Since they've added watching the meeting via GoToMeeting, I've toyed with the idea of staying home and testing it. And since the streets were wet this morning, it seemed like a good idea. Access to the maps on my computer was better than what you can see projected on the screen at the meeting. And since I've been to enough meetings to know everyone's voices, listening to audio only was pretty easy.
I'd recommend Alaskans try the audio and GoToMeeting, even if it's just for a few minutes, to see how your state is being divided into new political districts. The links are on their website as I showed in the previous post.
I'm afraid I'm not going to totally clarify these issues because I don't grasp all the details myself, but I think it is still worthwhile to mention them and maybe the people who do get it can help me understand.
Excess Population and Deviation Anchorage, Matsu, and Fairbanks
1. How to deal with Anchorage (the Anchorage City and Borough were combined in 1975 to become the Municipality of Anchorage) excess population. Anchorage has enough people for 16 districts with and extra 7,744 people that would need 10,011 more people for a perfectly sized district. That's 43% of a district.
2. Matsu Borough has 88,995. Enough for 5.012 districts. That .012 comes out to 213 extra people for five districts, or about 42 extra per district.
3. Fairbanks-North Star Borough has 97,581people. That's enough for five districts with 8,804 people left over. That's half a district.
Fairbanks' excess people were given to a district to the North and one that goes down to Valdez and slips into the Matsu.
Yesterday they were talking about taking the excess Anchorage population and dividing it up among the 16 full districts. You can't do that in Fairbanks with only five districts to absorb the extra 8,804 people. For Anchorage, it makes sense at one level, but at another level it means Anchorage residents 'lose' almost half a district. More people will live in each Anchorage district than will live in each Matsu district. 484 people extra per district doesn't sound like that much, but as I said, for all 16 districts in Anchorage that totals 7,744 people or enough for .43 of another district. Are they better represented by being parceled out among the other 16 Anchorage districts? Or would they be better off put into a new district or two with people from Kenai and/or Matsu? Except Matsu doesn't really have any extra people. . .
So, a little while ago, the Board voted to adopt Matsu Option 2 map.
|double click to focus and enlarge|
When they took Eilson, they used the justification that they needed to add people into a Native district and since Eilson had about 3000 people, but only 20% voter turnout, the addition of 3000 basically non-Native population would get the district the needed population without diluting the Native vote. But I didn't hear much argument for putting Eilson back in other than it belonged to Fairbanks.
Torgerson had some questions about the high deviation in Anchorage if they adopted Matsu Option 2. But they voted for it 5-0.
Should Wasilla and Palmer Share a Senate Seat?
In the just adopted Matsu Plan, Wasilla and Palmer each have their own house district. As I understand it, that's how it was before. And Senate districts are made up of two contiguous house districts. (Well, trying to prevent Retrogression has led to the possibility of a non-contiguous Senate district, but that's another story.) But one of the board members, I believe Chair Torgerson, mentioned that the Mayor of Wasilla requested that Wasilla and Palmer NOT be in the same Senate district in the new plan. No reason was given that I heard.
Who does the mayor represent here? Does he have the support of the council? Of the population? Or is he speaking as an individual? The board has tried to accommodate a number of requests to include or not include certain areas in the same district. Some have had long explanations of how this affects socio-economic integrity, how the two communities are connected by transportation links, health systems, Native corporations, and a variety of other reasons. In other cases, no reason is given.
In an earlier plan, when Wasilla was split along the Parks Highway into two districts, one of the staff members said it was because the request was from someone who had candidates in mind who didn't want to be in the same district. Is that the same motivation for having Wasilla and Palmer in different Senate districts?
Just so you don't think it's all really serious, the Board gets into side issues now and then, like this one:
Price of Pint in Cold Bay
Some board members are getting fairly comfortable at these meetings and there was a short discussion of the price of a pint in various rural districts. I think someone mentioned having to pay $40.
They adjourned until 2:30pm.