Monday, July 6, 2015

Vitali calls redistricting plan that splits Haverford Twp unconstitutional

"Don't cut my township in half!"

Vitali calls redistricting plan that splits Haverford Twp unconstitutional

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UPDATE:  Vitali says today in an email that he has not actually seen the plan but it was described to him by House Democratic staff member.

"Don't cut my township in half!"

That's the message from House Rep. Greg Vitali, (D., Delaware) to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission when he found out its new legislative map would split Haverford Township into two districts.

"Regrettably, the redistricting process has devolved into an exercise in incumbent protection instead of crafting lines that are in the best interest of the community," Vitali said. "This is a perfect example of that."

The preliminary plan - scheduled to be released at the Capitol on Monday at noon - lays out lines for the 253 House districts and 50 Senate districts based on the 2010 census. 

Under the plan, which Vitali said he had seen, Wards 1 and 9 in southwestern Haverford Township would move from the 166th Legislative District, which Vitali represents, to the 163rd Legislative District, which Republican Nicholas Micozzie represents.

Both wards are Republican leaning - a growing Democratic county - and the change is aimed at helping Micozzie's re-election, Vitali said.

Vitali said the new district lines protect him too, giving him more Democratic areas, including Lower Merion (now represented by Rep. Tim Briggs, also a Democrat)

"I should keep my mouth shut," he said.

But Haverford Township (population 50,000) should not be broken up, he said, "it's confusing for residents, they don't know who their representative is."

Even more, splitting a municipality is unconstitutional.

Vitali said Article 2, Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, prohibits the commission from splitting the township "unless absolutely necessary."

The plan is being drawn up by the bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission. It's memberships includes Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi, House Republican Leader Mike Turzai, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa and House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. The chairman, Stephen J. McEwen, the former president judge of Superior Court, was selected by the GOP majority. Once the plan is released there is a 30-day period where exceptions can be filed.

Reapportionment is done every 10 years following the release of the Census to address population shifts and ensure an equal number of residents live within each legislative district.

 

 

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.



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