Albany pols propose three very different redistricting maps

With a joint Senate and Assembly redistricting task force hopelessly mired in partisan bickering, the once-a-decade Congressional redistricting process is now in the hands of a federal court.

Earlier this week, any hope that feuding Albany pols could hold hands, sing 'Kumbaya,' and produce a fair map of Congressional districts evaporated, when a panel of federal judges named U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann to preside over the redistricting process.

Yesterday, three groups of legislators -- Assembly Democrats, Assembly Republicans, and Senate Republicans -- each submitted a different redistricting map to Mann, who had asked legislators and good-government groups to submit maps to the court.

Senate Democrats did not submit a map.

Because of nationwide population shifts, the state is losing two districts, moving from 29 to 27 Congressional seats.

The three maps would seek to divide up the Catskills region in very different ways. None of the proposals preserves the sprawling NY-22, Rep. Maurice Hinchey's district, which currently straddles the Hudson Valley and stretches a long skinny arm westward to reach Ithaca and Binghamton.

The map proposed by Assembly Democrats puts most of the Catskills region in District 19, which would straddle the Hudson River and include all of Delaware, Greene, Sullivan and Columbia Counties, as well as most of Orange and Rensselaer, about half of Ulster and Washington, and the southeast corner of Saratoga County.

The southern half of Ulster County would go into District 18, joining Dutchess, Putnam, and parts of Westchester and Orange County.

Schoharie County would remain in the Capital Region's District 21.

A plan proposed by Senate Republicans would mostly divide the two sides of the Hudson River from one another. Delaware, Schoharie, and most of Greene and Sullivan Counties would join with the more western counties of Otsego, Chenango, Madison and most of Broome and Oneida to form District 22.

District 20, shaped like a long, curving parenthesis, would stretch from Montgomery County to the northern half of Ulster County, including Schenectady, most of Albany, snippets of Saratoga and Rensselaer, and part of Greene County along the way.

The southern half of Ulster County and the southeastern tip of Sullivan County would join a mostly east-of-Hudson District 19 that would include Warren, Washington, Columbia, and most of Rensselaer, Saratoga, Albany and Dutchess Counties.

Assembly Republicans proposed a map that would put Delaware County in District 26 with its more western neighbors, and put the rest of the Catskills region -- all of Greene, Sullivan, Ulster and Schoharie County, along with Otsego County to the northwest -- into District 19, which would cross the Hudson to include Rensselaer, Columbia and most of Dutchess County.

To see the full statewide maps of the proposed districts and read more analysis by Albany reporters, check out the Times-Union's Capitol Confidential blog, a sharp source of news on state politics.

Judge Mann will draw lines for the new districts by March 12.