It's Census time, and while New Yorkers puzzle over whether the nest of cockroaches under the sink can rightfully be considered Persons 2 through 36, they can ponder another statistically inclined question: What will Albany legislators do when they realize that voters are abandoning Republican upstate counties in droves and flocking to the Democratic city and its suburbs?
The likely answer, as we report in the current issue of City Limits magazine: not much.
A beautiful new series of maps generated by the New York Public Interest Research Group this week makes the numbers clear: while downstate had a net gain of about 245,000 people in the last decade, upstate lost 40,000 (http://www.cmap.nypirg.org/nyspopshift90-99.htm). According to NYPIRG's estimates, the shift means that the New York City area could pick up one State Senate seat and two State Assembly seats.
But, as writer Jill Grossman explains in our April issue, that doesn't mean that legislative power will actually shift. Districts must be redrawn after the Census, but probably without radical changes. For decades, the two parties have had a tacit agreement. The Democrats are promised control of the assembly, the Republicans get the Senate, and New York voters get legislative gridlock, budgetary impasses and stalled-out bills.
So while the growing downstate population could potentially tip the balance of state power, don't hold your breath. “It can't be said definitively how this will play out,” admits Doug Forand, a staffer to Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor. But one thing's for sure: Republicans “are going to do anything they can to minimize the population in New York City.”
Also in this special immigration issue, now on newsstands: What happens when two ethnic groups at war in Sri Lanka move in side by side on Staten Island? Quarrels over class and porn….How a group of Afro-Caribbean immigrants party down to celebrate their 203 years in exile…Why reading the Bible can get you in trouble in immigration detention centers…Accidental politician Trevor Rupnarian gives a voice to Indo-Caribbeans in Queens.
Special congratulations to our former Senior Editor Kemba Johnson, whose expose on abuses of a federal mortgage program was recognized by Investigative Reporters and Editors, the national association for investigative journalism. Go to www.citylimits.org/archives/9909harlem.htm to read this story, which details how mortgage lenders and brokers use federal backing to make a mint off buildings in poor neighborhoods.