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Trumbull GOP's 4-District Voting Plan Backed [Update]

But the Democrats' plan, which makes minor changes to the current setup, may yet be considered.

Update, Monday, March 26

The Town Council will hold a public hearing April 2 at 8 p.m. at Town Hall.

Links to redistricting documents are here:

Original Story

A four-district plan with a "superdistrict" was recommended Tuesday to the Town Council by a 3-2 margin along party lines.

The Redistricting Committee was made of three republicans and two democrats, and the four-district plan came from the GOP members. A minority report and public hearing are possible before a final decision is made.

The GOP proposal puts six Town Council members in one district and five each in the other three. It is supposed to save about $8,000 and would move about 10,300 voters.

Democrats say it could also lead to 17-4 party majority and confuse voters through larger ballots and an increased number of candidates. The democratic plan maintained seven districts with equal representation (three council members each), and "tweaked" lines to fit the redrawn state legislature districts.

Committee Member Jane Aiello, the town's Democratic Registrar of Voters, said the GOP proposal is gerrymandering, adding the four-district model was being discussed before the committee was formed.

Republicans also charged the democrats with gerrymandering.

"Your maps are designed to break up certain districts to get rid of certain people," said committee member Tony Scinto, a republican. He added that that's what his fellow republicans concluded when he showed them the democrats' proposal.

Aiello said the democrats' plan preserves Trumbull's community feeling.

"In my almost 60 years as a Trumbull resident, I have watched as the town grew from farm and swampland [into] a great place to live, to a thriving suburb with a desireable location ... We have a good school system and Trumbull can still be a wonderful place to live except that partisan politics seems to be driving almost every facet of life here, and detrimentally so."

Before the final vote, democrats unsuccessfully tried to forward their proposal to the council and call a public hearing. Council Member Vicki Tesoro, a democrat on the committee, added that the town attorney has not yet responded to a legal question she posed. Also, Town Council Chairman Carl Massaro Jr. has not responded to two requests for a public hearing, she said.

Massaro was unavailable for comment Wednesday. 

The current seven-district plan with three council representatives has been in use for 28 years, said Bill Holden, republican registrar and committee chairman. A five-district setup was adopted for one election, and four districts were used when Trumbull was run by Representative Town Meeting.

The Town Council model was adopted in 1965, Holden said.

The Town Council must review the plan now, but it remains to be seen if the Demcorats' plan will be introduced for consideration via a minority report, or if the Council will hold a public hearing. 

The town needed to approve a plan because state legislature elections will be held this November.

Kristy Waizenegger March 28, 2012 at 02:35 PM
What was the motivation when we went from 4 to 7?
Thomas Tesoro March 28, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I am interested in what conclusions Kristy has drawn from the methodologies employed by the Majority and the Minority members and I would hope she would share it with us. I have always operated on the premise that methodology is secondary to out put with the caveat that illegal or immoral methodologies can only produce poison fruit. However, assuming neither group employed illegal methodologies (and I know the Minority did not and will give the benefit of the doubt to the majority), then our foicus should be on the output. I think when you put the plans side by side with each other and then compare the plans side by side with each other that the Minority plan is the better choice for the voters of Trumbull.
Kristy Waizenegger March 28, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Hi Tom T, I disagree with you - I think the "how" is very important, particularly for work of this nature and while I certainly have drawn some conclusions, I also still have many questions. I will direct those questions to the members of the committee.
louis March 28, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Such things usually end in lawsuits anyway. The democratic party hasn't sued over a non race based argument in a while, it could be good for our politics and certainly would monopolize a few years worth of election news cycles
louis March 28, 2012 at 02:59 PM
We should get back to the basics of representing all the people not just specific factions. Remember 2004 at the DNC when they sang the national anthem in samoan? That went over well.
Thomas Tesoro March 28, 2012 at 03:23 PM
That is fine Kristy and I think, once you listen to the minority members on their approach, you will understand that there were neither nefarious motivations nor political intent. The sole approach was to meet the charge of the Council with the least disruption to our voters. They achieved both while the majority achieved, in my opinion, neither. In spite of our disagreement on the BOF alternate, I still hold you in high regard. I think you will try to find the right way forward. To that end, I suggest you speak to Vicki or Jane about the methodology and Richard as well to get a good grip on the technology. Then put the plans side by side. I believe you will see that the Minority plan is the best for the voters. I do not envy you, I have seen how Martha, David Pia and Ted Lovely were treated once they bucked the TRTC. Good luck!!
Thomas Tesoro March 28, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Hi Kristy, I was not there when the change was made but, I can see the result. We have 7 voting districts with 14 to 7 (the current split) as the most any one party can have. Over the years the council has beeen heavilly Democratic, heavilly Republican and has had various "splits" in between. So, whatever the motivation the results have been quite good giving the people choice and the opportunity to make change. In other words, what we have works for the Trumbull of new milennium. The Republicans want to change it and have as yet put forward no rational reason for it except to MAYBE save $8,000. To me, preserving more and smaller districts as well as districts of equal population is preferable to larger, unequal districts.
jg March 28, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Kristy, If you've drawn some conclusions then you must be comfortable that you have facts to support those conclusions. Please share those facts and conclusions with us. In particular, you've said the methodologies used made some things clear. Again, you are apparently comfortable enough that you understand those methodologies to draw conclusions. I would ask three questions: (1) What was the source of your information regarding the methodologies used? (2) How do you think the methodologies differed? (3) What conclusions did you draw from them?
Mark E Smith March 28, 2012 at 04:07 PM
"The sole approach was to meet the charge of the Council with the least disruption to our voters."...Tom Tesoro Tom you know and I know and everyone else knows that this argument is REALLY about Minority Representation on the Town Council. Everything else is much much much lower on your list of concerns. Under the new district idea in the last two municipal elections would have made the Town Council 17-4 in the Republicans favor. If there was no Minority Representation like the rest of the governing bodies in the U.S. with would have been 21-0 Republicans and possibly 20-1 Republicans. With the admission of Ms. DiNardo at the end of last election that Trumbull is a Republican Town the Democrats are doing anything they can to participate in local government. Every other issue discussed here is moot compared to this. So the question is for all Town Council members is: Do we want to have Minority Representation maximum at 7 Town Council members OR at 4 Town Council members??? This is about either 7 members or 4 members, nothing more. Everyone should frame their questions around this whereas the rest of this is just fluff.
jg March 28, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Local government is unlike federal or state government. There is virtually guaranteed minority representation at the those levels because of diversity (north versus south, urban versus rural, etc.). So, it is virtually impossible to have dramatic splits like 80/20 (roughly equivalent to the 17-4 split). Towns, on the other hand, can be quite homogeneous. In the last election the overall vote for TC was 55/45 GOP over Democrats. Every district was within 5% of that split. Yet the GOP won all but 2 of the contested seats (essentially 12-2). Unlike at the federal level, where 55/45 would probably yield a Senate of roughly equivalent proportions, at the town level it can easily yield splits of 80/20 or more without minority representation. What's wrong with having that 45% represented by 33% of the council members? They cannot do anything, even uphold a veto, without assistance from the other party. All they can do is provide a voice for the significant minority in town. Is that threatening?
JR March 28, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Who turned on the fan and blew all of the smoke out of the room?
Cindy Katske March 28, 2012 at 04:57 PM
The problem that I keep coming back to is that the Town Council resolution passed on January 5 that charged the Redistricting Committee with its task included only a few simple requirements. Other than the procedural requirements, there were two substantive ones: recommend to the Town Council a council redistricting plan 1) comprising of voting districts of substantially equal populations 2) including the specific boundary lines of each of those districts. The four district plan FAILS the first requirement, because one of the districts has a 20% larger population than the other three. If the Council does approve the plan, I certainly hope that the majority will articulate why they are adopting a plan that fails to meet their specifications and rejecting a plan that does meet those specifications. The seven-district plan was rejected by majority republicans on both the Redistricting Committee and the TC Rules and Research Committee.
Thomas Tesoro March 28, 2012 at 06:04 PM
So, to summarize Mark Smith, the Republicans will increase voting lines and times, inconvenience more than half of the Town, risk costly legal battles and gut minority representation so that they can strut like peacocks. Or, you can take the Democratic plan that has equal Districts, keeps the current minority representation in place, inconveniences about 13% of the voters and is effective by every measure. Seems like a pretty clear choice to me.
Richard W. White March 28, 2012 at 06:26 PM
There are four sub-committees of the Town Council, some very active with six members and alternates and some less active with three members. Any any given time there are two or three ad-hoc committees such as the Redistricting Committee, Tri-Board Sewer, or Building Committee. Plus all of the extra stuff that Town Councilors do like Mary Beth's participation with the GIS Study Group or Vicki's attempt to attend every Board of Education meeting. How does a four member minority, reguardless of party, fully participate in our government with four members on a 21 member council?
Thomas Tesoro March 28, 2012 at 07:46 PM
They can't do the job properly. To answer the question asked by someone, the configuration was changed by the Democrats and the Unaffiliated members of the Committee (maybe some Republicans too) in the 1980's to INCREASE minority representation and to make the districts as equal in population (as well as exactly equal in representation). So it was a multi-party decision (as I understand it) and it was the right decision, we should not overturn it. It seems to me that one clear distinction between the Parties today is that the Democrats still believe in healthy minority representation. We will find out what the Council believes soon.
Cindy Katske March 28, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Why is it even relevant to ask why the districts were changed in 1984 and by whom? Shouldn't the relevant questions be: what are the problems with the current districts, and what is the best way to fix them? Shouldn't the problems have been identified at the outset? Right now the republicans seem to be focusing on cost savings and making the registrars' jobs easier, but those were never identified as problems to be solved by redistricting. Again, the objective of dividing the town into districts of equal population was articulated, but the republicans seem to be ignoring that. I just don't get it.
Thomas Tesoro March 28, 2012 at 09:36 PM
It is completely irrelevant but, all questions should be answered. Why, that way we can get to the meat of the issue and that is the comparison of the two plans. Once compared, it is clear that the Minority Plan is a better benefit for our voters and is therefore the better choice.
Tom Pieragostini March 28, 2012 at 09:49 PM
The dems pushed for the voting district changes in 1984. I might be wrong, but I don't think they even held a public hearing on it. The changes were clearly made to give more power to the FS. With a guaranteed 14 seat majority party maximum, every majority TC rep must appear to vote to override a veto (2/3). If even 1 TC rep is sick or cannot attend due to work, or some other reason, the majority cannot override the FS veto without getting at least 1 vote from the minority side. Restoring the 4 district model, which is time tested, puts the power back in the TC chambers where it belongs.
Mark E Smith March 28, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Tom, How do you know there will be more lines? There could be a consolidation of staff in less locations. How do you know it will be inconviencient for more than half of the town? How do you know there will be legal battles? How do you know these things? I believe you are again embellishing the issue. You have NO idea about any of these issues. None.
jg March 28, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Tom, you are saying that unless the majority party can make every possible decision plus margin to lose a few of its member votes then the final authority doesn't rest with the TC? The TC still has the bottom line authority with whatever distribution it has - including a few years ago when it was 13-8 Democrat. The funny thing is that Carl allowed a vote on Tim's veto last year that was in clear violation of the plain language of the charter (when the BoF deadlocked the charter forwarded the FS's recommendation but the took away the veto provision) because "he wasn't comfortable with the TC having the final call.". In that case there were only 16 members present. So not only did the TC waive its rights in that case to make a decision, but did so in such a way that it would be almost impossible to overturn the veto. So much for wanting a strong TC when the same party holds both the corner office and a majority of the TC.
Tom Kelly March 28, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Mark, what we do know is that with less voting locations, there is very likely to be more challenges parking, greater distances to walk, greater distances for many voters to travel to get to their polling places, and longer lines. Do we know everything for sure? No, but common sense tells us that things are not going to be easier or quicker with more people voting at fewer locations.
Thomas Tesoro March 28, 2012 at 11:50 PM
According to the minutes, there was a public hearing in 1984. As for being "time tested" it was and it was rejected. The current system has served us very well and is time tested for todays Trumbull. Hey, I am in the minority Party now and I still think the system works!
jg March 28, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Where do you think the $8K savings comes from? There will be consolidation of staff at the larger locations, but less overall staffing. The hope is that we can have districts that are 70-100% bigger than the existing districts but get by with significantly smaller per voter staff than we have today. As for it being more inconvenient for large numbers of voters, that's pure math. Taking the same number of voters that travel to 7 polling places distributed throughout the town and moving them to a smaller number of less distributed polling places means most of those that have to move will drive farther. There will then be more cars parked at each site so they will walk farther. Then they will wait in longer lines. Let's do some math. We have about 24,000 voters if I remember correctly. If they are distributed proportionally, the "super district" will have about 6,900 voters. If 75% vote in a presidential election and they show up evenly throughout the day that's one every 10 seconds for 14 hours. Unfortunately, voters don't show up evenly and some have problems that slow down the line. The pre-work and post-work rushes are almost a formula for problems when there is no margin for error. Queuing theory shows us how such delays multiply just like traffic on the parkway. You seem to know that everyone else doesn't know anything but what is it that you know? Why is this a good idea? How do you know that it will work? What's wrong with our current system?
Thomas Tesoro March 29, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Hi mark, Of course it is difficult to predict the future with perfect accuracy but let's do the logic game. If you have fewer polling places, with more voters per polling place and much longer (and complicated) ballots, is it too far of a stretch to conclude that there will be longer lines? Now, if 50% of the Town is going to go to another (or different) polling place, and the districts, by definition (and a look at the maps) will be larger, is it too much of a stretch to conclude that the voters will be inconvenienced? If one voting district is 20+% greater than the smallest district is it too much of a stretch to conclude that someone will make a legal challenge? The fact of the matter is mark the burden is on you to refute the logic of my assertions. Obviously, you can't so you tell me I have no idea. Quite frankly, I think you have no idea of the impact and are relying on hope as your plan. Well, if hope is your only plan you need a better plan...and..... THE BETTER PLAN IS THE MINORITY PLAN where we know those things will not happen!! I love symetry!!! P.S. Mark, if you consolidate staff, the savings the majority HOPES will occur is once again, looking quite suspect.
Lisa Labella March 29, 2012 at 01:56 AM
As a poll moderator, I can confirm, there are ALREADY problems at polling sites with parking, access (especially those with walking issues), long lines (especially during presidential elections), confusion with the ballot, and people showing up at incorrect polling sites. During these elections, poll workers, especially moderators and assistant registrars, go full tilt the entire 16 hours they work on Election Day. Going backwards to 4 districts will just make these matters worse.
Richard W. White March 29, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I have a methodology question for the Republicans: Let’s say the Four District Plan passes, but the fickle voters turn against the TRTC and elect a 17-4 democratically controlled Town Council. Since our new charter allows for the majority to help choose the minority I’ll pick the winners for this exercise: Super District goes to Mrs. Waizenegger, District 1 goes to Mr. Pia, District 2 goes to some new guy no one has heard of because he only managed to walk half his district, and District 3 goes to some other new gal no one has heard of because she only managed to walk half her district. Mrs. Watzenegger gets the nod for Minority Leader. Who does she pick to fill the following sub-committee slots? Two minority members for L&A plus an alternate, two minority members for R&R plus and alternate, and two minority members for Education plus an alternate. Who does she pick to represent her party on the Tri-Board Sewer Committee? Who does she pick to represent her party on the Building Committee? Did I miss anything? Meanwhile, the new Majority Leader notices that he has a member or two with only a single sub-committee assignment. What to do, what to do...
Richard W. White March 29, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Oops, forgot one: two members for Finance plus an alternate.
jg March 29, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Lisa, I don't understand the operational roles on election day, but I know a significant portion of the proposed savings are from cutting moderators and assistant registrars. IIRC each district has one of the former and two of the latter so they account for 9 of the position reductions.
JC March 29, 2012 at 05:48 AM
After reading all of the comments, I have four observations. First: Richard W. White seems to be the most knowledgeable contributor, with few finding fault with his statistics or methodology. Second: The only public hearing will take place right before the Town Council votes? Really? Third: If the dividend is the number of voters and the divisor is the number of polling places, the quotient is the number of voters at each polling place. Any of our 5th-graders can tell you that the smaller the divisor, the larger the quotient (and attendant problems of congestion, parking and lines). Fourth: All of this locking of horns to save 22 cents per resident ($8,000/population)? Really?
JR March 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Is there anything buried in this legislation prohibiting bake sales at polling places?

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