Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brooklyn's 33rd Council District will see influx of Hasidic potential voters in Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy: sources 

Vito Lopez's last-second inclusion isn't the only controversy swirling around the proposed new City Council redistricting map mess.

Political insiders say that under proposed new lines, the 33rd Council District will see an influx of approximately 5,000 Hasidic potential voters in Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant. That development is expected to boost the reelection chances of Councilman Steve Levin (D-Greenpoint), the scandal-scarred Lopez's former chief of staff.

"Packing Hasidim into the district seems to be counter to the trend of the area, which is towards greater diversity," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.

"The deciding factor here may well be incumbency protection and we don't believe that the charter is designed to encourage that." Levin is expected to face a fierce challenge from reformer Lincoln Restler, 28, who has wide support in the district's upper-class areas, like Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.

But Restler's strong base in Park Slope and Gowanus is being moved into a neighboring district.

"Unfortunately back room deals remain endemic in New York City politics to the detriment of our communities," Restler said. "Ripping up neighborhoods for political gain is a clear violation of that principle."

Levin staunchly defended the new lines, arguing that nothing was negotiated behind closed doors.

"The changes to the 33rd District were logical and appropriate and based on sound reasoning," he said.

Over the past 10 years, sections of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy have experienced a tremendous influx of white residents, Levin added.

Carving out those parts would allow the neighboring 35th District, currently represented by City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Crown Heights) to maintain its status as a minority district, he argued.

As for Park Slope, many government insiders support the suggested move, noting the district is currently represented by two separate city lawmakers.

Based on the proposed changes, the entire area would fall under the 39th District, represented by Councilman Brad Lander (D-Cobble Hill).

Problems with the map surfaced after the commission charged with the task quietly moved Lopez's home into the district represented by Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg), who is term limited out in 2013. The changes were done as a favor to Lopez pal Councilman Erik Dilan (D-Bushwick).


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