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Whereas you're wasting the City Council's time, don't do it again

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Tonight will be the first meeting of Rochester's City Council since Feb. 2, when the discourse sounded more like something you'd hear on Capitol Hill, not council chambers at City Hall.

But it was fitting it was below Rochester's famed Opera House, because there was plenty of showmanship and drama, a regular three-act morality play that featured faux anguish over something that happened a decade ago in order to produce a partisan perspective on this year's upcoming fight over redistricting ... before it has even begun.

The motion that got the partisan ball rolling was was a resolution offered by Councilor Chris Rice and approved for entry onto the agenda by Mayor Caroline McCarley.

The motion was prefaced by six "whereas" paragraphs, including three that distill the partisanship of the resolution most succinctly:

WHEREAS, the New Hampshire General Court conducted the 2010 census redistricting without transparency; and

WHEREAS, the public was not able to view the proposed redistricting maps at public hearings in 2010 while additional proposed maps created by the public were ignored; and

WHEREAS, the 2010 proposed redistricting maps were created to benefit one political party over all other parties and non-affiliated candidates

Of course, redistricting has always been a political animal In New Hampshire and elsewhere, because it is the responsibility of the state Legislature to take the lead.

On Feb. 2, right off the bat, several councilors including Deputy Mayor Elaine Lauterborn, Doug Lachance and David Walker expressed dismay over the partisan rhetoric within the resolution.

Immediately after the three expressed reservations Councilor Jeremy Hutchinson, who backed the resolution as written, insisted it was bipartisan because it had bipartisan in the language of the predicate resolution, in that it demanded that "Redistricting shall be fair, nonpartisan, and ensure effective representation."

However, the prefacing whereas verbiage shows it is most clearly partisan.

The resolution comes on the heels of an effort by Democrat leadership in Concord to establish an independent redistricting advisory commission.

However, City Councilor and state Senator Jim Gray said the state's Constitution calls on the state legislature to oversee redistricting, and the proof that it's working is in the wide swings of political power in the House, the Senate and the Executive Council in the past decade.

In the end - after a sometimes acrimonious half hour of debate and several votes to either amend or table the motion - it was narrowly defeated 7-6

First, the statement that this was not a partisan exercise is laughable given the six "whereas" statements at the top of the resolution.

Second, stop wasting the City Council's time with political rhetoric that only divides the council.

Your job is not to further your own or your party's interest, but the interests of the residents of the city of Rochester.

- HT

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