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Common Council Redraws District Lines

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – There was another heated reapportionment debate in Buffalo Common Council Chambers Tuesday with more accusations of racism. But this time it was a fight over a redistricting map for the city.

A local law supporting a nine district map was approved in a seven to six vote. But once again the Council voted along racial lines -- seven white lawmakers supported it, six African Americans said no.

University District lawmaker Betty Jean Grant says she never had any input when the map was redrawn. The Council originally approved it in July. But before Tuesday's vote on a local law to finalize boundary lines, African American lawmakers accused their colleagues of alerting it. Grant says it removes two streets from her district placing them in the Masten District. She says At-Large Council member, Rosemarie LoTempio, who lives in the University district, is to blame. But LoTempio says she has not "invoked any rules."

LoTempio then lashed out at Council President James Pitts, asking him to stop saying she plans to retire.

Masten District lawmaker Antoine Thompson begged the Council to hold off on the vote after the corporation counsel said the map could be submitted as late as February of 2003.

The Department of Strategic Planning says it uses census numbers to create the final version of the map. David Desalvo says the new map does shift a little more than 500 households into new Council districts.