At last night's meeting of the Common Council Legal Committee, reapportionment was the topic of discussion. Shepherded by committee chair Margaret Morris (First Ward), the committee agreed to ward boundary revisions that achieved equal population among the wards with the least change and determined to follow the procedure for making the changes outlined in the memo from Crystal Peck, counsel to the Council.
The changes being proposed involve moving part of the boundary between the First Ward and the Third Ward, shifting 75 people from the First Ward to the Third Ward, and moving part of the boundary between the Third Ward and the Fourth Ward, shifting 40 people from the Third Ward to the Fourth Ward. Morris said she had analyzed the ethnicity of the wards and found that there was nothing in the changes proposed that would impact the ethnic mix in the wards affected. She told the committee she was creating a spreadsheet, soon to be available on the City of Hudson website, to show the demographics of the wards before and after the proposed changes.
As reported on Gossips yesterday, because changes in the ward boundaries impact the county supervisors, the changes are subject to a mandatory referendum. The deadline for getting the issue on the ballot for November is August 8, and the Council is working toward that deadline. There was discussion last night about working with Assemblymember Didi Barrett to get the state law changed--the specific law is Municipal Home Rule Law § 23(2)(h)--so that a referendum would no longer needed to do the reapportioning of the wards that is required after every decennial census.
The possibility of divorcing the county supervisors from the wards was also discussed. Instead of having five supervisors, one from each ward, it was suggested there might be just one or two citywide supervisors. Council president Tom DePietro expressed the opinion, "One supervisor for the entire city is the way to go." When Morris argued, as many supervisors do, that Hudson benefited from having five supervisors because the City was then represented on multiple committees, DePietro responded, "I don't see the value in that." Steve Dunn commented, "You just pissed off five supervisors," DePietro responded, "Not really. Rick Scalera [Fifth Ward supervisor] agrees with me."
It is expected that at next Tuesday's Common Council meeting the Legal Committee will present its recommendation for amending the ward boundaries. A special meeting will be scheduled to introduce the law making the boundary changes so that it can ripen and be enacted in the month of June.
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