Monday, January 09, 2012

Sounds of Silence - Redistricting Board Court Challenge Teleconference

[This is a strange post - A log of a silent teleconference to the Fairbanks Court where the challenge to the Alaska Redistricting Board is being heard.

Think of it as documentation, but for whom?  The techies?  The Board?  I applaud the Board for making the effort to put the court proceedings online.  When you do something new (for them) you take a risk.  So far it isn't working, but I'm hoping it will get figured out.]  


I've called the conference number listed to listen in.  It seems there is just one other participant - Matsu Borough.  We're on pause while the judge comes into the court room.  It says there is room for 150 participants, so anyone who wants to listen in can call:

Conference Number:  866-231-8327 (Limited to the first 150 participants) 
Conference Code:  9074529311#
8:40 - someone else joined, but I couldn't understand who it was.  Otherwise we're still hearing nothing.

Instructions:  We've been muted and need to press #6 to unmute line.  I wasn't planning on talking anyway.
8:48 - that last person left the conference - Fairbanks Court?? left the conference - Aleutian Research? joined
 9:01 - There was a clicking sound.  

9:05 I've never been on a conference call before to listen to a court proceeding.  In court, the people in the gallery can listen in to whatever is happening.  I'm not sure what limits there are on people listening in via phone.  But it would be helpful if someone could tell us once in a while why we are hearing nothing but silence interrupted by someone joining or leaving the teleconference. 

I realize this is new ground for the Board (they did some teleconferencing of their hearings, but this is in the court room in Fairbanks) and I applaud their attempts to allow people from around the state to listen in.  And I'm sure this will improve as they figure it out.  But it is frustrating.

9:11am  I've called the Alaska Redistricting Board office in Anchorage and Mary Core there is going to check on what's happening.

9:13 am  - Someone else just joined - Liz I think;  Mary Core (from the Board)  Now she left.  I guess she was just checking. 

9:21am - Nick McDermot (?) has joined.

9:24am - Mary Core's back.  Mary Core left.  Fairbanks Superior Court joined.  Fairbanks Superior Court left.  
Mary called me to tell me she'd contacted them and has to call others who called in to say they couldn't hear anything.   She said the second time she called she could hear Board attorney Michael White presenting his argument.   And I hear something faint in the background.  Now the sound is gone again.

9:29am - I hung up and called back to see if that would help.  But no.  Still silent.
9:33am - Mary Core joined again.  Nick and Liz have left.
9:34am - KTVA and Liz Clemens have joined. 
9:40am - Mary Core left.  

9:51am  I'm posting this now and maybe something will start soon.  Meanwhile, check the last post to get a sense of what is supposed to be happening.  
Last thought:  I assumed when she said we'd been muted, it meant no one could hear us if we spoke.  What if she muted the court?  Can you do that?  
So I called Mary back at the Board in Anchorage and asked.  She said they were getting lots of feedback from people on the phones  - dogs barking, etc. - so they muted everyone and that seems to have messed things up and they are working on it.  A fair number of folks  - including TV stations - have called in and are upset.  It's up to the Court system to make it work is what I understood.

UPDATE 10:16am -

10:07am  - I can hear something in the background.  No, it was someone joining the conference.
Operator joined the conference.  Fairbanks Court is talking to the operator.  We want to mute the other lines.  Can we silence the announcement that people are coming on and off line.  She said hit *3.  Operator left.  Someone else left.

Is this really the first time a court has had a teleconference and they can't figure out how to do it without the courtroom hearing people getting on and off?

10:10  Fairbanks court is talking again.  It's very quiet.  But she's talking to someone clearly trying to make it work.  "Tell me what to do and I'll do it.  I don't get it."  The person she's talking to is hard to hear. 

10:15am - She's checking who is online. "Recess now until about 10:20am, and trying to make it work so the comings and goings aren't interrupting the proceedings."

I feel a little silly posting all this.  Clearly they've asked someone to do something that is out of her area of expertise.  I don't mean to call attention to it.  But this is a pretty public event and I was poised to blog it live.  And this is what was on.  I really want to get into the substantive matters of the proceedings which will determine if the Board's plan will stand or will have to be revised.

UPDATE 10:21am - It's working. Sen. Paskvan is the current witness.

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