Recently the Republican Majority Leader, Mr. Barmore, in an article concerning Chautauqua County Legislature reapportionment, made many statements which demand response.
He claims Democrats had the "same opportunity" in the redistricting process.
But the entire Republican leadership, which also made up the majority of Chautauqua County Reapportionment Commission, worked on and had access to their redistricting plan for many days prior to the first "official" commission meeting on Saturday, April 2.
As the Democratic minority leader and also a commission member, I had asked for their proposal well before the first meeting and was denied my request.
The two minority commission members, Mr. Gullo and myself, were provided no opportunity to review this proposal until Saturday afternoon. The Republic leadership made matters even worse by not providing any hand held copies of their plan at the meeting to be inspected by all committee members.
By having only one "official" meeting of the full commission that lasted under five hours, and two members having even less time to review this proposal, the Chautauqua County Reapportionment Commission has just delivered a plan that defines the word gerrymandering.
The chairman repeatedly denied my requests for another meeting or even the same opportunity to review their proposal. Does the public realize their county government representation over the next decade could be created under such circumstances?
Furthermore, the majority leader claimed the county Planning Department could not develop a reapportionment plan unless it "purchases computer software at over $3,800 at taxpayers' expense and then pay someone to be trained to devise a plan."
In fact, the county Planning Department did such work in 1982, 1992 and 2002 as do most Western New York counties when reapportionment processes takes place.
On April 4, as the minority leader and a commission member, I initiated work with Planning Department and found them quite capable of developing an alternative plan that keeps towns whole, strictly follows municipal laws and requires no computer software purchases or increased costs to county taxpayers. In fact we completed the task in four days and an alternative reapportionment law was pre-filed on April 8.
Imagine if the entire county leadership had initiated this process earlier this year with full county Planning Department involvement and other outside independent groups, maybe the County Legislature would truly have had the "best possible plan" to vote on Wednesday night.
But not this time.
The majority leader claims this proposal "keeps neighborhoods together " and is "fair" - but it clearly is illegal. The current proposal violates municipal laws repeatedly when it breaks up four towns that have populations under 110 percent of an average district:
1) the Village of Mayville from the Town of Chautauqua,
2) the Village of Westfield from the Town of Westfield,
3) the Town of Carroll in two portions,
4) Busti in three portions which includes joining the Village of Lakewood with the Towns of Kiantone and portions of Carroll.
Plus this proposal divides the only minority representative district in the county in two. Surely the Republicans cannot claim their plan keeps neighborhoods together or is even " fair" to the residents of Jamestown, Carroll, Westfield, Chautauqua, Kiantone, and Busti.
Tonight at 6:30, the public has the right to voice their opinion and concerns on the Reapportionment Law coming before a full vote of the legislature. Make your voice be heard.
Dr. Rudy Mueller is District 18's Chautauqua County Legislator and the legislature's minority leader.