Friday, May 06, 2011

City of Anchorage - Community Councils the Basis of Our Government

Baker, Ossiander, Gruenstein
Debbie Ossiander, Barbara Gruenstein, Larry Baker, Mayor's Chief of Staff

Ossiander:  We've heard a lot about your plan.  I've put together a committee of people from where the most comments came from and common understanding.  Best approach constitutional guidelines - physical, geographic marks, respect our neighborhoods.  Our charter says city should be in community councils and these are good voices for neighborhoods.  Although compact, fairly diverse.

Color coding is our community councils - these should be recognized.  Talked about clerk about her concerns about split precincts.  Found real commonality of interest between assembly and mayors office.

Three most problematic parts of your draft plan.
1.  Southern Boundary of Anchorage - Lower hillside and Kenai.  Ours stops at Portage - southern boundary of Muni.
2.  Lots of discussion about NE.  Growing quickly, High density housing. NE CC talked about you for 90 minutes.  Not happy.  Draft plan had NE cc split into 4 legislative districts.  We tried to keep it intact.  Best way to combine with Elmendorf.
Also talked with ER folks.  I was here before as individual.  Now speaking as Assembly member.  We believe natural connection with ER going north - common on a lot of issues.  We believe the give, if it comes, should be at that part of town.

We are arguing for our neighborhoods, boundaries.

Gruenstein:  Anchorage has 119 district split among Assembly districts.  I've been clerk for 8 years.  We have these split precincts hard for voters and everyone to understand.  We made a charter amended on 2008 to have our process after state is done.  Before had to do it before state done.

Baker:  I think as Debbie mentioned, current plans, go to the very heart of our charter and governance.  Dire concern, it does not accomplish goals of our charter.  Made sincere attempt to go back to our charter so boundaries coincide by creeks, major highways, and particularly community councils - and your plan doesn't accomplish that.  We're not here to weigh in about the rest of the state, but what best represents the best for Anchorage.  On your far right, not only best for CC, the basis of our government, and also variation by district and it's less than one percent which goes to the VRA.  Tried to make your life easier, but also a plan that truly goes to what our govt. is all about - creeks, highways, CCs, and precincts.  Hope you'll give consideration.

Torgerson:  You mentioned Chugiak to Matsu - Northern Boundaries.
Ossiander:  No, that's the one that goes beyond the Borough.
Holm:  Maintained earlier tired to maintain community councils, but I see a number of cases were the cc are also incorporated in a number of house districts.  Say NE corner - you have 4 house districts in that one blue area.  That was the complaint when you started.  It seems that you left it.

Ossiander:  We face the same problems you did. No perfect solution.  Looked at historic neighborhoods. Impossible to achieve in perfect sense. Not exactly alligned to our goal, But much closer than yours.

Torgerson:  We did not use Community Councils in ours.  And we felt the Muldoon pain.

You divided the bases?

Baker:  We really looked at it on a total basis.  Those we could closely align and not divide, others we came as close as we could.  In S Anchorage, Taku/Campbell - they usually have more elected officials than citizens - six house districts - six reps and 2 senators and 4 assembly members and sometimes 12 citizens as well.  This really condenses this more.

Torgerson:  Thank you for all the work
Next:  Alaskans For Fair and Equitable Redistricting.  Brief at ease.

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