Monday, January 09, 2012

Redistricting Court Challenge: Paskvan Testifies

11:30 - they are on break.  Sen. Paskvan has been testifying, basically that he thinks there was political gerrymandering to match himself and fellow Democratic Senator Thomas.  He discussed the differences between the city and the borough areas - police powers, garbage collection, fire, building codes - and showed how now they have split up the two halves of the city of Fairbanks into two different Sen. Districts which will also represent large chunks outside the city.  He also pointed to the fact that House Districts  3 and 4 are barely connected, really only a matter of feet, to be joined as one Sen. District, while 1 and 2 (the two main City of Fairbanks house districts) are connected by miles of common boundary, but are not connected as was the old Senate district.  On the map, House District 4 (Sen seat B) is blue, the green is District 3.  The red circle shows where they are connected.

Below are my notes.  They are starting again.  I'll clean up the notes later, but for those who want them now.  These are NOT official transcripts by any means.  They're just to give you a sense of the proceedings. 

10:21 It's working.

Sen. Joe Paskvan -
Attorney:  Current district?
Sen P:  Sen District E
Attorney:  Where on this map is it located? Describe district.
Sen. P:  Fairbanks and Ft Wainwright basically.
Attorney:  Exhibit J11 -  Red outline is City Boundary, Roughly your dustruct?
What did you do before politics?
Sen P:  attorney.  Born and raised here.  My grandfather came in 1909 then during 10's 20's and 30's traveled back and forth to Minnesota.  Permanently stayed in interior AK in 30s.  Dad went to UA in WWII and joined army.  Opened business in FB after WWII.  25 cousins in family born here after the war.
Attorney:  Good working knowledge of Fairbanks?  Yes.  Seen Maps of redistricting?  Yes.
Current proclamation did you see problems with the maps?

Sen P - where the 4p to the west, there's a part omitted from City of Fairbanks.  Annexation in 2008, city limits as changed by annexation not reflected in the redistricting map.  Here and here. (I can't see it either).  This area wasn't contested, but this area was and was focus of a lot of legislative discussion two years ago in Juneau.   I live right here and I drive this street every day.  This used to be outside of Fairbanks, but in 2010 all came in.  Subject to main debate, south of Airport Road and West of Fred Meyer area.  Political debate I was forefront in.
Attorney:  Annexation.  How did it end in legislature?
Sen. P:  Apparently legislature can throw out annexation approved by planning board.
Attorney:  Some resistance to annexation? YES  Who resisted?  Before got to legislature the FBNS borough resisiting and City of Fairbanks advancing.  I was a resident of Fairbanks.  When in legislature, FBNS borough passed resolution against.  Rep. Wilson of North was spearhead to crush the annexation and I was spearhead to keep it.  Primarily the debate played out in Rep. Bob Heron's committee and when I testified, Rep. Wilson was presenting hostile testimony.  I was happy my side prevailed.
Attorney:  Why did they oppose annexation?
Sen P:  3/4 million dollars in property and sales taxes from Fred Meyer west facility and some residents and also, ambulance response times from UA compared to downtown fire department from City of Fairbanks.
Attorney:  Why an issue?
Sen P:  I think borough made it more of an issue than necessary.
Attorney:  Has to do with tax base? Correct. Service to people?
Sen P:  For annexation to work, City had to show it could provide services, which it did.
Attorney:  Why were you advocating for the annexation?
Sen P:  Important to recognize that city of fairbanks has continuously expanded throughout my life time. Dad would say Fairbanks grows despite itself.  This is aprt of the growth of the city of Fairbanks.  As the elected Sen. for city of Fairbanks, my duty to represent interests of the City rather than the borough.
Attorney:  Future annexations coming?
Sen P:  Yes, and annexation south of airport road, will continue toward the airport and businsses and homes south of Chena River and north of Tananana and Johanson expressway, NE Fairbanks, all within the city of Fairbanks.
Attorney:  Would you expect opposition on those expansions too?
Sen P:  I would expect opposition, but as part of the natural growth of city limits over the decades, the annexation will eventually occur.
Attorney:  What type of services offered by the city.
Sen. P:  Incorporated in 1903, First Class city, has police powers including professional police, fire, garbage curbside pickup, city street maintenance, building codes going back many, many years.  Less potential to burn down.  City engineering makes sure codes complied with.  More like a true city.  I remember statehood and mid-60s and NSBorough incorporated, B residents always had significant problem with police powers, but people in Fairbanks used to police powers and two different states of mind.  Borough relies on state troopers.
Attorney:  How does fire protection compare.
Sen P:  B. has volunteer fire connected to service districts.
A:  Garbage?
Sen P:  City has weekly curbside pickup and they take it to the dump.  Borough has dumpster stations where people can deposti their garbage.
A:  In Juneau, do these differences make a difference in representation in legislature?
Sen P:  Certainly beyond the annexation battles, every year negotiations on capital budgets, allegations to FMATS which can service City and Borough and distinct from that capital budget appropirations solely to the city.  As Fairbanks Sen.  I want to focus on funding for the city of Fairbanks.  Last year Sen. Thomas and I worked together on FMATS capital budget and a chunk of that wne to Fairbanks, since FB is the hub.  If people in the are want to move, they have to go through Fairbanks.
. . .
Air quality is an issue that's different between the two.  City has been able to ban the hydronic ?? boilers.
A:  Controversial?
Sen P:  Not in city, but concern in the borough if there would be boiler police and hotly contested.
Attorney:  would being from the city affect how you work in Juneau?
Sen P:  pause, not sure how to answer.  We are trying to bring natural gas to lessen the whole issue.  1100 businesses and residents on natural gas - in the city.
[Clearly they are tyring to establsih that there is a different set of interests between the city and borough to justify having different legislators for each rather than merging them]

A:  When you were deposed, there was a discussion on fracturing.  What do you mean?
Sen P:  Troubled me when the boundaries between 4 and 1, I live in here in the city and parts are to the east, but on this north south basis generally is where one part of the city is split from another part.  That exists in my current Sen district, but kept east part of FB with the west Part.
10:50 - Currently using Steese Highway n/s - connects with Richardson Highway by Ft. Wainright gate.  Learned the pairings split the east and west part of Fairbanks, term came to mind of fracturing the city.  Puts FB at risk, maintaining the integrity of everything I've known all my life of what FB has been.  Not just fractured to the east, where not paired with the one district, but also to the West where they didn't considere the annexation.  The Board didn't care about at all the actual city boundary of FB.  Thought the city should be a cohesive political voice because we do have differences from the area around.
Fractured to the west - 100s of voters - and to the east - 1000's of voters.
There is a risk to potential future annexation issues.  Someone not a resident of city of Fairbanks and allegiance not to the city, you risk stifling the natural progression of the expansion of Fairbanks over the decades.  As to capital projects within the city.  There are capital projects different int he City limits different from Chena Hot Springs Road - just unique entities.
. . .
10:55 - A:  Other cities in borough?
Sen. P:  North Pole about 2,000, city of Fairbanks something north of 30,000 people.  There's been talk of consolidation between Fairbanks, the borough, North Pole, and Ester, but haven't.  Anchorage has.  For us Police power is forefront in all this.  The B population is extremely hostile to police powers for as long as I can remember, back to the late 70s - alcohol tax on area wide basis.  Hotly contested as creation of police power in FNSB.
Also bar hours.  I was born and raised in the bar business = owned Tommies - since the 30s til now.  Bar hours issue, goes back to when city limits different from now.  Bars open just outside city limits, mad dash to outside the city limits after city bars closed.

A:In terms of Sen. pairings, what are your thoughts on discriminatory impacts?

Sen P:  getting away from fracturing discussion on east and west.  When I became aware the pairings not east and west of Fairbanks, but with massive area north of Fairbanks - blip where 4B touches 3B what came to mind was gerrymandering.  Infuriating.
Protest, overruled.
Sen. P will be leaving for Juneau this weekend.
Saw that two districts connected by area stretching for feet whereas 1 and 2 connected by miles.  Clearly saw it as a way to get two Democratic Sen against each other.

I'm a Democrat.  Joe Thomas is also a Dem. Sen.  Q: What is Bi partisan working group?
Sen P:  coalition in the Sen. hoping to address the issues of Alaska without getting bogged down in the extremes of either party.  I've been a member since day 1.  Set up in Dec. 2008 and I was sworn in Jan. 2009.  Is Sen. Thomas also a member?  Yes.
A:Who are the Republican members?
Sen P:  Stedman, Stevens, Meyers, McGuire, Wagoner, and
A:  What is Stevens position?  Pres.
A:  Kukesh?  Democrat
A:  Stedman:  Co-cahir of finance, and sits on resource committee which I chair.
A:  Other finance chair?  Sen. Hofman - Democrat.
A:  When you heard about the pairings in your district, did you know that you were the only Sen. pairings.
Sen. P:  We were wondering where it was going to came at us from.  I never figured it would be us.  Concern was Kookesh and Stedman and Stevens and Hoffman.  Both of those Republicans are less favored than others.
A:  You never testified did you?  No.
A:  Were you aware of other proposals to pair Senators, other than those who were members of the bipartisan working group?
Objection, hearsay.
Sen. P:  No.
A:  What were you saying about other Republican Senators.
Sen P:  Talking about decoupling of tax structure for oil and gas.  May 2010 change for tax under AGIA pipeline.  Sen. Stedman and I led the drive to decouple natural gas from the oil tax.  With shale gas going on, we saw the drop of natural gas prices, BTU equivalency in pricing was basis of tax, but natural gas price dropping so not equivalent.  We would have lost a lot of revenue.  Passed the Sen. Failed in house, then passed in house, then vetoed by the governor.  First time Stedman and I worked on keeping highest possible tax for Alaskans, as required by the constitution.  Current hot issue is production tax.  Stedman and I have been leading this issue - HB 110.  We both have strong thoughts that we have to maintain revenues to State from our oil, especially given the credit structure.  This makes Sen. Stedman to some extent a disfavored Republican.  Neither Stedman nor Stevens pictures were on the Republican website.
Resource Development Council, the Alliance have given us report cards  - I got a D, Stevens and STedman got F's, minority in Senate all got A's.  All because of the bi-partisan working group trying to address these important issues.  The majority favoring giving billions of dollars away are receiving A's.
A:  Are you aware the plan actually opened a vacancy that doesn't have an incumbency?
Sen P:  Yes, forcing two Dems to run against each other, and then creating an open seat to allow someone else to run.  First Seekins and and then Higgins, both of whom were defeated by Thomas.
A:  How do ??? vote?  Mainly Democratic.
A:  How about North Pole?  Mainly Republican.
A:  Military voting patterns?
Sen. P:  When I was campaigning in 2010 presidential year, I came to learn the military has a low voter turnout even in election year.
A:  Putting the tow military basis together how does this affect political party?  (hard to hear)
Sen. P:  much lower political voice can dominate because of low political turnout.
A:  This part here?
Sen P:  Ft. Wainright training grounds.  When we got capital budget for bridge across the Tanana, to get strikers across the river for their training.
A:  away from mike
Sen. P:  More registered Republicans than Dems, but even more undeclared.  Like me - I was undeclared until just before I decided to run.  1.4 - 1  R to D district.

A:  How did you get elected as a Democrat in this district?
Sen. P:  MY qualis, born here, raised here, family for generations, not interested in short term, but long run, and strong business background,  many Republicans find me to be an attractive candidate.  I am a capitalist, but have social issues some may disagree with.
A:  In terms of the Sen. plan.  Aware of any legitimate reason for breaking apart the city?
Sen. P:  I can think of no legitimate reason for fracturing FB.  A great deal of harm in moving people to the east and west.  Now divided among three different house districts.  Only rational contiguous boundary is to conect the east and west parts of Fairbanks so they hae a singular unified voice.

11:30 Judge - ten minute break, then we'll go to 11:40.

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