Friday, March 18, 2011

Anchorage, Wasilla, Juneau, Ketchikan, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Bethel -Redistricting Board Comes to You Next Week

[Update:  I got an email dated today at 5:35pm (I signed up with the Redistricting Board) which covers this information.  I'll post the email shortly in a new post.  There's finalized information on locations on the main page of the website now, though it's in a little window in the lower right hand side entitled UPCOMING EVENTS and you have to mouse over each location to get information.  Not the easiest to find, but it will have to do.  I'll update the info here,]

OK, I know redistricting sounds incredibly boring, but it will determine what House and Senate district you are in.  How the lines are drawn could make it harder or easier for you to be represented.  At the very least, you should check what district you are in and see how close your district is to the ideal number of 17,755 per district.  If you are more or less than 5% of that number your district will see some changes.  Maybe big ones.  Some districts may disappear altogether.  And new districts will be created in Matsu.

I've posted the list of all the districts and how close they are to the magic number along with the current Representative and location (though for the large districts that could be misleading.)  You can see that list here.

If your district needs changing - should it be eliminated and parts added to other districts?  Should parts of Fairbanks or Anchorage be added to more rural districts to get an even numerical distribution among all the districts?  Should lines be drawn to lump all Democrats or all Republicans into their own districts?  Should Native representation be preserved?  There are lots of really critical issues that will be affected by these decisions. 
Board Members Brodie (Kodiak) and Greene (Koztebue)

Meanwhile, in the next 12 days or so, the board will be visiting all the places in the heading above.  The schedule is below.

The Alaska Redistricting Board  chose these locations for Pre-Plan public hearings on Wednesday.  I checked my notes and called the Board to double check before posting. (Though I think I wrote down the wrong date for Fairbanks. I think it has to be March 28)

Alaska Redistricting Board Face Book Page
Alaska Redistricting Board website You can join their email list on this page (lower right) and join their Facebook and Twitter pages.
First Alaskans Institute - is a Census Site and working to keep people informed about redistricting

What's the difference between Pre-Plan and Post-Plan?

The Board (five members and staff) are headed out to hear what people have to say about how they should redraw legislative districts.  The state Constitution requires that they have a draft plan 30 days after they get the Census data.  They got the House data on Tuesday March 15, so the target is April 14.  Then there are 60 days after the draft plan is made public to make changes.  (I'm not sure if the Senate data have arrived)

All Meetings are tentatively scheduled  for 12pm- 7pm, though there may be some changes to accommodate local needs and the flight schedules of the board members.  

Tuesday - March 22  Anchorage  

[UPDATED 9pm:  Legislative Information Office Building, 716 West Fourth Avenue, Room 220, Anchorage, AK 99501 (map)   DescriptionAudio streamed via   (If that doesn't work, try this link.)]

Wednesday - March 23    Wasilla - City Hall   
UPDATED 9pm:  Wasilla City Hall, City Council Chambers, 290 East Herning Avenue (map)

Friday March 25  -  Juneau - Capitol Building Hess Room 102
 [UPDATE 9pm:  State Capitol Building, 240 Main Street, Room 106 (map)
 Audio streamed via   I'm guessing you'll still have to link from this page to here, but I'll check later. ]

Saturday March 26  -   Ketchikan  -  Location to be determined (LIO Office?)
[UPDATE 9pm:  Ketchikan Borough Assembly Chambers, 1900 First Avenue (map)]

Tuesday March 28  -   Fairbanks   -
[UPDATE 9pm:  Fairbanks City Hall Chambers, 800 Cushman Street, Second Floor (map)]

Tuesday March 29 -  Kotzebue -
[UPDATE  9pm:  North Slope Borough Assembly Chambers, 163 Lagoon Street (map)]

Wednesday March 30 - Bethel  - [UPDATE 9pm:  This is still to be determined.]

Thursday March 31 - Anchorage - and Statewide Teleconference -
[UPDATE 9pm:  Alaska Legislative Information Office (LIO) network (map)
The teleconference will be conducted via the Alaska Legislative Information Office (LIO) network. Alaskans who do not have access to a local LIO may provide comments via the toll free number--(855) 463-5009. Because of a limited number of lines available, those who testify via the toll-free number will be required to hang up immediately following their testimony and then listen to the audio-stream at www.legis.state.ak.u.  Again, I think they mean  here.
They're just calling this a statewide teleconference that just happens to be coming out of Anchorage instead of a second Anchorage hearing.] 

l-r Torgerson, Bickford (staff), Holm, McConnochie, White (attorney)
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO TALK?  - They decided people should get up to five minutes each, with some leeway to finish their sentences.  BUT if you are presenting a redistricting plan or representing a group and need more time, you should let them know in advance and they will accommodate that.  Maybe up to 30 minutes.  


They originally just had Anchorage on March 22.  But they decided because there were so many people and organizations in Anchorage that it was more likely they would have people presenting their own suggested plans and there would have to be time to hear these. So the Statewide call-in teleconference will be physically in Anchorage.

As I understand this:
1.  You can physically go to any meeting.
2.  All will be audio and/or videoconference through the LIO offices and online.  People can listen in to all, but only participate through teleconference at the March 31 Anchorage meeting.
3.  There will be Pre-Plan hearings or public testimony after March 31.  HOWEVER, people are free to contact the Board by phone or email and send in information at any time.  BUT remember, they will be pretty busy and I'm not sure how they will log in new comments and who will actually read them after March 31.  I'm not saying they won't, but I just don't know. 

I'll try to update the locations later today if I can get the information.

What's the purpose of the meetings?  The Board needs to set up 40 House districts with each having as close to 17,755 people in them as possible.  Given how many rural Alaskans live in small villages spread over a wide areas, this isn't an easy task.

District 6 is already the largest - geographically - state election district in the US.  The Census data says it has 14,235 people now - 19% below what it should have.

Should the  Board just cut this district up in pieces and give them to other districts?
Should they add other areas to this already huge district?
Should they include urban areas with villages?
What makes most sense?

I think that's what the Board wants to hear.  But when they made the list of Pre-Plan locations - places where the whole board will go together - they didn't seem to put any of District 6 on the list.  Partly, I imagine, because it is made up of very small places.

They will go to more and smaller places in the Post Plan period in April.  But those meetings will mostly be teams of two Board members (or a Board member and the attorney since there are only five members).

People can also start calling and sending in information.  But you have to have information to be able to comment.

People should also be able to audio-conference in for the Pre-Plan meetings.  But I can't find that information on their Website or Facebook page.  They have I think four staff right now and they are busily making travel arrangements for everyone to all these places next week, preparing materials.

At the meeting in Anchorage on Wednesday they sincerely sounded like they wanted the maximum transparency possible.  But the practical implications of getting this all done in 30 days with a small staff - and the current lack of post meeting information on their website  (I've got much more information up than they do) doesn't forebode well.  Maybe they'll get there feet on the ground soon.

Meanwhile it's up to the people of Alaska to make sure they know what decisions are contemplated and how they can give their advice and suggestions.

Some Numbers

Here are the districts that are most significantly BELOW the ideal size - districts which will require the most work by the board.

The Biggest Losers - districts significantly below the 17,755 mark.

District 5 - Southeast District that includes Haines and wanders south to the Canadian border, surrounding Districts 1, 2, 3, and 4, currently held by Rep. Bill Thomas Jr., has the lowest population - 13,846 - 22% below the ideal size of 17,755.

If these people want to get involved in the pre-plan process - they'll have to go to Juneau, Ketchikan, or Wasilla, or Palmer to be heard. And the March 31 Statewide teleconference.

District 6 - the large interior district north of Fairbanks held by new Rep. Alan Dick is 19% below the ideal size of 17,755 at 14,235.

This district goes from Cordova out to Aniak. Choices to participate Pre-Plan look like Fairbans, Bethel, Kotzebue, Wasilla, and Anchorage.  And the March 31 Statewide teleconference.

District 1 - Ketchikan seat held by Rep. Kyle Johansen is 19% below the ideal at 14,333.

Ketchikan has its meeting on March 26.  And the March 31 Statewide teleconference.

District 36 -Kodiak seat held by Rep. Alan Austermann is below by 17% at 14,570.

Out of luck for the Pre-Plan period. Will have to go out of their district to particiapte, or call and email.  And the March 31 Statewide teleconference.

District 2 - Petersberg seat held by Rep. Peggy Wilson is below by 17% at 14,651.

Have to go to Ketchikan or Juneau.  And the March 31 Statewide teleconference.

District 12   - the large seat that stretches from around Chickaloon to Valdez held by new Rep. Eric Feige is 16% below the target at  14,811.

Wasilla, Anchorage, maybe Juneau.  And the March 31 Statewide teleconference.

Let me get this up so that people can at least see when and where the Pre-Plan meetings are scheduled.

POST-PLAN Hearing Locations

They also made a list of Post-Plan hearings. There will be more places - with teams of two attending from the Board. Dates aren't set yet. People should be able to see the draft plan before the meetings and then come and offer suggestions for fixes to the draft plan. Here's my list from the meeting:

  • Anchorage, 
  • Angoon
  • Bethel, 
  • Cordova
  • Craig
  • Delta Junction
  • Dillingham
  • Dutch Harbor
  • Fairbanks
  • Galena
  • Glenallen
  • Haines
  • Healy 
  • Hoonah 
  • Homer 
  • Juneau
  • Ketchikan
  • King Salmon or Naknek
  • Kodiak
  • Palmer or Wasilla 
  • Petersburg
  • Seward
  • Sitka
  • Skagway
  • Tok
  • Valdez
  • Wrangell
No dates yet.

Not sure how they're going to get to all these places in a short time.  But I wish them luck.  My concern is that they will have gotten to a lot of places, but before people were prepared to really know enough to give meaningful feedback.  So it's up to readers to spread the information and get people to start getting on the Alaska Redistricting Board's mailing list.

Here are the other posts I've done on this topic:

Tuesday March 15:  

The Iditarod Winner is in, Next Event Redistricting
Lists the Board members with pictures and gives background to what they need to do.

Wednesday March 16:

Alaska Redistricing:  House Winners and Losers
This one takes the Census data with the numbers for all the districts for 2010 and adds in the names of the representatives, party affiliation, and location.  There's also a state district map, and lists of the districts with the highest and lowest deviation from the ideal size of 17,755.

Redistricting Board Meets, Sets Travel Agenda and Ground Rules      
My running notes of the Wednesday meeting.  For those who need to know all the details.  A long post.

Thursday, March 17

Redistricting Board Won't Use "Protecting Incumbents" as Principle
This posts reviews the federally and state mandated  criteria the board must use to make their decisions and their discussion and rejection of two others:  "protecting incumbents" and "community of interest."

There will be more coming.

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