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Christine Quinn Wants New District Lines Scrapped

By Jill Colvin | November 29, 2012 5:42pm | Updated on November 29, 2012 7:46pm

NEW YORK CITY — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants the proposed new City Council district lines scrapped following outrage over a last-minute change that could benefit disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

In a letter to the chair of the Districting Commission sent Thursday, Quinn said she had deep concerns about the new lines for District 34, which were quietly redrawn to include six blocks of Bushwick, including Lopez's home, just before the lines were submitted to the council for a yes-or-no vote.

“Given the Commission’s laudable interest in continuing the public process, I am requesting in the strongest possible terms that the Commission withdraw its submission to the Council to receive additional input from the public,” Quinn wrote.

While the council has the ability to reject the lines by holding a formal vote, Quinn wants the commission to withdraw the lines and submit a new plan instead, potentially avoiding what could be months of new public hearings and delays.

Lopez has been hinting that he is considering a council run after being stripped of his leadership positions in Albany following a slew of sexual harassment complaints.

While Lopez would not need to live in the 34th district to run, he would have a better chance of winning there than in his current 37th thanks to his deep political ties in the 34th, which is currently represented by term-limited City Councilwoman Diana Reyna. The request for the change reportedly came directly from City Councilman Erik Dilan, a close Lopez ally.

The commission developed it maps after months of public input. But it voted to approve and submit its final plan to the council less than an hour after it was first unveiled to the public, giving elected officials and voters zero time for review or objections.

The map was formally submitted to the council on Nov. 19.

Commission Executive Director Carl Hum said in a statement that he was taking Quinn's concerns "seriously" and would consider her request “as soon as possible.”

"The Commission has received a letter from Speaker Quinn requesting that the Commission withdraw the plan submitted November 19th and submit new council lines after additional consideration," he said in a statement.

"In particular, we note the Speaker's concern regarding additional public comment and District 34. We take these concerns seriously. We also note the Council's prerogative to adopt a resolution rejecting the plan," he said.

It is unclear, however, whether the commission is allowed to revoke the proposed maps once they've been submitted to the council under the City Charter.

The commission is exploring the legality of withdrawing the maps.