Rep. Vitali 'pleased' over tossed aside reapportionment plan

The Haverford Township map prior to 2011´s reapportionment could return after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court´s decision yesterday. (Courtesy Rep. Greg Vitali´s office)
The Haverford Township map prior to 2011's reapportionment could return after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision yesterday. (Courtesy Rep. Greg Vitali's office)

As outlined by Inquirer reporters Tom Infield and Amy Worden, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the redistricting map adopted by the state’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission in a 4-3 decision.

This will have implications for Haverford Township since the redrawn map originally proposed excluded the First and Ninth wards. It split the township into two legislative districts. The 166th District represented by Democrat Rep. Greg Vitali had a hold on the entire township, but after redistricting, the First and Ninth wards went to Republican Rep. Nick Micozzie, who represents the 163rd District.

Plans for Micozzie to meet residents of the Ninth Ward in a Hilltop Civic Association meeting Thursday night at the Bon Air Fire Hall have been put on hold, Micozzie said.

"The commissioner called me up to say we should probably wait until we clear this up," Micozzie said.

Micozzie had already begun making the rounds to the two commissioners in Haverford Township he would begin working with, including breakfast and lunch with First Ward Commissioner Steve D'Emilio and several conversations with Ward Nine Commissioner Bill Wechsler.

D'Emilio originally planned to have Micozzie meet First Ward residents at a civic association meeting Feb. 8 at the Manoa Fire Company, and he said he plans to keep it that way.

"I still think it's important they meet [Rep. Micozzie]," D'Emilio said. "You never know how this all might play out."

Though D'Emilio was slightly surprised about the court's ruling, he began to welcome a change in representation for his ward. Noting some dissatisfaction with Vitali and talks with President of the Haverford Township Board of School Directors Denis Gray, D'Emilio said the district isn't getting as much funding as it needs or the same as other municipalities.

"I look at Rep. Micozzie's record and how much money he gets in his district, and I have to wonder why we can't have that," D'Emilio said.

Despite an overall eagerness to find out how things will unfold, Justice Max Baer said the court's opinion will be released next week.

"We're awaiting our lawyers' answers from the House Republican Caucus to give us more information as to what happens next," Micozzie said, adding that they will look closely at Justice Thomas Saylor's dissent as well as the opinion.

Vitali also said he’s anxiously awaiting the court’s orders. If the commission starts from scratch, it may not be ready in time for the 2012 primary April 24, and the district boundaries from 2001 could remain, which would mean everything would be as it was before the 2011 redrawn map.

Though the township decided not to pursue an appeal, attorney Eric Ring agreed to file an appeal pro bono for Vitali and nine ward residents. On Monday, Ring and Vitali traveled to Harrisburg to make a case for Haverford Township.

“[Eric] did a very good job arguing the township’s claim,” Vitali said. “We sat through about two and a half hours of courtroom proceedings, and I saw some of the judges weren’t really buying the commission’s decision, particularly [Chief Justice Ronald] Castille, who ended up being the deciding vote.”