Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Board Meeting Tuesday: Possible Retrogression; Seldovia in House District with Bethel; Seward in Senate District with Anchorage

May 31 Alaska Redistricting Board Overview:
I missed Saturday when they approved in concept a Native Districts plan. I feel a little out of the loop. From the discussion today, it seemed:
  1. There are concerns about whether they were able to avoid Retrogression - there was question about whether they had maintained the 4-2 3-0 Native district configuration. (That's 4 House Effective and 2 House influence districts, plus 3 Senate Effective districts. If that doesn't mean anything you can get some help in a previous post here.)
  2. They will meet in Executive Session tomorrow at 10 to discuss possible litigation. I understood that to mean if they had Retrogression, as opposed to other possible reasons for a lawsuit. Since just about all the past redistricting plans ended up in court, the fact that they may be sued isn't unexpected.
  3. Tuesday, they approved, in concept, a Kenai Peninsula plan called Nikiski to Seward.  This map (way below) reflects the Saturday Native plan that has part of the Kenai Peninsula - the south side of Katchemak Bay - in a district that goes all the way to Bethel. 
  4. They've paired east Kenai Peninsula - including Seward - with a yet to be defined southern Anchorage district for a Senate district.  
  5. Wednesday they begin at 10am, but will go into Executive Session immediately.  They expect to finish by 11 or recess until 11 if they are done earlier.  Their website doesn't indicate this, though it was nice of Chair Torgerson to go through the expected schedule tomorrow so people can plan a little easier.  (At bottom of notes below.)

I'm sure I missed some other noteworthy developments; sorry. 

Below are my notes from the meeting. As always - BEWARE - these are pretty rough notes which catch the general debate, but not all the details. But until the audio and transcripts get posted, this will have to do. (Audio is on the Board website through May 18. I don't see any of the transcripts.)

Alaska Redistricting Board meeting, Tuesday, May 31

All the members were there, Jim Holm by phone from Fairbanks.

I was plugging in my Macbook as the executive director Taylor Bickford began so I only got item number 2.

2. email from [Voting Rights Act Consultant] Handley re Sat plan, about senate pairings, two strongest were [they approved a board plan for Native districts on Saturday.]

Calculates 30% plus Native plus all >10% less than 42% - DOJ likely to object. Strongest ones we discuseed on Sat. Doesn’t think Kodiak/Dillingham would pass. Also SE influence district - thinks it’s ok. We might add Saxman to get another % - but she thinks it’s fine since Native community of Saxman opposes it - she thinks it would be a wash.
She needs time to analyze because different from what she had been looking at.
Possibly send team to DC to talk face-to-face with DOJ. Plan to talk to her tomorrow.

White: Any meeting would be after we file the plan and any lawsuits filed. Middle of July - 30 days from June 14.
Torgerson: She didn’t cover, maybe we didn’t ask. Does she consider [Senate pairing of?] 35-37 an influence? She said, not effective, but is it influence.
TB: I don’t know for sure, but my guess is she’d say yes.
Torgerson: Me too, but I want to be sure.
1. Non-continguous - we’ve thrown that out.
2. Pair Kodiak and Bethel
3. 35 and 37 - but wouldn’t reach our ??? district We have either 4 or 5 house effective and one senate influence.
We’d have to declare retrogression if we dropped from three to one?
White: yes
Torgerson: I’d like Dr Handley’s opinion, then give it to legal counsel to walk us through the ramifications. I assume part or all of this in executive session.
White: I believe the litigation ramification is legitimate reason for executive session.
Torgerson: Then we should have executive session tomorrow morning or could do it in the afternoon.
TB: One more question:
1. Have her examine SE and 39 pairing. Bob thought it worth having her look at it.
Torgerson: Non-contiguous
TB: It was, but it has higher numbers now - interior now takes in Nome and is over 60%. It might be effective.
Torgerson: Trying for effective, not influence?
White: Then there’d be two non-contiguous Senate pairings.
Torgerson: Seems to be off the table in the board adopted plan for the rural areas.
35/36 - Bethel Kodiak
35/37 - Bethel Dillingham

Torgerson: Today a couple of Kenai Peninsula plans and Matsu.

Sandberg (staffer):
Bickford: See how Matsu borough’s proposal would fit into maps adopted Saturday. 14, 15, 16 completely unaffected by what we adopted Saturday. Left the rest of Matsu unassigned. Assigned it all to one district, except Chicaloon. Our 12 came to Chicaloon.
Board looking a Matsu Map - they'll do more Matsu Wednesday
11, mostly unchanged, except Chickaloon to Borough boundary. They’d made 11 a rural Matsu area. Because of our Saturday plan putting Chickaloon into 12, we didn’t touch that. Results in D11 being about 2000 people short, so we have to figure out how to make up for that.
Knik River area they’d given to Anchorage district. Add it in, then take that deviation and spread it around all the districts to be a little short.

Once you come into Anchorage there is no clean boundary until Peter’s Creek - about 5000. Before that you’d just be randomly be grabbing neighborhoods.
We’ve heard they want five districts only in their border. But we have over population in Anchorage and Matsu. Could be some sharing between Borough and Municipality.
Torgerson: Talking about 2% positive deviation?
Bickford: Negative 2% deviation.
Southern boundary with Anchorage. If doesn’t shed to Matsu, the Anchorage districts start off about 2% over.
Torgerson: You’d take about 2% of each and put them into 11.
Bickford: All of Wasilla in 13, all of Palmer in 14, but some of the greater area would not be in the Palmer district. Started about an hour before the meeting. Maybe we’d look at all the plans we received. This supposedly followed the Rights Coalition, so don’t have to look there. What are the impacts of crossing and not crossing the border.
Torgerson: 2-3 options for tomorrow? Yes. Questions?
White: Current 12 there?
Bickford: No,
White: ??
Bickford: Could take D12 and bring it farther into Matsu. Leeway to bring Matsu district far enough into MOA boundary to have logical boundary like Peters Creek.
White: [Something about 12 in Fairbanks and opposition there.]
Bickford: You don’t want to leave Matsu with 4.2 districts, better . . .
Torgerson: Not sure would want to do either.
Bickford: You can look at all the options
1. Cross the Anchorage boundary
2. …
You could shed another 2000 from (Fairbanks?)

Torgerson: What’s next?
Eric: Kenai
Torgerson: Pretty Self explanatory
Kenai Map
Bob: Pretty much the current boundaries.
Torgerson: Kenai/Soldotna D4 pretty much the same but shrunk up a bit
D5 is the rural district
We grew a couple thousand. Went to Seldovia, Nanwalek, lower peninsula to Bethel.

Switiching computers on the GoToMeeting cable. For Brody’s map

Torgerson: Did you figure when you’re coming down?
Holm: Tomorrow morning. Can you get me a ticket for early - 6am flight can come in and work a bit.

Brody: Changed to have Seward pair with Anchorage because it’s closer on the road system. Kenai- Soldotna just the same. Take North end of Kenai Pen. to pair with Anchorage.
PAM: Other one what would the pairing with Anchorage be?
Brody: Would have been lower Kenai instead of upper.
Torgerson: No, the other one. . .
Brody: The other plan had Homer and Seward.
Torgerson: This one ties Seward, easier case to show connection to Anchorage. Other plan taking Ninilchik and I’m not sure how far south and pairing.
Brody: I can move 300 people here then all the districts would be within 3 or 4%.
Bickford: Similar to Saturday plan?
Brody: No …[contraditions] OK.

….. quiet comments. . .

Brody - here I grabbed a few blocks from 3 to D4. Just a different block, how we want to go.
Brody: Gave these people to Bethel - not sure who went to Bethel - maybe Seldovia, not sure.

Matsu: I went to the river here for the Palmer area. Big Lake and Pt. Mc I brought up all the way here. Rural areas to the west went N along the road system to top of Borough. We could switch it out.
Eastern boundary, sorry, I have to switch something here.
This reflects D12 coming in - all this stays the same, with some minor adjustments on the fringe to spread the loss out over here. [see why you need to see the maps?] A little bit of adjustment, they’ll all be minus 2. Main difference from Taylor’s - his did this and that and mine came here. Everything can be two or three under.

[I’m having trouble figuring out what is and isn’t significant about what’s being said. There are short interjections that don’t make much sense without seeing the map he’s pointing at ((“We pulled some out of here.”).]

Torgerson: Have Eric print this off. We have two concepts: ??
We’re going to take a 15 minute recess to print off maps to see if we can adopt Kenai Peninsula today. I want to have ‘em where I can look at them. Til about five after. I want to look at them.
PAM: Me too.

3:06 reconvened
Nikiski to Seward Option
Homer to Seward Option - this is the existing seat, brings some continuity
PAM: I’d argue that it is better socio-economic continuity
White: All within the Borough [As I understand it, anything within a single Borough is considered socio-economically integrated.]
PAM: I know.
Torgerson: I’m thinking about the Senate pairing. Possibly more integrated with Anchorage than Ninilchik and Clam Gulch.
PAM: I put into motion to accept the ?? to Seward Option. Seconded.
Makes more sense to me. Ninilchik, etc. all the way to Kasilov. Other side - Seward, Bear Creek, Moose Pass have more in common with Anchorage than the old pairing has.
Torgerson: This will change some because the deviation not nailed down. But all within the B boundary. In the bigger picture, moving Tyonek, Seldovia, Nanwalek conected to Bethel.
Holm: I’ve been kicked off.
Bickford: Eric is loading up the maps and didn’t want everyone to see his emails, he’ll get you back on.
Torgerson: Motion is to adopt the Nikiski to Seward option - in Concept - as everything is. Discussion is mainly about senate pairings and Seward is more compatible with Anchorage than the other district.
Holm: I would agree with that.
Greene: Is this in line with the testimony?
Torgerson: this wasn’t what we were thinking then. It was Seward to Kodiak. Rep. Seaton would like the seat to remain the same. That was clear. We were talking about such different maps.
PAM: It might be a good idea to get these people ??? so they know what’s happening.
Bickford: They said they were fine with Kodiak, but they rather be with Kenai.
Torgerson: This pairing never came up. Sen. from Kodiak currently represents them. They were happy with that. But not an option today. We’re still going to have a full house seat to match up somewhere.
Shatll the board adopt Nikiski to Seward plan?
Torgerson: yes, PAM yes, Brody yes, Greene, yes, Holm yes = Adopted

I think that concludes our business of today. For tomorrow review the Matsu maps. Was that passed by the Assembly or just the mayor?
Start the morning with Executive Session - how long? We’ll start the meeting at 10 and go public by 11? Then I can support public education. You’re welcome to come in and then leave. If we finish before 11 we will just recess to 11. Then to 12/12:30 to 3.

Stand adjourned at 3:17pm.

Rep. Kurt Olson (r) of Kenai looking at maps with board member Bob Brody after the meeting.

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