Legal challenge to county reapportionment plan on hold – for now

At this time, I am announcing that the legal challenge to the reapportionment plan passed by the Oswego County Legislative majority last December, has been put on hold, Oswego County Legislator Dan Farfaglia said Wednesday.

For those of you unfamiliar with this issue; every decade after the US census is completed, most legislative bodies in this nation (county and state legislatures, Congress), have to alter their district lines so that they represent an approximately equal number of people per district, he explained.

There are also a set of laws in place to guide this process, like not splitting towns and communities unnecessarily. These laws are not optional. The majority party members of the county legislature have ignored most of the rules in place in order to produce a politically motivated plan that benefits no one but themselves, according to Farfaglia.

Last month, former Republican party chairman Norm Seiter, who is now a judge, ruled against the 11 plaintiffs who challenged the “illegal lines.”

“After careful thought and consideration, we are not appealing Mr. Seiter’s decision because of timing issues. But we are not done fighting this very questionable scheme. We are simply putting our efforts on hold and intend resume the legal battle to rectify this travesty later this year,” Farfaglia said.

Unfortunately, for one term, we may have to tolerate the borders of many county legislative districts, which unnecessarily splits communities, he added.

“The powers-that-be will wrongfully claim that since their plan withstood a legal challenge, that they acted within their rights to do what they did. Not true! Let me put it more clearly: What do you think the result would be if the NY Mets and NY Yankees were playing a baseball game and former Yankees` owner George Steinbrenner was the umpire? That should make it clear,” Farfaglia explained.

“We are supposed to be a society governed by a system of laws. All county legislators have taken an oath to uphold the laws of this state and nation. The 14 legislators that voted for this plan violated their oaths and their pledge to do right by the people. In the four decades that these laws have been in effect, how is it that the Oswego County Legislative majority and Judge Norm Seiter have been the only government officials statewide to have EVER interpreted the laws that dictate this process as optional? No one believes that was the intent when these guidelines were enacted,” Farfaglia said.

Ironically, former Oswego County Attorney Bruce Clark along with the firm of Hiscock & Barclay (Norm Seiter`s relatives work there), followed the law and correctly implemented a reapportionment plan in 1993, the same set of laws that the plaintiffs are advocating for, according to Farfaglia.

Now, a different County Attorney, Rich Mitchell – who was actually an assistant in the County Attorney`s Office 20 years ago, and the same law firm have reversed themselves, he said.

This is all documented in the Legislative Meeting Minutes of 1993, he added.

“We are about to celebrate the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. That reminds me our founding fathers believed that we have a duty to fight tyranny. In their day, it was the tyranny of a faraway king. Today in Oswego County, it’s the tyranny of a partisan legislative majority. I and the other 10 plaintiffs will do our patriotic duty and continue fighting this illegal reapportionment scheme another time.

“Also, I would like to thank all the plaintiffs who had the courage to join this crusade. I would also like to thank the financial support and encouragement which came from many Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives and Independents throughout the county. Thanks again for all of your help and we’ll be at it again very soon,” he said. “Happy Fourth of July and please, enjoy the rest of the summer.”