Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Redistricting Board Adjourned Early to Tweak

[UPDATE 5pm:  The Board has posted "Conceptual Regional Maps" that are still being tweaked to become, as a package, their draft plan.  In some cases - Southeast and Wasilla - there are alternative maps, but only the main options are shown.  

The staff is still working on getting the deviations (amount each district is above or below 17,755) as close to zero as possible, and to make the districts cleaner looking and more compact.  The four maps I looked at - Anchorage. Rural, Juneau, and Matsu - didn't have district numbers on them, but all but the Juneau maps have more information than what they handed out at the meetings.  Juneau was already more detailed. 

-  Rural
- Southeast
- Fairbanks/Interior
- Matanuska-Susitna
-Kenai Peninsula

The Board looked a bit more at Matsu, adopted staffer Jim Ellis' plan as Matsu Plan 1 (Wasilla is in two or three different districts)  and Member Brody's plan (which puts downtown Wasilla all in one district) as Matsu Alternative.

They then adjourned to let the staff prepare the maps for tomorrow when they will try to approve them for the Draft Plan.  The detailed map of the Anchorage districts I was promised yesterday, and then today, wasn't available.  I talked to the attorney about this.  He was concerned that the board would be expected to post each iteration of a plan when everything was still in flux.  And said it would be available Thursday.   I pointed out that the plan was approved by the board even though they didn't even see the details, when they approved it and that I would post with appropriate disclaimers that this was what they had approved as the working draft and the absolutely final draft plan would be completed by Thursday, April 14.    I would be happy with just taking pictures off someone's computer screen.  He said he'd get back to me.  There appears to be a significant shift in districts to the south, based on my sitting there watching what they were doing.  But even if you videotaped the whole process it would be hard to tell where things ended up.  The map they handed out yesterday was so big there were no landmarks with which to figure out where the district borders were, even approximately.  I have some maps showing this on the post about yesterday's meeting.

I also talked to board member PeggyAnn McConnochie after the meeting and clarified the districts in her map.  I want to do a post on this - but in brief, the three northern SE incumbents stay in their own districts in her latest version and the two southern SE incumbents would be in one district.  The two incumbent Senators are in the same House district.  And there is one district that will have to have a non-contiguous connection to another district outside SE to make up a Senate district. 

Here are my notes from this morning's meeting:  [Usual disclaimer:  these are rough notes, but give a reasonably accurate account of what happened.  But check before you bet the farm on any of the details.]

Redistricting Board April 12, 2011  11am meeting

[I got here at 11:20 - they are looking at another map of Matsu.  Staffer Jim Ellis was presenting when I came in and there’s a new map.  This one splits up the city of Wasilla into, it looks like, three districts.  At this point, I couldn’t tell you at all how it’s different from the previous ones.]

Brody is now presenting his map. 
Brody:  The deviations are no more than 50. I could tweak it a little more
McConnochie:  Do you remember the testimony on this?
Torgerson:  The mayor wanted to split on the highway and have two districts.
[Brody’s seems to have downtown Wasilla as unified district.]
Torgerson:  The only testimony we got from Wasilla was to divide along the highway.  [So if one person, even if it is the mayor, gives testimony it has to be followed?  What do other people think?  I’m not saying to ignore him, but it would be helpful to find out his reasoning.  Is it more compelling than your reasons not to?]
Brody:  It’s ok what the mayor says, but it’s part of our charge.
Torgerson:  I would be ok, but that’s the only testimony we have.  Did they give us a resolution? [No] We could show this as split and see their reaction.  In Jim’s, in order for the rep to get to Pt. McK he’d have to drive all the way around.  We could make one the plan and one the alternate as we did in Southeast. 
McConnochie:  Let’s adopt Jim’s plan as the main plan and Brody’s as the alternate.
Torgerson:  The motion: Jim’s Tuesday plan and Brody’s as alternate.
Passed Unanimously.  That completes the pieces of the puzzle.
Brody:  Did we adopt Anchorage yesterday?
Brody:  Can I see a copy of that?  [They gave him the map I posted yesterday which doesn’t really show any details]
Torgerson:  We have FR, FER, DEmocrats, Bush Caucus, Valdez,
Move to take all the plans submitted . . .
Holm:  I’d like to add the Native languages map.
Torgerson: We got that off the web, yes.  There was another one that seemed to be a better map. 
Motion to take all the plans on the circuit.
White:  Valdez plan doesn’t fit into any other plan . . .  Never mind.
Torgerson:  None do, we’ve taken bits and pieces, some suggestions from every plan.
Miller:  Which Bush caucus?
Torgerson:  There are four.  Scan them in and put them all on one map. Try to get them all on big maps.  That was my thought on the Bush caucus so everyone can see.  We need some identification so we know who those people are.
McConnochie:  Could we have population deviations identified on each map?
Torgerson:  Is that an issue?
Eric:  No.  That can be done.
Torgerson:  OK this will be an encompassing act, I can’t repeat it.
Greene:  One of the questions that will be raised is the minority-majority information [I think for each plan.]  When will that information be available?  We need to be prepared to respond to that before we get there. 
Torgerson:  We can’t defend any of those plans because we haven’t made anything up.  On pairings - only that we are taking a SE district and pairing it out because we have two minority districts.  [One in SE and one on the eastern boundary with Canada]
We’re going to change so much, I’m not sure it makes sense to do pairings. 
White:  AT least alternative pairings for the SE district. 
Torgerson:  Follow our constitution as nearly and as practicably as possible.  We could take a few suggestions with us.  SE and Valdez would take care of Cordova’s concerns about being connected to SE.  Or Kodiak, and we have precedent of Metlakatla being paired with Kodiak.  Let’s take care of the motion.  We’ll come back to pairings.
Unanimous pass.

Sentate pairings?  Would it be improved to say SE?  That one we know will have a pairing that will be non-contiguous. 
White:  I think we should give some ideas of what you are thinking.  So people can tell us if they like it or not.  I guess we haven’t made any pairings, but we’re taking testimony. 
Bob:  If you put Ketchikan with Kodiak and that causes a major reallignment all the way.  If not, then the others are pretty easy. 

Torgerson:  Only one I really know is Al Kookesh. 
Open for discussion.  Attempt to adjourn today and return at 11 tomorrow.  Meanwhile the staff make a big map and we’ll take the vote.  Tomorrow we can take the final vote and take the draft plan, or wait til the 14th.

Bickford:  Should we try to continue to reduce deviations? Or should we jam it all together in a big map?
Torgerson:  I don’t like the word jam.  Technical changes should be at the discretion of the staff, but I don’t know what technical means.
Holm:  Since these aren’t final boundaries, and this clean up takes most of the time, I don’t think it’s necessary.
Torgerson:  Maybe if there are some big deviations, you can do that.
White:  My concern with not offering the Senate pairings is that this might be interpreted as an incomplete plan. 
Bickford:  FR did.
White:  Not sure if you have a legal obligations.
Greene:  I won’t be in at the morning.
Torgerson:  And Mr. Holm will call in from Fairbanks.
We’ll come in at 11 just to look at the maps and then reopen at 3. 
Adjourn at 11:55.

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