consider him a “Hero of Reform.”]
“There’s a limited number of issues that the governor can talk about it,” Koch told me this morning.
The former mayor has done his own barnstorming–traveling to legislators’ home district to brand them enemies of reform–but he conceded it’s “a very esoteric issue,” and suggested what might happen if Cuomo tried to implore constituents to write their legislators about redistricting.
“They’ll yawn,” he said.
In private meetings, Koch said Cuomo has indicated the issue is a priority. And, according to Koch, the governor has agreed to appear at a joint New York Uprising-Citizens Union event focused on the issue–to be held sometime before the end of the legislative session–and that the press will be invited.
“The press will have an opportunity to ask him about his commitment, but I am convinced it is a high priority on his list,” said Koch.
The Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, has backed off his own Uprising pledge in the months since Republicans retook power in January, and Koch admitted that the Legislature was unlikely to pass a nonpartisan bill.
The important thing now, he said, is that the governor make good on his commitment to veto any bill that unfairly draws the legislative lines.
“If he keeps his commitment, which I am convinced he will, they cannot override it,” Koch said. “We have commitments that we can rely on to make it impossible. Then, it will go to the courts.
“It would be better if the Legislature did what it should, but if it decides not to, we will be content with a court decision. The legislative leaders believe—and we think they’re wrong–that the courts will not make many changes. We don’t think that’s accurate. And we’re willing to take the chance. They’re crazy to take the chance.”