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Editorial: Don’t give up

If Karen Burstein reflects the quality of thinking on the New York City Districting Commission, it is no wonder that this panel remains committed to taking part of Ridgewood and placing it in a Brooklyn city council district.

Burstein believes that the protesters who packed the public hearing on Queens redistricting may have shot themselves in the foot. “It appeared that some of the people came under a very serious misimpression about the consequences of council redistricting,” said the former state senator in a phone interview. “You don’t lose your zip code. You don’t stop being in Queens. Your property values are not determined by where your council district is.”

How silly of so many Ridgewood residents to get so upset!

She probably means well, but Burstein is pouring salt into the Ridgewood wounds. We have quite a different impression of the Ridgewood protest. The people who came by bus to the hearing are, for the most part, well educated and politically sophisticated. No one knows exactly what the impact of the redistricting will be five years from now. But they do know that the residents of Ridgewood will be represented by Councilwoman Diana Reyna whose primary commitment will be to the residents of Bushwick, a distinctly Brooklyn neighborhood.

“If I do represent Ridgewood in the future, it should go without saying I'll work just as hard for this area as I have for every other area in my district,” Reyna said. That’s a promise that will not be easy to keep. And what happens when it is time to elect a new council member for the district? How much influence will the Ridgewood voters have?

Although Bushwick and Ridgewood share a common border, the two communities have little else in common. They face a vastly different set of problems. Although Bushwick is working hard to pull itself up by its bootstraps, it remains an area plagued by the drugs, crime and violence associated with the inner city. Ridgewood is a relatively safe community dealing with problems such as graffiti and a shortage of classroom space.

There is still time to redraw the lines. The commission should put its political agenda aside and, whenever possible, keep the council districts within borough boundaries. At the very least, the commission should avoid making observations that insult the intelligence of people who oppose their handiwork.

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