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Let the commission do it

by Brian Hollander
January 27, 2011 02:07 PM | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There is a question on reapportionment for the county legislature that bears examining. Ulster County’s charter calls for a bipartisan commission to draw up the maps that will divide the territory into 23 single member districts, down from today’s 33 member, multi-occupant districts. The commission’s makeup is a seemingly fair three from the Republican side, three from the Democratic side and an independent.

But the County’s charter, approved by voters several years ago, says that the committee will “present” its plan to the county legislature. It doesn’t say that the legislature must approve, nor does it say that the plan, as crafted, must be accepted. The chief architect of the plan, Dr. Gerald Benjamin, says he regrets not stating explicitly that the commission’s work is law. The county’s lawyers seem to say that the legislature must approve.

We disagree with the county’s lawyers. We believe that the commission’s work must stand. Don’t let the legislature get in the way here. They can only bollix the works by seeking to protect certain incumbents, in true gerrymandering fashion, as such plans have been traditionally subject.

And we still say that the fairest way to come up with a plan is to let a computer do it. Feed in the parameters, how many people per district, districts to conform to town lines as closely as possible, and accept the results. No complaining.++

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