Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Which Shell is the Pea Under? Watching the Redistricting Board Create Districts

[Note:  I say 'today's meeting' here and mean Monday, but I couldn't get this posted until Tuesday. ]

I feel a little like I've been watching peas being moved around under walnut shells as the board has been moving Anchorage districts bit by bit trying to get them all as close to equal and 17,755 as possible.  On the one had they are taking a couple of blocks here and moving them into another district, but they are so close up that you can't see the whole picture, but then they move back out and you can't see enough detail to know exactly where the borders are.  Yesterday they spent a lot of time working on my own district - 24 - so after it was over, I asked if they could show me the borders of the district.  When it came up, I could see they'd taken just enough off the north, from Northern Lights south to 36th, and then just a bite out south of 36th to snatch Geneva Woods, where my representative, Berta Gardner (D) lives, putting her into 25, Mike Doogan's (D) district.

Here's what Anchorage looked like at 6pm Sunday (photo of projection on the screen):

What had happened last night when the staff had cleaned up the map, which was presented in an Anchorage map that was too big to see where the streets were?  There was only one map - below - that didn't show nearly enough detail to figure out what the new borders of districts were.   Here's what we got today, though they did some tweaking at the meeting after this was passed out:
 Not very easy to see where the districts actually are.  The numbers were clear on the map, and on my photo, and I saved it in high resolution, but they are just so small that on the computer they get lost.   In comparison, here's a map of current districts from the Lt. Governor's website:

 At least you get an idea of where the districts are.

4/10 Juneau Plan
And today there was also a new Southeast map.  They approved one yesterday, but now there was a new one.  Southeast had given me some hope that this process would be fair.  They had two Republicans running against each other by putting Ketchikan (Johanson) and Wrangell (Peggy Wilson) together.  But Kyle Johanson had a recall vote because he'd pulled out of a leadership position because his 'good friend' Charise Millett hadn't gotten the appointment she wanted.  This pairing is still there.   But they'd also left Beth Kerttulla (D), the House minority leader's downtown Juneau district pretty much intact,  but paired north Juneau's Cathy Munoz (R) with Haines' Bill Joe Thomas Jr. (R and Native).  When they approved this yesterday, it sounded like this was done except for minor tweaking.  Torgerson said, "Ok, this map and staff can make adjustments so we can pair this with D 5."  But apparently PeggyAnn McConnochie spent a fair amount of time changing this all around for today. 

Today's alternate version

4/11 Juneau Plan - Pink at lower right (Hyder) was moved to the green - Ketchikan
While they have talked about incumbents in Juneau previously, there was no such discussion today before they approved it.  It's not real clear. Wrangell and Ketchikan are still paired.    But it looks like Cathy Munoz (R) and Beth Kerttula (D) are now in the same district.  [UPDATE April 12 afternoon:  I spoke with PeggyAnn McConnochie today after the meeting to clarify this.  I was wrong. Munoz (R) is alone in her district, Kerttula (R) is alone in her district, and Bill Thomas (R) is alone in his district.  That a key change here - separating Haines (Thomas' home) from North Juneau.  However, in this plan, both incumbent Southeast Senators - Kookesh (D) and Stedman (R) are in the same House district.] (It would be hard to pit two Democratic incumbents against each other since there are four Republican representatives and one Democratic representative in Southeast.) 

And it would help if the public notices on the Redistricting Board website were kept up to date.  The last time they were posted was March 31, 2011 and all but the April 4 meeting are scheduled there for 2pm.  But today's meeting and the next two meetings are scheduled for 11 am.  You would only know that if you went to the meetings and picked up the revised schedule.  Or if you knew to go to the State of Alaska Public Notice site which is hardly something most Alaskans even know about, let alone use.

Here are my notes for the afternoon of Monday, April 11.  As usual, these are rough notes, but the best you'll get online.  Actually, the only detailed notes.  (The board has audio up for their March 16, 22, and April 6 meetings.  And there's an agenda for April 7.  But they've been meeting every day since then and their draft plan has a deadline of April 14.)  In fact there is precious little posted on the Board's website that would help someone from the public know what is going on, when, or what happened.  None of the maps I'm posting are available, at least I couldn't find any.  I don't just mean today, but since I've been posting.  The staff has been very helpful in person, but I don't think they can keep up with all that needs to be done. 

Redistricting  Board - April 11, 2011  Afternoon  [Rough Notes Warning]

I got here about five minutes late, while I was getting the morning post up at the Westmark lobby where I could get wifi.

McConnochie has a new Southeast map.  This appears to be a total revision of yesterdays.  Holm commented that it didn’t look too contiguous, but the others said it was, using the water. 

Now they are talking about splitting Census districts into voting districts.  Eric says it can be done, but you need the right software. 
Bickford:  If you have zero population in a block, you can do it, but otherwise you can’t split it because they [Census] don’t have a smaller unit. 
They’re talking about there being 3 or 4 people on Admiralty Island
McConnochie:  I think this is a tighter plan.  And I go right through Yakutat. 
Motion to count PAM SE Plan as Board’s SE alternative plan.  [Except the plan they adopted yesterday has the same name.]
Holm:  Can we swap Ketchikan and Petersburg? 
McConnochie:  Can’t do it, population  . . .
[I’m not sure what they are doing now, something about Hyder and Hydaburg. Gets more Native count.]
Member Brody left.  He’d asked if the meeting could start at 1 rather than 2 because he had to leave, but Torgerson had said there wouldn’t be time to be ready by 1.  He doesn't seem happy.
Torgerson:  Any other changes - now Hyder included in Ketchikan.
Adopted 3-1.  Brody has left for Koda

Now to Anchorage

Bickford:  Only dif between 32 and 30  is 30 has this tail, we put it back in yesterday to make it look better.  Harder to explain decision by decision.  Just moving population off of 30,  Didn’t really touch ER districts, they were right on. 

McConnochie:  Any questions? 

Bickford:  District 20, long and skinny.  Mt. View.  Could be wider.
Holm:  what;s the population of 16?  Any overflow at all?  When I did it from the south, I came up with overflow beyond Peters Creek.
Bickford:  Setting the boundary at Peters Creek the numbers come out perfect for all the districts. 
Holm:  Where is govt. hill?  23.  Is that reunited?  I notice 32 is bifurcated.  Doesn’t go up through the Hillside?  Correct.  Hillside is now 30?  Yes
Torgerson:  Testimony…
Do you have a plan Jim?
Holm:  Yes, but I started with some incorrect assumptions.  Started at Indian and also south of Peters Creek.  Otherwise, everything you said is correct.  The Census block lines in the city are haywire.  But what we can’t change we can’t change. 
Bickford:  It would look completely different if we started somewhere else yesterday.  Also some worse shapes yesterday, District 30 came around this way, was awkward. 

The map they handed out doesn’t show enough detail to know where things are.

Holm:  I used more ppulation going up north than Taylor did when he took Indian out.  I don’t think mine is particuoarly instructive, the numbers are good.  Certainly tweakable.
Torgerson:  I’d like to see tweak for 32, 17, and ???  - get the numbers lower - moving 30 or 40 people. 
Bickford:  17 is down 140 an 19 is up 130 (my numbers not right)
Holm:  ???
McConnochie:  Can we do something to tweak the changes a little more? 

They’re going to rerun the numbers and see what happens
Moving from 17 to 32, no from 32 to 17.  They grabbed four block and now 22 is -171 people.  26 = -127  30=-152. 
Probably won’t get closer than that.  22 is now -75. 
Now 26 -
Bickford:  we could take 50 or 60 from 25. 

I’d try to video this, but I’m already so backlogged with video I haven’t posted that it makes no sense.  Plus this really doesn’t tell you anything and no one is talking while they watch the blocks move around.  The only issues people are talking about  are:
1.  the numbers - the deviation from the goal of 17755 per district
2.  getting rid of strange shapes in the districts. 

White:  30 is that following some natural boundary or census blocks?
Bickford:  Census blocks. 

Torgerson:  What’s your call here?
McConnochie:  I move we adopt this.
Holm:  Second it.
Torgerson:  What is this?  Anchorage 2, 3? 
White:  You haven’t adopted any Anchorage plan yet.
Torgerson: Motion we adopted Staff/chair’s Anchorage dated 4/11.  Discussion? 
4yes and Brody is absent. 
Move on to Matsu.  And print off and give to the members so we can look at it tonight. If we get Matsu done, then we’ll have the whole state to look at tomorrow. 

2:50 back from very short break to work on Matsu.  Ellis on the computer.
Ellis:  I used a combination of roads and blocks, and the river there.
Torgerson:  looks like we’re splitting neighborhoods.
Ellis:  Some, this is just an exercise to show you the issues.  13 uses Matsu River. 
Torgerson: Can you put the city limits of palmer up?
Holm:  Palmer is not completely included in 13?
Ellis:  Yes, city is in 13.
Holm:  NW is farming area.
Ellis:  It’s in between Wasilla and Palmer.  I’d say you more rightly put it in Palmer.  But there are farms throughout here. 
14 hee grabbed balance of farm area in eastern part.  More to west - in Fairview-Knik.
Torgerson:  What’s the major difference?
Ellis:  Extended 14 . .  relatively few NS boundary lines in the area, not clean and distinct. 
Torgerson:  We did the same in Anchorage.  Just looked cleaner in Anch.
McConnochie:  Just not as clean in Matsu.
Torgerson:  Bring up the other one.
Ellis:  Apologize for the local roads, when zoomed in it could be helpful. 
Torgerson:  Looks like Taylor spilled worms on there.
Ellis:  A few differences, uses Bogard road (very straight line)
Torgerson:  I like that. 
Holm:  You are 1500 people over, so . .
Ellis:  That’s in Peter’s Creek.
Holm:  Don’t you have wiggle room you could push people toward Anchorage?
Torgerson:  Anchorage also over.   You have Palmer in the city limits with ER?
Ellis:  Yes, just as an exercise.  Awkward reach. 
Torgerson:  Meadow Lakes area.  Is 12 right on?  Population in 12.  Is that accurate?  A little over on 12.
Bickfor: You could move excess to 38.  It would help with deviation but not with Native population in 38, but you’d have some socio-economic problems.
Torgerson:  And you don’t know - Valdez and Cordova? 
Elis - it would be possible to dip in this area, but then you wouldn’t be using the Parks Highway.  Hard to find clean NS boundaries?
Holm:  Isn’t there a nice road you could use? 
Ellis:  Little roads but go into subdivisions. 

They like straight lines rather than jagged lines. 
McConnochie:  Deviations on your other map were much lower right?
Ellis:  I believe they were about the same. 

[They agreed on Matsu yesterday.  I’m not sure why we’re back here, except maybe to see the repercusions of the Anchorage border being at Peters Creek.]

Torgerson: Anyone else have a map.
Holm:  I went down to Peters Creek. 
Torgerson:  Borough wants five districts.  Our population deserves it.  Mayor of Wasilla wanted Parks Highway to be the divider of Wasilla districts.  Palmer wanted the greater Palmer area, but not clear if that was butte and Lazy Mountain or Fishhook Road.  My guess is that we won’t adopt a plan that has city of Palmer with ER.  But it does show alternatives. 
McConnochie:  Can you go back to that first plan you had? 
Holm: I think that’s more compact. 
Torgerson:  See if there’s a way to move population.  Look at 38 again.  I’d like to get the deviations down a bit. 
Holm:  Show us 12 and 11 on the chart.  11 doesn’t show anything at all.  Can we get those numbers so that we’re correct.  Right now.  If we have 1500 extra folks in those five districts.  We might be able to change boundaries of 11 and 5. 
Bickford:  We can, but it would require moving Matsu population into 5 and 38. 
Torgerson:  I’m not sure…
Ellis:  Theoretically possible to take excess Matsu population and put into Peters Creek.
Torgerson:  I don’t want to ripple into Anchorage.  Probably harder than rippling into North.  But maybe not.
Ellis;  Matsu people less happy to move north than south.  ???
Holm:  I probably think it’s ok to wait for Bob in the morning. It won’t make any difference in how many we take in.  I think he’d like to be involved. 
Torgerson:  I think we’ll take the same number whether he is here or not.
Any board comments?
Holm:  Beautiful day. 
Torgerson:  3:12.  Stand adjourned for today at 11.  Be prepared to come in and out during the day.  Adjourned.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.