Easton and part of South Bethlehem in the process.
I will no longer be able to call him LV Congressman Charlie Dent. In fact, according to an informative account by blogger Jonathan Geeting, much of the Slate Belt will be carved away. Dent will no longer be Nazareth's Congressman, either. He'll still have all of Lehigh County.
The Express Times' Jim Deegan has a pretty good story, claiming that Democrats Steve Samuelson, Bob Freeman and Joe Brennan are still working on a plan that will keep Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton under the umbrella of one Congressman. But they're in the minority.
Bill White has a hand-wringing column, but it's basically a re-hash of a column he wrote several years ago about another gerrymander.
Now this pretty much makes Dent invulnerable. But it's really unfair to the Lehigh Valley, which has its own identity. I also think it's unfair to Dent, who knows many people in the municipalities he's losing. Every July 4, you could count on seeing him in Nazareth, where he seems to know everyone. I doubt he knows many peple in Hummelstown.
CACLV's board chair, Alicia Karner, has issued a statement condemning the current redistricting plan.
After months of speculation and weeks of rumors, the public finally got to see the latest Congressional redistricting maps done every ten years, as required by law. Because of the change in Pennsylvania's population, it was assumed that the districts of today would like very different than those of tomorrow. But in the Lehigh Valley's wildest dreams, I'm not sure anyone expected the 15th Congressional District to morph from a condensed geographic region that wisely linked common people and problems together into a districts that covers portions of five counties. That is right: FIVE counties. The common political and socio-economic threads that bind the residents of the Lehigh Valley have been not only ignored but trampled on by the maps created by the Reapportionment Commission. Clearly, someone's poltical gain trumped good and common sense.
The Commission, comprised of five representatives (the Pennsylvania House majority caucus, the House minority caucus, the Senate majority caucus and the Senate minority caucus as well as the governor's office), clearly relied too much on the statistical machinations of the nameless, faceless computer programs that look at nothing but voter registration and the desire to balance the re-election hopes of those in office. Municipal boundary lines were ignored...transportations systems were ignored...regional social service networks were ignored...regional identity was ignored. Counter-productive to decades of effort to brand the region as the Lehigh Valley, as wisely advised and incentivized by the Commonwealth itself, we have now been reduced to a separation that will take another two decades to over come.
In addition to the stretching and dicing of the 15th Congressional District, the residents of Easton and the Slate Belt are presumed to have similar political concerns of the residents of Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. Ask most Lehigh Valley residents to find either of those counties on a map, or to identify the top concerns of residents in those counties and I'm sure the response will be blank stares. And so now not only are the Easton area and Slate Belt forced to be split in their State Senate representation in Harrisburg, but now their political voice in Washington has been weakened, too. What does this say to the already politically apathetic? This disintegration of the region's identity only further encourages their disenfranchisement.
Hopefully, it will not only by the Community Action Committee of the LEHIGH VALLEY, but the LEHIGH VALLEY International Airport, and the LEHIGH VALLEY Economic Development Corporation, the Greater LEHIGH VALLEY Chamber of Commerce and all the other valleywide organizations that take a stand against the political division of this region most of us embrace as the Lehigh Valley, and seek unified representation of this place we call home.
Noon Update: The Morning Call's Bill White must have joined the mafia. State Senator Pat Browne, says White, is "dead to me." White is upset with Browne, Bob Mensch and Dave Argall for their decision to put party loyalty ahead of the best interests of the Lehigh Valley.