Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Board Meeting Tuesday: Possible Retrogression; Seldovia in House District with Bethel; Seward in Senate District with Anchorage

May 31 Alaska Redistricting Board Overview:
I missed Saturday when they approved in concept a Native Districts plan. I feel a little out of the loop. From the discussion today, it seemed:
  1. There are concerns about whether they were able to avoid Retrogression - there was question about whether they had maintained the 4-2 3-0 Native district configuration. (That's 4 House Effective and 2 House influence districts, plus 3 Senate Effective districts. If that doesn't mean anything you can get some help in a previous post here.)
  2. They will meet in Executive Session tomorrow at 10 to discuss possible litigation. I understood that to mean if they had Retrogression, as opposed to other possible reasons for a lawsuit. Since just about all the past redistricting plans ended up in court, the fact that they may be sued isn't unexpected.
  3. Tuesday, they approved, in concept, a Kenai Peninsula plan called Nikiski to Seward.  This map (way below) reflects the Saturday Native plan that has part of the Kenai Peninsula - the south side of Katchemak Bay - in a district that goes all the way to Bethel. 
  4. They've paired east Kenai Peninsula - including Seward - with a yet to be defined southern Anchorage district for a Senate district.  
  5. Wednesday they begin at 10am, but will go into Executive Session immediately.  They expect to finish by 11 or recess until 11 if they are done earlier.  Their website doesn't indicate this, though it was nice of Chair Torgerson to go through the expected schedule tomorrow so people can plan a little easier.  (At bottom of notes below.)

I'm sure I missed some other noteworthy developments; sorry. 

Below are my notes from the meeting. As always - BEWARE - these are pretty rough notes which catch the general debate, but not all the details. But until the audio and transcripts get posted, this will have to do. (Audio is on the Board website through May 18. I don't see any of the transcripts.)

Alaska Redistricting Board meeting, Tuesday, May 31

All the members were there, Jim Holm by phone from Fairbanks.

I was plugging in my Macbook as the executive director Taylor Bickford began so I only got item number 2.

2. email from [Voting Rights Act Consultant] Handley re Sat plan, about senate pairings, two strongest were [they approved a board plan for Native districts on Saturday.]

Calculates 30% plus Native plus all >10% less than 42% - DOJ likely to object. Strongest ones we discuseed on Sat. Doesn’t think Kodiak/Dillingham would pass. Also SE influence district - thinks it’s ok. We might add Saxman to get another % - but she thinks it’s fine since Native community of Saxman opposes it - she thinks it would be a wash.
She needs time to analyze because different from what she had been looking at.
Possibly send team to DC to talk face-to-face with DOJ. Plan to talk to her tomorrow.

White: Any meeting would be after we file the plan and any lawsuits filed. Middle of July - 30 days from June 14.
Torgerson: She didn’t cover, maybe we didn’t ask. Does she consider [Senate pairing of?] 35-37 an influence? She said, not effective, but is it influence.
TB: I don’t know for sure, but my guess is she’d say yes.
Torgerson: Me too, but I want to be sure.
1. Non-continguous - we’ve thrown that out.
2. Pair Kodiak and Bethel
3. 35 and 37 - but wouldn’t reach our ??? district We have either 4 or 5 house effective and one senate influence.
We’d have to declare retrogression if we dropped from three to one?
White: yes
Torgerson: I’d like Dr Handley’s opinion, then give it to legal counsel to walk us through the ramifications. I assume part or all of this in executive session.
White: I believe the litigation ramification is legitimate reason for executive session.
Torgerson: Then we should have executive session tomorrow morning or could do it in the afternoon.
TB: One more question:
1. Have her examine SE and 39 pairing. Bob thought it worth having her look at it.
Torgerson: Non-contiguous
TB: It was, but it has higher numbers now - interior now takes in Nome and is over 60%. It might be effective.
Torgerson: Trying for effective, not influence?
White: Then there’d be two non-contiguous Senate pairings.
Torgerson: Seems to be off the table in the board adopted plan for the rural areas.
35/36 - Bethel Kodiak
35/37 - Bethel Dillingham

Torgerson: Today a couple of Kenai Peninsula plans and Matsu.

Sandberg (staffer):
Bickford: See how Matsu borough’s proposal would fit into maps adopted Saturday. 14, 15, 16 completely unaffected by what we adopted Saturday. Left the rest of Matsu unassigned. Assigned it all to one district, except Chicaloon. Our 12 came to Chicaloon.
Board looking a Matsu Map - they'll do more Matsu Wednesday
11, mostly unchanged, except Chickaloon to Borough boundary. They’d made 11 a rural Matsu area. Because of our Saturday plan putting Chickaloon into 12, we didn’t touch that. Results in D11 being about 2000 people short, so we have to figure out how to make up for that.
Knik River area they’d given to Anchorage district. Add it in, then take that deviation and spread it around all the districts to be a little short.

Once you come into Anchorage there is no clean boundary until Peter’s Creek - about 5000. Before that you’d just be randomly be grabbing neighborhoods.
We’ve heard they want five districts only in their border. But we have over population in Anchorage and Matsu. Could be some sharing between Borough and Municipality.
Torgerson: Talking about 2% positive deviation?
Bickford: Negative 2% deviation.
Southern boundary with Anchorage. If doesn’t shed to Matsu, the Anchorage districts start off about 2% over.
Torgerson: You’d take about 2% of each and put them into 11.
Bickford: All of Wasilla in 13, all of Palmer in 14, but some of the greater area would not be in the Palmer district. Started about an hour before the meeting. Maybe we’d look at all the plans we received. This supposedly followed the Rights Coalition, so don’t have to look there. What are the impacts of crossing and not crossing the border.
Torgerson: 2-3 options for tomorrow? Yes. Questions?
White: Current 12 there?
Bickford: No,
White: ??
Bickford: Could take D12 and bring it farther into Matsu. Leeway to bring Matsu district far enough into MOA boundary to have logical boundary like Peters Creek.
White: [Something about 12 in Fairbanks and opposition there.]
Bickford: You don’t want to leave Matsu with 4.2 districts, better . . .
Torgerson: Not sure would want to do either.
Bickford: You can look at all the options
1. Cross the Anchorage boundary
2. …
You could shed another 2000 from (Fairbanks?)

Torgerson: What’s next?
Eric: Kenai
Torgerson: Pretty Self explanatory
Kenai Map
Bob: Pretty much the current boundaries.
Torgerson: Kenai/Soldotna D4 pretty much the same but shrunk up a bit
D5 is the rural district
We grew a couple thousand. Went to Seldovia, Nanwalek, lower peninsula to Bethel.

Switiching computers on the GoToMeeting cable. For Brody’s map

Torgerson: Did you figure when you’re coming down?
Holm: Tomorrow morning. Can you get me a ticket for early - 6am flight can come in and work a bit.

Brody: Changed to have Seward pair with Anchorage because it’s closer on the road system. Kenai- Soldotna just the same. Take North end of Kenai Pen. to pair with Anchorage.
PAM: Other one what would the pairing with Anchorage be?
Brody: Would have been lower Kenai instead of upper.
Torgerson: No, the other one. . .
Brody: The other plan had Homer and Seward.
Torgerson: This one ties Seward, easier case to show connection to Anchorage. Other plan taking Ninilchik and I’m not sure how far south and pairing.
Brody: I can move 300 people here then all the districts would be within 3 or 4%.
Bickford: Similar to Saturday plan?
Brody: No …[contraditions] OK.

….. quiet comments. . .

Brody - here I grabbed a few blocks from 3 to D4. Just a different block, how we want to go.
Brody: Gave these people to Bethel - not sure who went to Bethel - maybe Seldovia, not sure.

Matsu: I went to the river here for the Palmer area. Big Lake and Pt. Mc I brought up all the way here. Rural areas to the west went N along the road system to top of Borough. We could switch it out.
Eastern boundary, sorry, I have to switch something here.
This reflects D12 coming in - all this stays the same, with some minor adjustments on the fringe to spread the loss out over here. [see why you need to see the maps?] A little bit of adjustment, they’ll all be minus 2. Main difference from Taylor’s - his did this and that and mine came here. Everything can be two or three under.

[I’m having trouble figuring out what is and isn’t significant about what’s being said. There are short interjections that don’t make much sense without seeing the map he’s pointing at ((“We pulled some out of here.”).]

Torgerson: Have Eric print this off. We have two concepts: ??
We’re going to take a 15 minute recess to print off maps to see if we can adopt Kenai Peninsula today. I want to have ‘em where I can look at them. Til about five after. I want to look at them.
PAM: Me too.

3:06 reconvened
Nikiski to Seward Option
Homer to Seward Option - this is the existing seat, brings some continuity
PAM: I’d argue that it is better socio-economic continuity
White: All within the Borough [As I understand it, anything within a single Borough is considered socio-economically integrated.]
PAM: I know.
Torgerson: I’m thinking about the Senate pairing. Possibly more integrated with Anchorage than Ninilchik and Clam Gulch.
PAM: I put into motion to accept the ?? to Seward Option. Seconded.
Makes more sense to me. Ninilchik, etc. all the way to Kasilov. Other side - Seward, Bear Creek, Moose Pass have more in common with Anchorage than the old pairing has.
Torgerson: This will change some because the deviation not nailed down. But all within the B boundary. In the bigger picture, moving Tyonek, Seldovia, Nanwalek conected to Bethel.
Holm: I’ve been kicked off.
Bickford: Eric is loading up the maps and didn’t want everyone to see his emails, he’ll get you back on.
Torgerson: Motion is to adopt the Nikiski to Seward option - in Concept - as everything is. Discussion is mainly about senate pairings and Seward is more compatible with Anchorage than the other district.
Holm: I would agree with that.
Greene: Is this in line with the testimony?
Torgerson: this wasn’t what we were thinking then. It was Seward to Kodiak. Rep. Seaton would like the seat to remain the same. That was clear. We were talking about such different maps.
PAM: It might be a good idea to get these people ??? so they know what’s happening.
Bickford: They said they were fine with Kodiak, but they rather be with Kenai.
Torgerson: This pairing never came up. Sen. from Kodiak currently represents them. They were happy with that. But not an option today. We’re still going to have a full house seat to match up somewhere.
Shatll the board adopt Nikiski to Seward plan?
Torgerson: yes, PAM yes, Brody yes, Greene, yes, Holm yes = Adopted

I think that concludes our business of today. For tomorrow review the Matsu maps. Was that passed by the Assembly or just the mayor?
Start the morning with Executive Session - how long? We’ll start the meeting at 10 and go public by 11? Then I can support public education. You’re welcome to come in and then leave. If we finish before 11 we will just recess to 11. Then to 12/12:30 to 3.

Stand adjourned at 3:17pm.

Rep. Kurt Olson (r) of Kenai looking at maps with board member Bob Brody after the meeting.

Redistricting Board Getting Modern

The Alaska Redistricting Board sent out emails Monday afternoon announcing that their meetings will be available online (they've been doing this already) and via GoToMeeting.  They started using GotoMeeting last week, but I think it was limited to board members calling in from out of Anchorage.  Or maybe I missed this happening last week. 

Gotomeeting will allow people to follow the map manipulation*.  This is a giant step forward in public access for the board, though it is limited to the first 100 people.

*I'm using this word in the positive sense as in (from MacMillan Online Dictionary):
2.  the process of skilfully handling, controlling, or using something
Scientists are attempting, by genetic manipulation, to produce more effective vaccines.
4.  COMPUTING: the process of changing, correcting, or moving information stored on a computer
Tuesday's meeting begins at 2pm.
  • In person at 411 W. 4th Avenue, Suite 302
  • Online at AlaskaLegislature.tv
  • For GoToMeeting  -  The id necessary isn't available as I write this, check the Board's Website. (right hand column under Webinar Access.)  [UPDATE June 1:  The ID changes every day it seems.  It's best to go to the Board's website and link from there than depend on me keeping the ID current here.  Here's the link for June 1.  They're supposed to be in executive session at 10am and have their open meeting begin at 11am]

Monday, May 30, 2011

Garden Blooms and Bugs

Star Flower Visitor
These dime-sized white flowers are so small that I didn't see the yellow stamens until I enlarged the image.


High bush cranberry flowers

High bush cranberry flowers closer

Jonquil Calisthenics

Jonquil from behind (but then front and back are arbitrary, aren't they?)

Image from AlaskaNaturalist

I'm not sure what this green and brown beetle is, but I realized recently that it's time to find an Alaskan insect book, and trying to figure out what this critter is inspired me to find such a book.  The Kenai Watershed Forum website says they are available in Anchorage at Title Wave and the Natural History Museum.  The website has locations in Fairbanks, Soldotna, Eagle River, Homer, and Whitehorse. 

Now don't go out and buy these all up before I get one.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two People Chatting Doesn't a Conspiracy Make

Here's an interesting picture of a well-connected Democrat and the head of the Republican Party having a chat during a break at Friday's Redistricting Board meeting.
Tom Begich and Randy Ruedrich during break Friday May 27

It's always good to remember that just because two people talk to each other and you can't hear what they are saying, it doesn't mean there's a conspiracy going on. 

BTW, Anchorage Daily News reporter Lisa Demer has a good overview of the redistricting board in today's paper.

Boundary Setting And Terminology Around Minority Districts

[The doings of the Redistricting Board are not impossibly complicated, but there are lots of details that make it hard to grasp.  I wouldn't claim to grasp more than a small portion.  But in this post I've attempted to explain some of what is going on.  At the end I've posted some communications made to the Board as they got close to approving a map of the Native districts.  They should make a little more sense after you read the first part of the post.  I didn't go to the Saturday meeting and have heard they did approve a Native plan.  If they did, I can't find anything about it on the Board's website.  It would be nice, but I do sympathize with the staff and all the demands on them.]

Friday at the Redistricting Board Meeting, there was more pushing and shoving of pixels here and there in attempts to get nine Native districts that would meet jello-like criteria for standards whose names have also morphed since March.  There was one plan that Board members PeggyAnn McConnochie and Marie Greene worked on.  Another was created by Executive Director Taylor Bickford.

We began in March with the terms 'Majority-minority' and 'Influence' districts.  Majority-minority means districts that have a majority of Native voters in the belief that this would insure that Native Alaskan voters would be able to elect the candidate of their choice in those districts. 

Influence districts were ones that had enough Native Alaskan population that they would likely be able, with enough non-Native cross-over vote, elect candidates of their choice.

At the beginning of this process, based on the 2001 redistricting process, Majority-minority districts had to have 50% or more Native Alaskans.  Influence districts needed 35%.

Well, that wasn't all.  There's Total Native Population and Native Voting Age Population.  Somewhere during the process it was clarified - I think - that the key number was going to be Voting Age Population, known affectionately as VAP.

Think you've got it now?  Well, there's more.  Which Natives on the Census tabulation do we count?  People who just identified themselves as "Native?"

No.  (Actually, I'm not sure what exact label the census forms had, but at the Board they use "Native.")  But there are also options to mark off more than one ethnicity - recognizing mixed ethnicities.  So, there was talk for a while of just counting "Native plus White."  Then the term "Native plus One" meaning someone who chose Native plus one other option.  And then there are those who chose Native plus more than one other ethnicity.

So the private plans that came in, lacking specific guidance, used different terminology and different configurations of what made up a Native.

Then the Board had a phone discussion with Voting Rights Act consultant Lisa Handley after she'd analyzed the data from Alaska.  New guidelines emerged.  Majority-minority was out.  Effective was in.  She said that - and a lot of how the Department of Justice thinks about these things comes from Southern states where the minority population is mainly African-American - a minority could have a majority in a district, but depending on socio-economic conditions, that majority wouldn't be enough to 'effectively' chose the candidate of their choice.  So now the key word was Effective Districts.  And she said a better name for influence district is now Equal Opportunity District

And, here comes the kicker, you don't have to have 50% minority in a district to be an Effective District.  Well, what percent do you need?  Hah!  You don't think she's just going to give a number.  Of course not.  "It depends."

It depends on the results of the voting analysis she's done.  Was there block voting?  Did Natives tend to vote in a block for a particular candidate?  Did the non-Natives vote in a block?  Did the blocks vote for the same or different candidates.  If the whites in the district voted for the same candidate that the Natives voted for, then we have Cross-Over voting.  This is good if you're trying to set an acceptable Effective District because you need a lower percentage of Natives because the Native voters get significant help from the non-Native voters.  But if they vote in blocks for different candidates, then you have polarization.  This is bad for the board members because they need a higher percentage of Natives for a district to be Effective or Influence. (Though VRA consultant Handley was pushing Equal Opportunity over Influence, the board has tended to keep using Influence, though they've dropped Majority-minority and moved to Effective.)

Some districts have higher cross-over voting and they need a lower percentage of Natives.  The old District 37 - Aleutians - fit in this category.  The old District 6 - the huge district that loops from the Canadian border over Fairbanks down the Yukon - on the other hand, is polarized, so it needs a higher percentage.

There are more factors.  One is total population in a district.  No district can exceed a 10% deviation in total population from any other district.  That is, the largest district cannot be more than 10% larger than the smallest population.  And that is pushing the what is likely to be accepted under the one person, one vote rule.  And in the urban areas, staying closer to a 1% deviation is more acceptable.  The ideal district is 17,755 people. (The new total population figure divided by 40 House seats.)

As the board tries to make these nine Native districts [the same number of Native districts under the old plan - any less would be 'Retrogression' which is not allowed under the Voting Rights Act] not only do they need enough Native voters to qualify as 'equal-opportunity' or 'Effective' districts, those districts also need enough total voters to be within about 5% of 17,755 people.

But the Native areas of the state don't have quite enough people to get all nine districts up to an acceptable level.  So they need to get people from more populated areas.

So, the image above shows some screen shots of the computer maps changing rapidly as a board member or staffer moves census blocs in and out of districts trying to increase Native population, trying to get the total population high or low enough to stay within a few percent of the ideal 17,755 people per district, while determining if the White population they are moving in to give a Native district enough people are cross-over Whites or polarized Whites.  And Fairbanks has enough people for five whole districts with 8000 'excess' population that can be 'given' to districts needing people. 

And those pink, periwinkle, and green pieces of different districts on the edges of Fairbanks are just a tiny part of the whole picture.    The first Fairbanks maps drawn up by member Jim Holm had lopped off the northwest Fairbanks suburbs of Greenbelt and Ester - known as liberal bastions.  It turned out this put Democratic Rep. David Gutenberg into huge Native influence (now called equal opportunity) district and the old representative of that district (new Republican, Alan Dick) had been mapped out.  That map was being altered Friday.

Friday's justification for people putting the Democratic enclaves into the rural district was, "Since Natives vote Democratic, putting urban Democratic voters into the district would mean these are cross-over voters and thus would lower the percentage of Natives needed to make it an Effective district."

On the other hand, they justified taking a couple thousand mostly White, not Democratic, voters from Eilson on the grounds that only 20% of them vote.   So while they are probably not voting Democratic - and thus would be a 'polarized bloc' - since most don't vote, this too could be used to justify a lower needed Native percentage.  (What happens if Republicans do a serious 'get-out-the-vote' campaign at Eilson?)

Those little pieces on the edge of Fairbanks are just one tiny part of Alaska and the job of the Board.  The maps in the image up above fit inside the red circle on this map that Board executive director Taylor Bickford presented on Friday.

And this is just a big chunk of central Alaska.  I'm writing all this with the maps to give you a sense of what was happening the last several days at the board.  Moving different colored pixels trying to get Native VAP and Deviation percentages lined up among six House districts and three Senate districts, while keeping them in some sense of defensible socio-economic coherence.

I didn't go to the meeting on Saturday.  I just couldn't will myself to do it.  The board's website offers an agenda and an Executive Director's report for Saturday's meeting, but unfortunately, the links both take me here:

Hey, I make plenty of errors on my blog and the short-handed staff is making maps, doing the board members' bidding, and all the house-keeping of the website.  That's a lot of work.  But this is sort of important and maybe the Board should have hired someone to make sure the website was both up-to-date AND all the links were working.  I certainly don't blame the overworked staff for this.

But there are three attachments whose links do work.  These lead to PDFs from the Northwest Arctic Borough, the Calista Corporation, and the Bering Straits Borough.

In response to the two Board plans that looked like the most likely to be adopted, the Northwest Borough wrote (in part):

. . . Grouping Northwest Alaska with more urban communities near Fairbanks, tip [sic] the voting balance away from rural Alaska Native voters.  Consdier that the Northwest Arctic Borough by itself has a total population of just over 7,500 people, 6,548 of those voters are Alaska Native or part Alaska Native and only 4,868 people in the Borough ar over the age of 18.  The number of voers that our area is grouped with from a more urban area tied to Fairbanks includes 4,000 people.  Data shows that the communities in Northwest Alaska do not vote as frequently as those in urban areas, therefore the plan prepared by Taylor Bickford may show a majority Alaska Native district in Northwest Alaska, it does not actually represent a majority Alaska Native district . . .

Marcia Davis,  as General Council for Calista Corporation, writes (again, in part):
With regard to the two choices before the board, Calista prefers the Greene-McConnachie [sic] map. It is our understanding that this map places the majority of Calista's region within two house districts 37 and 38. We appreciate the recent change in the map that restored to District 37 the coastal towns of Kipnuk, Kwigilingok, and Kongiganak, and exchanged the high growth areas of Matsu and replaced them with Talkeetna, a slower growth community. It is important to Calista that District 37 remains strong as it is important that our incumbent Native , Senator Hoffman, who has high seniority be able to maintain strong Native support in this district. We also support the inclusion of the Native villages northwest of Kodiak along the coastline as this maintains the alignment of Native coastal communities in District 35. It is extremely important to Calista that the Alaska Native voting population not be reduced any further in District 38 (currently 46.98%) as this district does not have the favorable characteristics that Dr. Handley found to exist in the Bristol Bay Region, now part of District 36, that enabled the effective Native voting population percentage to be in the 38-41% range. In addition, because District 38 picks up some of the areas surrounding Fairbanks, this non-native population could grow and therefore dilute the Native population of District 38 over time, so the Native Voting Age percentage of District 38 needs to start off higher than the minimum needed for benchmarking it as an effective district.    Finally, we support leaving the NANA region and ASRC in the same house district 40.
Finally, Gail R. Schubert, President & CEO Bering Straits Native Corp, writes:

We understand that one of the plans under consideration expands the current District 39 to the South and SE, incorporating some of the middle and lower Yukon villages (Anvik, Grayling, Shageluk, and Holy Cross, among others), and also includes McGrath and Lime Village. This proposed district, while avoiding the East-West stretch BSNC has consistently opposed, has a significant and unacceptable flaw. We understand that it stretches the district to the south to incorporate Kodiak Island, and pairs the Bering Strait district with this southern district for a seat in the Alaska Senate. Given the Native/non- Native ratio in the Kodiak district, and the tremendous differences in subsistence lifestyles, economic scope and development between Kodiak and Bering Strait, BSNC cannot support this plan. We believe this plan threatens the continued, fair representation for the residents of the Bering Strait region, and significantly dilutes the Native population and our vote. We also believe that, over time, the non-Native population in the Kodiak district will grow, further diluting the Native population of District 39, and our Native voice and influence. For these reasons, we strongly oppose any redistricting map that pairs the Bering Strait district with the Kodiak district.

This is way too long and only covers a bit of what's going on.  But, enough's enough. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Annie McDaniel Abrams In Anchorage - With Video

I got a chance to talk with Annie McDaniel Abrams today while she's in Anchorage for the Neighborhoods USA conference here.  I imagine there are a lot of people in Alaska who have no idea who she is.  In Arkansas, it's a different story.  She's been a force of nature there for almost 80 years. 

Annie M. Abrams was born September 25, 1931 [she told me she's going to be 80 this year, so I don't think I'm posting anything she wouldn't tell you herself] in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Because of limited educational opportunities for African-Americans in this small rural town she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she finished Dunbar High School, Dunbar Junior College, and Philander Smith College.

Her years of grassroots level activism and civic connections with historical personalities from around the world has made her an Icon in her own right. She has been interviewed by hundreds of local and national media outlets because of her reservoir of historical knowledge of many subjects and her outstanding community service. Ms. Abrams’ boundless energy and commitment for her cause in fighting for justice has caused her advice to be sought by candidates at every level of government. For many years she has also been a much sought after speaker for programs and conventions. For four years Mrs. Abrams hosted her own television show, State Press in Review. .  .
 When I asked about the integration of Little Rock's Central High, she told me that she had been the first black PTA President of Central High. 

Here's a bit of video of our conversation to give you a sense of how she thinks and expresses herself.  You can just imagine her cornering Governor Clinton and letting him know what was on her mind.

A website with a petition to change Little Rock's 18th Street to Miss Annie Abrams Street tells us:
Ms. Abrams has been a very active and vital part of the Arkansas Development. 
In an illustrated history of signal African-American events in the past half century, one person would be always in the picture: Ms. Annie Mable McDaniel Abrams.

She'd be by Daisy Bates' side in a tableau of the 1957 crisis. Presenting Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller a gift of buttermilk in 1971. In Little Rock's Martin Luther King Marade, which she founded in 1986. Whispering into Bill Clinton's ear, as she was in an Associated Press photograph. Whispering into Blanche Lincoln's ear, in another. And Gov. Mike Beebe's, in a third. . .
Sometimes you're just lucky, and I was today, because I got to meet living history, and we had a good time together.   Thanks P for the invite.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I Live Here - The Coastal Trail

The impetus for today's bike ride was a post, Have I Nagged You To Exercise Lately?,  on Peter Dunlap-Shohl's blog about a week ago.  He'd written about the importance of exercise for Parkinson's patients.  I'd asked about his exercise routine and he said he does a lot cycling so I suggested we go for a ride. 

I didn't say seeing them was easy, that's Mt. Susitna in the background
We finally got around to it today.  Since the Redistricting Board's meetings are unpredictable - you know when they will start, but not when they'll finish - I decided being outside on a bike would do me much more good anyway.  So after posting with the wifi help of the Westmark, I met Peter at Westchester Lagoon for a ride along the Coastal Trail.  On my way from downtown, I passed a couple of Sandhill Cranes working over the mudflat dining hall.  They're really big and were a ways out there. 

View North

We rode to the bottom of the hill from Kincaid, then locked the bikes and walked the path to a decent place to descend to the beach.  I'd never seen so many people down there. The closest car parking is about a mile away, so you have to want to come here.

And here's a view to the south.  That's a dog in the water.

But we also saw moose.  Actually, other people saw moose and pointed them out to us after we'd passed them.  I think we saw four or five altogether. 

I'm constantly amazed at how animals this big can manage to disappear in the background.

And here's Peter on a break on the way back.  I took the picture because even though I read his blog, I wasn't sure until he mentioned it, whether he could still ride a bike.  Or drive a car.  He said as long as the medication is controlling symptoms, he can. 

I'm normally more vague on the blog about friends I do things with, but Peter has a blog to help educate people - both with and without PD - about Parkinson's Disease.  His comment when I told him why I took the picture was, that he forgets what people know and don't know about what he's able to do.  We rode about 16 miles round trip from Westchester Lagoon

Peter's was interviewed as a cartoonist with Parkinson's Disease in the Washington Post recently.  There are extremely talented and amazing people all around us in Anchorage.  I hope the Board got a lot done this afternoon.  It was a great day to be in Anchorage.

Computer Crash, Board Recesses Quickly Until 2pm, Open Meeting Thoughts

Board member PeggyAnn McConnochie came in at 6 to work on maps, but the computers the board uses to work its mapping software was down and she couldn't tweak her maps. 

This shows some of the problems with public meetings laws for this kind of organization.  This is a temporary board - 90 days - which has a lot of work to do.  By state law, not more than two members can talk about board issues together outside of a meeting.  The intent is to keep them from doing the public's business in private.  And with a board whose job has significant politically impacts, this is important.  But not easy.

They can't meet unless they've put up a public notice - the amount of notice before the meeting isn't totally spelled out, but 24 hours has been their minimum interpretation. 

To meet the law, they've just decided to post that they will meet everyday at 10am.  They convene at 10 and then they meet a while and then can recess and announce when they'll reconvene.  This way they can work in pairs or with staff and then reconvene as necessary. 

Board Comments Notebook Vol. 1
It's a bit of a crimp on their style, and for the most part, I don't think they would be doing anything they shouldn't.  But having the meetings open and available live online, it means that if they make errors or miss something, there's a chance that a member of the public can catch it.   At this point, they were working through things rather than making decisions.  The key is that when they do things that make an impact, they are open about it and the public can see why they made the decisions they've made.  A lot of the board's proceedings have been like that.  A few parts haven't that clear - like what all went into mapping Fairbanks and Anchorage.

After the meeting yesterday, Board attorney Michael White said this redistricting process has been the most open in Alaska history.  I'm sure that's true.  The hallways of the board offices are open to anyone to walk through and meet with members during breaks.  And most board members are available for questions and discussion during the breaks.  Even though public testimony has been cut off, anyone at a meeting can make suggestions during the breaks and the board is still getting emails and letters from the public. 

This is page 1 (of 7) in the contents for this first volume.  There's been more mail trickling in since this volume was put together last week. 

If you double click the image, it should enlarge enough to read the entries.  There are seven more pages.  If anyone wants to see more, let me know.

It's beautiful today and I'm going to bike the Coastal Trail with a friend in an hour.  Probably will miss the 2pm session.  Unpaid has its compensations.

Taking a Break

Image from Make Technology on your own time
I love this picture for so many reasons.  This is supposed to be by Banksy, the British graffiti artist featured in Exit Through The Gift Shop.   First, the idea of 'improving' a classic piece of art forces us to reconsider what we think of as classic and what it depicts.  In this case the hardworking slaves.  Wow!  Why didn't I ever think about this woman sitting down and taking a break before?

And simply taking her outside of the frame into the real world is something we rarely do in art galleries.

And with a bunch of redistricting board notes and video which I haven't posted, I'm feeling a bit like the woman with the cigarette.  Though my labors are all self-imposed.  But I'll try to get something up soon.  It's just that they keep having meetings.  Yesterday they went through Voting Rights Act expert, Lisa Handley's, initial thoughts on the private plans' statistics and then more board member attempts to get the nine rural districts needed to be in compliance with the VRA. 

The image is from a post on Altered Thrift Store Art and there are other examples, but that one was by far my favorite.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

US Attorney Threatens to Shut Down Flights Out of Texas

The Texas Senate was set today to pass a bill criminalizing invasive TSA pat downs without probable cause.

The relevant parts of HB 1937 seem to be this addition to the existing Texas Penal Code TITLE 5. OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON CHAPTER 22. ASSAULTIVE OFFENSES

(3) as part of a search performed to grant access to a
publicly accessible building or form of transportation,
intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(A) searches another person without probable
cause to believe the person committed an offense; and
(B) touches the anus, sexual organ, or breasts of
the other person, including touching through clothing, or touches
the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable
According to John Dalton in Rep. David P. Simpson's office, the bill was passed unanimously by the House (the journal shows no opposition but a couple excused or absent) and had the support of all 31 Texas Senators until the leaders of the House and Senate received a letter yesterday (May 24) from the US Department of Justice threatening to stop flights out of Texas if the law was passed.

Representative Simpson's press release today says, in part:
Yesterday, Tuesday the 24th, the Texas legislature was visited by federal agents from the TSA and the Dept. of Justice to lobby against HB 1937, my bill to stop the TSA from groping travelers without probable cause.

They delivered a letter from a US District Attorney that threatened to shut down Texas flights, if we didn't submit to the invasive pat-downs for which they have become so famous.

Naturally, Texans didn't take to well to being threatened in that manner.
The US attorney's letter was a little more subtle than that, but essentially does threaten to shut down flights out of Texas.

Click on image to link to pdf of complete letter

This sounds like some flights might be canceled and there would surely be disruption, but the scurrilous practice of automatically patting down grandmothers whose only 'probable cause' is a metal hip or knee, would certainly get a lot more attention. I realize that people who have not been patted down invasively, tend to think this is the price one has to pay for airline security. However, having read the emails Alaska Rep. Cissna received when she refused a patdown, I'm convinced that too many TSA agents are significantly abusing their power.

So, the Texas Legislative website says that the bill was withdrawn today after the letter was received. According to Simpson aide Dalton, today is the last day to pass the bill. He said they are working on getting the Senators back in to pass the bill.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lisa Handley at Alaska Redistricting Board Video

I'm afraid the video is way too jerky and the sound on the low side, but if you wanted to get a sense of Lisa Handley, here's about three minutes of her analysis of Alaska voting patterns.  This is from Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at the Redistricting Board meeting.

As mentioned in the previous post, you can see Dr. Handley's powerpoint notes on her Alaska Analysis at the Redistricting Board's website. The first part of the power point is here. It covers the Voting Rights Act in general.

Packed Room for Lisa Handley at Redistricting Board

The 10am session went to 1:30. The room had the most people I've ever seen here.  By the time things started, all the chairs were full.

I'll do a quick overview and then try to fill in more in follow up posts.

1. Voting Rights Act Consultant Lisa Handley gave a two part presentation.

Board Member McConnochie (l) talking to Dr. Handley at break

2.  Presentation of Modified plans by
  • The Rights Coalition  (The Democratic and others plan)
  • AFFER (Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting - the Republican Party and others - such as Calista - plan)
  • Calista Plan
  • AFFR (Alaskans for Fair Redistricting - Unions and Native Corporations)
The Rights and AFFR both presented plans which they claimed met the benchmark requirements for nine effective or influence districts.  (Actually, Handley changed the terminology from what has been used and now calls 'influence' 'equal opportunity.')

I frankly had a hard time tracking the actual plan presented by AFFER.   The most interesting - because it offered a perspective not heard by the board in public before - came from attorney Marcia Davis who presented the Calista plan.  She argued that the board need not focus so closely on pleasing the Department of Justice because in some cases the DOJ has told people (she specifically talked about Georgia) to make changes in their plans and then the Supreme Court shot down the DOJ supported plan. 

The meeting will readjourn at 3pm.  The Native Caucus presentation is yet to be made.  You can listen online here.   Even if a lot of it doesn't make sense, Alaskans should at least try five minutes to get a sense of the issues they are wrestling. 

This Picture's Been Haunting Me for Three Days Now

I've had this picture on my computer a few days now.
image from My Modern Met
I like things that make us question what we know, that turn things around from the way they're supposed to be so that we have to go, "Wow, it never occurred to me to do it that way."  Sometimes it doesn't work well.  Sometimes it's not particularly insightful.  And sometimes it's amazing.  Like the work that Alexa Meade does.

This is not a painting.  Well, it is a painting and it's not.  This is a real man painted to look like he's a painting - his face, his clothing, everything.  Instead of copying something real in a painting, this artist makes the real thing look like a painting.  If I understand this right, the other people are real, and this almost cartoon human is among them.

There are more pictures and discussion of this artist at My Modern Met.

The Alaska Redistricting Board is trying to imagine new ways to map the state's legislative districts.  Today they came up with a map that violated a premise they've had from day one - to leave the North Slope Borough in tact.  It's taken them 60+ of their ninety days to do this.  It's not the same as painting humans to look like paintings, but it is a step beyond the  boundaries they had set for themselves.

Humans grow when they go beyond their self imposed limits and do things they always thought they couldn't or shouldn't do.  Or never even thought of doing.  It doesn't always work.  Sometimes the consequences are bad.  But thinking past our limits has to be a good thing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Overview of the Problems Redistricting Board is Facing Before Voting Rights Act Consultant Arrives Tomorrow

This morning's session was spent looking at more experiments trying to get nine Native districts with sufficient population and Native percentages to be in compliance with the Voting Rights Act and to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice.  Rather than recount the details of the short meeting (under 1 hour)  I should just give an overview of what they are grappling with.

Meanwhile they've  begun the afternoon session and you can listen in here. 
[Update 3:25pm - They just ended this afternoon's meeting, but you can use this link to hear the voting rights expert, Lisa Handley, tomorrow at 10am.  This should be one of the more interesting meetings.]

I decided I'd try the online version for the afternoon, so I could get some things done at home and enjoy the beautiful weather.

The key requirement that has dominated the board so far has been RETROGRESSION.  The Voting Rights Act allows no RETROGRESSION. That means, in Alaska's case, that Native Alaskans can not lose the degree of representation they have in the legislature. In translation, that means they must keep the same ability to elect the candidates of their choice.

In the last redistricting there were 9 "Native" districts. However, the population has moved. Southeast lost enough people to lose a whole district. In some cases Natives have moved to urban areas and it's almost impossible to carve the urban areas up in a way that counts those Natives for a Native district.

So, they've been doing a lot of mapping experiments to try to create 9 Native districts given the population shifts. It's been hard. They've run against other requirements - like Senate districts have to be made up of two contiguous House districts.

Double Click to Enlarge Considerably
When I got there this morning, Taylor Bickford was working on a map. This one looks like he’s broken some of the early taboos the board has used from the beginning - like keeping the North Slope Borough pretty much the same.  It hadn’t lost any population after the new census data came out, so it looked like an easy district to leave whole, but there have been two big problems trying to prevent retrogression.  (You can see that here the old North Slope Borough is redrawn to go down along the Canadian border to Valdez, taking on much of the old District 6.  But it looks like it might be smaller than the old District 6.)

HD = House District
VAP = Voting Age Population

The Voting Rights Expert, Lisa Handley, who will be at the board meeting tomorrow (Tuesday), has given percentages needed to have acceptable Native districts.  So they are creating these maps and looking at the numbers.  You can see:

HD 40  has 51.24% Native VAP (voting age population)
HD 39 has 38.43% Native VAP - that is probably enough for a Native 'influence' area while HD 40 should qualify as a Native 'effective' area.  The three below are Senate Districts (SD).  SD A, for instance has 46.55% Native VAP and combines House Districts 36 and 7.  (Not sure why 36 isn't listed as a Native district.  One of these must have enough Native population to make the combined Senate district qualify.)

If you are REALLY paying attention, you'll have noticed this is only eight, not nine Native districts.  They have already created a district in Southeast that they think will count as the ninth. Or maybe they are counting 36.  I don't think 7 - which has Kodiak - has enough Native percentage to qualify. 

This is the computer game they are playing - trying to get these numbers right.  And they also have to get the total population for each district within a few percent of 17,755 people.

The problems they've been having are these:
  1. The Native population is essentially ‘packed’ in a few districts with very high native population (one up in the 80 percent range.)  
  2. The group of Northwest Native districts don't have enough population to get to the 17,750 population needed for a district, thus they need some of the excess population from Fairbanks (@8000 or half a district) or Matsu.
  3. But Fairbanks and Matsu both say they don't want their population spread out beyond their borough.  Matsu might be able to get five districts almost completely in the borough, but Fairbanks, as I mentioned, has 8000 excess people that will have to go in non-Fairbanks district(s).
  • Native groups want to keep ethnic groups - Yupik, Inupiat, etc. - together in their own groups because they have more closely related interests and this is assumed to help preserve cultural heritage.  Though some testified that mixing ethnic groups might be necessary to prevent retrogression.
  • At the various public hearings, different areas have argued that certain neighborhoods or villages or towns should or should not be in the same district and the board is trying to take these into consideration.
All these issues make the board's task even harder.   And there's more. . .
    Left Over Problems
    • This still leaves some problems like putting 8000 excess suburban Fairbanks people into a district that is basically roadless villages.   Clearly that would not create socio-economically cohesive (a state requirement) districts. 
    • And, of course, the Democrats are concerned that the 4-1 Republican board will try to pad the Republican majority in the state House and break the 10-10 tie in the Senate.  While all the board members deny any intention of this, and some seem genuinely neutral in their mapping, this is redistricting.  The assumption is (nationally) that whoever is in charge of redistricting is going to draw lines that advantage their own party's chances of gaining in the next election.  To be fair, Republicans were paired in the Southeast maps we've seen so far.  But there are only two Democrats in the seven house and senate districts there. 
      Most Democrats are in Anchorage and Fairbanks where the population is denser and it's easier to move lines around - because there is enough population to draw all sorts of configurations.  So, if the board spends enough time on the rural districts - as they did for the draft plan they put out April 14 - then they'll have to rush Anchorage and Fairbanks privately, and what they do in public will be hard to follow.  My sense is that the board is divided on this.  Bob Brody proposed doing the urban areas now at the same time they do the Native districts, but was voted down 4-1.  I think the staff would also like to get Anchorage and Fairbanks drafts with details out before the board adopts them.  We'll see.   
    The board recessed at 10:47am and scheduled a 2pm meeting which you can listen to here. (They should be meeting until about 4 or 5 pm Anchorage time today.)
    [Update 3:25pm - They just ended this afternoon's meeting, but you can use this link to hear the voting rights expert, Lisa Handley, tomorrow at 10am.  This should be one of the more interesting meetings.]

    Meanwhile it's the first almost warm sunny day in Anchorage as you can see as I rode home after this morning's session.

    Tuesday  (tomorrow) is a big day for the board.  Voting Rights Act consultant Lisa Handley will be in town to give her sense of how close the board has come to the nine Native districts needed to avoid retrogression.  She'll also give her view on whether any of the privately submitted plans met the goal.  (She's already said she thought so, but board attorney wondered if they had used the right data to calculate their Native VAP - voting age population.)

    I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian

    This came in an email from faraway friend whose first language is not English. He sent it to me because of the Alaskan reference. As a practicing punster (I try to suppress it here,) I'm impressed by the elegance of the puns on this list. They aren't groaners where one has to twist one's ears to make the sounds match, and one's face contracts around the nose at the flatness of the humor.  Well, you may not agree.  And some (maybe all) are not new.  These match words with unexpectedly similar sounds or double meanings with some cleverness. Here are some of the ones he sent:
    1. A will is a dead giveaway.
    2. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a mango.
    3. A backward poet writes inverse.
    4. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
    5. You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
    6. A calendar's days are numbered.
    7. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.
    8. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.
    9. If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
    10. When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.
    11. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
    12. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
    13. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
    14. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
    15. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
    16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'
    I tried to whittle the list to ten, but figured different ones would tickle different people, so I'm hoping some of you will tell me know your favorites (or least favorites) in the comments. 

    You could even use the judging scale used at the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championship  held this past weekend in Austin, Texas.
    You will be given a set of cards numbered one through ten.  A "ONE" should be used only for a complete flop (or an obvious non-pun) and a "TEN" should be reserved for a performance better than you ever expected.  (The audience response is helpful here too!)  The most important thing here is that your judging style remains consistant throughout the event. By expanding our panel to 6 judges we are attempting to level the field some. The highest and lowest score from each vote is discounted which leaves each contestant with a possible high score of only 40.  
    There were different contests including punniest of show. Some of the rules for that included:
    2. PUNNIEST OF SHOW: Each entered contestant will be allowed to present a pun on stage. Puns may be presented in any format (e.g., visual, musical, stand-up routine, etc.), and will be scored on a scale of one (1) to ten (10) by a panel of judges. A contestant's score will be determined by adding the judges' scores together. If a judge displays a score higher than 10 or lower than 1, that score will be lowered or raised to the nearest allowable score (i.e., an 11 becomes a 10, a 0 becomes a 1, etc.). Contestants will be judged on content, originality, and general effect of the presentation, including judges' interpretation of audience response. Contestants may use notes or scripts, but should keep in mind that the judges may take this into consideration when determining their score.  (if you want to know the rest of the rules and the other puntests click here.)

    The 1995 winner, John Pollack, on NPR last week talking about his new book, Just for Pun said:
    "The power of a pun comes from two things," he says. "One is its ambiguity, and second is: that it enables you to pack more meaning, or more layers of meaning, into fewer words. And so if you're trying to convey complex ideas, puns can be really powerful tools to do that."
    I agree.  I don't think they are the lowest form of humor as some say.  It's just that there are some really bad punsters who bring puns down so low.  I also think that good punsters are just wired to hear literally - thus hearing the two or meanings of a single (or very similar) sound(s). 

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    "Solpa adjust maadi"

    In Thailand it was "Jai yen yen" (ใจเย็นๆ) - keep a cool heart.  In Bangalore, Karnataka, India, Eagle River resident and Ohio Wesleyan student, Becky Smith, is being told to "please adjust a little." 

    She writes in her new blog, Hindustan Hamara (begun May 3, 2011 with three posts now):
    Part of Bangalore from the air Nov. 2006
    Everything in India takes a few extra steps. After a few days at my service apartment, I finally was informed that I had no hot water because there was a boiler that also needed to be turned on. While I'm used to generally just finding a hotel within my price range, here finding a place to stay involved several days of phone calls (thank God for my friend and his dad who took care of that for me) and negotiations to agree on the rate for a two month stay. And that was all before we decided that air conditioning really was necessary for an Alaskan to live in Bangalore. Which brings us to the first lesson of India: "Solpa adjust maadi." In Kannada, the language predominately spoken in Karnataka, this roughly translates to "Please adjust a little, sir."

    Becky's just begun as an intern  
    at Sanghamitra Rural Financial Services (SRFS), a non-profit microfinance institute aiming to raise clients out of poverty by offering microloans and other financial services. I will also be conducting independent research on the profit structures of microfinance firms and its effect on the social and income impacts it has on its clients.
    You can follow Becky's summer internship at her blog.  I would note that her proud father is Anchorage's Deputy Police Chief, Steve Smith. 

    Do you know where Bangalore is in India?  How many seconds will it take you to find on the map?
    Adapted from worldsecurity.org map

    I'm assuming that most of you know where India is on the world map. Hint: Bangalore is in Southern India.

    Early Blossoms at Anchorage Botanical Garden

    There was a plant sale at the arboretum today so we thought we'd stop by to see what was available.  There were also a few early blooms.

    Brassicaceae Arabis  caucasica "Snow Cap" - Rockcress

    Arboretums have little signs with the names of the flowers.  So convenient!

    But you have to remember to take a picture of the name too.  I know this is a primula.

    Primulaceae Primula allionii "Linda Page"


    Thiaspi stylosum

    Not everything was blooming.  In fact most things were just starting to poke out of the ground.  This is the one of the big beds in the back.  You can see it has a ways to go.

    If you live in Anchorage, and you have kids, this looks like a great way to get them aware of and maybe even interested in plants and gardening. 

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    LA Times Reports New Zealand Has Calm Rapture

    This all could be laughed off as an item from News of the Weird, except a significant number of people have been listening to Camping, and some of them actually vote in elections. From the LA Times:

    As New Zealand and other areas in the Pacific Ocean passed the May 21, 6 p.m. local time unscathed, despite predictions by Harold Camping that the hour would signal the beginning of the end of the world, many seemed to breathe a public sigh of relief -- some tongue-in-cheek and others more seriously -- on Twitter and other social media forums.

    Although it was not the first time Oakland-based Camping, 89, forecast the apocalypse, this date marked the most attention-grabbing of his doomsday predictions. The unprecedented publicity was spurred by a worldwide $100-million campaign of caravans and billboards, financed by the sale and swap of TV and radio stations.

    Meanwhile the New Zealand Harold doesn't seem to have anything on the topic. Thank you New Zealand for not paying attention at all.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    I got to the meeting a couple minutes late. (You can dock my pay.)

    [Back to running meeting notes, so recognize that this captures a lot, but not all of what was said.  You get the gist but not all the exact words.  But you can listen to audio for a lot of the meetings as you'll see below and the transcripts will eventually be posted.]

    2:10pm Director Report:

    • Web conferencing of Board meetings - I missed this part, but later they used GoTo Meeting so that a board member who was not in Anchorage could show his maps.
    • Transcripts - staff change adds a little time to get the transcripts done. they are being done by a several different contractors.  Some we aren't sure where they are. They aren't up yet, but the audio is.
    • Four groups signed up to present new plans to the Board which will reflect the changes in the percentage required to meet the Voting Rights Act:  Rights, AFFR, Calista, AFFER
    • Reading File Update - material added that were received since late Friday (I have pictures of the table of contents and I'm trying to figure out the easiest way to post these.)
    Jim Ellis:  May 6 on getting added, close to printing and putting them together.  Most items added have been emailed to you.

    Software requests - Chair asked staff to load all the private plans to computers, I assume that the rest of you want that too.  Desktop, laptop?  Other software plans, let us know end of day today, because we'll be here working tomorrow.

    Torgeson:  Questions?

    Discussion of final plans.  Taylor, you are ready for more, right?  Eric, you want to walk us through

    Eric Sandberg:  I have almost ready.

    Torgeson:  Not going off line, take a recess, but the recorder is still going on so Taylor can talk to the remote folks.
    Jim, two minutes to click the button and broadcast the screen.

    Holm - I'm here!!!

    Eric:  Going over his new map of rural areas and going through the totals.
    District 1 - Kodiak, Port Graham, and to boost Native % went up to Lower Kuskokwim
    And combined with Aleutians (HD2)  33.9% Senate
    3 and 4 - 3 is Bethel to Hooper Bay and Scammon Bay
    Don't Panic Yet - this is just trying things out
    4 - Yukon River up to Tanana River to McGrath and outskirts of Fairbanks - Salcha, Pleasant Valley, Fox...  Possible Native influence district
    Combined 50+% Native Senate District
    5.  East-west huge district  plus 6 North Slope

    Bickford - you could add 1000 Native folks to 2 from 3 and maybe get better numbers.  [gets to 34.91]
    Then you could take 1 into 4 a bit.
    Eric:  4 is right at 35%, but certainly I think you could bump the pairings a bit.

    Torg:  What was your other major approach?
    Eric:  Tried to keep old 6 together, but it pushes up against the Coast line and gets non-contiguous Senate pairings.
    Torg:  It looks like that one could use a bit more work, but it's close isn't it?
    4 -2  House - effective/influence
    3- 0  Senate -

    Tried to bump Natives in Kodiak by going east, but doesn't work without going to SE.

    A few other plans, but nothing better than this.

    Torgeson:  Load up PeggyAnn's and Marie's?

    PeggyAnn McConnochie - this is absolutely not ready to go.  I came in early to try once more on SE.  Try to put Skagway and Haines into District 2, doing that I leave more population in the Valley of Juneau, and at least one whole district in Juneau.  D3 only in Juneau.  Then where can I pick up White population for SE - Valley, Gustavus, then Elfin Cove and Pelican, and Tenakee Springs - but this makes it really ugly, with four crossings.
    Torg:  Have we talked about that - crossing districts?
    White:  No, depends on why - if to make voting rights act numbers, might be more defensible.
    I think the board needs to hire some savants who can just see through all the numbers and population types and find the right patterns.

    PeggyAnn McConnochie:  Good news - PofWales almost in one district.  But down here, I think unacceptable, population around this Bay, and I put with Ketchikan, but they consider themselves with Craig.  Warning VAP is only 32.6%
    Marie and I spent a lot of time working on Rural districts again.  We spent, what?  An hour, two?  Tanana Chiefs spoke to us all in Fairbanks.  We prioritized TC and tried to get those six different groupings and not split the groupings.
    4 stayed the same - Our 39 - one TC grouping - Ft. Yukon, Venetie, Beaver, Wiseman.  This in one area undivided.  From hear all the way over to this area - at Bering Straits, Doyon, didn't want Fairbanks, took just a little because we needed to get the population up.   Didn't want to take much of Fairbanks.  Looked at 6 - another TC group that we wanted to leave whole.  Dry Creek, Tanacross, Dot Lake Village.
    The video gives you a sense of what this process is like. And I think you can sense that McConnochie is really trying to do this right. It's just hard.

    Other side of Fairbanks, take a look - Calista.  This is basically Calista - Eric copied us LOL - we needed to shed population out of this area.  Large population - Wade Hampton - these two areas have the rest of TC chiefs.  The groupings can be separated, but each group needs to be the same.  Next down to 37.  Deviation of 2.34%.
    Take this whole thing as new 36.  Down, 15,000 (did she mean 1500) people.  Tried to keep Calista whole, tried our best.  Kwethluk, Eek, Goodnews Bay, tried to keep together.  But just way too many people.  They are now in 37.  We aren't done, not happy.  Interesting to see what Eric has done - he doesn't really know the places the way Marie does.  We're not done, by a mile.  Helpful - protecting TC areas, Calista, and
    Marie Greene - 39 goes back east.
    PAM (PeggyAnn McConnochie)- We don't necessarily like it going from west to east.  Trying to keep people out who don't belong - people in suburbs of Fairbanks don't belong in Native district and vice versa.
    TB (Taylor Bickford)- Where did you want to go for the 15,000?  Matsu
    PAM - We can't with our deviations go into 38-40.
    TB - Can either go to Matsu, Denali, or Fairbanks.  One of those has to happen.
    PAM - Trying our best to not add those areas.  It isolates the problem.
    White:  Left over 36?  15,000 under.  Impossible to make that an effective district.
    TB:  Helpful to start doing it this way - shows the tradeoffs down the road.
    PAM:  Trying to go from the optimum - what everyone tells us.  I want to tell these people that we tried our best, but there are too many people in that district.  Eric went the same way we did.  It good know there is another possibility, we just need to get 36 filled out.  But can't take them from
    Torg:  I'm seeing a theme - East-West - Big 37.  Bob, do you have something to present?
    TB:  I think I just hand control over to you.  See what happens.
    Torg:  Good experiment.

    Using GoTo Meeting - Computer Conferencing Software
    Brody:  SE - got D2 to   Got up to 38.9
    TB:  Go back to - Arc Map 10
    Brody - [We all were given a blue spread sheet of all 40 districts, I can't find the numbers he's talking about]  I took most of Marie and PeggyAnn's map - they were under in most districts.
    I made D3 a little large, D4 here in the middle.  But it put 2 way under.  To get 2 up, I went around the corner and got these and tha put the Native count to 39 and the total VAP to 35.  That's pretty much all what PeggyAnn and Marie have done.
    PAM - Tanana Chiefs gave us a letter with villages they want together - Looks like you split up Tok out, Dot Lake in, No matter what we draw, there will be a couple on the edges.  Able to get VAP to 35 which would make this a solid influence district.
    Holm:  What kind of Sen Pairing?
    Brody:  Just the four in SE.  Resigned to having to find pairings elsewhere.  I have Kodiak taking Cordova, but Tatitlik in SE.
    TB - Bob, I think that's total minority VAge - I think we need just Total Native.
    Total Native 39, total VAP 35.
    PAM - OUt of curiousity, if you could take all the Tanana Chiefs villages out?
    Brody:  I don't know.  I was trying to get close to your deviation.  It will drop the VAP.  They are smaller villages, but 80% native.  Just a question how effective we want to make the SE districts.
    PAM - Also trying to keep those TC villages together there.
    Torg:  Wrangell is with Ketch and Petersburg with Juneau?  Split P of Wales?
    Greene:  Haines and Skagway in 2?
    Brody:  Same as you guys.  That's it for me.
    TB:  Any more presentations?  I'm going to cut them off then.

    Torgeson:  Brings us to adjournment.  Meeting Monday at 10am.  We'll have to have things to use a little earlier.  When you show it on the web, you don't have to send it out?  Right.
    From now on meeting at 10am.
    Adjourned.  2:57