Thursday, May 05, 2011

How is the Alaska Redistricting Board Like the Pakistani Government? Either They Are Incompetent or They Are Intentionally Concealing

The Alaska Redistricting Board has its final public hearing Friday May 6, 2011.

Where?  Anchorage Legislative Information Office (LIO) 714 W. 4th Ave Room 220.
When?   Presenting plans from 9am-12am.
               Public testimony from 2pm- 6pm

NOT IN ANCHORAGE?  You can go to your nearest LIO office or

listen to the Audio-Stream at:

Alaskans with no access to an LIO may testify via the toll-free number 1-855-463-5009.

But how would anyone know this?  As of 10pm Thursday May 5, it's very hard to find on their website or their Facebook Page says nothing is scheduled.   Let me show you.

Double click to enlarge and sharpen all the images.

 Here's what I see when I open the page on my laptop.  Pretty picture.  But information would be nicer.  I have to scroll down to get that.  
Double click to enlarge and sharpen
This is their main page.  The last news item (today is May 5) was on April 13.  Now if you work really hard and read all the fine print there are two places on the right where you can get a pdf link to a five page document which has tomorrow's meeting on the bottom of page 3 and top of page 4.  Why can't they just post it clearly on the first page?

Are there other pages on their website you can find this more easily?
FAQ's, almost 2/3 of the way to their deadline, are coming soon.

[Again, double click to see it clearly.]  In the Media Center tab we find out their last press release was March 8.

Their last public notice was April 12 and it takes you to the state public notice page for an old public notice.

Their calendar page has a small notice and when you click on the morning part you get this pop up window that gives you the time and says Alaska Legislative Information office.  And there's a map link.

It gives the Juneau office address.  (The physical meeting is in Anchorage, but it is available statewide at LIO offices.)

Well, maybe it's on their Facebook page. 

 Good try.  There's even something only 15 hours old, but nothing I can see about the May 5 meeting.  Let's try the Events page.

You have no upcoming events!!

I happen to know that there's one more place to look - the State of Alaska public notice webpage. 
At first I didn't see the board listed.  I had to go through it again before I found it.  And I clicked on it. 

It says April 24, 2011, Statewide Teleconference.  But it's now May 5.  I'll click it anyway.

And BINGO! I'm rewarded for my patience.  Let me get out my reading glasses. (You'll notice I've already made this extra large - it bleeds into the side panel.)

Before March 22, I'd never ever been to the State Public Notice Website.  I  didn't even know it existed.  But on that day I asked Board Chair John Torgerson how they were planning to let people know about the meetings.  And he told me about this website.  You can see and hear for yourself.  I also asked if they were going to put any notices or ads in newspapers.  You can see in his body language as well as hear his words in the video.

This is 2011. Government agencies have learned a lot about how to educate the public about what they are doing and how to participate in the process.

The Department of Transportation hires consultants to help them set up meetings for the public where they walk people through maps and models so people can see how roads are designed and where they are planned so that citizens can give them useful information about how the project will impact neighborhoods and ways it could be improved for everyone's benefit. I went to one about Tudor and Lake Otis and another about the Seward Highway last fall.

I don't see anything like that happening here. And this isn't the first time their website and Facebook page didn't have information about an upcoming meeting. Almost exactly one month ago, on April 4, I had a post Is The Redistricting Board Hiding? which found almost exactly the same problems as today.  The staff made all the necessary updates the next day when I pointed this out.  But really .  . . again?

GW Bush said something about being fooled once . . .  

This is a board whose job is highly political and from the git go, people assume that because there are four Republicans and one Democrat,  the Board is going to try to draw the lines to favor Republicans.  Politically gerrymandering is against the law according to the board's attorney.  So not being as open as possible only raises those suspicions about what they are trying to hide.

People are speculating whether the Pakistani government was incompetent and didn't know that for five years Bin Laden  was living within spitting distance of the Pakistani West Point  or did they know and just not do anything about it.

I can't help but wonder if the Redistricting Board is incompetent or intentionally making it as difficult as possible for people to know where the meetings are.

In part, it doesn't make sense to hide.  The various groups with the most stake - the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and several other politically active groups - all know how to find the board.  Not making it really clear on the website only discourages the general public who don't have enough information to make too much trouble anyway. 


  1. This is Alaska-- I'm afraid the answer is both. Public involvement is a technical field. It is not public relations. Most organizations and governments, of whatever scale, don't understand this.

    Under Gov Knowles, state departments usually were unaware of what a public involvement coordinator was (for one thing, a good one can find who composes a community. This is important for activities which will affect said community. Full involvement results in demonstrably cheaper, more efficient, more satisfactory action). However, Lt Gov Ulmer had completely overhauled the state websites so one could find things.

    Murkowski destroyed the organized web pages and no one since has corrected them. For example, the emergency preparedness pages were all listed as a dot com, not a dot gov. There are still broken links out there for some information which belongs to the public.

    Transportation is mandated by the Federal Highway Administration to have a full public involvement program. FHWA learned the hard way and have excellent models. The only other full-time similar position is in Military and Veterans Affairs, the role of tribal government liaison. This department has the worst on-line information system (emergency preparedness is part of this department) and there has been no consequences for the department's obstruction of Alaskans even finding out about the dept's actions. For example, all National Guard has been removed from Alaska communities, except for major hubs and the big cities; there have been no public discussion, even. How can we have an Alaska National Guard located away from most of the state?

    You are right-- this is 2011, not 1996 (nor even 1969 when public involvement was first . Internet incompetence is definitely

  2. Blogger doesn't like WordPress ID, today--

    1969-- National Environmental Policy Act requires public involvement (such as it was then.)

    Internet incompetence in 2011 is still possible, but maintaining ignorance is deliberate.

  3. Steve, thanks so much for doing this. But I hope you have a lot of readers. This is SO important. I'm going to send it downtown to the Social Studies department for the school district, hoping they will send it out to all the teachers.

    Cindee Karns

  4. My understanding is that the morning talk show host on KFQD accused you of contributing to Ron Miller's death with this blog entry. I am trying to reach the host, Casey Reynolds. Please let me know if you want to comment, ASAP.
    --Bill McAllister
    CBS 11 News


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