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Charter Commission completes its work

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

County legislators today will receive the recommendations from the Charter Revision Commission. The commission voted on several proposals Thursday night, including one that would extend legislative terms to four years.


After receiving the proposals today, legislators have 60 days to act on the plan and send it to the county executive for his action. Any proposals that survive that process will go to the voters in November for their action.

"This could be used as an instrument for the people, that is, the citizens of Erie County, to improve the framework of their county government," said Commission Member Kenneth Farrell.

"It's an opportunity that doesn't come very often, only once every ten years," said Farrell. "And, so I think it's very important for the commission to try and advance as many proposals as possible."

One proposal likely to go forward is lengthening legislative terms from two years to four. Commission Member Diana Cihak does not like a plan to empower mayors and supervisors. "The County Senate, the new Board of Supervisors, whatever you want to call it. I think that's extremely problematic," said Cihak.

"But, there were other pieces that we came to compromises on and then there was some cleanup that I think will be useful. So, I hope they have a good debate," she continued. "I mean I think the idea of a planning board is a good one but adding an additional layer of government on top of that is extremely problematic. So, I'm worried about that."

Another item developed by the panel calls for an Independent Re-Districting Commission.

"Erie County, if adopted, will become the second county to have completely independent redistricting," said Chairman Todd Aldinger.

"Legislators will no longer draw their own lines and choose their own voters. We want the voters to choose their politicians, not the politicians to choose their voters."

The last time the County Legislature was reapportioned, the lines were drawn by an independent, Federal Judge William Skretny.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.