Friday, September 23, 2011

Ed Koch Testifies At NY State Redistricting Hearing, So Does Roosevelt Island Residents Association President Matt Katz - Katz Urges Retention of 14th Congressional District and Representation From Manhattan Senatorial District

WNYC's The Empire reported on September 21:
The state legislature’s redistricting task force is holding public meetings this week in New York City. Today they were in Manhattan hearing testimony from elected officials, good government groups, and any normal people who were inspired to take a day off of work to attend the hearing....
Oh, and Ed Koch...
Oh, and Roosevelt Island Residents Association President (RIRA) Matt Katz testified too. Perhaps he was not as colorful as former Mayor Koch (video of Mayor Koch's testimony is here) but Mr. Katz shares his testimony below. From Mr. Katz:

Good morning.

My name is Matthew Katz and I am serving my fourth two-year term as president of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, elected by the 12,500 residents of my community. Dating back to a George II land grant, Roosevelt Island was created from Welfare Island in the late 60’s and has continued to develop as a residential community ever since the first residential complex opened in 1975. Politically, we a part of Manhattan, specifically the Upper East Side. Our police precinct of record is the 19th Pct. on East 67th Street although, by virtue of our geography, our police calls are answered by the 114th Pct. in Queens, located within our 14th Congressional District. In fact, all of our emergency services, police, fire and ambulance, are provided through Queens by way of the Roosevelt Island/36th Avenue Bridge; this island’s only road connection to the rest of the City, and also within the 14th Congressional District. The F train and our aerial Tramway carry our working population, as well as the many diplomats and United Nations employees who reside here, to their jobs in Manhattan. Our public school is a District 2 Manhattan school and our public library is a Manhattan branch facility.

We are represented through Upper East Side political districts: the 5th Councilmanic District, the 65th Assembly District and the 14th Congressional District. Each of these serves the Upper East Side primarily or exclusively. We are a part of Community Board 8 Manhattan, and our crime (such as it is) is processed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Manhattan Borough Presidents beat a path to our door. It is inconceivable that we could lose the 14th Congressional District having spent decades establishing and strengthening our relationships with our United States Representatives, as well as the other Manhattan public officials who serve us. But that would be the result should the 14th CD be threatened. I’ve come here today to urge the retention of the 14th Congressional District and the Manhattan-centric political life that we have experienced for forty years.

We are a natural part of Manhattan and also, of the Upper East Side. Our State Senatorial District, the 28th SD, is an anomaly and I’ve come here to discuss this as well.

We have been represented ably by all our local legislators, including State Senator Olga Mendez and the incumbent, Senator José Serrano. However, my issues are not with the public servants holding the seat but with the choice of districts. The 28th Senatorial District serves El Barrio and the South Bronx with Roosevelt Island thrown in as an afterthought. Sen. Serrano’s district office is on 104th Street, three miles and a river away from this community. He has instituted staff office hours on-Island; however, this occurs only one afternoon each month.

Common sense, an uncommon commodity in any walk of life, would suggest that the 26th Senatorial District, located directly across the West Channel of the East River, might be the more obvious choice. Its incumbent, Liz Krueger, has shown herself to be conversant with many of our issues. And as I’ve stated, Roosevelt Island is a part of Manhattan Community Board 8, an Upper East Side Board, and Sen. Krueger, unlike Sen. Serrano, participates in their activities.

It is clear to me that the Upper East Side, including the 14th CD and the 26th SD, have more issues in common with Roosevelt Island than are found in the 28th SD, in Queens or anywhere else in the City for that matter. We Islanders should be represented, across the Board, by Upper East Side public servants who will surely be more accessible and more finely attuned to the unique needs of this planned community.

Thank you for your time.

Matthew Katz, President Roosevelt Island Residents Association
Additional information on NY State Legislative redistricting available from LATFOR and NY Uprising as well as WNYC.