Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Minority Point of View – Flawed Redistricting Plan

Oswego County Government is supposed to represent the people who elect it and base its decisions on the best interests of the people.  Several weeks ago the Oswego County Legislature narrowly passed a flawed and very partisan redistricting plan that called into attention its very legality.  Major changes were justified by inaccurate census numbers and with little regard to New York State Law. The majority caucus, with exceptions, rammed it through.
The very plan itself may be illegal because it doesn’t follow New York State Municipal Home Rule Law. It also unnecessarily cuts too many towns into pieces. At first, the majority didn’t count prisoners who use Oswego County as their home address as required by law, until Democratic Caucus pointed out their mistakes.
What did Oswego County voters get for this rush to pass a blemished plan? Did they get districts that are compact and contiguous and preserves their community’s interests?  No, they got a plan that dilutes the interests of many towns and the two cities by unnecessarily dividing them and attaching them to unrelated populations.   

You might ask why the majority did this considering that almost all of the public spoke against this plan at the Hearing?   The answer is quite simple, politics. The majority has a long track record of gerrymandering to keep themselves in control of the Oswego County Legislature. Over the last several years they have made true debate and questioning of their partisan actions more difficult at the county level.  One good example of this is the IQS County Clerk contract where it went to a favored political ally rather than the best and lowest bid. 

Why should Oswego County voters care? Well this plan is ill conceived and poorly constructed.  It weakens the voice of county residents and diminishes the county as a whole.  The majority had an opportunity to reduce costs by reducing the number of legislators and creating a fair and balanced plan.  They chose the political route rather than the right route.  

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