Tag Archives: reapportionment

County’s reapportionment plan might be heading to court

by Carol Thompson

A lawsuit is expected to be filed within the next few weeks over the county’s reapportionment plan, which was adopted by the legislature during a special meeting Dec. 28.

The approved reapportionment plan divides some towns into multiple legislative districts.

For several months, Legislator Dan Farfaglia, who represents a portion of Fulton and Granby, has questioned the legality of the new boundary lines.

He hired a redistricting expert to evaluate the maps and redraw the lines, claiming that the county’s plan did not conform with the law.

A Reapportionment Committee was formed to reestablish the boundary lines of the 25 legislative districts to conform with the 2010 census. Farfaglia has argued that the county map does not comply with the law.

Farfaglia attempted to have his plan introduced several months ago during a meeting of the committee. He failed to get a second to his motion.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler was also critical of the majority for not listening to the opinion of the public. He noted that 99 percent of those speaking at a public hearing were opposed to the reapportionment plan.

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County legislators debate reapportionment plan

by Carol Thompson

In a lengthy and sometime heated debate, the Oswego County Legislature approved a resolution to set a public hearing on the reapportionment plan during Thursday’s meeting.

Legislator Dan Farfaglia was the first to question the legality of the process used to redraw the lines for the 25 legislative districts. He has continually done so since the first maps were released.

“The proposed plan largely ignores the Municipal Home Rule Law about splitting towns less than 5,372,” Farfaglia said. “Clearly, the intent of the law is to ensure that community interests are represented in the legislature but the proposed plan doesn’t do that. It breaks up towns and communities into pieces and attaches them to unrelated communities, towns and cities.”

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler asked County Attorney Richard Mitchell if the county’s plan is legal and would hold up to a court challenge.

“It is defensible,” Mitchell replied.

“So I take that as a ‘no’?” Kunzwiler asked.

“You’re entitled to your opinion,” Mitchell responded.

Farfaglia questioned the need for a public hearing and the response was that it is a requirement. Farfaglia suggested the public’s input was not important to administration, but rather was being held to satisfy the requirement of the law.

Legislator Dan Chalifoux asked Mitchell if the legislature should go forward with the reapportionment committee’s plan.

“It is my opinion that it is defensible and passes constitutional muster,” Mitchell said.

“So, if we get 25 to 50 people in here next month and they say they aren’t in favor of this, ‘we don’t want our towns split up,’ we’re still going forward?” Kunzwiler asked.

A request was made to have someone in the state look at the maps to be sure the proposal was in compliance with the law.

Democrat lawmakers expressed concerns that the reapportionment plan could lead the county into a costly lawsuit.

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Legislator questions legality of reapportionment plan

Oswego County Legislator Dan Farfaglia, the lone Democrat on the legislature’s Reapportionment Committee, questioned the legality of the new district boundary lines during Tuesday’s meeting.

Farfaglia argued that, under state Municipal Home Rule Law, the districts cannot be split as they are under the proposed plan.

Following the announcement of some minor changes to several districts, Farfaglia presented his argument.

He said his understanding is that a town must meet a certain population requirement to be split.

Legislator Dan Chalifoux said he believed the committee was in compliance with the law and referred to County Attorney Richard Mitchell.

Mitchell said the state criteria are in deseeding order. “It may not be practical to divide by 25,” he said. “We’re still drawing boundary lines on the districts. I’ve not seen numbers on the districts.”

Farfaglia said the law didn’t appear to allow any exceptions.

“There are towns being divided that should not be divided,” Farfaglia said, adding that Hannibal and some of the other towns are not large enough to be divided.

Chalifoux said the plan is in compliance. “It’s not either or,” he said.

Farfaglia said he believed all of the standards should be applied. “We aren’t in that position right now,” he said.

Mitchell said he would take a look at the law.

by Carol Thompson

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397