Monday, July 18, 2011

Redistricting Board Meets (Mostly in Executive Session)

They met for 25 minutes then went into executive session for nearly two hours.  Then they had a short closing.  Here are the highlights as I saw them.  My draft (very draft; read with caution) notes are below.
l-r  White, Torgerson*, Bickford, Brody*, Holm*, Ellis  *board members

1.  Pre-clearance Report Time table: 

Attorney White said he was hoping to get the pre-clearance report done and to the Department of Justice in 7-10 days.  There's lots of back up information to include such as all the emails of board members, all the public testimony and emails and letters, and they have todocument all they did.

2.  Final report from consultant Lisa Handley not in yet

White was very gracious when asked about whether the consultant's report was in yet.  Most of it we've heard in public testimony, he said.  But the actual report isn't in yet and he said something like, "She's not a board member.  She has lots of other clients."  But he also said he needs to see her report before he can finish his, which he wants to get done in 7-10 days. 

3.  The Court Challenges

There are three challenges - two from Fairbanks and one from Petersburg.  The Fairbanks challengers want their case heard in Fairbanks.  Not Juneau.  Not Anchorage.  The Petersburg people are content to have the three cases joined and heard in Anchorage. 
White's petitioned to have them consolidated and moved to Anchorage.  As of today, there's a date in Judge Michael P. Mc Conahy's courtroom this Friday at 8:30am in Fairbanks.  White's hoping a new judge in Anchorage will be assigned before that. 

4.  New Intern Drew and a Transcriber.  They've recorded all their meetings and the transcription services they used have had trouble figuring out who was talking so they still don't have the transcripts back.   And they need them for the report that is due, soon.  Today there was a transcriber in the meeting. 

5.  Attorney Advises Clients.  Attorney White advised his clients (the Board) to say nothing about the litigation and send the press to him.  He wants to be sure he knows everything they might have said publicly.

Below are my rough notes:

Redistricting Board  July 17, 2011

10:03 open
Torgerson: Agenda approved
Directors Report-
Bickford:  -new intern - Drew
I’m the public information officer, we’ve had about 7 requests and worked closely with Michael on those.  Cleared on that no pending requests.

Budget update
p. 3 of the binder
FY 2012 projection
FY 2011 summary when all bills paid
FY 2012 - what we have in the bank now going into FY
Money projected for travel,
One or two board meetings by end of year
Possible trip to DC
Torgerson coming to office once a month
Costs once litigation starts.

$100K still in Michael White’s contract, may need amendment
Lisa Handley contract seems ok.
Big bill from here on out will be legal bill.

Next item:  Update on Fred’s Contract with City Gate software, may need to reinstate if board needs to come back and draw next year.  We still have access to software, but limited support service compared to past.
l-r Board Members Greene, McConnochie, Torgerson

Transcripts:  We have live transcripts writer today, we had trouble with transcripts in past.  This will be much faster.  All public hearing transcripts completed.
Computer matrix court reporting is working on ?? meetings??.
Public reading file has been updated.
Appendix to this report includes documents.
Public copy available here and online.
Board’s record - we spent our time last month - archiving and building up the record.  Some we’ve been doing all along, got the rest done.  For Michael - required by the court that the board turn over its copy of the record.
You may notice that your email data bases have been cleared.  Had to archive your old emails and turn them in.  When we archived them, it took them out of your mailboxes, but you can have them if you like.

Review of litigation from Michael.  To the extent that we need to inform you we’ll send out stuff day to day.  Busy month, lot of housekeeping items.

Litigation Report [Get a pdf copy of the report here.]

White:  Deadline July 15.  We have received 3.  City of Petersburg and three individuals, assuming qualified voters.  Two from Fairbanks.  We’ll talk about how I feel about the merits in Executive Session.

1.  North Slope Fairbanks Borough and Timothy Beck - challenging house districts 37 and 38 and Senate districts A,C, and S.  Geographic proportionality.  Although Fairbanks. . . compact and socio-integration effectiveness of 38.  Acknowledge VRA and say not required by VRA and thus shouldn’t have trumped.  Rep. by in-house counsel. [You can read the court challenges on this previous post.]

2.  Riley and Dearborn, represented by Michael Walleri.  Same challenges, plus a few more proportionality issue and for Fairbanks as well.  Should have been completely different, so one of the house seats should have  been entirely in city of Fairbanks

3.  Petersburg, represented by Tom Klinkner, geographic proportionality.  Say 32 not socio-economically integrated.

We’ve asked Juneau court to consolidate and transfer to Anchorage.  That motion should be resolved this week.  Originally assigned to Judge Randy Olsen but ??? by plaintiffs and reassigned.

Petersburg case assigned to ??? in Juneau.

Confident they will be consolidated.  Where?  Not sure.  I argued not fair for Juneau folks to go to Anchorage or Fairbanks to go to Juneau.  Anchorage in the middle.

If rules are followed we should have a scheduled (scheduling?) conference by the 10th.

Procedural stuff questions, I’ll save my views for executive session.

Juneau doesn’t accept fax filings over 5 pages.  We mailed it Friday, more than 5 pages.  Hopefully, judges will just talk.  Petersburg case is stipulated to consolidate, but Fairbanks people would not. 

Preclearance - I’d say about 80% done.  Bottom line, we’re on schedule.  None of the lawsuits raise VRA claims, don’t say retrogressive.  Only FBNS borough only one to mention and said we shouldn’t have relied so much on them. 
Most stuff, writing is done.  Oe section we need to work on to have final report.   Then finalize.  File by Friday of this week or early part of next week.
Will talk about implications in ES

Board transcripts hold us up?
White:  don’t have them in, holding us up.  Some stuff only Eric can do.  He and DOJ speak the same language.  Large amount of info that goes.  My inclination to be overinclusive than underinclusive.  I think filed in next 7-10 days.  Then can go back to DOJ.   60 day clock starts once we submit.   Want all data is submitted electronically.  Megabytes and megabytes of information. 
Don’t wnat glitch with electronic filing. 

Torgerson:  I understand Lisa Handley recommends we come back and talk
Bickford:  No guarantee they will talk to us.  Assumption is that they would meet with us, but we’ll request it. 
Torgerson: We make request why we want to do it?
White:  Yes
Torgerson: Requested that only Marie and I go back, keep it small.
White:  No benefit to have the whole board.  Having Ms. Greene ...Native community…
Bickford:  Touch on Lisa’s report and where we are.  Most public records requests asked for that report.
White:  80-90% already discussed, just a matter of . . . she’s not a board member, has other clients, given us some drafts, not all clear, asked for more info, asked for more and should have in final days.  Some records requests for it, we will produce it and provide her report and whole preclearance report.  Nothing privliged once it is finalized.
Torgerson:  No action required by board.  We just receive her report.   Already authorized Taylor to sign off.
White:  Don’t need to meet again as a board.  Just waiting gathering of materials and portion on effect on Native districts I’m still working on, need Lisa’s report to finish mine. 
Confident in 7-10 days.
Bickford:  Once file DOJ has 60 days to respond, expect in 40-60 days.
White:  Want to make sure we have everything there first, rather than have them come back and ask for things, and restart the clock.
Brody:  I’d like a prebriefing before you file.  I’d like to understand it before it goes out.
White:  I’ll have a draft in ES and point out litigation issues. 

10:26 go into Executive Session

12:39 back on record after Ex. Session

Exec Section to discuss state litigation and preclearnance
White:  Instruction for the board:  Publicly tell board we are now in litigation, therefore questions from the press should be sent to counsel and not discussed outside the board room.  We have nothing to hide, but common advice I give all my clients.  I suspect all of you will deposed and my job will be easier if you haven’t publicly said something that I don’t know about.  General comments - we think it is constitutional”  then refer people to me.

Nothing further.

Board member comments:
Holm:  no
Brody:  After your lecture, I guess not.  Keep in touch, keep us informed so we aren’t caught unawares.
White:  We’ll provide a weekly update.  We just got a notice in that the two Fairbanks assigned to Michael P. Mc Conahy.  8:30am in Fairbanks   whether he remains, yet to be seen.  Fairbanks plaintiffs opposed that.  We should have a decision before Friday when we have a conference.  WE’ll give you plenty of notice if something required of you.  Don’t expect depostions before SEptember.  Plenty of notice.  Can’t delay until January because of expedited nature. 
Torgerson:  Thank everybody.  Next meeting, maybe teleconference for legal update, let Michael and Taylor control that. 

Adjourn.  12:46pm


  1. I did not attend each and every redistricting board meeting, but I'm not happy with the process I observed when I attended. It's interesting that Torgerson wants to take Marie to DC with him because she is Native. The fact of the matter is that she is serving a "window dressing role". She said very, very little during any of the meetings and although individual representatives and senators were not to be of issue in the redistricting process, I wonder why the TV cameras showed Marie putting away her light green "Alaska Legislature Directory" while presumably at her desk and "on the clock". Alaska deserves better than Torgerson was intellectually able to offer.

  2. I'm not sure what how to evaluate Marie Greene. She was the lone Democrat among four Republicans and the lone Native Alaskan. I think she played a big role in getting Alaska natives informed about and involved in the process. She got the board to listen closely to the interests of Alaskan Natives.

    She did not publicly challenge the rest of the board when it came to partisan political issues such as pairing two incumbent Democratic senators adjacent to an open seat in Fairbanks. I suspect she used her expertise to maximize the results for Native Alaskans. And in this area, the other Board members deferred to her.


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