Good morning. It’s Thursday. Today we’ll look at a decision many who follow New York politics didn’t expect: The state’s highest court tossed out the new map for congressional and state senate districts. We’ll also look at opposition to the city’s plans for homeless shelters in Chinatown.
New York’s highest court said Democrats had violated the state constitution when they took it upon themselves to sign new districts for the state’s Congress and Senate, widely believed to favor Democratic candidates. The judges commissioned a court-appointed expert to create new maps.
The ruling is expected to postpone the June 28 primaries for the state’s Congress and Senate districts until August to allow time to prepare new maps and for candidates to rally petitions to qualify for the election. voting in the districts on those maps.
But there could still be primary elections for governor and the state assembly in June because those districts were out of the question. The Supreme Court left it to a judge in the court and the state election council to sort out the details with “all due haste”.
My colleague Nicholas Fandos writes that Democratic leaders had been counting on the Court of Appeals, with all seven judges appointed by Democratic governors, reviewing earlier decisions on the Congressional and Senate maps of the state of a Republican judge in Steuben County and a Rochester’s bipartisan appeals court. † The Supreme Court instead issued a more damning verdict that is not subject to appeal.
National Democrats had looked to New York to win as many as three new seats in the fall and offset the gains made by Republicans across the country. With the ruling likely to wipe out the prospect of Democratic gains in New York, Republicans’ chances of regaining control of the House of Representatives appear to have increased.
With Chief Judge Janet DiFiore writing the majority opinion, the court concluded that Democrats — who control the State Assembly and Senate and passed the cards in question in February — had ignored a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 that partisan gerrymandering outlawed. The judges said Democrats had designed districts “with an inadmissible partisan purpose.”
Government Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said she was reviewing the decision. Michael Murphy, a spokesman for Democrats in the State Senate, said they still “believe in the constitutionality” of their maps and will reiterate that to the court-appointed pundit assigned to sign them.
Republicans and several impartial public interest groups welcomed the ruling. “The will of the people triumphed over the Corrupt Albany Machine in a tremendous victory for democracy, fair elections and the Constitution!” Representative Nicole Malliotakis, an endangered Republican, wrote on Twitter† Her Staten Island-based district was one of many that would have made the Democrats’ congressional map significantly bluer by adding liberal voters from Brooklyn’s Park Slope.
What you need to know about reclassification
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Chinatown fights the city’s shelter plan
Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood is about to get two new homeless shelters, one of which is proposing to allow drug use. Residents fight against the city’s plans. I asked my colleague Andy Newman, who deals with homelessness and related issues, for an explanation.
The battle for the new shelters has increased the usual not-in-my-backyard objections. What fuels the increased urgency of the residents?
Hardly any neighborhood in the city welcomes homeless shelters. But anti-Asian hate crimes increased by more than 300 percent between 2020 and 2021, and many of those attacks were linked to the homeless — and many people in Chinatown feel their right to life is under attack. A man whose children go to school in Chinatown said at a community council hearing, “We are doing so much for this country and the city, and our human rights, the human rights of my son and daughter, are being taken away from us.”
You mentioned the municipal council, which has just voted against one of the new shelters. Will that vote make a difference, or will it just increase the pressure on Mayor Eric Adams?
The community council vote is not binding — the city doesn’t need the community council’s support to open that shelter on Grand Street. But the community council’s decision against it, filed in response to community complaints, is a measure of the degree of opposition.
The optic is difficult for Adams. He has thrown his weight behind opening more shelters as part of his plan to convince people who live on the streets and on the subway to come inside. He has also been a strong supporter of the ‘harm reduction’ approach to the opioid crisis that embraces this planned shelter.
But he’s also under pressure to stop hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers, and many Chinatown residents believe this shelter would lead to more such crimes — although the shelter’s supporters and the city’s homeless services claim the shelter making the neighborhood safer by including people who are already homeless in the neighborhood and connecting them to mental health and substance abuse services.
Jacky Wong, founder of Concerned Citizens of East Broadway, which opposes another shelter in Chinatown, questions the city’s approach to opening shelters in areas with many homeless people. “People might only come here to buy drugs, so they would be considered ‘from’ this area,” he told me. “Why not accommodate them in a neighborhood where they have more positive connections?”
How has Chinatown dealt with what residents say was a wave of indiscriminate violence and theft that accompanied the pandemic?
Every Chinese-speaking person we interviewed has witnessed or been the victim of some episode of violence, crime or disorder that they attributed to a homeless person. Seniors take self-defense courses. Doctors said they are sending their staff home early so they don’t have to deal with the streets and subways after dark.
The city says the new shelters are partly a response to the murder of a homeless Asian man in 2019. But plans to name one of the shelters for him have met opposition. Why?
Many in Chinatown feel the city is exploiting the 2019 murder of Chuen Kwok, an 83-year-old Hong Kong man who slept on the street in Chinatown, as justification for imposing shelter on a community that doesn’t want it. These planned shelters are for people who are homeless on the streets, and there is a widespread belief in Chinatown that homelessness on the streets is primarily a problem of the non-Chinese population, despite Kwok.
How US reclassification works
What is reclassification? It is redrawing the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts. It happens every 10 years, after the census, to reflect changes in the population.
As courtesies go, it was disastrous. Then I stumbled through the streets feeling like everything was against me.
After giving me many hints over the years, I thought, the city clearly told me once and for all to get out. Maybe it was finally time to listen.
At one point I walked to the West Fourth Street basketball courts. While I was watching the game, a well-dressed man with a bag approached me.
“People take you for granted,” he said unsolicited. “You give and you give, and you get nothing in return. But you are a good person and…”
I don’t exactly remember the rest of what he said, because I tried very hard not to burst into tears.
He pulled out a notepad and asked me to think about—but not tell him—the answers to a number of questions: my favorite number, my wife’s name, her age, my favorite color, my nemesis’ first name.
He then made a neat list of all my answers. I’m no hero when it comes to magic tricks, but this man was a certifiable wizard.
He assured me that my life would be fine and that I would get my dream job later that month. Then he wrote down three numbers: suggested donations.
I told him I didn’t have that much money.
“There’s an ATM nearby,” he said.
† Mark Hsu
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here†
Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — JB
PS Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and game match† Here you will find all our puzzles†
Melissa Guerrero, Jeff Boda and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at: nytoday.†
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