Monday, April 04, 2011

Alaska Redistricting Board - April 4 - Morning Session

The Board met from a bit after 10am and went into executive session at 11:15  to discuss
DOJ strategies for pre-clearance and potential litigation.
They came back at 12:25pm to add Barrow to list of Post-Plan stops and then adjourned until 1:30pm

Key decisions/topics:
  • Lisa Handley of Washington DC has been chosen to help with pre-clearance work and they are waiting for her to sign the contract.  She did this last time and also prepped the committee preparing for redistricting this year.  
  • Set up deadlines for post-plan public testimony (May 6) and submissions of plans written comment (May 13).  After that they will not be 'obligated' to review things submitted, but they may.  
  • Discussed logistics of how they want to meet and discuss plans they create - in pairs or alone when not at the 2pm meetings.  Decided to start together and look at current map and discuss issues.
  • Learned that the computer software isn't doing all the whizbang things they had hoped.  Their GIS person, Eric, said when he put in parameters it didn't do anything.
  • Attorney White needs to check on the exact deadline for plan - at the same time they received it or at midnight?
  • Legal Issues
    • Military population - has to be counted where they are based.  But they will double check on non-resident military.  Wasn't significant number in 2001 but maybe it's more now.  Probably not an issue.
    • Prisoner population - Randy Ruedrich has been pushing Board to count prison population at their homes not at prison to help with retrogression issues.  Census data will not be available in time to do this.
  • Added Barrow to Post-Plan stops
Below are my running notes on the meeting.  As always, be warned, there are gaps, I missed words, but it should give you a general sense of the meeting until there are transcripts. 

Open meeting at 10:08am
All members present. 

Call to Order
Roll Call
Roll Call STaff
Approve Agenda
Chairman’s Report
- Name of Voting Rights , but haven’t signed contract yet.  It’s in her hands waiting to be signed.  It’s in the Governor’s office.  Someone did rfp, unsuccessful
Lisa Handley, Mrs. Handley was voting rights expert for 2001 efforts and I believe she did some work for the 1990s.  She’s excited.  Hopefully she’ll sign off.  Hoped to have her on teleconference today, but she has to sign. 
She’s out of DC area.  Lot of historical data from 2001.  Eric has put together most of what she needs as soon as she signs.
Brodie:  How many applied? 
Brodie:  Who was the committee?
??, Myself, Ron, and ??
Ron Miller:  her mentor Bronfman?, did it in 1991.
T:  We’re behind schedule a bit, she’s very familiar.  Not trying to simplify this, but hoping just have to update the files.
Ron Miller:  She was here last April to meet with Redistricting committee and she provided the needed data.  Let you know when Sean Henderson says the contract is signed. 
Executive Director’s Report:
Ron:  I’m bringing on new staff tomorrow to help Mary with travel.  A person I’ve worked with in the past, a good addition.
What do Board members need as we start intensive sessions. 
Eric is in the corner.  Dept. of Labor picks up his salary, does our computer work.
Person who’s helping Mary can stay up to three months. 

Discussion on Public Deadline for Post-Plan Period
Brodie:  question when we’ll have them ready.  If done before the 14th, can we just hold them.
Torgerson:  Not familiar.  Draft plan preparing now for release on 14th.  We cut off public input on March 31.  Now talking about Post-plan.  I’ve proposed that we end at our Statewide teleconference.  We are missing two board members on 8th and 14th, so second week of May we’ll have three Board members and continue drawing, but not taking any action.  May 6 date for statewide teleconference on draft plan.  Last board chastised for not picking a date. 
White:  Last time they just adopted the AFFR plan, submitted at last moment without any public comment.  Court said, maybe you want to set a time deadline for not accepting more plans.  Different from public input.  Give them a week after the public comment.  Say, not public testimony after 6th, not consider any additional plans after 13th.   Court said, let public know and have a deadline. 
Torgerson:  thinking about 16th because we’re going to be missing board members.
White:  There won’t be any more public hearings after May 6, so not an issue.  People will be revising plans as they hear public comments.  13 or 16 either is ok.  Public comment done on the 6th.  Last date to accept plans if you want to consider them - they can send in anything any time. 
Torgerson:  Our goal is to be wrapped up by June 3rd.  Staff needs time - about ten days - to print documents, seek pre-clearance and other things that need to be done.  Time line is only 3 weeks after 14th to draw plans.  Not the six week it may look like.  Unless there is a way to push back into those three weeks.  Need time to publish geographical data.  Ten days last time Michael?
White:  Have to write geographical descriptions, time to clean up plans, little editing, get it to publisher, etc. 
Torgerson:  Timeline for release to public.
White:  If set deadline as June 3rd soft, board would vote on or about that date - here’s our final plan subject to minor cleanup.  Then back from staff no later than 14th.  Last time voted 3-2.  2 submitted a minority report.  That gives an opportunity for that.

Need to provide staff at least ten days.  At least 7 to 10 days to wrap it up.

Torgerson:  4th is Saturday.  That leaves ten days.  Meet on 14 I’d guess to adopt resolution.
White:  You’ll have the actual final product, that you’ve approved.
Brodie:  Motion May 6 last day for testimony, May 10 last day for submission of written comments, after which Board is under no obligation to consider things.
Torgerson:  question about obligation
Brodie:  Only said that because if someone does submit something with good idea, we could consider, but don’t have to. 
White:  Set a date after which the Board has no obligation, but doesn’t want to preclude itself for considering.  Don’t want people to sue because we considered it, but then you did.  Bob’s motion is probably good, because setting last date board is obligated to consider info.
Seconded by McConnochie.
Repeating motion:  May 6 will be the deadline for public hearing and May 13 deadline for written public comments, plans.  I’m not sure how you put obligated in. 
Passed unanimously. 
Torg:  6th is teleconference, we’ll be back at LIO.
I asked staff to split shift.  Taylor coming in around noon til 8 or 9 to do cleanups on plans we present.  Don’t need people working 12 hour days.  Eric and Jim will be assigned to members to help draw plans.  Hoping we get into discussion of how to go forward.  Do it in teams of two or individually.  Or global issues that need to be answered.  SEt 2pm every day as board meeting to discuss where we’re at.  Hopefully will have board draft plans to present.  Project on the wall, make presentations and show people thoughts.  How board things it should unfold.
Marie you’re gone on April 13. 
Here all day 12th?   Yes
Good, to get draft plans out and get ready for hearing on 18th. 
Greene: Only day missing is 13th, will be here on 14th.
Torgerson:  Midnight on the 14th?
White:  That’s how I understand it, but I’ll check
Torgerson:  We may need the 14th, nice to have it in our back pocket if we need it. Staff may need it for cleaning up our boundaries.  Mr. White please check.
White:  9:45 on the 15th is when we got it? 
cc :  Official receipt from Census bureau.
White:  Never seen it that we would have to be done by 9:45am, I think midnight is good.
Torgerson:  General discussion - team approach, individual?  Taylor is cleanup hitter every night.  SEries of plans.  Southeast, maybe minority districts?  Some tweaking, Have Taylor tweak at night.  Maybe staff do their own plan, another set of eyes.  More possible if have Taylor do that, stagger his time, at night no phones.
McConnochie:  I’d like two days to complete my plan.  Can I use the computer to check all the Constitutional parameters in there and spit something out, I’d like to see what that is.
Taylor:  As far as we know it’s not possible.  The program shuts down .  Let me get ERic.

Torg:  Is the software capable of producing a plan for us if we put in the Voting Rights Act and other parameters?  It’s supposed to do something like that.
Eric:  There is something called Automated ?>>>>> that is supposed to work, but I can’t get it to work.  I’ll check with Fred.  I’ve left it on and it keeps running and running.  ONly parameters I could do is incumbent addresses.  Threshold of % of census group, I couldn’t do that. 

Torg:  Have you tried it regionally?
Eric:  I’ve tried the whole state.  But problem that it takes the whole statewide data and would divide that by the whole state.
Taylor:  Could you try a single borough?  Anchorage would be helpful.
Eric:  I’ll Try.
Brodie:  Thinking about how to kick start this.  We’ve all be doodling plans, I’ve made 5 or 6.  Fisherman came over to house.  I’d like to see us project the current districts now.  PeggyAnn may have some understanding of SE I don’t understand.  I don’t know if I’m dividing in the middle of  a neighborhood.  SE we have 2 or 3 ideas presented.  Is that the way we want to lean.  I’d like to see us altogether look at the same map at the same time.
Torgerson:  We did that in training.  Michaels thought everyone working on same plan at the same time very efficient.  I’m not comfortable, but we can do that.  I spent time trying to run district all the way to Arctic village to make a minority district.  It’s possible, but ugly.  Part of our 2pm meetings.  If we all take SE and come up with ideas of how to do it.  There are no right or wrong answers on how to do that.
PeggyAnn, you think you need a couple of days?  Bob’s suggestion to lay it out.  Some general thoughts.  Going to be a mess to record isn't?  Thinking about the poor transcriber. 
McConnochie:  That’s my preference, but I’ll do whatever everyone else wants to do. 
Torgerson:  We’ll meet at 2 today and start that way.
White:  You might consider having it right here in the room.  Don’t have to figure out who is talking.  If group discussion people talking ideas. 
Torgerson:  How did the minutes look last time?
White:  They did transcription off the tapes.  Lots of indiscernibles.  If you know who is doing it, bring them in once so they can get to know the voices.
Torgerson:  When talking in the group, people talking over each other.
White:  Sometimes just said board member.
Torgerson:  ARe we using just one transcriber?  We had four?
Miller:  Just one right now. 
Torgerson: If using one, that would work - having someone come in to learn who’s who.
Miller:  Last time members helped with the transcripts.  We have several transcribers
Torgerson have to keep in mind and once in a while say your name.  I don’t know how else to do it.  Idea of using six transcribers, is so they have time to get it done and up on the website. 
Taylor:  Bob suggested starting with plans submitted Thursday.  Do you want staff to prep those?
Brodie:  Today, just throw a map up and talk about how to approach this.  Maybe look at stuff submitted.  Just talk about it how to approach it. 
Torgerson:  Actual mapping situation, projector, anything else in mind?
Taylor;  no, laughing.
Miller:  You (Brodie) want to start with existing house districts?
Torgerson:  One question is whether SE is four or five districts.
In my experience half a dozen trouble spots.  You can create them by where you start drawing..  Be in work session when finish our board meeting.

Legal Issues:
White:  Yes, I want to go into exec. session to talk about various
Prisoner situation … Military is pretty clear, constitution requires.  Whether or not board should instruct staff to inquiries to know how many non-resident military there are for retrogression.  Last time said so small - 8900 - couldn’t have any affect on retrogression and didn’t have time to come up with data.  Have to count resident military.
Prisoner population.
Brodie:  Clarification:  Non-resident military and what other term.
White:  Military stationed in Alaska but do not consider themselves as residents. don’t vote here etc.  Census counts them.  Last time 8900 people.
Brodie:  You used another term, military stationed overseas at the time. 
White:  If overseas, you are counted at last US station, they will be counted.  Constitutional charge, - purpose not to discriminate whether you are or not in military.  State can’t not count military.
Torgerson:  Last time you said board asked for those numbers. 
White:  I’m waiting for voting rights expert before making that inquiry. 
Torgerson:  Not that important for our draft plan, or post plan. 
White:  It was pre-cleared in 1990 and 2001 when they did count non-resident military.  Only reason we should do it.  We may have more now and we should know.

Prisoner population:  Discussed with Catherine Clark McCully - Census Bureau.  In first of May they will release block quarter data - large institutional settings where people reside.  It just tells us the block quarter and how many, but no characteristic data attached to that data.  Race not released in first week of May.  In June it will roll out an F1 which will have those characteristics.  We had a request from Mr. Ruedrich that prisoners identified and reallocated to place of resident prior to incarceration.  My sense is we don’t have the authority to reallocate prisoners.  Constitution makes it clear we are to use unadjusted census data.  That would require us to use adjusted census data.  In any case, we won’t have the data to make those decisions. 
Ruedrich’s assertion that allocating natives back to home districts would help prevent retrogression.  But even if we had the data bay June, too late.  It would mean we’d change all the data across the state.  Census doesn’t provide with addresses, we’d have to go to DOC and ask them for all the addresses. 
Greene:  Any numbers floating, breakdowns, of Alaska Natives
White:  I think D of Labor might have some, we could check.  Not sure what DOC keeps.  John might now more than I.
Greene:  It was stated in the testimony.
Torgerson:  I did call DOC, need to check on legal part, before asking for a run - no names and addresses.  We could gut generic about where they are from.  Also confident it would take time for them to make that data.  If it is a Constitutional issue, that’s a high bar.  When we see Michael’s opinion, if a statutory change - get something through the legislature.
Brodie:  I don’t have a good idea of how many people were talking about.  IN paper talking about Wasilla prison.  1000.  If 50% that would be 500, and if spread out over 40 districts, it would be about 15 per district.
Torgerson:  We have 12 prisoners in Alaska.  Out of state we have no authority.  Instate are housed as close as possible to homes.  If from Nome, they try to house in Nome.  I’m not sure the allocation, because of regional assignments, it might not be great - maybe between 40 and 39.  The only one with a big impact would be Spring Creek - maybe 400-600,  That prison would have the most scattered population.  I can still make a call to see how much trouble it would be.
White:  I don’t think it would hurt to make that follow up.
Torgerson: I’m intrigue d by the possibility if it did make a difference to one of our six minority districts.
White:  This whole thing is part of a national gerrymandering movement.  Districts have 30 or 40% of their populations as prisoners.  4 states where this was addressed by statutes.  This is the first go around.  NY and Colorado say not reallocate???, Maryland has followed .  Have to work with software provider. All earmarked money for litigation because matter hasn’t been addressed in court.  Bottom Line:  I don’t think we have the authority anyway.
Taylor:  Only significant increase in Spring Creek.  Wouldn’t that be non-regressive.  Voting age population.  Don’t know if they have the right to vote.  We need to think what the Native groups think.  I don’t think we have the authority to consider it. 
Torgerson:  There are under 21 prisoner.  Used for revenue sharing.  Go into a community with 500 prisoners and allocate that out of there, then you are reducing their revenue sharing dollars.  Could impact their redistricting.  If we reallocated, they would be bound by our decisions on reallocation  If we start with prisoners where do we end up?  Do we go to Pioneer Homes, hospitals, long term care?  Where do we stop.
White:  Reallocation purely for redistricting.  Would have no impact on revenue sharing.  Would be limited solely to redrawing lines for election districts. 

White:  Litigation strategy regarding Dept. of Justice pre-clearance.
11:16 am  They went into executive session and

opened back at 12:25pm. 

Adjourned at 12:28 after adding Barrow to the Post- Plan hearings. 
To return at 1:30pm. 

I forgot my gadget to upload pictures,  Maybe I'll add them later.


  1. When's the next meeting? I'd like to attend.

  2. They will meet for the rest of the week at 2pm at their Anchorage office. In the old Sunshine Mall downtown Anchorage. 411 W. 4th Avenue Suite 203. See you there.


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