Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Redistricting Court Challenge: Hardenbrook "Looking at Process or Payback?"

The second witness Tuesday was Sen. Joe Thomas' staffer Joe Hardenbrook.  His testimony seemed aimed mostly at showing that Fairbanks districts, Senate districts particularly, were put together in a way that was not socioeconomically integrated, and that this was done for political reasons.  He was a very strong and knowledgeable witness, though I'm not sure how important his testimony is. 

As I understand it, it is already acknowledged by the court that these districts do not meet the Alaska constitutional requirements.  What needs to be demonstrated is that Voting Rights Act compliance could have been achieved without violating the state requirements. 

Another issue raised here (and in testimony Monday) was the issue of political gerrymandering to break the Senate working coalition and give power to the Republicans, particularly to get Governor Parnell's cutting of the taxes to the oil companies.  There was a lot of persuasive discussion of how pairing the two urban Fairbanks districts with the more rural districts hurts the constituents by forcing representatives and Senators to have conflicting constituents.

There was also mention of a conversation Hardenbrook had in a Juneau bar with Board Chair John Torgerson about whether the Board would work.
I asked him,  "Looking at process or looking at payback?"  I can’t remember his exact words, but it was defintely the latter. [from my notes of the testimony, not exactly verbatim
My observations of how the Board created the Fairbanks districts, the board member who took the lead, and other information, some of which is showing up in the testimony about how representatives' and Senators' homes were targeted, causes me to believe that there was very clear intent to mess with the Fairbanks districts so that the coalition would be broken in Juneau.  And probably also as revenge.   But when I talked with Board attorney White after a board meeting last year, he said that since (I think the Voting Rights Act) no challenge based on political gerrymandering had ever been won.  If that's true, that makes for a serious obstacle here.

Wednesday, I think I heard them say that Jim Holm would be the witness.  He's the Fairbanks Board member who took the lead on redoing the Fairbanks districts.  None of the other Board members was from Fairbanks.  One advantage to the court case being in Fairbanks is that the Judge will understand the implications of how the lines were drawn and whether they make sense for Fairbanks or not.  But he has to have legal grounds from invalidating the plan.  There are many different ways to do this.  The Board had the authority to do it.  So unless they didn't perform their duty or there is clear evidence of wrong doing, it won't get changed.  But the burden of proof is on the Board to show that they couldn't meet the Voting Rights Requirements AND the state constitutional requirements.

Below are my running notes from the last witness of the proceeding. (They adjourned early, just before 1pm.)  Usual caveats - these are VERY ROUGH notes, there are gaps, typos, errors, places I couldn't hear well, places I just quit and got something to eat.  But it gives some idea of what went on.  I'll put a break here, if you want the detailed notes - and your browser recognizes the break - you can click where it says Read More. 

11:41 Back from recess

Attorneys talking about ending today.  Lunch break
Judge:  We have finite number of days and hours.  Shrinking available time for everybody.  When people time out, come next Friday.  It will be over. 

New witness:  Joseph Garrett Hardenbrook

Walleri:  Mr. Hardenbrook describe deduation
Hardenbrook:  BA pol sci at UAF, registered Democrat in Alaska.  Currently employed Chief of Staff to Sen. Joe Thomas.
Hardenbrook:  I spent time either as a U or N and prior to that I was a Republican. 
Come from pol. family, father on State committee for Idaho and worked with Idaho Republicans.  Active in pol. campaigns in Idaho and here in AK, second vp of college Republicans in AK.  Volunteer on Sen. Gary Wilkins campaign 2000, Jim Whitikers campaigns.  for Joe Thomas 2006, 2010,  Ethan Berkowitz, 2 weeks AK State director ofor Obama. 
Before 2006 either Republican or non-partisan local campaigns.
During … 2000 leg. session I was govt. relations director for Student government at UAF, registered lobbyist, representing U budget in leg.  Summer 2001 was student member on Board of REgents. 
Walleri:  employment prior to cheif of staff
Hardenbrook:  After graduation, contract job in Madison Wisc in Wisconsin state leg. then wrote grant for 50th anniversay for State of Alaska.  Karen Perdue and Dr. Cole UAF.  University hosted constitutional convention and there were a number of event related.  Film, oral histories.  I was responsible for researching and website. 
Walleri:  currently Sen finace committee aide.
Hardenbrook:  SEn Fiinance comittee 7 members, all bi-partisan coalition members, considered most powerful committee, all the members considered members of Sen leadership.  function to draft Gov’s budget and review and propose amendments and pass the state budgets to the floor for passage.  Committee of last referral for any bill that spends money.  majority of bills filed ultimately go to Committee. 

Current charis:  Lyman Hoffman, D Bethel, and Bert Stedman, R Sitka
30,000 foot overveiw  Stedman- capital budget   Hoffman- operating budget and supplemental    Hoffman is member of Yupik community.

Familiar with local Fairbanks govt.  Creating Alaska purpose learned about founders what purpose of local government, budget committee learn a lot about local government, and local campaigns. 

Fairbanks borough local area:  Sen Thomas has one borough in entirity - Denali borough and good chunk of FNSborough outside of Fairbanks and North Pole. 
And there’s city of Anderson. 

Local govt. structure relates to funding activity of Finance Committee:  AK constitution three forms of local govt.  Borough, types of cities, and service areas.  City of F offers different realm of services.  F has police and road powers.  Curbside garbage service,  Fire Dept.
Borough has 107 road service areas.  Outside serive areas maintain dirt roads.  No rural police force - just state troopers.  Volunteer fire dept.  non-profits. 
FNSB only a few neighborhoods have garbage service curbside.  Most utlize transfer stations or the dump. 

Walleri:  Relate to Finance Committee, whrere does state money come from.
Hardenbrook:  1.  State unrestricted funds, 90% from oil   2.  Federal funds, mostly pass through, state must authorize fed money.  Without strings attached is oil revenue.
Walleri:  reaollocation to local communities.
Hardenbrook:  Interior delegation meet with local groups before going to Juneau, get the wish lists from the groups, members review them, enter into online system and backup materials how money to be used, who will maintain, etc.  Members of Leg. rank priorities and put into memo to co-chair of Finance.
Walleri:  does it matter if Sen is on the Finance commiteee for appropriaions?
Hardenbrook:  Steadman said:  As co-chair of Sen Finance, my district won’t get the most money, but won’t get the least either.”
Walleri:  ideas how new plan might impact larger area of F.
Hardenbrook:  Leaves open possibility for the first time in State or Territorial hisoty, leaves open the possibility a Sen from outside the city of Fairbanks.  Both candidates we know of now, are both from without the city.
Pairing HD 5&6 into Sen C  takes University and put those areas - green area here, connected by unpopulated military training range to this district here - Salcha Delta Junction taking half of Matsu Susitna.  If you live in University West you could have Sen rep you from Valdez or Delta Junction.  Best served if people share their interests.  Not in this plan.  People in downtown Fairbanks will be paired with Two Rivers.   See folks who come to expect by establishment of local government and authorized through charters have different ideas put into same pol subdivision. 
Walleri:  Impacts of fire service?
Hardenbrook:  Did analysis of amount of funding received by vol fire in Faribanks area.  In current D8 - Guttenbergs - 8 vol fire depts.  Looked when Thomas and SEekins represented.  How much money invested.  Impossible to predict future budgets, so dependent on internationally traded commodity.  Easiest way is to look back.  Average state investment in those vol fire depts. came out to - in new district 38 there will be 31 fire districts.  If you take the same amount of money and divide by 31, you’ll see see a financial impact to Ester and Goldstream to be $1million over time??
If plan goes into effect and funding spread out all those districts, they will either have to have cuts or increases in property taxes.  Ester and Goldstream - $1million over ten years. 
Road service - very popular - transportation, education, public safety.  Invest in state road system or allocate to boroughs for roads.  This year $5million grant fund for borough roads.  Sen representing say District 38 and 37, just 38 so manymore communities, pie would have to be split more and more.  If leg looking at whether to give $500K on Murphy Road potholes or small village with wahsed out road to airport - latter wil get it.  …..
Ester fire with 30 year old truck and Anvik with no fire truck, Ester would lose.

Fairbanks grew, next to Matsu, Fairbanks fastest growing area.  Fairbanks grew, didn’t need to be split.  Informal conversation with Sen Torgerson and phone with late Mr. Miller and Mr. Bickford. 
Walleri:  How do you know Torgerson?
Hardenbrook:  I was lobbying for the University.  Torgerson was on finance committee.  My younger brother was a legislative staffer when he was there.  When I went down I’d stay with my borther.  Brother worked for Republican of Fairbanks Jim Whittaker and Bud Fate.  We spent a night at the ??? with Sen. Torgerson.

Walleri:  Contact both as lobbyist and socially with borther?
Hardenbrook:  Don’t think I had face to face meeting for University, but did socialize a few times in Juneau. I spoke with him in establishment in downtown Juneau.  Think I ran into him in Capital but didn’t discuss.  At receptions in Juneau.  Lots of events.

Walleri:  Conversations with Torgerson, he was chair of redistricting board.
Hardenbrook:  In the Triangle - establishment.  Saw he was there.  In deposition I thought it happened in March, but now I think before that, before intitial plans released.  Asked him what was going on with redistricting plan.
Walleri:  Why ask him?
Hardenbrook:  Brother came back to FBs and said he knew Torgerson.  He could focus on best plan possible or most Republicans possibles.  So I asked T. what it would be. 
Walleri:  What was his repsonse, what was he doing when you talked to him.
Hardenbrook:  U shaped bar, spoke informally for a minute or two.  Joked, can’t draw cushy district for yourself, have plans to run for mayor aain.  He didn’t think it amusing.  I asked him Looking at process or looking at payback?  I can’t remember his exact words, but it was defintely the latter.  then he asked about my sister in law. 
Walleri:  Why ask about sister in law?
Hardenbrook:  My borther and I look a lot alike.  Parents confuse us.  I think he thought I was my brother.  There were some hard feelings about Fairbanks.  I think he had that in mind.
Judge:  what did sister in law have to do with it.
Hardenbrook:  I think he thought he was talking to my brother Jay.
Walleri:  Do you agree with assessment that 2002 redistricting hard on Republicans? 
Hardenbrook:  No, drawn to respect local govt.s  Before I lived near the University.  My rep was Gene Therriault of North Pole.  Wagon wheel district. 7 reps, 4 from Fairbanks and 3 from NPole.  ⅓ the size of Fairbanks. 
Walleri:  Pairing Sens.  Is it 1990s situation replicated/ 
Hardenbrook:  Someone living in college side could have been represented from Valdez or Delta Junction in the previous (1990) plan.
Walleri:  Did 2002 impact on partisan rep in Fairbanks.
Hardenbrook:  Empirical evidence says they were bad.  Lost 50% of Dems.  First time only had one Fairbanks Dem - Guttenberg.  Wasn’t until 2006 when Corrupt Bastards Club and bribery trials when turned away from Rep.
…..break …..
Thomas bump - talked to Mr. Miller about that.
Hardenbrook:  I asked if way to see where current incumbents live.  He said yes, it could be turned on, but no one requested it.  He said Mr. Bickford could turn it on or off.  AT that time he was deptuy executive director. 
Walleri:  Did Mr. Miller have that ability.
Hardenbrook:  I don’t believe so.
Walleri:  Any resolution in conversation?
Hardenbrook:  He stated that line was probably drawn that way due to census blocks.  Software made it hard to split census blocks.  Videy way shoots off to West off Senate Loop and that Senate Loop was the boundary of draft plan.  Mr. Miller thought it was probably a Senate block.  It changed under the final plan.  In the draft plan he was initially paired with Sen. Coghill. 
Walleri:  This is not a bad place to stop.
Judge:  I thought we’d buckled up to just go through.
Walleri: Did you talk to Bickford?
Hardenbrook:  After I returned to Juneau for special session and came back and had converstaion with mr. Bickford and asked:
1.  looking at residences of incumbent legsilators come from several ways to get spirit as well as letter.
a.  has any member asked you for resident locations of incumbents?
b.  could they get it without your knowledge from the software without your knowledge?
c.  what about from a third party?  I don’t remember his answer.  I think I exasperated him and he asked if I was calling him a liar.
2.  I asked about call records of people calling the board.  Had a conversation with lobbyist John Bitney.  Obection sustained.
Converstation on call records?  Curious about members of administration or Republican Party.  I think his answer was “In some cases, but not all”  He followed up with an email that I could file freedom of information request.

Walleri:  Did you ever get indication of Mr. Bickford turned on the addresslocator?
Hardenbrook:  My understanding was he didn’t.
Walleri:  Campaign experience.  Different areas in Fairbanks and how they politically tilt.  North Pole to start.
Hardenbrook:  Strongly conservative.  First campaign 2006, we had a retired principal of NP high school or middle and ran against Coghill lost 70-30.  Last time Tom Rice against Tammy Wilson, cordial relationship.  He lost 70-30 as well.
Walleri:  partisanship?
Hardenbrook:  I can’t tell you registration, but highly partisan.  I think you’ll see Joe Miller carreid the area handily.
Walleri:  Farmers Loo area?
Hardenbrook  Farmers Loop has high turnout and recently has trended dem.  Steese east and west tend to vote Republican.  In ??? Thomas carrie every area, Steese by only two or three votes.  One place lost ??
Walleri?  West tend dem?
Hardenbrook:  Goldstream Dems tend to do well.
Walleri:  In 38 now?
Hardenbrook:  Ester high voter turnout and Dems good.  Goldstream 2 also high turnout and for Dems.
Walleri:  Have you looked at proclamation 38?
Hardenbrook:  2010 primary election and voter turnout in Dist. 6, currently rep. by Dick, 7 by Miller and 8 by Gutten berg.  20% in 6  primary turnout in 2010 primary 40% in 7 and 8.  Much more turnout in urban than rural areas. 
Walleri:  Voter turnout in primary higher in Ester/Goldstream than rest of district i the primary?
Hardenbrook:  Farmers Loop was the highest tunrou in 7.  in 8 Goldsream 2 and Ester in primary. 
Walleri:  What about the rest of 38.  Turnout in rural areas?
White?? What is the point?
Walleri:  Finance staffer and heavily involved in campaings.  Relevance about primary turnout is higher or lower.
Judge:  native turnout in 38 higher or lower than urgan areas?
Hardenbrook:  Can’t break out by ethnicity.  In 2010 higher turnout in general election in District 6 than in previous elections because of the push for Murkowski.
Ester and Goldstream were higher.  Clarify Goldstream 2,  Golstream 1 3rd highest.
Walleri:  in 38 can you tell us where the current rep from that area, is he in 38 or 3.
Hardenbrook:  there are two current reps.  Guttenberg lives in Goldstream.  And Rep. Dick, Dist. 6, lives in Stoney River, but has now moved to Nenana??  Distr. 6 now in 38. 
Walleri:  Where does Mayor of FNSB -
Hardenbrook:  put in district that is outside the FNSB.  McKinley, 87% went to Guttenberg, Cantwell close, rest of the borough conservative.  Denali borough is in 38 now.

White; chief of staff and wife works fro Paskvan.  So one of you will lose a job under current plan?
Hardenbrook:  yes,
White:  worked for Walleri’s election and Walleri has held fundraiser for Sen Thomas.  Do you consider yourself a Dem partisan.
Hardenbrook:  Yes, but I think people would regard me as Fairbanks partisan more than Dem partisan. 
Hardenbrook:  1992 big sea change lost a lot of Democrats, Republicans came in.
White:  Matsu all Republlicans.  Kodiak. 
[Establishing strong Republicans around the state.]

Judge:  Thank you.  You have five minutes.

Walleri:  Boards attorney asked about other areas.  ARe there other areas of Democratic voters outside of Goldstream?
Hardenbrook:  North Slope of Alaska/ 
Walleri:  I’m talking about urban areas.
Hardenbrook:  Juneau, especially downtown.  Palmer, Dems always try to be competitive, but Rep. Gatto wins 70-30.  McKinley Park and Cantwell in Denali Borough.
Walleri:  What about Talkeetna?
Hardenbrook:  Environmentalist there. 

12:53 - Back here tomorrow at 8:30. 

Jim Holm was supposed to be a witness Wednesday.  He's the former Fairbanks legislator who lost to Scott Kawazaki and who did most of the Fairbanks mapping for the board.  He was the only Fairbanks based member on the board so they essentially deferred to him. 

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