Senator Kruger Seeks Redemption… Sort Of

The current political boundaries of Kruger's and Golden's districts. Kruger was key in implementing them. Now he supports legislation to make sure pols like him can't do this anymore.

It seems that State Senator Carl Kruger, who faces a long, hard legal slog as he battles corruption charges, has found his conscience – and is beginning to vote it.

The local pol most recently made political observers balk last week, when he called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission in a new newsletter to his constituents, according to the Daily News.

“He’ll make a strong case for an independent redistricting commission to correct population shifts that shortchange New York City in favor of upstate communities,” the newsletter says.

Redistricting is the process of drawing new political boundaries, ideally locking together constituencies of similar geographies and backgrounds based on census information to ensure represenation for everyone. In reality, it more often means dividing ethnic groups and breaking voting blocs to ensure the incumbents and their parties – who are responsible for redrawing the lines – stay in power for the next 10 years. This is also known as gerrymandering.

What’s left out of the newsletter is that Kruger is one of the most infamous gerrymanders in the state legislature, forming a deal 10 years ago with State Senator Marty Golden and the Republicans to carve up Southern Brooklyn with, in some places, one block stretches spanning across neighborhoods (districts must be geographically contiguous) to connect the conservative, predominantly Catholic districts of Bay Ridge to Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach, while Kruger got Orthodox Jews, Russian-Americans and everything in between. Without the agreement, the races in those two districts could have potentially left the incumbents without the power to dominate the vote. And what we’re left with was one of the most ridiculous looking political boundaries in the entire state.

What’s also left out of the newsletter is that a bill to form an independent redistricting commission came before the State Senate last year. It moved through the various committees until it came before the Finance Committee – which Kruger chaired. There, the bill died. Presumably because it would have put Kruger, whose scandals had not yet become public, in a weaker position when elections came around.

But now that Kruger has nothing left to lose, as rumors swirl that he’ll be resigning amidst the scandals at the end of this year or the beginning of 2012, he’s embracing the kind of changes he’s been the primary roadblock for.

One example not enough? Take the same-sex marriage bill that recently passed into law. Kruger was a chief opponent of the bill as recently as last year, and his vote – the only opposed Brooklyn Democrat in the State Senate – was key to defeating previous attempts. But when the latest one came around – after Kruger’s woes were aired – he expressed strong support for the bill.

At this rate, maybe Kruger should stick around. He’s starting to look like the kind of politician that shows the moral leadership Southern Brooklyn residents need, helping to push through smart reforms.

Or maybe we should put all pols on the chopping block and hope they start voting their conscience and not their campaign warchest