State Sen. Jim Ferlo is looking for constituent help in battling the new state legislative maps proposed a couple weeks ago. In a call-to-action posted on his website, he says pushing his tiny part of the city of Pittsburgh into Jane Orie's former district he says it would dilute minority representation and Pittsburgh's voice in the Senate, and calls on supporters to write the Legislative Reapportionment Commission to protest the move.
The LRC should have done much better than rubber stamp the gerrymandered, partisan Republican plan that was adopted; a plan that badly hurts the city and hobbles the county. In particular, the Final Plan essentially eliminated the boundaries of the 38th District and placed the district within the old 40th Senate District, the seat formerly held by Senator Jane Orie. This drastic alteration was not reflected in the Preliminary Plan. Had it been, numerous residents of the 38th Senate District would have testified in opposition to this transformation. By making this drastic change from the Preliminary Plan, the Commission denied the residents of the 38th Senate District an opportunity to provide testimony and offer comments that should have been considered.
The dilution of minority voters in Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh should not be tolerated. In the current 38th District, various minority communities were included, constituting a substantial and meaningful 30%. With the new Final Plan, those communities are now split and placed in the 38th, 42nd and 43rd Senate Districts, effectively eliminating any significant voice for an African-American community throughout all of western and central Pennsylvania.
The City of Pittsburgh has been ably served by three Senators. The Preliminary Plan properly recognized the historic representation patterns of these districts. The LRC's Final Plan is an assault against the residents of the City of Pittsburgh that depends upon unconstitutional splits of municipalities and counties and inappropriate, partisan objectives.