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Mueller Fires Back At Republicans
April 8, 2011 - Dunkirk OBSERVER
Posted by Nicholas L. Dean
The legislature's minority leader responded Thursday to comments made in that day's paper by Fred Croscut.
In the article, Croscut, the chairman of the County Legislature, accused Rudy Mueller of putting up roadblocks.
Both Croscut, R-Sherman, and Mueller, D-Lakewood, are members of the reapportionment commission -- which is working to redistrict and downsize the County Legislature.
In a call to The Post-Journal Thursday afternoon, Mueller responded hotly to Croscut's accusation:
"It's really outrageous to accuse us of roadblocks," Mueller said. "We asked to start this process in January. Every single Republican voted against it. So, to accuse us of roadblocks... I mean, c'mon.
"And if he doesn't want to see any legal challenges," Mueller continued, "then write a law that follows the law. We tried to get the Chamber (of Commerce) to be a part of the five-member panel. Do you really think that if the Chamber and the League of Women Voters would have been two of those five votes, do you really think that this plan would have been moved forward? Absolutely not. So no wonder they weren't part of the redistricting plan."
What follows is the full text of Mueller's comments to The Post-Journal:
"The first time we saw the map was at 1:30 on Saturday. We had four-and-a-half hours. I have yet to see a paper print-out of the map. So, I went home, I worked on it Saturday night and Sunday. I think we can make a better plan.
You don't need to break up the towns. They're violating the municipal law four times at least. Imagine asking a lawyer, or asking our lawyer to write a law that we know that doesn't follow the municipal law.
There's a reason why there are laws, and we're supposed to follow them. I mean, we take an oath and they're not following the law.
So, look, there's numerous ways to do the districts without breaking up the towns. And I wish we had another meeting. I think we could have worked on it and made it better. It was an extremely short period of time.
There is a public hearing and the public needs to get informed on this and speak out. I think the people who are in the communities that were broken up... Y'know, Jamestown... And Busti is the fifth-largest community in the entire county. And it could not have a representative that lives in that community. And Jamestown, which has been growing, it has, at the maximum, could have four representatives -- and could even have three.
You look at this and it just doesn't make sense. Why would you break up Westfield and Chautauqua? There were so many other easier ways. Ripley-Westfield is a natural district. The numbers work out fine. And there are many of them that are like that. It needs to come around to 7,100 and it just didn't happen.
And roadblocks! I asked for a meeting on Saturday around 5:30 and he (Croscut) said 'no.' So if I would have said 'no' then, they would have accused me of putting roadblocks. I mean, if I wanted to put roadblocks, I would have done it on Saturday.
I went home and I worked on it and I found that there's a way to make this plan better. So, what? Are we supposed to go with a lousy plan for the next 10 years to cut six positions? We can't come up with a better plan? I wanted this to happen now more than anybody.
We could have figured out the bugs if we would have started in January or February. We could have reviewed the municipal law, (found out) what are the regulations? Does the Planning Department have the ability to do this? Do we really have to hire an outside consultant and use money from a political party to fund it when the county has the software and has the ability to do it and just about every other county at least in Western New York uses their planning department when they're doing reapportionment?
And reapportionments happened in 2002, 1992, 1982 and this big push to downsize? Yeah, I would love to see it downsized but a lousy plan for the next 10 years that hurts many of the people in this community, y'know, potentially and doesn't follow the law? And we're asking our lawyer to write a law that doesn't follow the law?
So the minority party, we have also a voice that needs to be heard.
It's not perfect, but if we had six months to work on this. We had two weeks. I had four-and-a-half hours. The Republican caucus got to see their plan for well more than a week. It's really outrageous to accuse us of roadblocks. We asked to start this process in January. Every single Republican voted against it. So, to accuse us of roadblocks... I mean, c'mon.
And if he doesn't want to see any legal challenges, then write a law that follows the law. We tried to get the Chamber (of Commerce) to be a part of the five-member panel.
Do you really think that if the Chamber and the League of Women Voters would have been two of those five votes, do you really think that this plan would have been moved forward? Absolutely not. So no wonder they weren't part of the redistricting plan."
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Fred Croscut, Rudy Mueller and County Attorney Steve Abdella are pictured in this file photo.