What rotten work is afoot by the Republicans in the County Legislature.
What was supposed to be a nonpartisan and community-based redrawing of county legislative districts is instead more likely to be the most uncompromising and politically divided vote since the court-ordered reapportionment of Chautauqua County 40 years ago.
It appears as if the majority Republicans in the legislature never really intended it to be anything other than that anyway. And, oh, by the way, they also intend to stick it to the city of Jamestown Democrats as best they can, Democrats say.
You may remember that last winter, the Chautauqua County Legislature seemed to accede to requests from the League of Women Voters to form an independent commission to divvy up the county into 19 legislative districts based on the 2010 census, as required by law. This reapportionment plan will replace the 25-member district plan that went into effect after the 2000 census.
Sadly, the deck is already stacked against a proposal the community-based commission worked on. Instead, a plan the Republicans had already drawn up seems a shoo-in.
Republican Legislator Larry Barmore is co-chair of the commission with Democrat Tom DeJoe. At the beginning of the commission's work, Barmore brought in a map that had already been proposed. DeJoe also presented a map.
The commission's community members saw problems with both, explains Minda Rae Amiran of Fredonia, who represented the League of Women Voters. So the whole group, this independent and nonpartisan group, worked out its own proposal during a series of a half-dozen meetings.
But then, because some members were absent, the committee never voted in the majority to adopt the plan. Mrs. Amiran wrote too that Barmore expressed strong objections to the commission's map anyway and again proposed his original map with a few changes late in the game.
So both plans will go before the legislature this week.
In comments indicating the Republican majority never really intended to turn over the task to a citizens committee, Barmore declared his plan has been approved by the Republican caucus. He expects the commission's plan won't get enough votes to pass and then his will.
Mrs. Amiran points out Barmore's plan was largely developed by an "outside consultant" and had already been rejected by the County Legislature.
"I'm worried this will hurt public input," Mrs. Amiran said. "We wanted an independent commission, but we had two legislators as the chairs.''
It's worse than that. There has never been a strictly partisan reapportionment plan in Chautauqua County.
While only a simple majority of 13 votes are needed, the 1982 plan was adopted 15 to 7 with 3 absent. Note that four Democrats and three Republicans vote no.
In 1992, the plan was adopted 22 to 2.
The 2002 vote was 21 to 4. Of those four opposing votes, two were Democrats and two were Republicans.
As one longtime observer noted, there simply is no precedent whatsoever for the Chautauqua County Legislature majority party to ram through a partisan reapportionment plan that will govern elections for the next 10 years.
''While the process is political, it has never been a partisan mugging in our great county where our citizens have been divided almost equally between Democrats and Republicans for 30 years,'' he said.
No, it has not.
Moderate Republicans - meaning those who are there to serve the people, not the party - have a chance to prevent that from happening this week.