Lawmakers, Charter Commission members still struggling to solve differences – an article in Freeman (July 26) – quotes Legislator Tracey Bartels (D-Gardiner):
Giving lawmakers final say over the map that will delineate legislative districts would put the process in the hands of those who have the most at stake.
Looking back at what happened during the 2011 redistricting with the Town of Rochester – coincidentally the home town of Terry Bernardo – proves Legislator Bartels’ point: you don’t put the fox in charge of the hen house.
In Rochester, the incumbent Legislator Terry Bernardo didn’t think twice about using the town for personal gain. It took determination from some of our elected officials to keep Rochester whole.
In April 2011, Manuela Michailescu made the town’s residents aware that Rochester was badly chopped in the initial proposals unveiled by the Commission on Reapportionment of the Legislative Districts (see map above). She wrote:
Manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, neutral, or incumbent-protected districts is a practice of political corruption.
Moreover, I consider the splitting of our town an outrageous attempt at destroying our identity. A 300-year old town, Rochester boasts of unique elements of economic and cultural geography. We must fight to keep Rochester whole, as its history and heritage dictate.
GOP Town Committee Chair David O’Halloran clearly stated in an email sent to me:
The latest district reapportionment draft map strips Rochester from County Legislature representation by dividing our town between three legislative districts. We will have a minority representation in each district, basically removed from county representation. Len wants a divided Rochester in order to eliminate my endorsement authority in Terry’s re-election bid.
An email from Rochester’s Town Supervisor Carl Chipman reveals Legislator Terry Bernardo’s effort to split the town in order to avoid being challenged:
August 14, 2011
Carl Chipman to Manuela Mihailescu:
Keeping Rochester whole while redistricting the Ulster County Legislature was a very important issue. I appreciated your work on that and meant everything I said. Furthermore I also went to Terry and told her where I stood and that I would oppose her as forcefully as possible. Yes, I was upset with Len’s support for breaking up Rochester with Terry and you being placed in different districts. Furthermore I was upset with others promoting the breaking up Rochester in order to serve their own districts.
How many Legislators attended the final Reapportionment Public Hearing in April 2011? None. They were not interested in what the people had to say. On the other hand I wouldn’t say that many people were awake. Other than the Commission members, only three persons from the entire county were present: Rochester’s Supervisor Carl Chipman, Rochester Councilwoman Manuela Michailescu and I.
Let the redistricting map be drawn by an independent body.
– Jon Dogar-Marinesco