The other day we had posted on the silly spectacle of Ed Koch posing as a reformer, and calling on Albany to craft a non-partisan redistricting plan. In today's Crain's Insider, the RWDSU's Stuart Appelbaum sees our shot and raises it two or three fold: "Union leader Stu Appelbaum thinks Ed Koch's sudden zeal for cleaning up Albany is better for Republicans than Democrats. In a blistering e-mail yesterday, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union questioned Koch's motivation for proposing an independent commission to redraw legislative districts. “Where was his voice during the Republicans' outrageous gerrymandering of the state Senate for decades?” Appelbaum wrote."
His previous absence on this issue, points to the overwhelming evidence-his three term Bloomberg dalliance being another example-that Koch is simply a cat's paw for Republicans. Which doesn't bother us if he simply would be up front about his real intentions-instead of camouflaging his motives behind a good government fig leaf. The fact is that Koch burned through all of his reform bona fides in his last scandal ridden term asd NYC mayor.
Appelbaum, however, really bells this cat: “For years the Republican State Senate has controlled the redrawing of the districts and has gerrymandered and retained control,” Appelbaum says. “For the first time [in 2012], the Democrats will be in control of the State Senate as districts are drawn. And … all of a sudden he says we need a neutral system.” Appelbaum points out that Koch's reform group, a political action committee called New York Uprising, has benefited from the noblesse oblige of state Republican Party stalwarts."
To which Koch dissembles: "Koch's group is headquartered at law firm Bryan Cave, whose clients include the Real Estate Board of New York—a major contributor to Senate Republicans. It is being helped by Mayor Bloomberg's campaign manager, Brad Tusk. Koch says the law firm was chosen for Monday's announcement because it happens to be where he works. Tusk says his work is pro bono."
Sure. But in our view there are some really good campaign issues that can legitimately be utilized for those concerned with Albany dysfunction. And no one has made the case convincingly to us that a less partisan redistricting plan would be any kind of even near panacea. So in our view the Koch effort-especially at a time when NY State has become such a miserable place to do business in-amounts to at best a non sequitor, but at worst a misdirection that diverts us from the real compelling issues that the next election cycle needs to address