Monday, April 11, 2011

Redstricting Board Update

The Board met from 2pm until 6pm today.  They went over Kenai, Matsu, Southeast, and Anchorage.  Sorry this is taking so long to post, but I have a bunch of things that have been neglected that I had to see to.  Like getting tickets to go to my daughter's graduation in June.

Before today they approved of rural districts - locking in nine Native districts - then Fairbanks yesterday, as well as Valdez district.  Today they approved a
  • Kenai plan put together by Board Member Brody
  • Matsu plan put together by staffer Jim Ellis
  • Southeast map, which gets a Native-influence district that will connect to District 5 (which I assume means they can have two contiguous House seats that make up a Native Senate seat and they don't have to join Ketchikan and Kodiak like they talked about the other day. 
I'll try to do another posts with video so you can see the tediousness of this process.  In the meantime, here are my rough notes from the meeting:

[Usual Warnings Apply:  These are rough notes and not necessarily accurate. There are missing words and sentences and probably some mistakes, but it will give you a sense of the meeting.]

Open at 2:03pm
All members present except Jim Holm who went  back to Fairbanks yesterday.
Staff here too. 

Going to do: 

Brody:  Kodiak and Kenai:  Kodiak takes most of downtown Homer. 
McConnochie:  You can’t take all of Homer? 
Brody:  Then the numbers don’t work.
Kept most of these other districts with a couple of changes.
Kodiak takes western side of the borough - Seldovia, Halibut Cove, to the outskirts of Homer, I think outstide city limits. 

Leaving 33 untouched, but had to go a little futher into Anchorage - to Girdwood again. 

McConnochie:  What’s on the eastern side.  W

Bordy:  Whittier going with 34, N. part of Kenai Peninsula. 
Torgerson:  Seward went with Homer?
Brody: yes
Torgerson:  Sort of what is existing. 
Brody:  This one [I think this was a second Kenai option] was a radical change.  Split Kenai and Soldotna.  Kenai going up to Girdwood.  By giving . . . 33 had to come down more into 35 which moved up into this area. ???  Skips Homer but goes to Seward. 
McConnochie:  Mr. Chair how do you feel about Kenai and Soldotna being split?  I don’t think it’s a problem.
Torgerson:  (who is from there)  It’s not necessarily a problem, but … Glacier Road, leaves out quite a few.  But splitting the towns, I like the idea of both together, when they did that in 1992, but like all the rest of our plans, whatever works.  That’s the problem area - Primrose South, all the way to the Exit Glacier area. 
Looks like you have Sterling in three different districts.  But, a lot of neighborhoods around the state split.  Used the Kenai River, so  . . .

[They’re looking at the maps and talking about ways to make adustments - hard to track since they’re referring to changes they are making in the maps and I can’t keep up with all that.  Even video is tedious for that, but gets it better.]

They just imposed the Katchemak City limits on the map to see if they’ve split it. 

They’re trying to get the counts of the different districts as close to 17,755 as possible and as even as possible.  Should they take people on Seward Highway south of Tern Lake with Homer instead of Seward to make the numbers better? 

Torgerson:  They are fishing towns, a little more commercial out of Seward, but also tourist.
McConnochie:  Halibut Cove makes sense with Homer.  You could get 36 down some other way.
Torgerson:  This something we want to adopt today or hold off until tomorrow?  I think a little shifting back and forth - the only place , well there could be a lot , I’m not sure what that boundary off 33 to the right. [Photo]
Brody:  That was there from the last districts. 
Torgerson:  And we’re splitting subdivisions all over. 
What are the red lines? 
Eric:  Census districts. 

McConnochie:  I move to adopt this plan.
Brody:  Second.  I can pull this back out of Anchorage about 100.
Torgerson:  Remember we heard a lot of testimony from ER folks in 32.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time on that when we know we’ll have a lot of adjustments coming out of Anchorage.  Marie, you alright with that? 
Brody:  400 people there you could spread through those 3 districts. 
Torgerson:  Can we have a motion to adopt?  What do we call this?  I guess Kodiak, Seward District (Kenai/Soldotna).  Any more discussion?  All in favor?
Unanimous (Greene, McConnochie, Brody, Torgerson, Holm absent)

Torgerson: Next we’re going to discuss Matsu and Anchorage districts.  First, as I was working with staff the other day, pretty apparent we set northern boundaries for ER and S. boundary for Matsu:  Peters Creek is the natural boundary which is what we’re using already.  Also keeping in mind the memo from the Lt. Governor not to take patches of the military bases to get numbers. 

Matsu, then move through Anchorage.  Recess
2:53pm  ten minute recess.

At break, Brody went to Rudy Ruedrich (head of Republican Party) and asked if that was ok.  Ruedrich squinted, pointed out the room, and walked out.  Deborah Williams (Executive Director of Democratic Party) asked something like, “You’re getting approval?”  Then Brody said, I’ll talk to anyone and began talking to Deborah.  Ruderich is back and in Brody’s face.  You [video of discussion between Ruedrich, Brody, and Peggy Wilcox from AFFR here taking notes.  Haven't looked at it yet, not sure about the audio.]

3:02 Back

Taylor Bickford (Staff):  Similar to what we did with rural districts.  Set northern and southern boundaries.  After the drill yesterday looked at what was created and most of the interior Anchorage districts were fine, but there were problems at either end. 
If we set the northern boundaries.

Down to Indian or Girdwood.  Kenai and Matsu would have to affect District 12.  Since we ruled out the Canadian border for that, we had to go back to the boundaries.
No really natural boundaries to ER and so we looked at Peters Creek and worked north and south from that boundary.  Now boxing in a simpler puzzle in the middle where the numbers work out.  Trying to keep this area together as close as possible and the deviations as low as possible.  District 20  = +.07 deviation, D 21 = (similar to current 17)= neg. . 62 and

Lt. Gov Treadwell said it’s best to have districts that are majority military and take little pockets into non-military, then they are forced to put polling places off base.  If they can do it without impacting deviations at all.  This jagged line is the boundary.  The AFFR plan took the downtown and took 3000 people on base.  That looked problematic, it divided the base in half.  Created issue of off-base and on-base population, problems taking 50% of the
AFFRE plan did a better job of leaving the base in a traditional block.  The way this was drawn, you don’t have those issues.  about 6,000 at Elmendorf, which leaves you about 11,000 short.  Some advantages of having it over here - North Muldoon.  Going to video.
[UPDATE Tuesday April 12:  It turns out the Lt. Governor's letter must have come up on Friday when I wasn't there and was first distributed then.]

Brody isn’t ready to leave the Bases as two separate bases.  The staff added some of the military to ER and took a bit of Anchorage with Elmendorf.  I have a bit of that on video. 

[First Bickford seemed to be saying, because of the Lt. Gov’s memo, they should leave the bases as a whole district and said that AFFR split the bases in half and that wasn’t good.  But then it seemed to me that Elmendorf was split form Fr. Rich and half of Ft Rich went to ER in his plan.  I need to ask him.]

Brody:  I don’t buy that yet, but I see what you mean.  I guess I’m dense.
McConnochie:  Why don’t you do this?  Mark boundary for Ft. Rich.  That district is too large.  Break it up into 2 is unwieldy. 
Brody:  You have almost?? District 17 in one.  And then this part of ER needs 8000.  We may come back to that - in Kodiak we have the Coast Guard base.  Inconvenient for those people.
Torgerson:  I agree with Bob.  There are a lot of ways to make it work.  I think we need to do what Taylor’s talking about if we take out Ft. Rich.
That doesn’t mean we can’t look at different options..  We’d have a repeat of 32 which everyone in ER hates.  [Everyone?  Or at least the ten or so who testified]
Bickford:  There’s no other way.  If you take this out of 20, there’s no other way.  [Drives me crazy when someone says, “There’s no other way.”  Really he’s saying, “I couldn’t find another way.”]

Brody:  By setting this, we’re setting he boundaries for the Matsu. I would move that we set the n. boundary of Anchorage along Peters Creek for preliminary purposes.  And accept 21 as presented and work out the others.  [He was just opposing it and now he’s making the motion to adopt it!]

Torgerson:  Any other discussion on the motion? 

Quick look at Matsu and then. . . Jim you can lead us through. 

Ellis:  A couple of these I didn’t do with the N. boundary at Peters Creek, I did one that way, and it doesn’t make substantial changes to the northern boundary.

You could make rational arguments to connect Pt. McKenzie with big lake area or Knik Fairview [Video walking through the districts he’s set up.]

Torgerson:  I think Pt. McK should go with Knik-Fairview.  How would you move Palmer into 14? 
Ellis:  You take this chunk here into Palmer and move this part of 13 further south.
Torgerson:  You had a tradeoff between Fishhook or Lazy Mountain and Butte?  [A: Yes.]  Do you have the other option too? 
Looking at the alternate with Palmer and Lazy Mt and Butte. 

3:56 - Brody is now showing his plan for Southeast.  It’s a good thing I’m not on the board because I’m getting glassy eyed.  But that doesn’t mean the board members aren’t glassy eyed as well. 

There’s more map moving in and out.  I can’t tell how this compares to what they looked at the other day.  Though now they have a Native-Influence district that comes over the mountains to touch the rest of Alaska so they could connect that way for a contiguous Senate seat. 

There was only one staff member in the room now.  Brody was at the computer, and Seth watching from the audience.  I’m going to see what I can find out about the Lt. Governor’s communication. 

They said they’d get me a copy. 
McConnochie is now going over her plan for SE, with Seth working the computer. 
McConnocie:  SE is a complete conundrum.  Tried to reduce the deviations.  The Native district is 1.9%.  Rather than going to Valley in Juneau, I went to ???

Brody:  They’re virtually the same, just small differences. 
McConnochie:  I got 36.7% in the Native district. 

McConnochie's SE Plan that was approved
Greene:  Neither splits Sitka?
McConnochie:  No, Sitka is too small a town.  [But Saxman is split from Ketchikan - I understand why, because it helps with the numbers for the Native District. Later, Brody and Ruedrich explained to me that you really can’t tell that Saxman is any different from downtown Ketchikan and they are 95% economically integrated, but that Saxman maintains its identity fiercely.]]

Brody:  Can you justify taking a little piece like Saxman?
White:  They have in the past. 
Torgerson:  We could adopt it and let staff hook things up. ???
Brody:  It’s pretty much the same as mine.  It looks good. 
White:  Haines and Skagway with Juneau?  Yes.  Can’t come down the other side? 
McConnochie:  Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka.  Largest cities.  Other ones around there are majority white.  You need significant sized communities, but then you destroy the Native percentages. 
Brody:  Splitting Sitka is the only way to avoid pitting incumbents.
McConnochie:  Splitting Sitka destroys the Native percentage. 
Miller:  There are reps from Wrangell and Ketchikan.  Not Sitka.  And Senators from Sitka and Angoon.  ???  
Brody:  Pairing reps in Ketch and Wrangell.  There’s an in town Juneau seat.  Pairing Thomas and Munoz.  District 2 would be an open seat. (2 is the Native district.)
McConnochie:  I’m not prejudiced.  I think this is the hardest district to do.  Making a native district is very, very difficult.  I did.  I personally feel the small towns shouldn’t be split. 
Brody:  You want a motion to adopt? 
Torgerson:  Are you ready?
MC:  If people see something that I have missed, there is a lot of latitude to change.  I’m more than willing to have.
Brody:  On the maps say McConnochie ….???
Torgerson:  Ok, this map and staff can make adjustments so we can pair this with D 5.
Pass 4-1, Holm is absent. 

l-r,:   Oliver Leavitt, Randy Ruedrich, Eric Sandberg

4:15pm Break to 4:30pm
4:40 Back on. 
Brody working the computer looking at Anchorage. 
Looking at Post Road and Hollywood Drive.  (I’ve got the letter from Lt. Gov.  Basically it says that when a precinct is both on and off base, the voting place has to be off base because people can’t come on base thru the security to vote..  [Turns out this was passed out Friday - the day I wasn’t here.]) 
They’re trying to figure what is base and what isn’t. 

5:15pm  - 
Brody:  We’re picking up all those who aren’t in ER, not on the Base, and not in Matsu. 
D 19 now has 2000 too many people. 
Now we’ve taken all the ER people who used to be associated - way down here - and hooked them in with
Look at 71, how it snakes in there.  [I think he meant 17]
There must be a road here that has a lot of people on it, huh?  [I think he’s going up ER Road.]  Now taken those people I was referencing and turned them into ???.  Before we wrapped the ???  this way.
Torgerson:  Not many people mostly territory. 
Brody:  These are the ER suburbs that now will be hooked to Anchorage.
Bickford:  Actually works pretty well.
Brody:  Ok, that brings us to town.  20 and 21. 
Torgerson:  We should probably start with 26 or 27 on the water and move in.  We’re going to have a crash somewhere.  Deviations now about 1500 between districts. 

Airport area.  Yesterday we moved these guys over here - made it downtown. 
Torgerson:  We’re forcing the population to the east. You’ll have another district there. 

[There goes Bootlegger’s Cove.  It was with south of Westchester Lagoon and now it’s downtown.]

Brody:  I have 1400 people too many. 
26 is under.  Should we take this for 26?
Torgerson:  23 looks like. 
[Taking west of the RR I think from 25 and putting them into 26.  Or that could be Minnesota, not sure. 

26 is now a backwards L from Westchester Lagoon to south of International.  He’s moving stuff out to 27 I think.  Now 26 is all east of Minnesota.  Taking out chunks near Westchester Lagoon. ]

Brody:  26 and 27 are pretty good.    24 is over and 25 is under. 

[He’s going block by block to get the numbers. working.  Ruedrich is watching closely.  The AFFR and Democratic reps have gone home, but the Bush Caucus rep is still here.]

McConnochie:  You’re taking out trailer park.  You should keep them all in the same districts.  (He’s at Bragaw)  Give it back to 20.  See where it says 66.  Can’t remember the boundaries are.
Miller:  Penland Park, Northway Drive, and Airport are the boundaries.   Across from Northway Mall. 

Brody:  93 over.  We could give back both of them. 

[There has been no discussion of incumbents as they move district boundaries in the Central  Anchorage districts.  As he moves things in and out, the districts are morphing.  The numbers right now aren’t even close to 17,755 each. 
23= 19,332;  25 = 14,851,  26- 17,629, 27= 17, 689;  28 = 18,473, 29=18,022  30=25,845, 31= 17,744. 

It would be interesting to see what the numbers were before he started all this.  [Just a few mouse clicks makes a big difference - check these photos as he tries to balance 30 and 32. 

So now he has most of the districts close, except for 30 which has 6,600 extra.  And 32 which is under 5,500.  But 31 seems to be in between them.  And 30 and 32 are the same color.  I don’t know if there is a better way to do this, but this is really trial and error.  Or at least it looks that way. 

Now 30 is 7,000 over.  They moved the map back and 32 is also to the east of 30 and the color is a slightly different green.  32 goes down Turnagain Arm.  No, that’s 34 now.  There are some strange pockets, but they look like they’re in Chugach State Park so there won’t be people living there.  He’s adjusting those. 

Hmmm, never thought I’d be doing play-by-play for map making. ]

Anchorage Districts at 6pm


Now the numbers are
26= 17829
27= 17,869

Though they change as I type.

They’re adjourning.

Torgerson:  We’ll meet tomorrow at 11.  Our voting rights expert will be on the phone from Afghanistan.  Then we’ll probably adjourn until probably 2pm.  We’ll have a full board.
Adjourn at 6:05

Brody and Ruedrich are looking at the maps and talking. 

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