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City lawmakers appoint members to reapportionment panel

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By Mark Scott

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-953990.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Common Council Tuesday appointed its five members to the Citizens Advisory Committee on Reapportionment.

The reapportionment committee is charged with the politically-sensitive job of redrawing the lines of Council districts to reflect changes in population. The five members appointed by the Council are Russell Weaver, Lionel Davis, Marysol Rosado, Philip Lowery and Marc Panepinto.

But the appointments sparked debate among a block of Council members who say they were shut out of the selection process. Ellicott District Council Member Darius Pridgen challenged leaders to do a better job of involving the entire Council in such important decisions.

"One of the greatest things I've learned in leadership is that if there is no process, it leaves the door open for innuendo and accusation," Pridgen said.

Mayor Byron Brown will appoint the other four members to the nine-member reapportionment committee. Council Majority Leader Richard Fontana suggested that in the future, perhaps the Mayor would be willing to give up his appointments so that each Council member would be able to name someone to the committee.

But it's too late to do that this year. So, the Council voted five to four yesterday to make its five appointments. The panel will have until June 1st to develop its recommendations.

Also Tuesday, the Council unanimously approved a measure that stiffens regulations for snow plow operators in the city. They will now undergo background checks by police and must place their names on a city registry.

The bill is in response to a number of complaints lodged by South Buffalo residents in the wake of the paralyzing December 2nd snowstorm.

Mayor Byron Brown is expected to sign the bill into law.

The licensing fee for plow operators in the city is $50.