County lawmakers on Monday forcefully rejected a proposed settlement to a three-year-old voting rights lawsuit, sending the case back to federal court with an emphatic rebuke of County Executive Dan McCoy. The settlement would have ended the complex and increasingly costly case alleging racial imbalances in the county’s political map by, among other things, establishing a fifth legislative district in which minority voters are a majority. And while several of the majority Democratic lawmakers said that they support that goal, they blasted McCoy for freezing the legislature out of the settlement process and accused him of overstepping his authority in trying to dictate how the new lines would be drawn. High on the list of grievances is that the settlement would have prescribed the makeup of the county’s redistricting commission, a task legislative leaders said is clearly lawmakers’ prerogative. The vote was 34-3, with even some of the Democratic executive’s Republican allies opposing it.
“I think everybody believed that legislative process should be a legislative process,” legislature Chairman Shawn Morse, a Cohoes Democrat, said after the vote.
Now the trial in the case will resume Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court as the largest-in-the-state county legislature instead appears poised to move ahead with a plan to downsize its ranks from 39 to 35.
A Democratic proposal unveiled earlier this month and fast-tracked to be in place by November’s elections would have cut the size of the legislature to 25 — a number that was swiftly increased to 29 and now 35 after what legislative leaders described as discussion among members.
Full Article: Voting rights accord rejected – Times Union.