Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alaska Redistricting Board Adds Three New Third Party Maps - 6 Days After Last Week's Deadline

Today the Alaska Redistricting Board sent out an email to people who have subscribed to their email list with an amended Agenda for tomorrow's (Friday, June 28) public hearing in Anchorage.

The basic agenda change is that Gazewood and Weiner will present their plan on Monday in Fairbanks instead of in Anchorage.  Gazewood and Weiner is the law firm that represents that Riley plaintiffs who challenged the Board in court.  Their office is in Fairbanks.

At the bottom of the email is a notice that there are three new plans:

AFFER - Revised
Calista  - Revised
Calista Option 2

The deadline for all plans was Friday, June 21 at noon.  That was six days ago - actually the time that the Board meeting opened last week.  At the meeting there was no vote to extend that deadline, nor any announcement that it would be extended.  There was a hint that the Board wasn't necessarily firm about the deadline when the Board chair asked Board member Marie Green about a plan from Sealaska and said that they could get it in even though the deadline was over.  But she checked and said there was no plan coming in from them.

Also, for the first 11 options, the Board voted to adopt them.  There hasn't been a meeting since then, at least not one that was announced to the public, so how did these three plans get on the list?

Although the plans were only posted on the Redistricting Board website "as of noon today" according to the 3:10pm email, the three (3) new plans, along with the original 11 adopted by the Board last Friday, were displayed at the Haines Assembly meeting last [Tues]night (Wednesday) and discussed. 

From  KHNS' radio's report on the meeting:

“The State Redistricting Board is now considering 14 different maps.  Mayor Scott created a chart with some of the different options on the table, showing what communities Haines would be grouped with.  Under most of the maps, Haines, Skagway and Klukwan are grouped together as they used to be.  Most options also include grouping the upper Lynn Canal Haines with other small like Gustavus, Hoonah, Kenakee Springs and others.  But each option also includes of either parts or all of Juneau.

Assemblyman Dave Barry said the best option for Haines is   is likely the option that includes the upper Lynn Canal communities, Gustavus, Hoonah, Elfin Cove, Pelican, Kenakee Springs, and north Juneau.

Barry:  “I think the one that would benefit us the best would be E, the mere fact that the more communities we have that are similar to ours, is the less amount of population that north Juneau could put in so we wouldn’t be drownded by their thoughts. 
It would be interesting to know how they got the maps and who else got them early.  Maybe it wasn't from the Board, but directly from the Republican Party, but then all 14 plans (including the three that weren't up on the Board's website until this afternoon) were presented as the options the Board was using.  

Usually, when public agencies have deadlines for submissions of any kind, late submissions are not accepted.  While you want as many good submissions as possible, accepting them after the deadline isn't fair to people who actually trust the Board to honor their deadlines, and thus don't turn in late proposals.  One might also consider some extenuating circumstances, such as a group that is not already represented or is a marginalized group that doesn't understand how the process works.  

But in this case, the new plans (two revisions and one new plan) come from the Alaska Republican Party (AFFER) which already has four representatives on the Board itself, and from Calista, a Native Corporation that uses the same GIS expert to do their maps that the Republican Party uses.  Steve Colligan's resume (on his Colligan for Assembly website) shows long experience with GIS going back to 1984 where he worked for the Municipality of Anchorage through now as president of  the firm E-Terra, LLC.  He's also served as Vice President of the Alaska Republican Party.

Ultimately, is this going to make any difference?  I suspect not.  The Board is probably feeling pretty good now that they don't have to worry about pre-clearnace from the Department of Justice due to the Supreme Court ruling on Shelby County Monday.  They will do what they want with the maps - as is legal - as long as they meet the Constitutional requirements. Political gerrymandering is illegal though, but it is be hard to prove.

Even if this won't significantly effect the final plan,  it does show how poorly the Board is being run now that it doesn't have an Executive Director.  Deadlines are sloppy.  Official notification seems to lag behind some other form of notification (that got the maps and data at least a [two] day[s] ahead to the Haines Assembly.)  Even if Haines got the extra three options from the Republican Party, why did they think the extra three ones were official ones approved by the Board since they weren't among the original 11 and the Board hasn't met to approve them since last Friday?

Below is the email from the Redistricting dated 3:10pm today, June 27. 
Alaska Redistricting Board
June 27, 2013

The Agenda for the Alaska Redistricting Board June 28th public hearing has been amended.
A M E N D E D   A G E N D A
Public Presentation and Public Testimony


10:00am to 4:00pm
1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Discussion of VRA mapping schedule
4. Presentation of third party plans

Presentations limited to the times shown below

A. Ketchikan Borough                                                                           5 minutes
B. Alaska For Fair and Equitable Redistricting (AFFER)          30 minutes
C. Calista                                                                                                     30 minutes
Public testimony on all plans
Testimony is limited to three minutes each
4:00pm       Adjourn

The Agenda for the Alaska Redistricting Board July 1st, 2013 public hearing has been amended.

07-01-2013 MONDAY

1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call of Members
3. Presentation of third party plan
       A. Gazewood and Weiner                                                             30 minute
4. Public hearing
Testimony will be limited to three (3) minutes per speaker.

4:00pm ADJOURN

There are, as of noon 6/27/2013, additional proposed maps now available on the Alaska Redistricting Board website 
The additional maps are:
AFFER amended
Calista amended
Calista Option 2

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