New Castle News

February 4, 2012

John K. Manna: State Supreme Court explains fault with redistricting plan

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A couple of things:

We finally have an opinion.

A week after it threw out a redistricting plan for state legislative districts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released its opinion yesterday.

The court says the plan drawn up by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission splits too many municipalities among separate districts.

While the commission may argue that splitting municipalities was necessary because it had to try to make each district nearly equal in population, that’s a hollow argument considering what the commission actually came up with.

Consider, for example, the commission’s redesign of the Ninth District represented by Chris Sainato. It has a population of 60,799.

Then there’s the 17th District represented by Michele Brooks. It has a population of 63,205.

The court said that while population is a factor, other factors that must be considered include compactness and integrity of political subdivisions.

The court’s ruling means the commission needs to come up with a new plan. Meanwhile, candidates for legislative offices, facing an April 26 deadline to file nomination petitions, aren’t sure where their districts begin and end.

There was a lot to digest from interviews this week of New Castle residents seeking appointment to city council.

The majority of what the nine candidates had to say was impressive, while some of it was not so impressive.

A comment made by one of the candidates, John Donnelly, made me chuckle.

In his remarks to council, Donnelly said it “appears” there is no coordination or cooperation with the county government.


That’s being kind.

OK, let me back up a bit. It’s not that the Lawrence County commissioners and city officials don’t cooperate on certain matters. However, there is no ongoing dialogue between the two entities. At times, one would think the two are on separate planets.

I’m not placing blame on either one, but if we have to pick one of them that should initiate a dialogue it would be the commissioners because they represent the entire county.

From all indications, county and city officials seem to get along when they do discuss matters of mutual interest. So, it should be an easy transition for them to meet periodically, perhaps every three months.

Discussion can only be a positive, possibly spawning some ideas that could develop into some tangible results for the county.