Thursday, March 31, 2011

Closing Few Folks Testify Before 7pm Adjournment

Bruce Schulte - District 28 (he was here last week)  The map on the wall works for me.  That's all.

Torgerson:  Thank you. 

Communities on tele
Fairbanks, Anchorage, Sitka, Haines, Cordova, Wasilla, Delta Junction, Valdez, Dillingham, Juneau,  Thank LIO offices around the state for hanging in to 7pm.  We'll recess we have 15 minutes.

6:53: Cordova Mayor

Thank you.  Jim Kallander., we want to remain in District 5 with other SE communities.  We understand that Valdez wants us to join them and we have no interest.  Don't want to be part of the pipeline communities.  We're happy where we are. 

White:  If Cordova can't be with SE, what would be your second choice?

Jim Kallander:  I'm not sure yet.  We've taken this stand.  This is my first time going through redistricting.  POlitically it seems pretty nasty to me.  People all over the state, feel like some illegitimate child being tossed around.  Give me some choices so I can talk to council and the community.  Thanks for all the work that you're doing. 

Torgerson:  We'll stand in recess.

7pm Adjourn.  Next meeting Monday at 10am - at Redistricting office.

Bill Noll and Lois Epstein Testify in Anchorage


Bill Noll, East Anchorage, Republican District chair.  Thanks.  Support of the design put together by plan presented this afternoon.  Solution for District 20 and 21 was very good.  Elegant solution, neighborhood with common background.  Further north in 19 also elegant since much of that population is military, part military, retired military.  That's all I want to testify this afternoon.  Thank you.

Lois Epstein - Thanks for opportunity.  Anchorage engineer, District 26, ten year resident.  Want to support apolitical redistricting.  Came from DC, I've been paying attention to how states have been doing redistricting.  Iowa has a complete apolitical redistricting.  Here we support trusted goernment.  This is an area where the public can be more supportive.  I live near New Sagaya downtown.  We have three districts.  That supports Democrats.  I'm a Democrat.  That's crazy that we live close together have three districts.


Liz Medicine-Crow
Here to speak to you as a member of the largest racial minority in the state.  Rep of myself, my clan, my community.  Couldn't let this time go pass

David Cruz in Fairbanks -   Looking at map from Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting.   As it comes down S. Cushman, everything to the South is District 9, before it was jumbled up.  It shifts Dis 10 to the east and North Pole.  Center is Ft. Wainright, little bit of N Pole, of Fairbanks, etc.  rolls it a little east.   I think its very fair and equitable.  Affect maybe 10% of our population and makes it contiguous.   6:20pm

More Redistricting Board - Cordova, Sitka, Juneau

There are people signed up at some of the LIO sites so they are reconvening.

Cordova, Supt. of Schools.

Jim Nygaard - Supt. of Schools.  North of District 5 - Beneifts of existing district - keeping coastal communities together is good for education, airlines, freight.  Likesize coastal communities keeps our interest being heard.  If grouped with others, our interests could be lost altogether.  Cordova is tied to SE Alaska.  Please consider bringing additional communities to our district when you redraw.  Appreciate your time, thanks. 

Torgerson:  Cordova is on our list.

School Board member - Nice to keep smaller coastal community together, similar needs, economies - fisheries.  Current representation.  Nice to not be overshadowed by larger cities.

Haines back on?  He hung up.  Sorry.  That's all for this segment.  Recess.  5:06.
Juneau LIO, we have someone. 
We don't have the name, please introduce

Connie McKenzie, in Juneau.  Testify in favor of Alaskans for Equitable Redistricting.  With the change here, I like how these four drawn.  Keeps Juneau 4 pretty much intact.  A bit from District 3.  And keeps a Native influence district, small and native communities.  32.5% native rep in that district.  Also 3 and 4 splits Sitka in half. part in with 3 and part with 1 (Ketchikan).  Then Sitka would have two senators and two representatives even though split. 

Gerry Hope:  Pres of Sitka Chamber of Commerce.  Looking for opportunity for more detailed presentation and testimony.  No real chance to look at the options. 

Torgerson:  That's fair.  We'll post them on the web as soon as we can.  Anyone else?  Hearing none, we will break 5:09 and come back when there are other people. 

Anchorage Testimony Julie Kitka

[This is full of typos, but I'm going to post now and clean up later.]

President of AFN.  With her is Natalie Landreth
We are not submitting for the record a map, but addressing some principles and comments in generality.

More later

Matt Ganley - VP Land and ??? Bering Straits Native Corporation.
1991 Gov. Hickel's proposal would have seriously diluted Native ability to be represented.  That plan was defeated.  At that time I worked for Ahtna and worked on this.  We're here now to determine the best way to represent people.  I second everything Julie Kitka said.

In addition to cultural lines, also look at specific histories and how local groups look at their future.  Each group is distinct, with varying history with their neighbors and disagreements about what the future holds - resource development.

I liked all the maps presented today because without exception, they brought Shishmaref home.

Mike White;  You saw the Democratic plan - the Rights Coalition - the Chain going all the way up.

Ganley:  First time I saw it today and would have to take it back and talk to my people.  Contained in that large area are many diverse ideas of their history and futures.

Going to Juneau now:

Murray Walsh:  [teleconference] Don't represent anyone, but around SE a lot and offer my support for the, plan that keeps district 4 in Juneau and adds a portion of Sitka to district 3 and sends the rest of 3 to Ketchikan,.  Keeps smaller communities together and larger communities together.  I'm sure the Sitka people will look at with with anxiety.  Hope you'll hold a hearing in Sitka.  Protects rural community lookout.  It does that without goring too many other oxen.  Not a job for the faint of heart.

Torgerson: We have posted on our website - 33 communities we are going to visit.  Thanks

Bradley Fletch?? Flitch?  Fluetsch-  Was my map made available?

Torgerson:  No

Bradley F.  I submitted one this morning by email.

Torgerson:  Staff said you'd asked for 30 minutes, but only after public testimony if we have down tie.  Looks like I have ten people statewide.

Bradley:  Trying to do here - Sealaska, Douglas Indian Association and ???? - goal is to empower the urban Alaskan Native who has been disenfranchised by the District 2.  I've put District 1 - Ketchikan - with the Alaska native communities  - there is more than Tlingit - there's Haida too.  And this way we emphasize the Haida for first time.

District 4 harder to draw because of how you draw district 3.  It really disenfranchised the Native population of Lemon Creek and ????  who were put with the valley.  This really emphasizes the Native needs.  Dis. 1 is 3??% Native District 3 is 28?% native.  Native influence is ore than the bodies in Juneau.  It's jobs, employment, professional associations, We've elected native people to mayor and school board and boards and commissions.  In District 3 there's Kake, Douglas Indian Association, IRA for Yakutat, and the ???? - federally organized tribal orgs located in 3.  ,,,, long list of organizations.  You have to look beyond the 35%.  Incorrect to look at Native % in isolation, but in context of whole district.  3 is unique in SE AK - pairing Kake and Angoon and downtown Juneau, compares nicely with larger native communities.  Dis. 2 Haines, Skagway, ???? - immense community similarities.  Thank Jim Baldwin of City and Borough of Juneau who gave me access to draw my map.  Encourage you to see how I've drawn district 3 in Juneau.  Thanks for your tie.

Torgerson:  Thank you for your work, Dillingham, Delta Junction,

Alice Ruby:  Mayor of Dillingham.  brief.  Interested in hearing presentations and will appreciate having time to look at them.  Int he meantime we're in 37 and F.  Those rep Bristol bay region, Aleutian Chain.   Coastal Communities and seafood processing and harvisting economy.  Makes infrastructure needs pretty similar for our communities.  Service areas for Bristol Bay ??ations.  SW Alaska Municipal Conference.  Maintained same area even though district changed.  We support adding necessary groups if needed but keep 37 and F intact.  Look forward to meeting you in Dillingham when scheduled.

Torgerson:  Still scheduling.  Will do the committee meetings between April 21 and May 5.  18, 19, 20 will be Anchorage, Fairbanks and Junea.  Hope to have stuff on our website by Monday.

Dan O'Hara:  Mayor of Bristol Bay Borough, sockeye capital of the world.  We had Carl ?? visit your meeting yesterday in Bethel.  11
1.  More tied to 37 and F than others
2.  Transportation same airlines
3.  Port in Naknek supports around here
4.  Most fish processed in Bristol Bay boundaries and Dillingham interconnected
5.  Northland barge supports BB port and borough, dutch harbor, all in 37 and F another inter-tie
6.  BB an Dillingham supported by BB health corporation and a hospital
7.  BB housing authority supports this group. 
8.  Cultural ties of region strong and should be retained in one district.  BB Assembly took action last Thursday.  Special meeting.
9.  Native Culture of Denaina Indians and Aleut and Alutiiq people are strong and tied with BB's good reason to
10.  People depend highly on subsistent lifecycle - all]\
11.  Would like meeting in King Salmon  - we have a training center there and can host a lunch and treat you really nice if you come here.

Torgerson:  King Salmon is on our list. Thank you very much for your testimony and your assembly did a good job representing you yesterday.

Delta Junction;

Mike Tvenge:  Administrator for City of Delta Junction.  Haven't made a proposa.  Saw Valdez for first time and brings us back together and DJ city council likes it.  Compact and similar communites.  Like that we are socio-economic communities and accessible by the road system  More comment in April.

Torgerson:  Will have the plans on the web when we get bak.

Ruth Abbott:  Came to Ak 1959, in DJ for 8? years.  Richardson Highway splits us now, but it should include both sides of the highway.  We are neither socially or economically connected with Chickaloon 250 miles away, but we have a lot in common with our neighbors across the highway.  More incommon with Valdez than with Matsu.  Wasn't planning on testifying.

Torgerson:  Back in Anchorage

David Case.  - Video coming


Lance Roberts - emailed picture of map I want to refer to while you look that up I'll address other poitns.  Born and raised in FBks - 1965 - redistricting in 2002 really bad and even after changed, it didn't work well.  Hope you can fix that.
based on AFER map:
1.  Taking out Goldstream precincts, might not have to take them all out, by what is southeast - not sure where you'll draw old 6.
2.  Main point if you have my map.  New numbers based on AFER map was 11 and 7, not 6 and 10.  All Badger Road in Distric 7.  I realize you can't keep them all together, but not 3 different districts.  We can keep it as two.
Sound stopped from audio.  Technician doesn't know either.

Just Fairbanks, we'll go to Ketchikan:
Dick Kuess?   Thanks for listening again.  Was here Sat. in Ketchikan, but today I've picked up on a couple of proposals that make sense.  Alaska for Equitable Redistricting - just not sure how they handle Sitka and the one just now from Juneau.

Torgerson:  Next to Juneau

Jaeleen Araujo - VP and gen counsel for Sealaska Corp.  and our 20k shareholders.  Considered about loss of two native incumbents one in sen one in house who would have to run against urban incumbents.  Prefer option that keeps one or both seats.  Urban v Rural native representation can be very different.

Like Bush Caucus that retained Thomas' district.  Also Alaskans for For Fair and Euqitable Redistricting proposal.    Not sure about Brad Fletch's proposal.  Protection of Natie and Rural represenation.  Protection of the four and two districts.  Thank you

Torgerson:  We have not received the Bush Caucus plan have we?
Miller:  Updated today that they have Facebook page with a lot of plans.  They aren't endorsing one particular one.

Laurie Davey in Juneau:  32, contiguous, compact, etc.  ER to Hope.  We need a compact and contiguous - West. boundary seward highway and rural areas elsewhere.  Not Juneau.

Back to Fairbanks
Lance Robertson:  Where did it drop out  Badger Road - works with map I emailed AFER map I really like the AFER map, but one consideration.  Badger road into 2 districts.  I highlighted in pink - everything south of Chena River and Slough, being in the new 6 and new 10 following the river following the slough to Plack road, but not necessary, there are a few good spots where you could draw the line where the neighborhoods connet with Plack, but not each other  A few options.
The stuff off of Persinger Drive, if all that - cloud road and keiling - were also in 6 and I wasn't sure about population, but if you could look at that with your software.
Looking to consolidate Badger into 2 district instead of 3.  Subdivision in Dis. 7 moving into Badger road.  Subdivision outside military base its own section.  Good where they draw that line.

Torgerson, thanks, appreciate, to Matsu for two, back here for one, then Haines.

Lynn Gattis - live and vote in district 14, and I've looked at mapping for Alaskans for Equitable Redistricting.  Map for new district 14, someone was truly paying attention not only to landmarks, following road, keeping that community together.  14, 15, 12 keep our community together.  No problems.  Like the AforER map.

Marvin Yoder - looking at the same maps as Lynn.  For the most very good.  I also rep city of Wasilla.  In SE corner of the map, they follow a creek and take a sliver from Goose Bay and move it into 14.  We're looking at some roads and annexed, it would make sense if some of the area south of 14 put into ?? and something else into 15.  Thank you.

Deptuy Administrator of Wasilla.

Robin Phillips - Adoption for Alaskans for Equitable Redistricting plan.  I think it meets all the criteria.  considers urban communities and I want to address smaller urban communities.  In last few processes we saw some strange districts.  Consider urban communities.  Particularly here in Anchorage - Govt. Hill.  It was split in half.  Two incumbents were thrown into one district from one party.  As a constituent and aide to one of the legislature.  Split not down for good of community or to meet specific requirements.  A4ER plan puts Govt. Hill together.  Dis. 25 long and narrow - A4ER makes the new district makes more sense.  Takes into consideration these compact urban communities.

Mark Lynch:  City Manager of Cordova.  Brief.  Thanks.  Satisfied with district we're in 5 and feel we have good representation.  Like it kept as much the same as possible.  Fit with the SE fishing communities.

Robert Venables:  Thank you chair, not speaking on behalf of my employer or others, lived and worked here a long time.  Looked at many maps and understand difficulties in front of you to put five house districts into four and keep people happy.  Need to lessen impact and doesn't harm to small communities.  The map that AK for Equ Redistricting put before you.  We understand the population lost here, there will be only four house seats.  There's a wat that Dis 5 can keep its identity and soul.  All fishing and subsistence life style compared to the more urban communities. 
Both Haines and Skagway support keeping the small communities not with Juneau that has 30,000, even Sitka with 7000?  Sitka is the only community could be aligned with urban areas.  If they are split in half they could gain more representation.

Ron Yaeger: (here in Anchorage)  District 30.  Alaskans for Equitable Redistricting feels good.  I'm an engineer, and know the importance of regulations and this plan meets them.  I recommend the plan complies with the law and not the boondoggle that happened ten years ago.  My district would no longer cross Campbell Creek and my district was badly split up  Common sense says I'm closer to neighbor across the street than across the river. 

Torgerson:  That's all we have here or off-site.  Take a break when someone wants to testify.

Democrats Ready to Present

Chair Torgerson relented after Valdez and said the Democrats could present after the public testimony when there was some downtime if Jake Metcalf didn't get here on time.

They were ready at 2:30, but he wasn't here and they were ready to go to public testimony, but then he walked in.  While Torgerson was clearly not pleased, he deferred to Board Member Greene's request to let the Democrats present their "Rights Plan."

Metcalfe is now testifying.  He's going over the criteria which sound like the mandated criteria from the Fed and State.  The room is considerably emptier now than it was. 

Respected Borough and city borders.
Respected Alaska Native representation.
Two Plan alternatives doing our best effort to meet all the principles.

1.  Fair and Balanced.  Our preferred.
2.  Four - Two Plan.  Four Alaska Native majority districts, Two influential districts. 

There are a bunch of maps on poster board on easels and I'm not sure where things are going.  It's much easier to move around now because the Valdez and others folks have emptied the front rows.  But they are pointing the maps to the board and I'm behind them. 

Let me move around.  I did a lot of their tour of the plan on video.  I'll try to get some maps and the video up later.

Now they are working on the Four-Two Plan.  Metcalfe is using the 'socio-economic integration' mantra (it's one of the criteria for justifying why a district is put together as it is) a lot.  In the first plan what caught my eye was that Kenai Peninsula was altogether except for Seward.  Which turns out to be in a district that goes across Prince William Sound to Cordova.  I'll try to get a map. 

They're closing up now. It's 3:05pm.  

In questioning from Attorney White about retrogression, Metcalfe's response is that we're down one district, but these districts are going to stand for ten years.  These are honest numbers and these majorities aren't going to dissipate after a year. 
Four-Two plan you add another influence district.

Valdez at Redistricting

It seems I've lost all this.  Bill Walker is acting as the attorney for Valdez and made the presentation.  The attorney for the Redistricting Board is asking what other options - if, say, they don't include Cordova with Valdez as Valdez has proposed.

What about taking Valdez east-west instead of this more north-south district?

Their plan focused mostly on Valdez and adjacent districts that would be affected.  Here's their whole map.

Here's a map focused on the new Valdez district.

And here's their map looking at the Anchorage part.

I did get a bit of video with Valdez City Manager John Hozey before things started.

Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting Presentation

I thought this was the Alaska Republicans because Randy Ruedrich is part of them.  But they have another name - Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting.  I think. I'm not sure of the name, it sounds an awful lot like the previous one. (The previous one, I believe, was Alaskans for Equitable Redistricting. )

David Mayberry is talking - retrogression of one Native majority seats is unavoidable.  He's explaining why District 6 isn't going to be salvagable.  If Board reassigned prisoner population to their homes of record, it would improve this.

Since District 40 is ok with deviation, we can take Shishmereff and Marshall and Russian Mission, District 39 deviation is ok. 

I've been using the video so I haven't written all this down.  He's going through details of the new districts.  Since this is a statewide plan he's gone all over the state including details of what sounds like significantly rearranging Anchorage districts.

Now he's in Fairbanks and Northpole.  Balance of surplus population must be added to new district ten.  And west of NP going to District 7, and added new precincts have many active duty and retired military.  District 8 , sorry I just can't keep up.

There is significant moving around it sounds like.

I encourage the board to consider this carefully. 

McConnochie:  Will get a copy of the actual map?
Ruedrich:  I believe they were submitted yesterday.

Attorney white:  Retrogression issue.  Looking atyour deviation data.  Looks like only 3 house majority/minority districts and one influence district?  Retrogression is unavoidable because of the population shifts? 
Ruedrich:  37 may get to ?? depending on the final numbers.  We've been having problems with the software so numbers are preliminary. 

They're done.  It's 1:50pm

Valdez is next

Dem Spokesman delayed, No accommodation if not here before public testimony

Deborah Williams, here, at this point, to seek and adjustment to your schedule.  The spokesperson for the rights coalition is Jake Metcalf.  He's in the middle of mediation, representing the public safety employees union.  Earliest he can be here today to present is at 2:30, so we are seeking your indulgence until 2:30, which is clearly within your time frame to 7pm.  We apologize, we did talk to Ron and asked for this accommodation.  The only personal allowed to speak on the plan today and he can't be here earlier than 2:30pm

Torgerson:  My plan to run right through and don't intend to change that.  I encourage him to get here.  I don't intend to back up into presentations once we start public testimony.  Not going to accommodate you.

Five minute recess.

Republicans up next.

Alaskans for Fair Redistricting Presentation

 There are more details and explanation at the Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting website including high resolution maps.
[UPDATE 9:26pm:  I just want to say that is is confusing.  It's my understanding that Alaskans for Fair Redistricting has been around since at least the last redistricting process (ten years ago.)  But now it seems that there is a new group (not sure when they got set up) that calls itself Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting.  Randy Ruedrich - the head of the Republican Party in Alaska - is associated with Fair AND EQUITABLE, while Fair Redistricting is a collaboration of Labor and Alaska Native organizations.]

12:38pm  Carl Marrs, Vince Beltrami, and Joe McKinnon are testifying.  Again, I've . . .

Marrs:  We do not pair incumbents if possible.  Except for SE Alaska, no incumbents are paired.  Preserves core of those preserving districts, maintinga urban neighborhoods.  Continuing existing relationships with existing officials allows . . .

They are passing out maps.

Attorney asked about the apparent loss of one Native district (from 8 to 7) and whether that is retrogression.  REsponse:  Unavoidable retrogression.

Solve Juneau problems by going to north to Skagway and Haines and Gustavus.  Forces doubling incumbents.  Driven by voting rights act.  In Ketchikan, we take Wrangell, because a predominantly non-Native district. 

Attorney White:  Is your plan basically Juneau's north Juneau plan?
Maybe, we leave Saxman in with Ketchikan and same with Klukwan, though they both have strong Native populations.
McConnochie:  Where's the border between north and south Juneau?
McKinnon:  Near the airport

Kodiak too small for district by itself.  Tie it in with S coastal areas of PW Sound - Cordova, Seldovia, Port Graham,  - surplus population on Kenai Pen. we can do that.

Because there are so many people in here, I can't easily run around to take pictures or get good shots of the slides they are showing.

White:  3.4% deviation - could you make those smaller not considering not pairing incumbents?
McKinnon:  Even with pairing incumbents we could.  But we tried to use main thoroughfares as natural boundaries.  If we didn't do that, we could break out small neighborhoods and balance more.

(l-r)  Marrs, McKinnon, Beltrami
Kenai:  main change move Cooper Landing and Moose Pass into 32.  Tried to keep borders between 33 and 34 as close to current.  A bit of 34 into 35 to make up for other changes in that area. 

1:10pm they're done.  Alaska Dem Party next.

Juneau presents plan for four new districts including Cordova

April 18, 19, 20 there will be public hearings.  I'm behind.  They are all going to the first three Anchorage, Fairbanks, and I think Juneau.

Statewide teleconference May 6, and then they'll set a schedule for meetings and adoption of final plan.  GIS folks will have to do final check, hopefully, by June 4.  We have to June 14, but given need for DOJ pre-clearance, we're hoping to be ready early.

Will go into presentation.  Mayor Botelho first. from Juneau

.  Also Jim Baldwin, consultant for Juneau.  We have two plans.  List of principles we used.  Ultimately, we have used the Board's guidelines, mirroring the priority order the AK SC enunciated in Hickel v SE Conference.

Could we under the voting rights act avoid retrogression?  Decision early on, shoud SE Alaksa encompass cordova.  Until 2002 in SC, concluded Cordova inapprorpriate.  Majority of court said it would violate the compactness elecement of Constitution, but acceptible if necessary for avoiding deviation.   There are four ideal house districts.  Total variationslightly over 1%. 

Only endorsed by city and borough of Juneau.  Not others, though we have consulted others.  There is no configuration of the plan that can . . .

I've been video taping but that can't get up that fast.  There would be four districts in Juneau's plan A.  One 'native effective district'.  There will be incumbents running against each other in two house districts, one ok, and one district without an incumbent.  Two incumbent Senators would run against each other.

The room is getting filled up.

UPDATE 10:30pm  Here's a Juneau Empire piece describing meetings in Juneau preparing for this and with more detail for Plans A and B. ]

Live Blogging from Redistricting Board - Valdez and Juneau here in Force

It's March 31.  The last day to present plans to the Alaska Redistricting Board.  The meeting starts at noon and is being teleconferenced around the state.  The fact that it is also open for folks to walk in at the Legislative Information Office in Anchorage wasn't so clearly mentioned on the announcements on the Board's website. 

But people who pay attention to this are aware.  There's a significant contingent from Valdez here - The city manager, city clerk, city attorney, mayor, and economic development director.  (They're mostly on the right.)  John Harris, the former representative from Valdez is also here.  The mayor Juneau is also here. 

The meeting has just started and John Torgerson said there will be five plans presented today, about two and a half hours. 

Adam Trombley's Hero is Dick Cheney, Maybe

13 Anchorage Assembly candidates showed up at a forum at UAA Wednesday night.  Three or four times that many people were there to listen.  Not a whole lot was actually said.  You really had to make gut judgments based on how they spoke and their non-verbal messages.  It was good to see all the candidates, but there wasn't anything that interesting.

Except. . .

There were written audience questions -  read by moderator Channel 2 newsman Jason Lamb - directed at specific candidates.  Adam Trombley was asked who his political heroes of the last 20 years were.  He quickly said, "Dan Quail."  That appeared to be a joke because he asked how much time he had - about 15 or 20 seconds - and he finally said, "Dick Cheney."

Yes, he said Cheney was his hero.  Cheney helped get us into Iraq on false claims of WMD's.  He was part of the group that outed a CIA agent to get revenge on her husband, and helped get his aide, Scooter Libby, out of his prison sentence after he was convicted. Torturing prisoners gave him no qualms.  The list goes on and on.  Here's a link to a Boston Globe article that looks at Cheney in the 1970s.  I realize there are conservatives who would strongly disagree with this characterization, but I'm confident that Cheney will not be a hero in the history books.    That's how I see it. So I thought I should check with Trombley.

Afterward I asked Trombley if he was serious or not.  He wouldn't give me a straight answer.  I don't know what that means. He's a candidate for a local office.  He said his hero is Dick Cheney, and when asked about it afterward, he refuses to answer.  Watch his response and judge for yourself.   Do we want Assembly people who refuse to answer serious questions that get to their values?

[UPDATE April 4:  If you want to judge for yourself if he was joking, his original response to the question is here.]

He is supported by the Mayor Sullivan.  From a poster on Trombley's website:
Adam is the BEST Conservative choice for East Anchorage Assembly. Please join me in supporting Adam Trombley. - Dan Sullivan

Sullivan is the man who ordered the public television in the City Hall lobby to be tuned to Fox News.    So, Cheney could be his hero. 

Just in case you aren't aware that we vote next Tuesday, here is a list of the candidates, including who was and wasn't at the forum at UAA.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm going to teach a blogging class for Ole!

Ole! was set up as an extension program from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) originally aimed at seniors I think.  OLE! stands for "Opportunities for Lifelong Education."  But there is nothing on their membership material that mentions age, so it's open to anyone I guess.  There are no tests.  People are there because they want to keep learning.  And I've talked to a couple people who are really excited about some of the classes they've taken.

For $150 a year (starts when you join - three sessions) you can become a member and take as many 'classes' as you can fit in your schedule.  I went to a couple of sessions of Cliff Groh's class on Alaska Political Corruption a year or two ago as a guest speaker.  Some of the people in the class were personal friends of people covered so the discussions were pretty interesting.  That led to a session where I showed slides of Thailand.  I had way too many pictures for that one, but the audience was polite.  I shouldn't be teaching, I should be taking classes.

The Spring 2011 schedule offers a lot of variety.  Things start this week. Here's a sampling:
  • OLÉ! Does Broadway: Rodgers & Hammerstein
  • Shoots & Leaves: Planning Your Garden
  • Climate Change and Anthropogenic Global Warming
  • Coming into the Country: Anchorage's Refugee and Immigrant Communities
  • Protecting Your Art and Collectibles
And then there's Blogs and Blogging.  You'd think someone who's blogged almost five years should be able to pull this off.  But as I prepare, I realize how narrow my knowledge is.   But here's what I've got in mind.

1.  Objectives:
  •  To Gain an Understanding of What Blogs Are and Their Impact
    • To be able to explain what a blog is to someone else
    • To be able to find blogs online
    • To visit a number of different types blogs to get a sense of what this is blogging stuff is all about
    • To be able to leave comments on blog posts
    • To meet some bloggers and be able to ask them questions about why they blog, what they get out of it, etc.
    • To understand how bloggers track their viewers and 
    • To know the kind of information you leave behind when you visit blogs (or other websites)
  • To Try Out Creating Your Own Blog (Really, this is much easier than you can imagine. If it weren't, there wouldn't be so many blogs.)
    • In this part of the class, participants will create a Blogspot blog of their own and publish a few posts including:
      • Text
      • Photos
      • Video
    • Participants should also be able to 
      • notify Google of their blog and 
      • to include a tracking system to know how many people visit their sites.
2.  Schedule
  • Weeks 1 and 3 will focus on Objective A - learning about blogs.
    • Week 3 will include several local guest bloggers to talk about their blogs while you follow along online.  There might even be time for them to help you with your blogs. 
  • Weeks 2 and 4 will focus on actually creating a blog and experimenting with it.

The class will be held in a computer lab, so we should have a good time.  The Week 3 guest class turned out to be one of those opportunities caused by a problem - I was going to be out of town.  But having the other bloggers will really add to the class.  It was hard choosing people to invite, but in the end I tried to get people who do very different things on their blogs.  I've still got one or two people to confirm. 

The FBI is Looking For Some Code Crackers for 1999 Case

People have been getting to a December 2008 post  titled Can You Crack FBI's Code?  today.  Enough to make me wonder if they had put up a new code.

And they have, only this one isn't a game.  But I guess the success of the gamers (someone sent me the answer to the code nine minutes after I posted it) has spurred the FBI to post a real code that they can't figure out.  There were two coded pieces of paper in the pocket of a murder victim in 1999.  Here's the first note:

You can go to the FBI's site to see the whole story and the other note, and to let them know what it says.  I went to the link of the person who solved the 2008 code so quickly and left a message.  Maybe he can do this one in 20 minutes.

Study of Alaska Natives: Eat Salmon, Stay Healthier

An article at Alaska Dispatch reports on a study that compares a population of obese Alaska Natives on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta with a similar sized population in the Lower 48.  It found the Alaskans had lower rates of adult-onset diabetes and heart disease.
A diet of Alaska salmon rich in Omega-3 fatty acids appears to protect Yup'ik people from diabetes and heart disease -- even when the individuals in question have become obese, according to a recent study that examined eating habits and health in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta region.
Scientists found that Yup'ik people in general consume about 20 times more of the complex fish oils every year than do people in the Lower 48 states, a subsistence-driven cuisine that may actually shield them from many health problems blamed on obesity, junk food and inactivity.
Y-K residents show similar levels of obesity as the overall U.S. population, yet experience far lower prevalence of the adult-onset diabetes linked to poor diet and weight issues -- about 3.3 percent versus about 7.7 percent.

You can read the rest of the Dispatch article here.  And if you're brave you can read an abstract of the original article from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition with the serious title of:
Associations of obesity with triglycerides and C-reactive protein are attenuated in adults with high red blood cell eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids.

But, take this with a grain of salt (no, that's not good for your heart either) since, as the article points out, experts in the past have argued whether something is or isn't good for people to eat.
Alaska public health officials and national diet gurus sometimes clashed in the 2000s, with previous federal guidelines cautioning people against eating too much fish due to potential exposure to mercury, and Alaskan experts urging as much salmon as the plate might hold.
I don't believe there are simple one-to-one cause and effect relationships in health.  Many factors come to play.  I would imagine that the differences in rural Alaskan life and urban Lower 48 life include a lot of other factors that may be part of the health differences.  Maybe the researchers considered all that.  

And there's also a discussion  in the article about whether eating wild game in general is healthier than the beef Americans consume.

A final note: the article mentions they consulted with local elders before doing the study.
With the support and consultation of village elders, the scientists tested and interviewed 1,003 adults and teenagers spread among 10 southwest Alaska communities between 2003 and 2006 in pursuit of a public health mystery: How were certain people who ate the high-fat diets of traditional subsistence foods able to remain so healthy despite being overweight? [emphasis added]
The Alaska Native Science Commission has a protocol for researchers doing research on Alaska Natives that requires such community involvement in how the research is conducted  to protect communities from the of exploitation of past research.   For example,  the principles include:
  1. The community must be involved as a full partner in all aspects of the research. Continuous consultation and collaboration should characterize the partnership.
  2. The strengths and culture of the community, including community researchers and staff as well as material resources, must be respected and utilized whenever possible.
  3. Written permission must be obtained from the partners before beginning the research projects.
  4. Permission from all individuals participating must be obtained prior to collecting personal information.
  5. The confidentiality of all individuals must be respected. If necessary, the community involved may choose to remain anonymous when reporting the results.
  6. All research results, analyses and interpretations must first be reviewed by the partners to ensure accuracy and avoid misunderstanding.
  7. All data collected belongs to the community and must be returned to the community.
  8. The partners must all be involved in making decisions about the publication and the distribution of all or parts of the research results.
  9. The community must agree to the release of information.
One thing just leads to another.  This started out about salmon and health, but everything is interconnected.  

"The moment one learns English, complications set in." And other First Lines of Novels.

 StumbleUpon led me to  100 Best First Lines From Novels .  Are they really the best?  That's a fruitless debate.  But they're a good challenge to any writer - even bloggers - to think about how they put words together.  OK, now that I've totally blown my own first line here, let's start over again.

His fingers curled up and stopped typing after reading the 100 Best Fist Lines. 

It won't win any awards, but it's better than the actual first line of this post.  (Fist was a typo, but seemed to fit.  I keep losing letters from it. i . . .)

There are lots of good first lines, but this one spoke to me loudest as I went through the list.

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in.
I want to read that book.   I recently posted on the impact of one's language on how one knows and thinks.  It's a fundamental area of inquiry in this blog whose must basic theme is how we know what we know.

You'll have to go to the link to find out who wrote this one and the others.

Here are a few others:
20.  Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. 
I read #20 last year. 
28. Mother died today.
38. All this happened, more or less
45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.
54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.
63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up
66.  "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die.

Some are pretty easy to figure out:

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.

So, fellow bloggers.  After you write that first line of your next post, go back and figure out what your point is and how you can say it brilliantly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Looking for an Alaskan Artist?

There's a lengthy directory of Alaskan artists  at Artists Alaska.   Here's what the top of their main page looks like.

They say they're still building the list, so if you know people who should be on it you can go to this page.

For instance, I don't see Sue Kraft in the Juneau list.

Kotzebue Today, Bethel Tomorrow, then Statewide Thursday

I know I sound like a broken record (is there a more technologically current metaphor for this?), but maybe if you hear it enough, you'll start humming along.   The Alaska Redistricting Board is meeting today in Kotzebue and tomorrow in Bethel.

The Kotzebue meeting is two hours shorter than all the others.  Based on what was said at the meetings I attended, this is due to flight schedules.  And given all the down time the board had in Anchorage, and based on the online feed, in Juneau, I'm guessing it's ok.  But it might cut out people who would otherwise have come after work.

Anyway, note that the meeting is from 1pm today until 6pm. Don't worry about being there at 1 pm.  They are taking testimony whenever people show up. 

From the email I got (you can subscribe at their website - they moved it to the top of the right hand column)

The Alaska Redistricting Board will conduct a public hearing on Tuesday, March 29 at the Northwest Arctic Borough Assembly Chambers in Kotzebue, AK.
Date:  Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Time:  *1:00 p.m.* to 6:00 p.m. 
Location:  Northwest Arctic Borough Assembly Chambers
                  163 Lagoon Street, Kotzebue, AK 99752   

The Kotzebue district is actually very close to having the ideal population of 17,755 (new Alaska Census population divided by 40 House districts) and may not see any changes.  Kotzebue's District 40, as you can see on the chart is just 239 people below that ideal.  The 1.35% deviation is well within the acceptable range.

District 2010 Total Pop 2010 # Deviation 2010 % DeviationCurrent Rep Party Location
40 17,516 -239 -1.35%    ☯ ⬇ Regie Joule  (D) Kotzebue
39 15,642 -2,113 -11.90%    ⬇ Neal Foster

T Senate 33,158 -2,352 -6.62%⬇ Donald Olsen  (D) Golovin
37 15,199 -2,556 -14.40%    ⬇ Bryce Edgmon (D)  Dillingham
38 16,055 -1,700 -9.57%    ⬇ Bob Herron (D) Bethel

6 14,285 -3,520  -19.83%⬇ ⬇ Alan Dick R Stoney River
But, Nome's District 39 is down 2,113 below the ideal, not at all within range.  Districts 39 and 40 make up Senate District  T which is almost 7% below the ideal.  So something will have to be done to get these numbers closer to the ideals. (The Senate magic number is (I'm assuming it's just double the house number) 35,510.)

And then there is District 6 which wanders across half the state and is way low and borders all the districts relevant to the Kotzebue and Bethel meetings.  Look at the map.  How will these other two affect District 39?  All good questions to ask at the meeting.  As I've said in previous posts, there will probably be lots of dead time between people testifying so there will be a chance to talk one-on-one to the board members.

Alaska Leg Districts Map  Click on Magnifying glass bottom left to enlarge

This is also board member Marie Greene's home town and on the video I did with her last week in Anchorage she said that the leadership in her area is already aware of the meeting and perhaps they're ready to engage the board the whole time they are there.  I don't know.

Tomorrow is Bethel's turn.

District 38 is 9% below the ideal and Bethel's Senate District teammate District 37 is down 14% so these two districts are going to be a real challenge for the Board.  Especially because of the Federal Voting Rights Act that does not allow 'retrogression' for Alaska Native representation.  That's discussed somewhat in this previous post on the criteria the board will use to redraw its lines. 

Bethel Public Hearing Advisory

The Alaska Redistricting Board will conduct a public hearing on Wednesday, March 30 at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel, AK.

Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2011
Time: 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Location: Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center
420 Chief Eddie Hoffman Hwy
Bethel, AK 99559

Some questions to ask at the meeting:
  • Where will you get extra  people needed to make Rep. Foster (2,113), Rep. Edgmon (2,556) and Rep. Herron's (1,700) districts ok?
  • Will District 40, which is numerically fine now, be affected by the neighboring districts which are not?
  • How will all this affect the Senate seats?
  • What are your guidelines for deciding where to draw the lines? 
  • Will Alaska Natives lose representation in the legislature?
  • How does the Federal Voting Rights Act apply to redrawing the lines in all these Districts?
  • Engage them in conversation about all their criteria for drawing the lines and how they impact the Northwest  area districts.
  • Tell them what communities are most like yours and which ones are not ("socio-economic integration" is one of the criteria)
  • Ask them to show you how to figure out the numbers in the areas around you so you can help come up with a plan that best fits not only Kotzebue and Bethel, but also works for the neighboring districts.

Thursday will be the statewide public hearing by teleconference through LIO offices around the state and online.  People can also attend Thursday's meeting at the LIO office in Anchorage.  This will be the last chance for people and groups to present their own redistricting plans to the board.  I don't know if people have already done that at the meetings outside of Anchorage that were not teleconferenced.  My guess is that people are waiting for the 31st because the gives them the most time to tweak their plans.

I've got a guide to the process and my other posts on this in the tab above or just link here. 

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter coming to Business of Clean Energy in Alaska 2011 Conference - April 28-29

I went to the first Business of Clean Energy Conference in 2009 as a blogger but last year I was out of town.  Now I'm getting emails announcing the conference will be April 28-29 this year.  Governor Ritter heads an impressive list of Outside speakers coming, including Jes B. Christensen, Managing Director, Danish Board of District Heating. It's worth clicking the link.

Here are some pictures and a video I found from 2009 that apparently never got up.  The Conference is sponsored by REAP - Renewable Energy Alaska Project.

I really thought I'd posted this video at the time of the conference, but I can only find a draft of the video with Caitlin Higgins (the Executive Director of the Alaska Conservation Alliance.) It was also about the time my son was hit by a car so maybe I was a bit distracted. So here it is now.

There were a number of organizations sharing their messages in the lobby.

There's a quote up on their registration page:

'I think really the focus on energy (in Alaska) started with the discussion that took place at this conference,'

Gene Therriault, former energy policy advisor for Alaska.

Think about it. Therriault was energy policy adviser for Alaska and he thinks the focus on energy (in Alaska) began at the Business of Clean Energy Conference! Let's assume he was talking about Clean Energy and not oil which has been a hot topic in Alaska for 40 years. The first Business of Clean Energy Conference was in 2009. So I'm guessing what this means is, the first time he was aware of clean energy was two years ago. I guess for some Republicans, you have to attach the word Business to a topic before they can get comfortable with it. I can see why the conference would want to be associated with starting the discussion on a topic, but I'm not sure why they want to imply that clean energy wasn't on the agenda in Alaska until 2009. But, perhaps, for the business crowd it wasn't.

As I recall, the hook for the business crowd was that clean energy also meant saving money, and this year with $4 a gallon gas back in town, I would imagine it might be of interest to more businesses.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tomás' Book Now in Online Edition

Last summer I met Spanish blogger, architect, artist, and amazing children's book author,  Tomás Serrano.  We connected after he left a comment on a post on Exit Glacier.  We spent a morning with him and his family before they headed to Chicago and back to Spain.  And he left a copy of Salfón el limpiador de tejados. 

Now, his most recent blog post at Waldo Walkiria World - under Blogs of Friends or Acqauintences on the right - announces that Salfón can be read online.

It's at a website called Magic Blox - Your Kid's Digital Book Library. The site has that bursting plastic blocks exclamation point and stars look, and you can only read a few pages without buying a library card. But each of his pages is a work of art worth looking at. And, if you have kids, the library card sounds pretty reasonable - much less than buying just one of the books.

The book is in Spanish, but the illustrations are in human.

By the way, Tomás hinted that one of his cartoons has won a major prize, but he doesn't know for sure until the winners are announced in April.  I'll let you know, or you can go directly to his blog.   Maybe we can get him back to Alaska - his family seemed to be having a great time last summer and realizing how little they got to see.

Fairbanks, Your Turn - Redistricting Board Noon - 7pm Today

Waiting for the Public in Juneau Friday
The Redistricting Board (See Alaska Redistricting Tab above for more information) takes public testimony at a hearing in Fairbanks.  As I type, the meeting has already begun. 

Fairbanks City Hall, 2nd Floor

Why should you go?  Because they are redrawing the lines for the State House and Senate districts, based on the new Census data that just came out.  The ideal size for a district is


(State's new population divided by 40 House Districts)

In the chart below I've listed the Fairbanks area districts - starting with the ones most over 17,755 to those most below.  I've also added two districts that run nearby Fairbanks and which need more people.

District 2010 Total Pop 2010 # Deviation 2010 % DeviationCurrent Rep Party Location
11 21,692    +3,937 +22.17% ⬆⬆ Tammie Wilson R Fairbanks
7 20,982 +3,227 +18.18% ⬆ Bob Miller D Fairbanks
8 19,960 +2,205 +12.42% ⬆ David Guttenberg D Fairbanks
10 16,548 -1,207     -6.80%⬇ Steve Thompson R Fairbanks
9 16,149 -1,606 -9.05% ⬇ Scott Kawasaki D Fairbanks

12 14,811 -2,944  -16.58% ⬇ Eric Feige R Chickaloon
6 14,285 -3,520  -19.83%⬇ ⬇ Alan Dick R Stoney River

All the districts listed are either too big or too small to remain as they are.  The most allowable deviance from the largest to the smallest district in the state is 10% (-5% - +5%).  But that is the maximum and they would like most districts - especially urban districts - to be within 2% of the magic 17,755.

So there will be changes.  Where will they draw the lines?  That's why you need to go to the meeting.  To let them know what makes sense to have "socio-economic integration" (one of their mandated criteria.)  You can see all their criteria here. 

The hearings have already started.  But they last until 7 pm and if it is like the Anchorage meeting, there will be a few people showing up to testify on and off throughout the period.  So the board will be there with time on their hands.  And you can talk to individual board members during the breaks.  They'll have maps of the Fairbanks districts and you can show them what makes sense and what doesn't. 

I know, you are probably saying you know nothing about this so how can you testify?  Well, there will probably be a lot of down time - if Anchorage is any guide - and so you can talk to the board members and let them show you the maps and informally talk about your districts.

You can ask them questions like:
  • Where will you get extra 1,600 people needed to make Rep. Kawasaki's district ok?
  • Who will you take out of Tammie Wilson's district to make it work?
  • Ask them what their parameters are?
  • Ask them how the Federal Voting Rights Act will apply to redrawing the lines in Districts 6 and 12.
  • Engage them in conversation about all their criteria for drawing the lines and how they impact the Fairbanks area districts.
  • Tell them what communities are most like yours and which ones are not ("socio-economic integration" is one of the criteria)
  • Ask them to show you how to figure out the numbers in the areas around you so you can help come up with a plan that best fits not only Fairbanks and North Pole, but also works for the neighboring districts.

Jim Holm and 3 other members during Anchorage break
Fairbanks folks have former Representative Jim Holm as their representative on the board.  Does he hold any resentment for Kawasaki for beating him in 2006?  Will he try to make that district friendlier to Republicans next time?  I'm just throwing out questions here.  I have no idea.  That would be against the rules for redistricting.  But how can you prove motivation?  So, you need to go and let the board know what makes sense from your perspective.

Here's the email announcement (you can sign up to get on their email list on their homepage - lower right):

March 27, 2011

Fairbanks Public Hearing Advisory

Anchorage, AK - The Alaska Redistricting Board will conduct a public hearing on Monday, March 28 at the Fairbanks City Hall Chambers in Fairbanks, AK.

Date: Monday, March 28, 2011
Time: 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Location: Fairbanks City Hall, 800 Cushman Street, 2nd Floor, Fairbanks, AK 99701

As indicated in the amended public hearing notice published on March 21, 2011, the Alaska Redistricting Board may conduct a brief Board meeting at the beginning of any pre-plan public hearing to discuss administrative matters.

Such a Board meeting will take place at 12:00 p.m. prior to the start of Monday's public hearing. The purpose of the Board meeting is to consider adoption of a schedule for public hearings to be held after the Board releases proposed Redistricting plan(s).

If you plan to attend and are in need of assistance, please contact Board staff by telephone at (907) 269-7402 or email at

The Alaska Redistricting Board is responsible for redrawing Alaska's legislative election districts every ten years after the federal Census. For more information about the redistricting process in Alaska, please visit



Alaska Redistricting Board
411 W. 4th Avenue, Suite 302
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-7499

I've got a guide to the process and my other posts on this in the tab above or just link here.

Damn You Regulators, Leave Our Popcorn Alone

A March 23, 2011  LA Times article says that the FDA is planning to require theaters to disclose the nutritional value of their snacks, including popcorn.  And the theater owners aren't happy.

Some highlights of the article:

Lots of Calories
A 2009 survey based on laboratory tests commissioned by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington found that a large popcorn serving contained as much as 1,460 calories — which is the equivalent of eating nearly three McDonald's Big Macs.
The center's survey of the nation's three biggest chains found that a large popcorn at Regal packed 60 grams of saturated fat and 1,200 calories (260 calories more with butter topping), and the equivalent size at AMC theaters had 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat. A large popcorn at Cinemark, which uses canola oil, had 910 calories and 4 grams of fat.

Lots of Profits
As David Ownby, the chief financial officer of Regal Entertainment Group, the nation's largest theater circuit, recently said at an investor presentation, "We sell a bucket of popcorn for about $6. Our cost in that $6 bucket of popcorn is about 15 cents or 20 cents. So if that cost doubles, it doesn't really hurt me that much."

Lots of Denial
They argue that the proposed rules are an unwarranted intrusion into their business because people visit theaters to consume movies, not food.

"We're not restaurants where people go to eat and satisfy themselves," Gary Klein, the theater trade group's general counsel, said. "It's dinner and a movie, not dinner at a movie."
Except that:
Theater operators . . . generate up to one-third of their revenue from selling popcorn, sodas and other snacks.

According to the article such disclosures are already required in California and New York City.
But theater executives contend that such disclosures should be voluntary and that they're only selling customers what they want.

"The average person goes to the theater four times a year," Klein said. "I don't think they care."

Corporations have incentives to resist giving out information that would allow people to make better choices if that might impact their bottom line.  Same as the oil companies aren't promising anyone in Alaska that the $2 billion tax reductions will lead to more investment in Alaska.  Trust us, we're here to take your money.  And we don't care what happens to you.

UPDATE April 2, 2011:  The New York Times reports that proposed rules exempt theaters from disclosure:

The federal government on Friday released proposed rules requiring chain restaurants and other businesses that serve food to post calorie counts on menus and menu boards. But after objections from theater chains, the rules give a pass to those box-office snacks — even though a large popcorn and soda can contain as many calories as a typical person needs in a day.
The new disclosure rules also exempt alcoholic beverages served in restaurants, including beer, wine and high-calorie mixed drinks like margaritas and daiquiris.
The Food and Drug Administration said it would accept consumer and industry feedback on the rules before finishing them, hopefully by the end of this year. They are expected to go into effect some time next year, said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the F.D.A.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gamifying: My "Crazy" Ideas Get Some Support

This morning's 'gamifying' piece on NPR's Weekend Edition looks at using speeding radar not just to penalize speeders:

. . . imagine that same camera also snaps a photo of your car when you are driving at or under the speed limit. For your safe driving, you are entered into a lottery to win a portion of the money from fines paid by speeders.
That idea was tested in Sweden with great success. It's an example of "gamification," considered the next wave of social engagement and Internet technology.
This was something I learned teaching sixth grade.  Kids want attention.  If they don't know how to get positive attention, they'll settle for negative attention.  So if you focus on the kids who are behaving well, that's the attention that others will mimic.  (Even for those who are problematic, you can focus on them in those times when they aren't acting out.)   And those same principles work here.  We do what we are rewarded for.

So, for a long time I've thought we should use techniques similar to the speeding lottery to encourage other behaviors we want people to do.  Here are two examples:

1.    Income Tax Lottery:  Your lottery ticket is your income tax form.  There need to be lots of winners here - maybe one big win nationally, one smaller win per state, and lots of
little wins.  There might even be fewer and less lucrative prizes for people who file late.  I'm sure this would increase the number of filers, and the cost of the prizes would be less than the increase in tax revenues.

2.  Voting Lottery:  Your voting stub is your lottery ticket.  Now, I must admit, I'm not completely sure about encouraging people to vote with a cash incentive.  Maybe there are people who know so little about the candidates that they shouldn't vote.  But my gut feeling is that lots of people have so little faith in elections that, while they're informed, they just don't vote.  But it's clear that these people, if they voted, could transform the US.

The other word they used to describe this is 'gamification.'  Here's a post from the gamification blog that talks about using games to make citizen participation more interesting.  When I was a graduate student, we had these huge role playing games that took all day and mimicked city government.  These were done without computers so they were kind of cumbersome.  But people were often given roles opposite to the ones they actually play.  Officials  played business owners and vice versa.  People had to create budgets and city priorities.  It's my understanding that things like SimCity evolved from these kinds of games.

Government is one of the most exciting games around and if it got the same sort of attention that sports gets, and people understood who all the players were and the rules, then people would get much more involved.  The challenge of getting people to see their common interests, learn to work with and eventually trust others, is what civilization and the most noble aspects of humanity are all about. 

We just need a little imagination and the ability to be playful with ideas we take for granted.