POLITICAL ARENA

Espaillat surveys Hurricane Fiona damage

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U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat recently returned from a visit to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Fiona.

“New York City will not leave our brothers and sisters behind,” he said in a press release.

“We stand ready to ensure the necessary assistance to help individuals and families throughout the region.” Fiona, which made landfall last month, left at least 16 people dead and thousands without power or running water.

Following the visit, the congressman reintroduced a bill to strengthen local oversight of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and facilitate local participation in contracting and decision making. It would also establish a task force made of members from different sectors of Puerto Rican society to oversee the process.

“We understand more than ever that our response must be swift and quick to aid residents in need, and critical to local community relief efforts,” he said.

“Ensuring local engagement at the decision-making table when addressing federal disaster relief ensures affected communities have a voice and are no longer excluded on the decisions that impact them directly.”

Assembly continues redistricting efforts

The statewide redistricting saga has reared its ugly head once more.

This time the issue is over redrawing the state assembly lines. That’s because a district judge recently ruled that the Independent Redistricting Commission has to redraw the Assembly districts by April 2023 in preparation for the 2024 election cycle.

Yet, the Independent Redistricting Commission was the group that kicked off the redistricting chaos in the first place after it was unable to come to a consensus and left it up to Democratic lawmakers to draw up the new lines.

The commission was originally set up in order to keep politics out of the redistricting process.

But time and again its members — half Republicans, half Democrats — came to a gridlock.

While the lines drawn by the electeds stayed in place for the June primaries, this new lawsuit, just like the one with the state senate, argues that the legislature did not have the authority to carve out the new districts.

This is not the final act in the redistricting saga as the ruling is almost assuredly going to be appealed, so whether the IRC will end up actually redrawing the lines remains to be seen.

SUB: The Cuomo comeback

Andrew Cuomo, who resigned from his gubernatorial post last year after a series of sexual harassment allegations, is back in the political arena. In a video released last week, the former governor announced he will head up a new political action committee, lead an advocacy effort called “Gun Safe America” — and, like almost every millennial in Brooklyn — start his own weekly podcast.

“I am very concerned about the state of our country. I believe our democracy is in peril,” Cuomo said in the video. “We are more divided than at any time since the civil war.”

While details of his new gun-control group were scant, Cuomo said the federal government just doesn’t have what it takes to solve America’s gun-violence epidemic.

“I’ve worked on the gun issue for 20 years,” he said. “And we made great progress in New York. But I do not believe our federal government has the courage or capacity to make real progress. As a matter of fact, it’s only gotten worse.”

Cuomo said his podcast will cover the state of national issues, “to hear what’s on your mind,” and to discuss ways to help improve these problems.  “My intention is to speak the full truth. Unvarnished,” Cuomo said.

“The first step is to establish the facts. Not Democratic facts. Or Republican facts. But actual facts. Unfortunately today, we are short on facts and long on opinion.”

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