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Oneida County Legislature lines met with criticism

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Oneida County Legislature lines met with criticism
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The Oneida County legislature is going through a major shake-up. They're dropping six legislators at the same time they're going through redistricting. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us why the simultaneous moves are causing concern for some legislators.

UTICA, N.Y. -- In November, the Oneida County Board of Legislators voted to drop six seats.

"Talk to the public, and they want smaller government, they want us to shrink our size," said Reapportionment Committee Chairman George Joseph.

By doing that right after a census, they set a ticking clock.

"We have to have this completed by the 2014 term, which is the 2013 election. So that's what's driving the timeline," Joseph explained.

And it's ticking too fast for Minority Leader Frank Tallarino.

"You just can't do this process justice in a week or ten days," he said.

The new proposed district lines were released Monday.

“I feel the maps are a classic textbook case of gerrymandering," Tallarino said. "By stealing from me, stealing from Mr. Mandryck, they created enough population for Mr. Waterman and Mr. Leach to be unaffected by this."

Joseph says it was all numbers, no politics.

"Nothing has changed, but we had to embellish those districts to gain population," Joseph said.

But Tallarino says it looks to him like the Republicans are maneuvering to solidify their base.

"They removed five districts that I had substantial support," said Tallarino.

He claims instead, they put him in five Republican districts.

"Where I have never had any, never had any exposure or presence," said the minority leader.

Joseph says they tried to keep districts contiguous and keep minorities together. Tallarino thinks that will hurt those groups, so he's planning an alternate map.

He said, "I just can't let them reapportion and gerrymander districts where they disenfranchise as many people as they have."

Which the chairman says is in itself, just politics from the side that opposed cutting the board.

"So they've opposed it from day one, they never will agree with what we're doing or how we're doing it," Joseph said.

If Tallarino is going to convince the Republican majority, he's running out of time. The board is slated to vote on the maps March 13.

The board is holding four public meetings prior to their vote:

February 28, 6 PM, Westmoreland Town Hall
March 1, 6 PM County Court House, Rome
March 5, 5 PM, Board of Legislators Chambers, 10th Floor County Office Building
March 12, 6 PM, Board of Legislators Chambers, 10th Floor County Office Building

You can view the maps at ocgov.net.

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