One of the biggest debates during Wednesday night's North Hempstead board meeting was about selecting the committee members who would represent the Town while helping to determine redistricting lines.
There were two proposals for selecting these committee members – one from Jon Kaiman, D-Great Neck, and one from Dina DeGiorgio, R-Port Washington.
The council district lines are to be re-examined followig data from the 2010 Census, with the Town board adopting any changes.
Kaiman's process would include the six council members selecting a person to represent themselves on this board, with Kaiman choosing three people. He said that he was able to select up to six because of his capacity as supervisor of each of the six areas represented by the six councilpeople. However, he said he didn't think six was necessary.
Kaiman asserted that this method is fair because the committee would be selected by people who were voted in by people in the Town, and this committee would be geographically, racially and otherwise well-represented.
"I believe this process makes it less political," Kaiman said. "To me, it's a fair process and I think it's an appropriate process."
Kaiman also noted that he anticipates the district lines will remain "substantially" the same.
Explaining why she opposes Kaiman's plan, DeGiorgio said, "The reality is that any plan that stacks the deck in one direction is not fair," citing that seven members would be chosen by Democrats and two would be picked by Republicans.
DeGiorgio would like to have a committe that would have a non-voting chairman, which would be selected by Kaiman, and the political majority and minority selecting the same number of representatives to the committee. This group would also have to come up with a solution that the majority of the committee agrees on.
"To say that politics is not relevant to this board .. is to ignore the elephant in the room," DeGiorgio said. She added, "This board decides controversial issues perhaps based on politics," citing that the board voted regarding Internet streaming of meetings along party lines. (Patch will bring you more on Internet streaming in the days to come.)
"My vote and Mr. Ferrara's vote, I dare say, might not count," DeGiorgio said of Kaiman's plan referring to Councilman Angelo Ferrara (R-NHP).
Kaiman argued that DeGiorgio's plan with a majority and minority or Democrats and Republicans does not include everyone, such as Independents or people who are not affiliated with a political party. He also noted that having a board that is divided along party lines might lead to gridlock.
Before voting, DeGiorgio noted that she would like the committee to have public hearings in each district in the Town so that the public can truly be part of the process. Ferrara and Russell echoed that this was a good idea and Kaiman said he would have the committee work on that.
The board voted four to two -- Councilman Thomas Dwyer was not at the meeting -- for Kaiman's plan. Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, Councilwoman Lee Seeman, Councilwoman Viviana Russell and Kaiman voted for Kaiman's plan while DeGiorgio and Ferrara voted for DeGiorgio's plan.