"Senate Redistricting Splits Sudbury Down the Middle." November 15, 2001
Although it has received considerably less attention statewide than the controversial House redistricting plan, the state Senate's redistricting map has some in Sudbury fearing the town's political influence at the State House will end up being a casualty of the latest Census-driven ritual.
That's because the Senate plan splits Sudbury smack down the middle, placing the western half of the town in the Middlesex and Worcester D istrict with Marlborough and its neighbors along Interstate 495, currently represented by Democratic Senator Pamela Resor of Acton. The eastern part of town will be in a new 3d Middlesex D istrict, represented by Senator Susan Fargo, a Lincoln Democrat.
After years of being wholly in Fargo's 5th Middlesex Senate D istrict, the split, some Sudbury officials say, will mean the town's voice is dwarfed by much larger communities to the east and west. ''For the sake of gerrymandering the district, they have just murdered Sudbury,'' said Susan Bistany, chairwoman of the Town Republican Committee. ''Since they're only representing half the town, what is in it for them to even care what anybody in Sudbury thinks?''
Nicholas Palermo, a Sudbury lawyer who sits on the local Chamber of Commerce, said when cut in half, the power of Sudbury's voting bloc, with roughly 10,500 registered voters, shrinks markedly as Fargo and Resor attend to larger constituencies. ''If you slice and dice that in half ... we just get tacked on to whatever happens to Waltham, or to Acton and Marlborough,'' he said. ''It really dilutes us to the point of being potentially inconsequential.''
Waltham has more than 33,700 registered voters; Marlborough has about 18,500.
Like all state senators, Fargo and Resor are up for reelection next year. Both insist they will fight for Sudbury when it comes to things such as local aid, road projects, and property-tax relief. ''The first reaction when communities are divided for the first time is somehow that their status at the State House has been diluted, and that's really, really not the case,'' Fargo said.
''We will do everything we can to make sure they get double covered,'' said Resor, who begins her Sudbury crash course this afternoon with a meeting in town manager Maureen Valente's office.
Assuming Resor is reelected, one issue will be particularly thorny as she acclimates to her new territory: an environmental battle between the City of Marlborough and a group of Sudbury residents over the outflow from the city's waste-water treatment plant on Route 20. Up to now, Resor's district has stopped at the Marlborough-Sudbury border. Now, she finds herself in the awkward position of having to be an advocate for both Marlborough and its angry Sudbury neighbors just downstream.
''It's not going to be easy for me in respect to some of the contention between those communities, but I'm looking forward to working with them,'' Resor said. ''It may be that a fresh, new look at some of the issues will help us get beyond the differences.''
Ursula Lyons, vice president of the Hop Brook Protection Association, acknowledged that Resor, as the vice chairwoman of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture, has a good record on environmental issues. But Lyons said she fears Resor will favor Marlborough, and she called on the senator to demonstrate political courage.
''I would expect that she would [fight] for what she knows is right - that the environment needs to be cleaned up and the accountability has to be assumed by the City of Marlborough,'' Lyons said.
Not everyone in Sudbury is bemoaning the new Senate plan. John Dobrinski, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said having two conduits to the State House will give the community a larger voice. ''Now we have two senators who can look after us,'' he said.
Dobrinski also said having senators to the east and to the west better represents the town: It would reflect both Sudbury's longstanding connection to communities like Lincoln and Concord and the reality that many Sudbury residents drive west to work along I-495. ''We need to communicate both ways,'' he said.
Sudbury Selectman Larry O'Brien said the new map puts the burden on local officials to demand fair and equal treatment from their legislators. ''It's our job to hold them accountable and ... let them know that we believe we're not being treated as we should be,'' he said.
Ultimately, said Selectwoman Kirsten Roopenian, Sudbury will simply have to wait and see.
''We're not really sure what this redistricting is going to do to the smaller communities...,'' she said. ''Are we going to be the last on the list for every initiative, or do we have the opportunity to have two people working for us?''
Scott W. Helman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-820-4230 .
The word gerrymander -- pronounced with a hard g -- dates to 1812. Under Gov. Elbridge Gerry, the legislature created a state senate district consisting of Chelsea, Lynn, Salem, Marblehead, Lynnfield, Danvers, Middleton, Andover, Methuen, Haverill, Amesbury and Salisbury. The district went and bent from the outskirts of Boston to the New Hampshire border. At a no doubt well lubricated political reception, someone noted that on a map it resembled a salamander. "More like a Gerry-mander!" someone retorted.
The idea of the gerrymander was to put all the towns with Federalist majorities into one district, thereby giving Mr. Gerry's Democratic-Republicans (later called the Democrats) the advantage in many districts. Ever since, redistricting, which follows the U.S. Census, has been highly charged with political maneuver. Seldom more so than in 2001. Among this year's follies:
House Speaker Thomas Finneran proposed a plan, which he has apparently backed away from, for the 10 U.S. congressional districts that would all but eliminate the seat of Martin Meehan, of Lowell, while creating a new seat in southeastern Massachusetts. This was said to be in retaliation for Mr. Meehan making campaign-finance reform his signature issue after having been caught lying about whether he would term-limit himself -- the signature issue on which he was first elected, in 1992. Mr. Finneran is no supporter of campaign-finance reform, at least not Mr. Meehan's variant.
Whatever the motive behind it, the Finneran plan was rational overall and should have been be adopted without major changes. Mr. Meehan, who broke his promise to serve not more than four terms, now cries that protecting his incumbency equals protecting his constituents. Nonsense. If his addiction to terms is limitless, the Liar from Lowell could become the Liar from Lakeville, which was in the Finneran-proposed new district.
Republican legislators have floated the idea of removing Quincy, where Congressman William Delahunt lives, from his district, under the impression he would have to move his residency to somewhat more Republican territory. The premise is false. Congressmen are not obliged to live in the districts they represent, though for obvious reasons they always have. This trial balloon is a nonstarter. But on the odd chance it came to pass, Bill Delahunt is probably smooth enough to get re-elected in Abington, Avon or wherever from his Quincy address.
In redistricting the Massachusetts House, Speaker Finneran sought to diminish his real opposition -- Democratic state Representatives Ruth Balser and Kay Khan of Newton -- by putting them in the same district and making them run against each other. (State representatives and senators do have to live in the districts they represent.) The speaker backed off when Newton officials and women's groups objected. But he left the message, as he always does, that opposing him on issues great and small comes at a cost.
The most interesting maneuvering in redistricting the Massachusetts House may involve the seat of the nonopposition -- Republican Minority Leader Francis Marini, of Hanson. With just 22 Republican representatives (fewest since the party's founding before the Civil War), Mr. Marini has made it his business to keep on Mr. Finneran's good side. In so doing he retained more influence than the above-noted real opposition, who are liberal Democrats.
In return for Mr. Marini's loyal opposition, the speaker did him a redistricting favor. Mr. Marini's fiancee lives in Halifax, where the couple apparently intends to live in married bliss. Her Halifax precinct was joined with Mr. Marini's Hanson-Pembroke-Duxbury district. That gave the district too many people, so two Duxbury precincts were lopped off and grafted onto the district of Democrat Thomas O'Brien of Kingston.
That, in turn, infuriated Duxbury, whose selectmen and combined Democratic and Republican town committees sent a Halloween delegation to Beacon Hill to protest. At this writing the final answer has not been given. What can be known is that Mr. Marini has made himself a laughingstock. His effectiveness as a legislator and legislative leader is probably over. If he gets to keep his fiancee's Halifax precinct, he may get re-elected. But this escapade is likely to be what he will be remembered for.
On the other hand, if Duxbury is made whole again and remains in Mr. Marini's district, his contempt for the community he has supposedly represented will have invited a serious Duxbury foe. This from a community whose number of high school sports championships -- which is out of all proportion to the town's size -- may reveal an energy that could be formidable if turned political.
Although it has drawn considerably less attention statewide than the controversial House redistricting plan, the state Senate's redistricting proposal has some in Sudbury fearing the town's political influence at the State House will end up being a casualty of the latest Census-driven ritual.
The Senate plan, signed by Acting Governor Jane Swift last Thursday, splits Sudbury smack down the middle, placing the western half of the town in the Middlesex and Worcester district with Marlborough and its neighbors along Interstate 495, currently represented by Pamela Resor, an Acton Democrat. The eastern part of town will be in a new 3d Middlesex district, currently represented by Susan Fargo, a Lincoln Democrat.
After years of being wholly in Fargo's 5th Middlesex Senate district, the new split, some Sudbury officials say, will mean the town's voice is dwarfed by much larger communities to the east and west. ''For the sake of gerrymandering the district, they have just murdered Sudbury,'' said Susan Bistany, chairwoman of the Town Republican Committee. ''Since they're only representing half the town, what is in it for them to even care what anybody in Sudbury thinks?''
Nicholas Palermo, a Sudbury lawyer who belongs to the local Chamber of Commerce, said that when cut in half, the power of Sudbury's voting bloc, with roughly 10,500 registered voters, shrinks markedly as Fargo and Resor attend to larger constituencies. ''If you slice and dice that in half ... we just get tacked on to whatever happens to Waltham, or to Acton and Marlborough,'' he said. ''It really dilutes us to the point of being potentially inconsequential.''
Waltham has more than 33,700 registered voters; Marlborough has about 18,500.
Like all state senators, Fargo and Resor are up for reelection next year. Both insist they will fight for Sudbury when it comes to things like local aid, road projects, and property tax relief.
''The first reaction when communities are divided for the first time is somehow that their status at the State House has been diluted, and that's really, really not the case,'' Fargo said.
''We will do everything we can to make sure they get double covered,'' said Resor, who begins her Sudbury crash course this afternoon with a meeting in town manager Maureen Valente's office.
If Resor is reelected, one issue will be particularly thorny as she acclimates to her new territory: an environmental battle between the City of Marlborough and a group of Sudbury residents over the outflow from the city's waste-water treatment plant, on Route 20. Up to now, Resor's district has stopped at the Marlborough-Sudbury border. Now, she finds herself in the awkward position of having to advocate for both Marlborough and its angry Sudbury neighbors just downstream.
''It's not going to be easy for me in respect to some of the contention between those communities, but I'm looking forward to working with them,'' Resor said. ''It may be that a fresh new look at some of the issues will help us get beyond the differences.''
Ursula Lyons, vice president of the Hop Brook Protection Association, acknowledged that Resor, as vice chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture, has a good record on environmental issues. But Lyons said she fears Resor will favor Marlborough, and she called on the senator to demonstrate political courage.
''I would expect that she would [fight] for what she knows is right, that the environment needs to be cleaned up and the accountability has to be assumed by the City of Marlborough,'' Lyons said.
Not everyone is bemoaning the new Senate plan. John Dobrinski, chairman of the Sudbury Board of Selectmen, said having two conduits to the State House will give the community a larger voice. ''Now we have two senators who can look after us,'' he said.
Dobrinski also said that having senators to the east and to the west better represents the town: It would reflect Sudbury's longstanding connection to communities like Lincoln and Concord and the reality that many Sudbury residents drive west to work along I-495. ''We need to communicate both ways,'' he said.
Sudbury Selectman Larry O'Brien said that the new map puts the burden on local officials to demand fair and equal treatment from their legislators.
''It's our job to hold them accountable and ... to blow the whistle and let them know that we believe we're not being treated as we should be,'' he said.
Ultimately, said Selectwoman Kirsten Roopenian, Sudbury will simply have to wait and see.
''We're not really sure what this redistricting is going to do to the smaller communities, '' Roopenian said, adding, ''Are we going to be the last on the list for every initiative, or do we have the opportunity to have two people working for us?''
Scott W. Helman can be reached at email@example.com or 508-820-4230 .
Massachusetts Republicans, backed by acting Gov. Jane Swift (R), have produced a redistricting plan that would preserve Rep. Marty Meehan's (D) seat, but would draw Rep. Bill Delahunt (D) out of his current base.
The Republican plan would push Delahunt's district miles from his Quincy home, cutting out half his current district and creating GOP opportunities on Boston's suburban South Shore, according to the Boston Herald.
Sources told the Herald, however, that Delahunt would face no real threat, as his district would gain heavily Democratic turf around Fall River in southeastern Massachusetts.
Democrats run the state Legislature, but Swift's support for the GOP plan means that any Democratic proposal must have enough votes in both houses to sustain a Swift veto. "It's one of the better maps I've seen," she said of her party's plan. "In terms of the big goals that I've articulated for [state legislative leaders] and to others, it makes a very good attempt."
In her 15 years in the state Legislature, Carol C. Cleven, the soft-spoken, smartly dressed representative from Chelmsford, has gone her own way. The 72-year-old Republican has been beloved by liberal legislators, and a polite but persistent burr in Minority Leader Francis L. Marini's saddle.
She opposed the death penalty, one of three Republicans to withhold crucial support of it in 1997, when it failed to pass by one vote. She has supported abortion rights, and adoptive rights for same-sex couples.
She also cast the lone Republican vote against an income tax rollback last year, an amendment proposed by Marini, and an issue close to GOP hearts.
''They've come over [and] told me I voted the wrong way,'' Cleven said. ''And I say, `I haven't voted the wrong way. I've voted how I feel.'''
Now, Cleven is paying the price for her independent streak, her allies say. Her district was torpedoed in last week's House redistricting plan, in what supporters see as payback for all of those votes. It's a rarity for an incumbent to face a shredding. For an eight-term incumbent, it is unheard of.
Cleven, who once taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Illinois, rarely misses a thing on the House floor. Loath to walk or chat with other members while the House is in session, she ticks off each amendment on a notepad as it is passed or rejected. On broiling summer days, she dons a warm winter suit so she can withstand the chamber's aggressive air-conditioning for hours at a time. If you miss anything, you ask Cleven, fellow legislators say.
Her husband, Wally, a retired psychologist, has driven her to Boston each morning, amusing himself at libraries and museums until she was ready to be ferried home. She hoped to continue that for at least another term, she said.
The House plan split Cleven's district into four parts, and added them to those of sitting Democrats. Her home is now in the district of Thomas A. Golden of Lowell, a Democrat.
''I was rather shocked,'' she said. ''I was told I didn't have anything to worry about.''
Cleven offered an amendment that would have broken her district into only two pieces, allowing her to retain more of her constituent base, and offer a more competitive challenge to Golden next year. Her fellow Republicans, who had failed to raise a stink about Cleven's fate before, voted in support of the amendment, but it ultimately failed. Then the House passed another Golden amendment to split Chelmsford even further, making a Cleven return even less likely. Marini was absent from the chamber that day.
The town of Chelmsford is threatening to sue over the plan, and Cleven says she might run against Golden. But both prospects seem dim.
''This seems to be an attack of sorts on her, and certainly on the people of Chelmsford,'' said Bernard Lynch, town manager.
Two Newton Democrats, Kay Khan and Ruth Balser, also faced political peril under the House plan, which would have forced them to run against each other. They kicked up an enormous, attention-grabbing row, decrying the plan as sexist. Speaker Thomas M. Finneran relented, partly because Acting Governor Jane M. Swift threatened to veto the plan, and allowed both Khan and Balser to keep their seats.
But Cleven never became that kind of cause. Swift, a Republican, did not intercede for her. She said Swift has not responded to a letter she wrote imploring her to veto the plan.
Her Democratic allies are pretty sure Cleven was hung out to dry by Marini and by her fellow Republicans, who did too little too late.
''I was very surprised to see that a Republican who has a very close relationship with the speaker would allow a plan that chopped Carol's district into four pieces,'' said Representative Ellen Story, an Amherst Democrat.
Marini, a conservative and close Finneran ally, prevailed upon the speaker to extend his own district to include the home of his fiance, so that he could move into her house and still keep his seat. But he apparently did nothing to save Cleven's. He did not return a call seeking comment.
Cleven won Marini's enmity back in 1998, when she backed David M. Peters of Charlton as minority leader over him, she said. That support, and her votes, cost her a seat on the Education Committee, she said, and more.
''I'm the dean of the Republican caucus, but I've never been put on Ways and Means, which I've asked for,'' she said.
Cleven said Marini told her the reason she was not getting her first choices on assignments was, ''I don't always vote with the Republicans.''
But on her current predicament, Cleven is giving her party, and the redistricting committee, the benefit of the doubt.
''It's a difficult job to shift precincts,'' she said. ''I'd like to think they were sincere.''
Faced with slow population growth in this area over the past decade, state Sen. Joan M. Menard, D-Fall River, and Sen. Mark C. Montigny, D-New Bedford, are poised to move beyond Bristol County and begin representing new voters.
The state Senate's redistricting committee has released new districts for the next 10 years. Menard's district, which grew at a relative snail's pace, mostly remains intact. She holds on to Fall River, Freetown, Somerset, Swansea and Westport.
Her district will expand east to take in two new towns, Lakeville and Rochester.
Menard said she was a bit surprised at the new map.
"Actually, I had thought I would go north to Seekonk and Rehoboth, but the population increase is east, so my new district has Lakeville and Rochester, since they both border Freetown," she said.
Seekonk and Rehoboth will remain in the district of state Sen. Jo Ann Sprague, R-Walpole, who just lost a bid for Congress to U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.
Montigny's district also grew slowly. In addition to maintaining New Bedford, Acushnet, Dartmouth and Fairhaven, Montigny picks up the town of Mattapoisett.
Lakeville, Rochester and Mattapoisett are now represented by state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton, whose district is centered on the eastern edge of Bristol County and the western section of Plymouth County. He shed those three communities, while picking up the town of Wareham.
Otherwise, his district will continue to include his base of Taunton, plus Berkley, Bridgewater, Carver, Dighton, Halifax, Middleboro and Raynham. Instead of representing all of Marion, Pacheco will now have just one precinct in the town.
Redistricting is done every 10 years to reflect population changes across the state. Districts that either lost population or grew very slowly have to take on new residents, while districts that grow the fastest shed communities.
Greater Fall River and Greater New Bedford had very stagnant growth over the past decade, while Plymouth County, Cape Cod and the Boston area grew dramatically.
"If you look at the districts statewide, my district before this redistricting was very compact, in terms of a central city and all the suburbs around it," Menard said. "The important thing to emphasize is that Mark (Montigny) and I had to pick up more people, and it has to be contiguous with your district. You either have to go north, south, east or west. My district happens to border on the water, so I couldn't go to the south." Montigny had the same problem.
Despite picking up two new towns -- and communities not associated with Greater Fall River -- Menard said, "I don't think this is a district that is all that different from the one I have now."
There isn't likely to be a partisan change. Although Lakeville and Rochester are considered more favorable to Republicans, Fall River is a Democratic stronghold, as is Menard's base in Somerset and Swansea, which she represented in the state House of Representatives for 20 years before winning the Senate seat in December 1999. The heavy Democratic vote in her current communities would overwhelm any Republican tendency in the two new towns.
Menard also noted that Lakeville and Rochester are now represented by Pacheco, a fellow Democrat.
The new map still has to be approved by the full Senate, although that's usually a formality. Senators could file an amendment on the Senate floor to alter the map -- or, more specifically, to alter their own district -- but Menard said she has no plans to challenge her new district. There are 40 Senate districts in Massachusetts.
The state House of Representatives has already approved a map for the 140 House districts. Once the Senate approves its plan, the two chambers take one final vote on both maps. As Menard noted, House members traditionally do not try to change the Senate plan, and vice versa.
Michael W. Freeman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Shore pols hastily moved to scuttle a GOP-authored congressional redistricting plan that forces Democratic U.S. Rep. William Delahunt to move or lose his 10th District seat.
A Delahunt spokesman led a cadre of Quincy-area politicos questioning the motives of the Republican plan unveiled yesterday by House minority leader Francis Marini (R-Hanson) and Senate minority leader Brian Lees (R-East Longmeadow).
The Quincy officials vowed not to stand for efforts to ``emasculate'' the district, which would be moved exclusively to the Cape and South coast.
``Quincy's been in the 10th congressional district since the days of John Quincy Adams. Obviously, they have no concern for the history of the South Shore,'' said state Rep. Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy).
The Republican plan, detailed in yesterday's Herald, would move the 10th District from its traditional Quincy and South Shore base.
The plan sides with Senate Democrats who restored U.S. Rep. Martin T. Meehan's Lowell-based 5th District, obliterated by House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's proposal.
The newly released GOP plan won vocal support from acting Gov. Jane Swift, who said, ``It's one of the better maps I've seen. In terms of the big goals that I've articulated for them and to others, it makes a very good attempt.''
Democrats pooh-poohed the GOP effort as a non-starter since Republicans have little clout in the Legislature. But they said it now means any plan must have enough votes in both houses to sustain a likely Swift veto.
But the Delahunt camp cried foul. ``We are comfortable with the contour of our district, (and) to the extent that that can be preserved, that's what we'd like,'' said Delahunt spokesman Steve Schwadron.
Republicans said, though, that the only way to retain Delahunt's district is classic gerrymandering.
``The districts are more compact, less political in our estimation,'' Marini said.
Lees said, ``We're not having any congressmen run against each other, the congressman from this area can just move.''
Meanwhile, on a different redistricting front, a new map with redrawn districts used to elect state senators was released by Senate President Thomas M. Birmingham.
The major changes in the state Senate map appeared to be a broadened minority base in the district formerly held by state Sen. Stephen F. Lynch (D-South Boston).
To do so, the First Suffolk district picked up many heavily minority precincts in Boston from state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D-Roxbury).
State Sen. Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton) was pushed out of Boston, allowing him to avoid future opposition from active Dorchester, sources said.
Elisabeth J. Beardsley contributed to this report.
Republicans backed by acting Gov. Jane M. Swift will stake a new claim in embittered congressional redistricting today with a plan that forces a South Shore lawmaker to move or lose his seat, sources said.
The GOP plan, obtained by the Herald, joins the state Senate in restoring the 5th District of U.S. Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Lowell) that was obliterated by House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's offering in July.
But the Republicans push U.S. Rep. William Delahunt's district miles from his Quincy home, cutting out half of his district and opening up what could be future opportunities for South Shore Republicans.
Yet sources close to the plan said Delahunt, who would gain heavily Democratic turf around Fall River, is in no real jeopardy.
``Congressman Delahunt would have to move from Quincy but he's in absolutely no danger - this is nothing like what the House did to Marty Meehan,'' the source said.
The Republicans will argue that creating compact districts and opportunities for minorities in Boston is an opportunity that must be seized.
``This is the perfect time to move the lines without being gratuitously political and this is a lot more realistic,'' the source said.
The GOP plan being fronted by lawmakers - with the support of Swift - is the last of three offerings in the decennial redistricting process.
It puts the Republican governor and Legislature squarely on the side of the Senate in protecting Meehan, though the marginalized GOP can't offer any real opposition if Democrats coalesce.
Finneran struck first with a House plan that pitted Meehan, then a likely candidate for governor, against 6th District Rep. John Tierney (D-Salem).
The House plan moved the 5th District to the south, which has long sought a district of its own and added to the number of minority voters in the 8th District of U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville).
The Senate followed with less controversy in late September, restoring Meehan's district and winning plaudits from minority leaders for doing more to create a so-called ``majority minority'' district.
The GOP plan, like the House and Senate, ensures the 8th District is made up of more than 50 percent minority residents. But, unlike the Senate, it excludes Cambridge - a liberal outpost that minority leaders say would help bolster their voting ranks. The GOP leaders will argue that their plan will serve the state better long-term.
``It recognizes the current congressmen but shifts it a little bit and moves toward the ideal,'' a GOP lawmaker said.
There are certainly opportunities for Republicans hidden in the plan.
The GOP could gain strength in Delahunt's 10th District, which would be more centered in conservative Cape Cod communities than his current South Shore base. The same could be said in their restructured 3rd District, now occupied by U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester), which would include wealthy Route 495 ring communities.
More subtle changes are seen elsewhere in the GOP map.
Meehan's 5th District is a solely Merrimack Valley seat, cutting out the MetroWest towns around Marlborough and stretching into Tierney's current communities of Newbury and Amesbury. Tierney's 6th District would be pushed south into Revere and Winthrop.
Also in the GOP plan:
The 9th District now held by U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) would seize much of Delahunt's South Shore turf and lose suburban towns like Millis.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank's 4th District would stretch south from his Newton hometown to include Taunton, Seekonk and Lakeville.
And the 2nd District of U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) would stretch west to the New York border, taking the southern tier of U.S. Rep. John Olver's 1st District. In exchange, Olver (D-Amherst) would move further east into McGovern's 3rd District.
The GOP plan comes as House and Senate Democrats argue over their competing redistricting visions. Sources said lawmakers are still weeks from settling on a plan but both will surely discount the GOP plan as a viable alternative.
Beacon Hill Roll Call recorded local representatives' votes on one roll call from the week of Oct. 22-26. There were no roll calls in the Senate last week.
HOUSE REDISTRICTING (H 4700) -- The House, 128-23, gave near final approval to and sent to the Senate a bill establishing the House legislative districts for the 2002 elections for state representative. These districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect shifts in population.
The original plan pitted two Democratic critics of House Speaker Thomas Finneran -- Newton representatives Ruth Balser and Kay Khan -- against each other in a newly drawn district.
Finneran agreed to scrap that part of the plan and the House instead adopted an amendment taking apart Rep. Jarrett Barrios' Cambridge district, frequently represented by a minority legislator, because Barrios is not seeking re-election.
Another amendment adopted by the House preserved the Boston district of Rep. Kevin Fitzgerald, who was originally planning not to run for re-election in 2002 but who changed his mind.
In addition, under the plan, the district of House Minority Leader Fran Marini, R-Hanson, was redrawn to include a precinct in Halifax where his fiancee lives.
Supporters said the plan is fair and reasonable, and reflects shifting populations. They noted that when districts are redrawn, changes have to be made and some legislators will be unhappy.
Opponents objected for a variety of reasons, charging that members have had little time to look at and understand the complicated plan, which was released only a short time ago. Some opponents were not happy with their new districts and argued that in many cases Finneran used redistricting to punish his critics and reward his friends.
Others said the plan destroys some existing minority districts. Some noted that adding Halifax to Marini's district cements Finneran's cozy relationship with the House Minority Leader by allowing him to move into his fiancee's house following his marriage and still retain his district.
A "yea" vote is for the redistricting plan. A "nayî vote is against it.
The redistricting plan approved by the House last week is generating a storm of protest in several NorthWest Weekly communities.
Officials and residents in Lexington and Chelmsford voiced anger last week at the way the plan carves up those communities.
Under the plan, Lexington, all of which is now represented by Lexington Democrat Jay R. Kaufman, would be split in two, while Chelmsford, all of which is now represented by Chelmsford Republican Carol C. Cleven, would be divided among four districts.
''It's very unfortunate that the Legislature has made a political decision,'' said Lexington Selectwoman Dawn E. McKenna. ''The way they have broken up the districts does not even take into account our own internal districts,'' alluding to the fact that the two precincts served by the East Lexington Civic Association would end up in different districts.
McKenna added that the redistricting has ''aligned us now with communities for whom we have very little in common.''
The 15th Middlesex district represented by Kaufman now includes Lexington and Lincoln. Under the plan, the district would include six Lexington precincts, four precincts in west Arlington now represented by Arlington Democrat J. James Marzilli, and four precincts in south Woburn now represented by Woburn Democrat Carol A. Donovan. The remaining three precincts in south Lexington would be added to the district of Waltham Democrat Thomas M. Stanley. Lincoln would be added to the district of Wayland Republican Susan W. Pope.
Kaufman, who said he did not learn of the final plan until an hour before debate, said he objected not only to the way the map was drawn in his and other districts, but to the process by which it was done, calling both ''fundamentally flawed.''
The changes to the Chelmsford district were even more dramatic. Currently, Cleven's 16th Middlesex district includes Chelmsford and Carlisle. In the plan approved by the House - which was an amended version of a similarly drastic committee proposal - Cleven's district is essentially wiped out.
The three precincts in the part of Chelmsford where Cleven resides would be added to the district of Lowell Democrat Thomas A. Golden Jr., while three precincts would go to the district of Westford Democrat Geoffrey D. Hall, two to the district of Concord Democrat Cory Atkins, and one to the district of Lowell Democrat Thomas M. Nangle. Atkins would pick up Carlisle.
Referring to Chelmsford, Cleven said, ''To split a community of 33,000 people that has stood by itself and picked up other areas for many, many years is an injustice to the town.''
A conference committee will take up both the House plan and the Senate redistricting plan, which is due to be released soon. The combined package would then have to be signed into law by Acting Governor Jane M. Swift to take effect for the 2002 elections.
A broad coalition of interest groups today will ask the House to delay discussion of Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's redistricting plan, arguing that House members and the public haven't been given enough time to review the proposal and offer amendments.
Such organizations as the Black Political Task Force, Oiste, Common Cause Massachusetts, and the League of Women Voters will call on lawmakers to wait at least a week before voting on the plan that will serve for the next decade.
''The public and the representatives deserve time to look at it,'' said George Pillsbury, a policy director for the Commonwealth Education Project. ''We need to be able to look at it, to map it out, to discuss alternatives.''
House leaders released the plan Thursday and scheduled debate on the House floor for today. Several members have complained that Finneran's office has not given them access to the mapping and data programs that the speaker and members of the redistricting committee used in drafting the plan.
Representatives Ruth Balser and Kay Khan, two Newton Democrats who would be forced to run against each other under Finneran's plan, said they would have liked to propose a major revision to the map. But without access to the right computer programs, they decided they could not come up with a comprehensive alternative in time.
"We are calling for drawing the whole map again,'' Balser said. ''We need a delay in order to do that.''
But time is extremely short: The plan must be signed by Acting Governor Jane M. Swift by the beginning of November, since state law requires representatives to live inside a district for at least a year prior to an election.
Redistricting is conducted every 10 years to account for population shifts as reflected in the US Census. The interest groups and representatives said they would like to propose a map that creates more opportunities for minority candidates and is fairer to female incumbents.
Balser and Khan also said they would like fewer communities to be split by district lines. Currently, 73 Bay State cities and towns are in more than one House district, and Finneran's plan would leave 78 communities divided.
House lawmakers, in a debate that divided traditional liberal allies, retreated Monday from a redistricting plan that would have pitted two women lawmakers against each other.
The controversy was part of a contentious day of debate about the new map of 160 House districts. House members approved the map, which reflects population shifts from the 2000 federal Census, late Monday.
Women lawmakers had protested part of the proposal which would have put two liberal incumbent Newton Democrats, Ruth Balser and Kay Khan, into the same district. Critics said it would make it harder for women to run and win elected office.
But lawmakers from Cambridge argued that giving Balser and Khan back their districts would have a ripple effect and hurt other districts, including a typically liberal Cambridge district that has traditionally elected black and Hispanic lawmakers.
"There are ramifications. There is a domino effect. We certainly didn't want to hurt other districts,'' Khan said.
The plan to restore the Newton districts could be a violation of the Voting Rights Act, which is designed in part to protect districts like the Cambridge district that historically elects minority officials, said Rep. Jarrett Barrios, D-Cambridge.
Barrios, who is Hispanic, represents the Cambridge district but is planning to run for the state Senate. Barrios said the new plan would cut up Cambridge into more districts than it currently has and make it harder to elect minorities.
``We tried to work with (Newton) without balkanizing Cambridge. The representatives from Newton flatly rejected that attempt,'' he said.
House Speaker Thomas Finneran, D-Boston, had initially endorsed the plan to put Balser and Khan into the same district, but ended up backing the plan to preserve their separate districts.
``He thought about it some more and felt that incumbency was the overriding factor,'' said Finneran spokesman Charles Rasmussen.
The vote followed a day of protest with critics calling for a week's delay to give them time to draft alternative redistricting proposals. They said House leaders refused to turn over the raw population data and computer programs needed to allow them to draft alternative maps.
Finneran unveiled the new map on Thursday.
Rasmussen said the new districts were not intended to target individual lawmakers, but were created to respond to changes in population. Urban metropolitan areas in Massachusetts have generally lost population or remained even while outer suburban areas have grown in the past decade.
Hispanic activists say the map fails to create new districts to help elect Latinos to the House.
Giovanna Negretti, executive director of "Oiste,'' a statewide Hispanic political organization, said House leaders missed an opportunity by not putting all of Chelsea into a single district. Chelsea has a high concentration of Hispanics.
``We are very disappointed,'' said Negretti, who said activists might go to court to try to force the creation of a Hispanic district.
The new districts must be in place by early November. State law requires legislators to live within their district for at least one year before an election. The next election is in November 2002.
The state Senate is expected to draft its own map of 40 new Senate districts.
The final versions of both maps will be in place for the next 10 years.
Faced with slow population growth in this area over the past decade, area legislators are anticipating changes to the lines of their state House of Representatives districts, although most of them are not expecting anything radical.
The biggest change may be for state Rep. David B. Sullivan, D-Fall River, who will have to shed two precincts in this city which will go to his colleagues, state Rep. Robert Correia, D-Fall River, and state Rep. Michael J. Rodrigues, D-Westport. Sullivan will maintain Assonet and pick up the town of Berkley.
On Monday, the state House of Representatives is expected to release new lines for the state's 160 districts. The redistricting process is required every 10 years to reflect population changes across the state.
Fall River actually lost population during the 1990s, according to the U.S. Census, while surrounding towns like Westport, Swansea and Somerset grew at a slow pace.
Normally, that would guarantee changes to the local House districts, since all area lawmakers lost population. But as Correia and Rodrigues noted, Fall River's unique geographical location makes it difficult for lawmakers to tinker much with the district lines.
"That's the only thing that means less radical change for us," Correia said. "We're banked by Rhode Island and the water. We're almost protected by our natural boundaries."
Correia represents Fall River's South End in the 7th Bristol District. He expects to pick up one new city precinct, probably from Sullivan's district.
"Whatever precincts I get in Fall River, I'm happy with," he said. "I had lost population, so I do have to pick up precincts. I don't expect any radical changes, though."
Rodrigues represents the 8th Bristol District, which covers Westport and Fall River's eastern end, including the Flint.
"I'm very limited on which way I go," he said. "I have the ocean that borders me to the south, and Rhode Island that borders me a lot to the west. My only move is really deeper into Fall River. Westport has grown a little bit, by 300 people, which is immaterial. But in Fall River, we lost population, so I need to pick up one precinct in the city of Fall River, which is fine."
Rodrigues expects to pick up precinct 8A in the city, but whichever one he gets, "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I represent Fall River collectively, the agenda of the whole city. I'm happy to get more of the city."
Sullivan represents the 6th Bristol District, which also lost population. The district now covers the city's North End and the Assonet neighborhood of Freetown.
Because Sullivan is shedding some precincts to districts south of his, he'll be forced to move further north, picking up Berkley from the 9th Bristol District, now represented by Democrat John F. Quinn of Dartmouth.
"I'm being pushed northward a bit," Sullivan said, adding that he expects to shed Wards 8A and 8D.
"They've been great wards. The people there are absolutely terrific," he said. "But if I go to Berkley, I'll be enthusiastic in working with officials there."
State Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, represents the 5th Bristol District, which includes Dighton and parts of Swansea and Taunton. Haddad said that until the redistricting bill is finalized next week, it's unclear how her district -- which grew, but at a very modest rate -- will be changed.
"There's still a good deal of work to be done on it," she said, adding that she expects "some minimal changes" to her district.
"They're still being worked out. My district gained population, but so did everything around me," she said.
Swansea is divided between Haddad's district and the 4th Bristol District, which is represented by state Rep. Philip Travis, D-Rehoboth.
Although nothing has been finalized, Haddad said she might pick up more of Swansea.
"At this point, it looks like there will be more of Swansea together in one district," she said.
Regardless of how it turns out, lawmakers have few options available to prevent the changes. Once the redistricting plan is finalized, lawmakers get one vote on it.
Haddad said it can be an emotional experience to lose part of an existing district -- and with it, people they have gotten used to representing.
"It does get emotional, because you get attached to people," she said. "It's like I've lost my puppy."
Correia said Fall River is lucky, having been able avoid major changes to the local district lines.
"What happens around Fall River is not too bad," he said. "There's been so much growth on the Cape that it's been pushed towards us. There was a lot of controversy going on in the New Bedford area. Because of the population shifts on the Cape, New Bedford got the brunt of it. Because the Cape is on the water, they have no place to go but inland. That effects the New Bedford area."
Michael W. Freeman may be reached at email@example.com.
Minority rights groups say that House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran missed an opportunity to help Latinos gain more representation in the House, and they're threatening to take the state to court unless his redistricting map is changed.
Latinos in Chelsea had asked Finneran to make the city the heart of a House district where a Hispanic candidate would have a strong chance of being elected. The Latino population in Chelsea has grown dramatically over the last decade, to 48 percent.
Finneran's redistricting plan keeps Chelsea lumped in with parts of Charlestown and Revere, diluting the potential clout of Latinos. Several House members on Monday are to offer an amendment that would redraw Finneran's map to put Chelsea into its own district with a slice of heavily Hispanic East Boston, said Giovanna Negretti, executive director of the Latino political group Oiste.
''Chelsea is a community of common interests,'' said Guillermo Quinteros, executive director of the Chelsea Commission on Hispanic Affairs. ''We feel that we have a strong legal case. Chelsea should be united.''
Quinteros said the redistricting plan violates the federal Voting Rights Act, which ensures equal representation and prohibits state legislatures from diluting the voting strength of minorities. Charles Rasmussen, a Finneran spokesman, declined to comment on the possibility of a legal challenge.
The goal can be accomplished by carving up the district of Representative Eugene L. O'Flaherty of Chelsea, whose district now extends into Charlestown. O'Flaherty is expected to leave the House and run for the Senate next year. But Negretti said she is not optimistic about the amendment's chances of passing.
Two Newton representatives who would be forced to run against each other next year under Finneran's plan are also trying to change the redistricting map.
They said yesterday that they have been unable to gain access to the computer programs that Finneran and members of the redistricting committee used in creating the proposal.
Representatives Ruth Balser and Kay Khan said they would spend the weekend crunching the numbers so they could offer an amendment in the House on Monday.
Balser and Khan said that if they are unable to develop a viable alternative, they will ask the House to delay action until everyone has more time to look at the plan.
Common Cause Massachusetts is rallying support for that same move, arguing that redistricting is being handled in an undemocratic way.
Women's rights activists plan to spend the weekend raising a public ruckus after being blindsided by House Speaker Thomas Finneran's plan to eradicate two female lawmakers' districts.
The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus has galvanized its troops to bombard Finneran and their own representatives with calls and e-mails opposing the plan, said director Roni Thaler.
Failing success during Monday's House debate, which is expected to feature a free-for-all of amendments, activists will appeal to female senators, Thaler said.
Typically, the House and Senate don't tinker with the other chamber's redistricting plans, as a matter of political courtesy.
``It would be unprecedented, but this is a fairly dramatic plan,'' Thaler said.
The legislative redistricting plan, released Thursday and rushed to the House floor for a Monday debate, wipes out four districts and re-creates them elsewhere.
Districts must be redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts. Finneran's plan would force eight representatives - four men, four women - into runoffs.
Advocacy groups believe that would reduce the number of female lawmakers, now 23 percent of the House.
There is widespread belief on Beacon Hill that Finneran is exacting retribution against a small band of liberal House members, mostly women, who loudly criticize and vote against him.
But backers say it's strictly about population stagnation in Boston's western suburbs, and growth in Southeastern Massachusetts.
``You can't go through this process and not put somebody in harm's way,'' said Finneran spokesman Charles Rasmussen.
Rep. Carol Donovan (D-Woburn), whose district was carved up despite promises to the contrary, said she's working to ``put pressure'' on Finneran.
Female House members will huddle Monday before the debate to plot strategy for restoring seats to Newton Democrats Ruth Balser and Kay Khan, and Carol Cleven (R-Chelmsford).
For decades, women's groups have fought to break into the good-old-boy culture that dominates on Beacon Hill.
And in recent years, they've made some progress: Massachusetts has 11 more women state legislators than it did a decade ago, for a total of 49 out of 200 House and Senate members.
But now, women's rights groups are claiming that House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran could reverse their hard work with his proposed shake-up of the state's voting districts. Under his plan, three of the six state representatives who would be forced to run against another House member next year are women, including two veteran Newton lawmakers who would have to face off against each other.
''What this redistricting plan does is mandate that they'll be less women,'' said Roni K. Thaler, executive director of the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus.
Female lawmakers served quick notice to Finneran that they will fight. They hastily arranged a press conference yesterday afternoon where 10 House and Senate members and representatives of the League of Women Voters and the National Organization for Women blasted Finneran.
Representative Ruth Balser, who would be forced into the same district as Representative Kay Khan, shouted down House redistricting Chairman Thomas M. Petrolati as he explained the plan to reporters yesterday morning. Balser described as ''garbage'' Petrolati's assertion that rank-and-file representatives were extensively consulted.
''You balkanized our community while you protected the Boston representatives,'' Balser interjected. ''The speaker obviously cannot tolerate dissent. This, when our country is being attacked for democracy, makes me sick.''
Senate Majority Leader Linda J. Melconian accused Finneran of ''following a punitive pattern of redistricting'' by punishing vocal critics like Balser and Khan. Finneran would also eliminate the district of Carol C. Cleven of Chelmsford, a thorn in the side of the Republican leadership, who enjoy a close relationship with Finneran.
''That just diminishes the clout and power of veteran women legislators,'' said Melconian, a Springfield Democrat.
Emotions ran high among House members yesterday, most of whom learned the details of their new districts at the same time as the news media. Most members of the Joint Committee on Redistricting didn't receive even the outlines of the plan until Wednesday night, and many members yesterday complained of an inability to obtain maps and written documentation from the speaker's office even after the bill was made public.
Finneran was out of the State House all day and did not make himself available to answer questions. The plan is slated for debate and a vote on the House floor on Monday, and representatives already began arranging trades and other deals with House leaders yesterday. Amendments on the House floor are possible, but few are expected to carry since a proposed change in any one district affects all other districts in the state.
Charles Rasmussen, a Finneran spokesman, said that population shifts dictated the changes, not politics. ''You can't go into the process - under the Constitution, with demographics - without breaking some eggs,'' Rasmussen said.
Growth along the Interstate 495 corridor forced major revisions like the decisions to combine districts in Newton, Springfield, and the Lowell area, Petrolati said. The plan establishes four new districts - one on Cape Cod and three along the I-495 loop - and carves out an open seat in Roxbury that is 68 percent minority, Petrolati said.
But minority groups expressed skepticism about the speaker's motives. Giovanna Negretti, executive director of the Latino political group Oiste, accused the speaker of claiming to establish a majority-minority district only to split his critics and turn liberals against each other.
''It's all about his political agenda,'' Negretti said.
The once-a-decade redistricting of the 160 House seats must be completed by the end of October since the state requires representatives to live in a district for at least a year before an election. The Senate must also approve the House redistricting maps, but Senate leaders said they would probably not alter the House plan out of longstanding tradition that allows each house to handle its own redistricting.
Suburban communities would gain seats in the Massachusetts House at the expense of urban areas under a proposed new map of the state's 160 House districts unveiled Thursday.
But at least one woman lawmaker thinks the new map, based on the 2000 U.S. Census, unfairly targets women.
``What this map shows is that the urban metropolitan areas of the state have lost population or at best stayed even and the outer suburban areas have grown,'' said Charles Rasmussen, spokesman for House Speaker Thomas Finneran, D-Boston.
Rep. Ruth Balser, D-Newton, said the map singles out women in the House who often disagree with Finneran.
``Women were targeted,'' Balser said. ``This sends a clear message that if you choose to represent your district instead of leadership you could lose that district.''
The new map would put Balser and another liberal Democratic woman lawmaker from Newton, Kay Khan, into the same district, forcing them to run against each other.
Rep. Carol Cleven, R-Chelmsford, would be forced to run against Rep. Thomas Golden, D-Lowell, under the proposal. In Boston, Rep. Elizabeth Malia would be pitted against Rep. Kevin Fitzgerald.
``It's hard to imagine that was an accident,'' Balser said.
Women make up about a quarter of the House members.
Only one new district pits two male incumbents against each other. Rep. Christopher Asselin, D-Springfield, would be in the same district as fellow Springfield Democrat, Paul Caron, who is running for mayor and may not seek re-election to the House if he wins the mayoral race.
Rasmussen said the decision to pit incumbents against each other was driven by demographics, not political retribution.
Forcing Fitzgerald and Malia to run against each other will create a new, open district with a 68 percent minority population centered in the city's Roxbury neighborhood.
The decision to create a new minority district was deliberate, Rasmussen said. Minorities make up a small percentage of the House.
Balser said she is crafting an amendment to the plan, but big changes are unlikely. By law, each district must contain a specific number of residents, within 5 percent.
``In almost any case, a change in one member's district creates a domino effect that amends the districts of as many as 20 other colleagues,'' said Rep. Thomas Petrolati, D-Ludlow, head of the Redistricting Committee.
The House is expected to vote Monday on the plan. The Massachusetts Senate is drafting its own redistricting plan for the state's 40 Senate seats.
Traditionally, the House and Senate accept each other's redistricting maps.
Among the dwindling number of outspoken critics of iron-fisted House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, Ruth Balser and Kay Khan stood out: The two liberals took to the House floor to condemn Finneran for everything from cutting special education to his surprise move to eliminate term limits on his own job.
Now, they say, Finneran is poised to get his revenge.
Under a redistricting plan slated to be unveiled by the speaker today, the two Newton Democrats would be shifted into one district and forced to run against each other, they said.
Balser and Khan say Finneran informed them yesterday that his plan for newly drawn House districts would put them in the same district.
Finneran could not be reached for comment, but House sources said that he wants to change the Newton districts in order to keep intact two districts in Cambridge and in Chelsea with large minority populations. But neither of the incumbents in those districts - Jarrett T. Barrios and Eugene L. O'Flaherty - are expected to seek reelection.
And this would not be the first time Balser and Khan have felt Finneran's wrath: Each lost favored committee assignments and were given smaller offices for opposing him in the past.
"It is just clear that their intention is to get rid of one of us because we come from a progressive constituency,'' Khan said. ''This city is being politically punished.''
Balser and Khan said Finneran's motives were particularly transparent because, they said, it was feasible to create districts in the Newton area that could avoid pitting incumbents against each other.
''The speaker apparently chose politics over what has been a key factor in redistricting for years - not to change districts so radically that incumbents would have to run against each other,'' Balser said.
The two also noted that the plan would eliminate an incumbent woman at a time when concerns have been raised about the progress of women in the Legislature.
Earlier this year, Finneran faced similar allegations for eliminating US Representative Martin Meehan's Lowell-based district in his proposed new map of US House districts. Meehan is a national leader of campaign finance reform and an advocate of the Massachusetts Clean Elections Law, which Finneran strongly opposes.
Finneran justified his elimination of Meehan's district by saying it was necessary to create a minority district in Boston.
The redistricting of both state and federal legislative districts takes place once every decade to account for population changes recorded in the US Census. Finneran has scheduled a vote on his plan to redraw state legislative districts next Monday.
House sources close to the speaker said yesterday that Finneran's plan would also eliminate the district of Representative Carol C. Cleven, a liberal Republican from Chelmsford who has made enemies among the GOP establishment. Cleven drew heat for her vote against the death penalty in 1997, and Finneran has traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with House Republicans, who delivered the key votes to make him speaker.
Cleven would reportedly be put into a district with Representative Thomas A. Golden, a Democrat from Lowell. Under state law, all districts must be represented by someone living inside district borders.
In addition, two Springfield legislators, Democrats Paul E. Caron and Christopher P. Asselin, would wind up in the same district. The districts had to be combined because of population declines in the Springfield area, the House sources said.
The plan would also eliminate the district that was represented by Brian M. Cresta of Wakefield to create a new district with pieces of North Andover, Boxford, and Haverhill, they said. Cresta, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, resigned from the House to take a job with the Bush administration.
Finneran's plan would also create four new districts in high-growth areas, one on Cape Cod, and one each in the West, North, and South suburbs along the Interstate 95 loop surrounding Boston.