HEARD AROUND TOWN
A controversial proposal to re-draw New York City Council district lines could violate the city charter and split African-American and Latino communities, critics say. Community Voices Heard--an organization that advocates for low-income New Yorkers--said in a statement that the proposed redistricting map would create smaller Council districts in the Bronx and Queens in favor of larger ones in Manhattan and possibly disenfranchise some voting blocs, such as East Harlem. Under the proposal, East Harlem would be divided roughly in half, with part of it falling in Council District 8, and part in Council District 9. "When you look at communities of interest and keeping the Latino vote together and the African-American vote together, it seems like the Latino vote here, while on paper would hit the fifty percent plus-one mark that meets the Department of Justice standards, would break up the community in East Harlem," the organization said in a statement. Hearings will be held all month, allowing the public to comment on the proposed changes, followed by an up-or-down vote by the City Council in November. If approved, the maps will first be used in the 2013 citywide elections, when the majority of the Council's seats will be up for grabs because of term limits.