Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Lehigh Valley Divided

One of my readers took me task yesterday for not spouting off on the ridiculous state GOP gerrymandering scheme, which stretches Charlie Dent's district throughout 5 counties, lopping off 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.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

makes no sense what so ever

Anonymous said...

She should stick to her county job and stop pissing off people in Washington. Northampton county doesn't need that aggravation. Hopefully, Stoffa will tell her to shut up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are really wacky, you know that? Alicia has a First Amendment right, or do you think that only applies to you?

Bill said...

This is the first I have seen the map visually. It divides up the LV and reduces are identity as a cohesive region, which is my first reaction on the matter. The Express Times has a poll (which I just took). 100% of the respondents think this will hurt our region. When in our society in this era do we as a people agree 100% on anything?

Lighthouse said...

yet another reason to feel abandoned by the GOP...

Anonymous said...

Check out the Democrat redistricting plan that splits Lehigh County into 3 CD's at PA Politics. Talk about an even worse plan!

Anonymous said...

Ds would have done it had they not had their clocks cleaned in the '10 elections. Doesn't make it right. But this is a bipartisan scourge. Rs got to call shots in 38 of Obama's 57 states. As the President has told us, elections have consequences.

Anonymous said...

Did you really say you poor Charlie in this column.... This makes him invincible except for maybe a primary challenge. Now we know why it took so long for people to decide to run or not in this cycle. Dent now can be the true republican he is and not drop the pretense of being a centrist at all. The GOP neutralized the cities and hurt most all regional alliances. The Lehigh Valley will now hold no sway against the other major metropolises that exist in the state. This is an abomination and people should be calling their reps every hour on the hour.

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:26
You should have just said, sit down little girl and don't object to the plans created by a bunch of old white guys because they know better. And if you don't shut up, then Grandpa should step in and make you shut up or else you should be fired.

This would be just as appalling if it were done by the democrats. The system is broken. It was broken 10 years ago and shame on those in power who didn't force a change of the process in that time.

Bottom line: this hurts the Lehigh Valley
.

Anonymous said...

So I live in Bethlehem Twp but not in the Lehigh Valley?

All this because the lawmakers made it a law to cause additional voter disconnect every 10 years based on population?

Change it, fix it whatever and while you're at it, make it the responsibility of a body that has no vested (re-election) interest!

Anonymous said...

And ole Charlie sez I had no idea this would happen and I dont have any power to influence reapportionment decisions of my party.

I thought this was our thoughtful, well-repected representative who carries weight beyond his position to advance the interests of his district.

Selective impotence. But don't forget to vote for me. I will get things done. Just another JOKE.

Tom Foolery said...

The sad fact here is that we can cry and rant and rave all we want and nothing will be done about it..The Republicans needed to strengthen the toss up districts so no matter if Obama wins or not they will unquestionably keep control of the House..It was smart on their part and honestly , they don't give a damn about what the Lehigh valley thinks or for that matter, what the voters of the Commonwealth think. What's comical is that Statewide the Democrats have one million more registered voters than the Republicans and also are over 50 % of the total of registered voters..However, the Republicans have a huge majority in the House and Senate in Pa. and also the Congressional delegation. Do you really think these majorities came about by accident?
However, it doesn't matter which party is doing it, it subverts the democratic process and sadly , in Pa., we have no process of referenda to undo the damge done by these criminals..So we are stuck. Democracy is a joke anymore..

Anonymous said...

None of this was a problem when Ds controlled the House for 40 years.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Dent now can be the true republican he is and not drop the pretense of being a centrist at all."

Charlie has always been a Republican, and has always been a centrist.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"None of this was a problem when Ds controlled the House for 40 years."

Try again.

Anonymous said...

Bushkill Twp. checking in to say so long to the LV. We haven't had much in common for some time. Two congressman won't be so bad for the area.

Anonymous said...

This should be against the law, how can Easton be represented by someone who is from Berks county, and probably never even set a foot in Easton, this is the reason no one votes anymore, Tim Holden probably knows less about Easton than people from Bethlehem. Why can they not have the boundaries done by whole county, I think it's called contiguous lines?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Alicia Karner on EVERY one of her points, and I will be a strong voice against this Jerry-Mandering of the Lehigh Valley

Anonymous said...

It's actually Gerrymander. Named for its inventor, Gerry, and pronounced with a hard g.

Dottie Niklos said...

There are no Republicans that I know that approve of this. I know our Republican elected officials, voters and commitee members and they are all howling mad about it, as am I. Beleive me have been called and emailed constantly. Do not call this a function of the Republican party, It is not. If you look at the character of the panel it is evenly divided. The problem lies with everyone of them not to mention the system

Again let me repeat the Republicans are as made as everyone else

Register your outrage and prepare for a challange against this attack on the Lehigh Valley.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for your comment, Dottie. She IS the Northampton County GOP.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, then WHY did the Republicans vote to support this crap?

Tom Foolery said...

You can't be serious Dottie..If this were an evenly split panel do you really think the Dems would agree to strenthen all the republican Congressional districts? Seriously..The Dems were in charge for many years or at least had equal players at the table and never, ever came up with a plan anywhere close to this..The proof is in the pudding..Had they done so, the Republicans would not control the Congressional delegation and both the Senate and the House in Pa. especially since the Dems outnumber them to a great degree in regard to the number of registered voters in the state..It is a Republican gerrymander through and through..To pretend anything else is insane...If the Dems ever tried, then they certainly suck at it..

Dottie Niklos said...

If you look closely at the 17th district (was 15th in NORCO) it was quite a gift to tiny Tim Holden a big time Democrat. It cut a huge swath of NORCO cities for his use and removed the entire slate Belt from Dent's district. This was a lousy job for the Lehigh Valley on any level or for either party.

If you will excuse me I need to go to Tractor Supply and pick up some torches and pitch forks for the trip to Harrisburg

DRL said...

As an Easton resident this is about as pathetic an attempt at blatant, political rigging of elections as could be imagined. At this point the fragmentation of our community is so complete that it makes little sense for me as a citizen to take any state government official or policy position seriously.

Why would I think that this district's current composition would give any elected official a clue about our issues in Easton? It would be nearly impossible to convince anyone (including myself at this point) why I should even bother to vote anymore. It would just be admitting to participation in a charade: that we are willing to continue pretending that we have a say in our own future while those responsible continue to pretend they care about us.

Dennis R. Lieb

Tom Foolery said...

Good point Dennis! Again Dottie , are you blind to the purpose of this pathetic plan? Of course Holden's district became fatter..They needed to do take Republican areas from him to solidify their toss up Congressional Districts...I am glad to hear, however , that some Republicans are upset with the plan and carrying pitchforks but my guess is that running this show are celebrating their early Christmas present.

Scott in Nazareth said...

Is there anywhere to find a list of email addresses for everyone involved in this complete & TOTAL FAILURE of our government?

Anyone involved or approving this plan should be highly embarassed, exposed and ultimately punished at the polls for their selfish stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Oh there is no doubt some Dems cut a deal here. I agree that both parties are accountable but the majority party can ram what they want through. Everyone thought they were voting anti incumbent and now realize just what that vote led too. Our state is too busy watching the dirt at state college and missing the boat on the issue, much like the morning ca did.

Seamus

Anonymous said...

something had to move somewhere. The state did lose a seat. Look at Allegheny county-they have been spread among three congressional districts. Speaking of dilution.

I keep reading the constitution, you know that part about Congress. I just cannot find anything that says the Lehigh Valley gets a representative. If there is such a law or rule, tell me. do Italian Americans get a seat. how bout these people that are counted as 3/4.

Anonymous said...

Nazareth area, and can't wait to vote against Holden. Maybe we can get true conservative representation. Charlie's all about wars and abortions and death, death, death. He's a true Rockefeller Republican when it comes to thinning the lower and middle class herds. Besides, Charlie wouldn't know how to get to the square in Nazzy if had your help and a guide dog. He should visit some time. Holy Family Church has a prominent memorial to the unborn fetus. Charlie could lay a wreath, maybe.

Anonymous said...

Is that memorial created by the local "nones" except "sometimes". With real unborn fetus. Just like they found under the floorboards of the Abbeys in Europe?

Anonymous said...

The 3/4 people have representation....the President
and its 3/5th

Anonymous said...

Bill White vowed to hold the people responsible accountable up to their election times. Just like he did with the midnight pay raises. This I might add, to some degree of success.


Hey Bill if you read this.
Main Street in Kutztown has a HUGE
"Happy Birthday Jesus"
display at someones house, across from the park. They even have a blimp!!!! And you know nothing says
"Happy Birthday Jesus"
better than a blimp.

Anonymous said...

"no matter if Obama wins or not they will unquestionably keep control of the House..



wanna bet?

Anonymous said...

"Charlie has always been a Republican, and has always been a centrist."


That votes 87.3% with his party.
fuzzy math much?

Anonymous said...

It's actually Gerrymander. Named for its inventor, Gerry, and pronounced with a hard g.

No it is Jerry named after the Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia who
meandered through the land playing music and doing LSD....it is true because by disecting the valley like this, it is obvious someones tripping.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:32, Dent has consistently been rated by Nat'l Journal as one of Congress' few remaining centrists. I have linked to this several times in the past.

Bill Coker said...

Why is everyone so excited about the realignment? I think it's great Nazareth is put in the same district as Wilkes-Barre. After all we have the same local TV channel....oh, we don't do we? We both root for the same minor league baseball team...oh, we don't do we? We'll root for the same minor hockey teams....oh, we won't will we? We often drive the same highways commuting, have basically the same weather and share so many commonalities....oh, we don't,do we? What are we doing in the same district anyway?

Anonymous said...

Stop bullshiting. Holden will have a tough time holing his new District. I wish the teabaggers would stop hateing and start thinking. Maybe they would realize many of us are on the same page and that is a page many elected Republicans and Democrtas are not on.