Honesdale and gerrymandering

HONESDALE, PA — “Pennsylvania is one of the three worst gerrymandered states in the nation, though there have been efforts across the board to change this. Today, there are bipartisan companion bills in the PA House and Senate, which would create an independent citizens’ commission to draw district lines in a fair, impartial and transparent way.” So said a statement read by Micki McDonnell of Fair Districts PA during the public comment portion of the February 12 Honesdale Borough Council meeting.

McDonnell said, “Senate Bill 22, introduced jointly by Republican and Democratic state senators, has 17 co-sponsors in the state senate. House Bill 722, also jointly sponsored by a representative from each party, has 107 co-sponsors, a majority of the State House of Representatives.” She added that Rep. Jonathan Fritz and Sen. Lisa Baker have yet to sign on, and that Fair Districts PA, represented at the meeting by about eight people, hoped to change their minds with local government endorsement of both bills.

That endorsement would come in the form of a resolution supporting the two bills. McDonnell concluded her statement with a request that the council consider joining the 13 counties and 160 municipalities statewide that have already passed resolutions supporting the bills, Monroe, Luzerne, and Wyoming Counties among them. The resolution would be introduced at the Hawley Borough Council meeting on February 14, and was approved at the February 12 Scranton City Council meeting.

Although the council took no action on McDonnell’s request, it asked her to leave a written copy of her statement with borough secretary-manager Judy Poltanis.

In other business, the council adopted an amended 2018 borough budget, with six in favor, Bill Canfield opposed. It also voted unanimously to advertise for part-time clerical position candidates; the successful candidate will assist secretary-manager Poltanis and serve as her backup. And a resignation letter from one of two recently hired part-time parking enforcement officers prompted a second unanimous council vote to advertise for replacement candidates.

Director of Public Works Rich Doney announced that Berlin Township bid $33,000 to purchase one of the borough’s aging dump trucks. As that amount exceeded all three appraisals obtained prior to the bid, council voted unanimously to accept it.

A request from James Brennan and Bob Jennings to vacate the appointment of Travis Rivera (on grounds that unlawful procedure had been followed during the vote of candidate Juanita Pisano) was voted down by the other five council members. In the absence of borough solicitor Rich Henry, who at the January 22 council meeting opined that the Pisano vote was lawful, no additional legal advice could be obtained. But, in private remarks after the meeting, Jennings indicated that he and Brennan would not let the matter rest.

 

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