Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tim Remick's Remarkable Denali Faces

The size and detail of these photos of people getting down from Denali climbs was unrelenting. Every detail of their faces blown up about 15 times life size.

This was one of the older climbers and the most beat up by the mountain.

Tim Remick's words on the wall of the museum explain the series of portraits:
"is a visual exploration of the human condition after climbing North America's highest peak.  These portraits attempt to document the human experience through the communicative power of the face."

 "Each portrait explores the curious physiological details resulting from the ravages of exhaustion, accentuating the emotional condition of the individual."

"It is within the moment of the after that I have sought to find the exactness that exists within the human response and to capture that curious mix of adrenaline, reflecting, and exhaustion, all sharing the same instant."
Look carefully for the photographer
"It is through this consensual process that these portraits become an artistic exploration of persona, character, and identity reflective of the physical manifestation of the journey's toil, celebrating human capacity to endure."

Each portrait had a card.  The number ranked the climbers from slowest to fastest, their age, they all made it to the peak, and how long the climb took.

I'm putting this up to demonstrate I didn't abandon my life completely to redistricting this week.  I stopped by the Anchorage Museum one afternoon a spent an hour decompressing.  The advantage of buying an annual pass is you can just drop in for a short visit as frequently as you like.  $12 for an hour would be steep, but the pass means I don't feel the need to make my visit a half a day long.   This exhibit is here until April 15.

Interestingly, they had another Denali exhibit upstairs. 

This photoshop attempt worked ok in the painting on the lower right.  I superimposed a photo they had of Browne taken by photographer Bradford Washington.  The rest is  'experimental.'  I think visually, the bio is way too much.   The end of the bio says he died in a shooting accident in the Adirondacks.  You can see he was quite young. This exhibit ends April 22.

Redistricting Board Adopts, In Concept, "The Bethel-Chain Amended Proclamation Plan"

Overview of Saturday March 31, 2012 Meeting

  1. Looked at two maps the sent to VRA expert and discussed her findings and how the fixed them.
  2. Chose to adopt, in concept, a map called "Bethel-Chain Amended Proclamation Plan" which was yesterday's 3/30 - 1 with changes after VRA review.
    1. Basic Change = get HD 37 Native VAP up, move Nunivak from 38 to 37, 
  3. Gave the staff and attorney power to clean up the plan, and get documents ready to send to VRA and to courts.
  4. Approved in concept: senate pairings, truncation, term lengths.
  5. Will meet one more time, probably Wednesday afternoon, to formally approve everything. 
[UPDATE 9:30pm:  The Board's website has added an announcement plus a map

A preliminary statewide map is available for download here*. Additional maps and data will be added to and distributed via email on Monday, April 2nd.]

Basically, the board is done except for cleaning up and final formal approvals.
They presented their two plans - one that is relatively similar to the Proclamation plan, but rejoins the Aleutian Chain and fixes House Districts 1 and 2 in Fairbanks and, presumably, puts both City of Fairbanks House Districts into a single Senate seat. [In the end, that happened.]  Then it makes some adjustments to the Native districts to get overall population deviations within 10%.  One change from yesterday was moving Nunivak Island from HD 38 to HD 37.

There weren't any new maps available and maps of each district weren't available.  Talking after the meeting, my understanding is that Senator Paskvan and Senator Thomas are no longer paired in Fairbanks.  But I believe that Ester and Goldstream are still part of a rural Native District, that goes from McCarthy in the west, up along the Canadian border and across Alaska to the west and includes Nome and Gamble and Savoonga.  [They're in District 38 that goes west to Hooper Bay.]

 It's been a hectic week for the staff.  They had to be at the meetings and then afterward they were making maps.   The last meeting posted on their website is for Wednesday.  I'm sure now they will be able to catch up.  Many if not all of the districts in Southeast, Anchorage, are the same.  I think Kenai and Matsu have some changes.  The Board members have the statewide maps on their computers which they can enlarge to see districts, but details weren't worked out until late last night or early this morning and there were no maps available of the individual districts.  Even the new statewide map wasn't handed out.  They just explained changes to the map they presented yesterday.

The Bethel-Chain Plan - Adopted in Concept

This is the map we got yesterday. [UPDATE:  The new map is available here.  You can enlarge it greatly, but the urban districts are still hard to see.  Districts 3 and 4 are City of Fairbanks.  The Anchorage districts should be the same as the previous Proclamation plan, but we'll have to wait to see for sure.] The most obvious change I know about is that Nunivak Island, the red island on the left, has moved from district 38 to district 37.  It should be green on that map now.  Those two are in a single senate district which is connected by water via the island. 

The other plan they had sent to the VRA expert is similar, but connects the Bethel House District with a House District in west Anchorage to create a Native Senate seat.

Both maps had problems with the Native Voting Age Population in District 37, but were otherwise found to probably be VRA compliant.  So they made changes to get the VAP higher in 37 - including moving Nunivak Island to 37.  The first plan, they said, had fewer deviations from the constitution than the Anchorage - Bethel plan.  

In the end the Board adopted the first one which they had some trouble naming and even after naming it they weren’t completely consistent.  Board Chair Torgerson called it the Bethel-Chain Amended Proclamation Plan.   They spent most of their time going over all the potential problems and explaining very carefully their rationale for what they did in language that hold up in court.  I couldn’t help thinking “just because you say the words, doesn’t mean it’s actually so.”  But they have said all the right words - I think - so they can go back to the transcripts and say, “here, we said that” over and over again. 

They then asked staff to go through the plan, make necessary minor changes, set up the Senate pairings, truncation, calculate which Senate seats would be 2 year and which 4 year, do the metes and bounds, and all the other details that are necessary to turn in with the plan.   Here's my explanation of truncation and Senate terms from last June 12:

1.   Substantially changed district requires new election.  Elected officials should represent the people who elected them.  But when the districts are substantially changed by redistricting, they have new constituents who didn't vote in their new districts.  And thus this new population is represented by

someone they had no say about.  So, it is believed  that a substantially changed new district should vote for its senator as soon as possible - which would be November 2012. 

So, truncation is the process of cutting short the terms of sitting Senators in those new districts that have substantially new populations so that the people can vote for the representative at the soonest possible election. [This is not an issue for House districts since they are all two year terms.]

2.  Two or Four Year Terms?  Alaska Senators serve for four years in staggered terms.   From the Alaska Constitution:

The term of representatives shall be two years, and the term of senators, four years. One-half of the senators shall be elected every two years.  [emphasis added]
Thus, in addition to truncating, the board has to make sure that half the seats are up for election every two years. So, for 2012, half the Senators would normally be up for reelection and the other half would be in "mid-term" - that is, they have two more years left in their terms and wouldn't normally be up for reelection until 2014.  Unless their districts have been substantially changed. 
They were pretty much certain that truncation would be pretty much like the Proclamation Plan that was sent back by the Supreme Court, but the GIS expert, Eric Sandberg, had gone back to Juneau and is the only one who could calculate whether a district had 'substantially changed.' Last time they figured all the districts except Juneau had substantially changed so all the Senators except Sen. Egan have to run in 2012.  They've assumed the same is true for this plan.  The actual percent of new voters in a district needed to truncate is vague, but 90% the same is ok and under 70% the same isn't.  You can go back to that June 2011 post to see more on this.

Metes and Bounds is the written description of each district.  I have a post on that from last June 13, 2011 as well when they did that the first time if you want to know more on that.

I've made a table based on the handouts and the discussion to show for each senate district:
  • The house seats
  • Next election
  • Term length from 2012 election

Senate District House Districts Next Election Term Length from 2012
A 1 & 2 2012 4
B 3 & 4 2012 2
C 5 & 6 2012 4
D 7 & 8 2012 2
E 9 & 10 2012 4
F 11 & 12 2012 2
G 13 & 14 2012 4
H 15 & 16 2012 2
I 17 & 18 2012 4
J 19 & 20 2012 2
K 21 & 22 2012 4
L 23 & 24 2012 2
M 25 & 26 2012 4
N 27 & 28 2012 2
O 29 & 30 2012 4
P 31 & 32 2014 2
Q 33 & 34 2012 4
R 35 & 36 2012 2
S 37 & 38 2012 4
T 39 & 40 2012 2

Here are my ROUGH notes from today's almost final meeting of the Board.  Remember, a fair amount is missing and there may well be mistakes.  Beware.

Alaska Redistricting Board meeting Saturday March 31, 2012

10:14:  Got here just now, [it started at 10]  Bickford finishing talking about two plans.
[Checking during the break, the key change seems to be moving Nunivak Island from from HD 38 to HD 37.  There were some other minor changes and a village or two was switched.  This was all done to keep deviations.]

White:  VRA issues?  We both talked late with Lisa, she indicated some issues with House District 37.  Wanted the number higher than the 41.5%.  Changes Taylor just told you about were designed to fix those problems.  Lisa up late for us, and she says it now meets the numbers.  Like last time, she doesn’t think it’s a slam dunk, because trial court said we can’t divide the Chain.  Lower chain is mostly non-native.  When we drop down to that 41% we’re having trouble.  When we got pre-clearance, it was the first time DOJ cleared under 50% this year.

You remember from the trial what we talked about Lisa and Dr. Arrington said ‘ability to elect’ is dichotomy, thumbs up or down.  Compared to benchmark, this is not retrogressive.  Lisa:  you have a good shot if you have Native support behind you.  Amicus briefs sent to the court said they do not want their incumbents paired.  Wanted to comply with VRA and did least harm to Constitution.
Taylor Bickford: I think you said under the proclamation - you said 71%, not so, was actually 46%.  That district more closely resembles then.  Lisa:  Why are you dropping from 46 to 41 - we said because the Court said we can’t split the chain. 

White:  Now that we put the chain back together and Lisa wanted to look at effectiveness.  Concerns about dropping number, but by moving it back up she feels better.  Again, Native support will be important. 

Taylor Bickford:  We’re looking at this plan.  Also analyzed Anchorage plan.  Differences in how 37 arranged.  That plan after looking at numbers, you had a harder fight to make for VRA. 
Torgerson:  Her analysis wasn’t the Bethel Anchorage pairing, but …
Taylor Bickford: Any time you do a pairing like that with rural losing population. . .[I think this was looking at if the district would continue to be effective as population shifts.]
Also concerned about how chain configured.
White:  In the current plan, ????? native loses ???? can’t say. We don’t know what the standard is 2002 plan or proclamation plan?  [yesterday Board said the benchmark is the last VRA approved plan 'in effect." So they aren't sure if the Proclamation plan was ever in effect."]    When we present to DOJ we’ll show why it is not retrogressive to either plan.  that’s all I have.
Torgerson:  Questions?
White:  thank you Mr. Chairman.  You have the Bethel?  I can do comparison on just one.  We did our Hickel - this is the most constitutional plan in the history of the state
Torgerson:  The universe.
White:  But Lisa said not VRA compliant.  We had to make the map comply with the least necessary reasonable harm to the Constitution.  Two fixes.
1.  fifth effective house seat - 6
Taylor Bickford:  37 under the plan
White:  Call that district there, the interior comes around.  To do that, court found did least harm to fix both in Bethel plan and here, HD 39, will have some compactness and SE Integration issues.  Best fix is the configuration of 38 and 39.  Bottom line is least harm you can get away with to the constitution.
Third party plans had districts that affected the constitution 3 or 4 times.  Can argue that it is compact, similar to Valdez.  need to ????
2.  How to get the 3rd effective senate seat.  Because court mandated putting chain back together.  Required difficult machinations.  This plan does that without any real harm, only I see - senate pairing 37 and 38.  Trial court didn’t like this amount of open water, but far less than here.
Taylor Bickford:  said for house district
Torgerson:  You are saying "here," but using pointer, people here can see that
White:  In 37 we split Aleutian chain and paired it across the island to Bethel.  Trial court said no, SC didn’t say, but threw out their numbers.  Only rationale still applicable, not paring Native incumbents.  Key issue here, Trial court dealing with house seat.  Constitution Contiguous, compact, and SocioEconomic Integration.  Only requirement for Senate seat is as contiguous as possible.  I take that to allow this pairing across Nunivak Island. 
Torgerson:  In past plans, court has accepted connection over water.  The old Kodiak - Ketchikan was 1000 miles across water.  OK, because court has approved larger water crossings.
White:  In order to avoid splitting the chain, this is less harm, if it is even a violation at all.  We have lots of islands, this is nearly as practical. 
Taylor Bickford:  Nunivak Island has to go in one of the districts.  I wanted to make sure you are talking about minimal harm.  I’m not sure there is any harm to the Alaska constitution.
White:  I agree ……...necessitated by the need to create 3rd Senate seat.
Green:  Did you try to go this way too?  Along the coast? 
Taylor Bickford:  Yes, I tried to do that, but you cannot connect Bethel portion of 37 to 38 by land without adding too much population.  We started with Proclamation plan with that connected, but reuniting the chain made it hard.  Can make it contiguous by land, but then you have to split the chain.
White:  I don’t see any problem with the constitution in any of the others.  Geographic reality.  Because Hickel Plan does not comply with VRA, to make that plan comply have to take 39 in a way that doesn’t strictly comply with compactness and maybe SEI .  38 population issues that have nothing to do with VRA, Fairbanks still contains a good portion of 38, you can do it either of two ways and push it over to the heavily populated native areas on the coast.
Torgerson:  You are making it sound you could create another map.
White:  By unpacking the nearest area to grab - the Wade Hampton area is ?????
Torgerson:  How did the trial court rule on 38.
White:  urban and rural need to be combined, reasonable to do that, but reasonable harm, speculative pairing argument, I think that’s wrong because the pairing had nothing to do with 38 because same in PAM_E plan and Proclamation.  Districts you have to depart from C are 37 and 38.
Taylor Bickford:  I might be a little stubborn.  You’re talking about 39.  I’m not sure that isn’t compact.  Only so much you can do in rural Alaska.
Torgerson:  I don’t want you two to debate.
White: I would agree with you that an argument can be made based on AK geography.
Torgerson:  What about Kenai B?  How many times did we split it?
Taylor Bickford:  Twice.  This portion here is Tyonek - Beluga and needed to put it in some Native District.  In this case picked up by 36.  Second split by Kodiak.  Two villages from tip of Peninsula here, put into 36.
Torgerson:  Just curious, trying to put Tyonek back into Kenai.
White:  Kodiak doesn’t have enough population, have to get it from somewhere.  To get enough Native population need to get it to push up the VAP.
Taylor Bickford: Very good point, deviation too high and need population.  This was in proclamation plan.
Torgerson:  You were using your pointer, want people online to know what ‘over there meant’  picking up community in ????
White:  Although issue addressed in trial court (reasonable and justifiable to split Fairbanks two ways) not address by SC. 
????????  Nothing wrong with previous plan - except 6 and 2 and 1.

Torgerson:  Anchorage to Bethel
White:  Except for VRA, major difference is that in Bethel to Anchorage plan, two Senate districts that would cross over water.  36 across Cook Inlet and takes a HD in Anchorage.  In this plan only once in Anchorage-Bethel plan do it twice.  Fact you only have to do it once, makes the first unnamed plan, makes it do less harm to Constitution than Anchorage-Bethel. 
Which one does less harm is the one Taylor presented this morning.
Torgerson:  Questions?
10:44  Refer to Bethel as the Chain plan. 
White:  No pairings of Native incumbents, to be on the record, except Kookesh in Southeast. 
Torgerson:  I’m ready for a motion to adopt the plan.  Procedural question for you, we call this the amended proclamation plan or make, we have to be able to identify this plan.
White:  I anticipate adopt in concept for staff to clean up , call it Bethel-Chain Amended Proclamation Plan.
Brodie:  I move to adopt the plan as presented, known as the Bethe-Chain Amended Proclamation plan in concept.
Torgerson:  seconded by b member green..  Add allow staff to make necessary changes, in concept and we’ll have metes and bounds.
Vote: 5-0  Adopted the Bethel-Chain Alaska map.  In concept.  At this time we could do motion to authorize staff to make minor changes - then 1/10th of 1% maybe have to go a little higher now.  When they do metes and bounds if they find things improper, they have the authority to fix those.
Moved by PeggyAnn McConnochie and second
Taylor Bickford:  Are we sending a baseline?  We may need more than 1/10 of 1%
Torgerson:  I did bring that up.  No, I think you can note any changes you make.  I suggested to board we have tighter range of all the maps before us.  In this case we have less of the map you are working on.  If you find anomalies, let us know and we can adopt them
Roll call vote:  5-0 yes
Adopted allowing staff to clean it up.  D
Need to do Senate pairings, I’m assuming all the same,
[I took a 4 minute break]

Taylor Bickford:  We know the senate pairings for Sen districts would be the same.  if we combine City of Fairbanks, Paskvan would still have to run in 2012.
Torgerson:  All the geniuses here and Eric is the only one who can do this?
Taylor Bickford:  I believe he gets off at two.
Torgerson:  I’d like to adopt those today.  Then we’d have a complete plan.  People out there are waiting to see what we’ve done.  Let’s take about a 30 minute recess, Try to get hold of Eric.  I don’t mind doing this over teleconference.  I didn’t know Eric was leaving until yesterday afternoon.  Jim were going to go off line.  Break until 11:30.

PeggyAnn McConnochie:  Move to Adopt Senate Pairings iinto Bethel-Chain plan
these are the same as in the Proclamation Plan?
[I've put these in the table above]

Taylor Bickford:  Yes. 
White:  For the record, the issue of whether or not Fairbanks is entitled to a seat of its own, but the Board has decided a plan that puts the city of Fairbanks back together leaving that legal issue unresolved.
Holm:  I don’t.  Can you have Taylor describe for me 1,2, 3, 4.?  Describe the boundaries for my edification.
1 is essentially what used to be 4?
Taylor Bickford: NO, 1 is what used to be 2.
2 is what used to be 4.
Holm:  You numbered from east side of the city.  Doesn’t have any of the roads, but the populations are right so that’s good.

Roll call 5-0 

PeggyAnn McConnochie:  Move on truncations
A -4
[This is actually setting the term lengths, not truncation.  I have this in the chart above.]

Is there a second?  I would also say this is the same as the Proclamation plan.  We don’t have the data for sure on changes in districts.  Our GIS expert is not here, but if there are any changes

White:  What we have here is assigned the districts and years, but we haven’t actually done the truncations.  First you have to truncate and then you assign the years.  That was assigned randomly based on Senate Seat P which is not truncated [Egan in Juneau has substantially the same district.]
Brodie:  I’d like to table Ms. McConnochie’s motion.
Torgerson:  I think we can fix this in 30 seconds.  I don’t want to have 60 calls asking me  this.
Taylor Bickford:  This assumes all are truncated.
11:39   Off the record.

There’s some disagreemnt among the board members.  Bickford pointed out that they haven’t done the analysis of the populations of the districts to determine.

PeggyAnn McConnochie:  read the truncated districts:
Is that not what you wanted?
White:  I understand this to be the truncated districts, old ones last time in proclamation plan.
Taylor Bickford:  I understand but I don’t understand why reading the districts from the old plan
Torgerson:  Let me bring this back.
Moved to adopt the truncation.
5-0   Board has adopted truncation.
Next motion SEnate terms
PeggyAnn McConnochie:  I’ll go thru them one more time.  Reads all the districts, alternately 2 and 4 years starting with A.
Roll Call:  5-0  for.
Torgerson:  Board has adopted.
PeggyAnn McConnochie:  Motion to direct legal and staff to findings thaxxxxxxt are on the record?  
White:  I think that’s fine, summarize the informal written findings?
Roll call:  5- 0  has authorized the staff to make written findings for presentation to the board in the future.
PeggyAnn McConnochie:  Authorize legal to make any preparation for legal filings necessary????
Torgerson:  Authorize legal  to start proceedings to file in court. 
Roll Call:  5-0 yes. 
PeggyAnn McConnochie:  I’d like to authorize legal to start preparing documents for pre-clearance with DOJ.
Roll Call 5-0 yes

Torgerson:  The Board will get back together for teleconference of board to approve the formal proclamation and everything we approved in concept today.  At this point don’t see need for face-to-face we can.  Any guestimates for day?
White:  If you called meeting for Wednesday afternoon, but staff has to be ready.
Torgerson:  It will be Wednesday or thursday.  We have to notice the meeting.  Notived for all next week, but not for teleconference.  We’ll look at that, Wed or Thursday unless some issue comes up and we have to come together.
Then this board is adjourned.  No time for speeches.
Holm:  I’d just like to thank each of you for all the hard work you’ve done.
PeggyAnn McConnochie:  I’d like to thank everyone including Taylor and Mike and the court Reporter.
Green:  The same.
Torgerson:  Do we need the court reporter to transcribe the teleconference.
Anything else?  It’s 11:53 we are adjourned.

Board Sends Two Plans To VRA Expert, Then Reflects

They had a break to clean up what is called the 3/30 - 1 plan.  They sent it and their Bethel-Anchorage plan to Voting Rights Act (VRA) expert Lisa Handley to review for compliance to the Act.  I wrote about those maps in my post on Friday morning.  There are maps there.

It seemed that the first part of the afternoon, they reflected on what they've been doing and what's coming next.  Looking back at yesterday they talked about an issue that I noticed Thursday - they weren't evaluating their own plans with the same rigor they did the third party plans.  From my notes of the meeting:
Torgerson:  Need to treat our plans with the same criteria we looked at the others.
Brodie:  To a certain degree that’s right.  If plans meet VRA and complies easier.
Torgerson:  Making a finding  geez.
White:  You’re saying, just because we discussed what they are, we should be voting based on knowledge, what consultants think.
Brodie:  I guess it becomes qualitative, if you say it violates constitution because of X here or Y there, it’s subjective.  I’d hate someone to say you ignore that one and chose this one.

White:  I’m not talking about findings themselves.  We should look at these plans the way we looked at third party plans.
Brodie:  We should have done that before we sent it away.
Taylor Bickford:  If we pick a plan … third party says you picked a plan that didn’t have the least violations.  Maybe the other plans are less.  I think they’ll do that analysis anyway.
White: I think I hear your point.  One plan you have to deviate here and here.  Fairbanks will be the same, there might be deviations in different areas, but it becomes down to the board’s judgment.  Just a matter for the board to choose.
Brodie:  pretty abstract concept.
White:  Glad they gave us the word reasonable. 
They went on to talk about the technical details they need to take care of - how to follow the Hickel process correctly, how to officially make findings each step of the way, getting to senate pairings, truncation, metes and bounds, and officially signing off.

They look like they are getting close to finishing and that they've settled on a plan that is basically the Proclamation Plan with changes in the Native districts and Fairbanks.

When they got back the word from Lisa Handley - the plans looked ok for Senate seats, but she didn't like house district 37 - the Aleutian Chain which they had put back together.  The Native Voting Age Population (VAP) was 41% and the statewide minimum they'd been aiming at was 42%.  Last time she'd said the Aleutians could be a lower VAP because the non-natives voted very much like the Natives.  But since they made some changes in the district, that might not hold in the new configuration and it was best to get it to 42% to be sure.

I asked afterward what Handley's call on the Bethel-Anchorage plan was.  Bickford said it was the same.  OK, except for house district 37.

Instead of approving 3/30 - 1 as their plan tonight, after staff made the changes that Handley called for, they decided to adjourn until tomorrow.

Here are my rough notes for Friday afternoon.  I had time to spell check and clean them up a little bit, but USUAL WARNING:  things are missing here.  Use these notes to see what they talked about, or to figure out what to follow up on, but keep in mind my fingers aren't as fast as their tongues. 



Torgerson:  What does it mean the Board has to make a finding.
White:  Did Hickel plan comply to constitution. send to vra expert who said it didn’t comply.  That may be sufficient to make a finding.  I recommend the board specifically state on the record that we make a finding.  Based on the VRA report, the Board finds this based on our review with counsel.  On this point sufficient evidence:
1.  Have Hickel Constitution
2.  Hickel plan complies with constitution
3.  Hickel Plan, based on advice of VRA expert, does not comply with VRA and therefore we must create a plan that deviates from the constitution to the least degree necessary to comply to the VRA.  We can’t make findings on that until we get back report from Lisa Handley.  Then based on her report we have to decide how to finish.
Taylor Bickford:  You talked about ???  that
White:  Footnote 15.  In order to . ..

[Here’s footnote 15 from the Supreme Court Decision:
“1.    In order to expedite further judicial review we recommend that the Board make findings, in furtherance of the Hickel process, that the initially designed plan complies with the requirements ofthe Alaska Constitution, that it either does or does not comply with the Voting Rights Act and, if the latter, that the new Proclamation Plan ultimately adopted by the Board deviates from the requirements of the Alaska Constitution to the least degree reasonably necessary to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.]

original design plan complies with Constitution
either does or doesn’t comply with VRA - if you make a finding helps me defend it in court
if not,
new plan deviate from the constitution to the least degree to reasonably comply with VRA. 

In order to do that you have to have a plan you actually adopt.  We’ve gone through the other plans and found they either didn’t comply to Hickel Act, or had more constitutional deviations than ours. . .

Torgerson:  When will we have transcripts.
White:  Monday - transcriber nods

Torgerson:  You can write down I’m thinking on record. 

Brodie:  Report we get from Lisa, are we, submitted two plans, ask her one questions - do the submitted plans comply or not? 
Torgerson:  Plan A or Plan B.
Brodie:  Shouldn’t ask her to grade the plans, don’t want to have to have  a sledge hammer.
Torgerson:  I wasn’t anticipating her picking which one was best.  She can give us her opinion on which best for DOJ pre-clearance - that’s what we’re hiring her for -
Taylor Bickford;  I think Lisa will give us thumbs up or thumbs down.
Brodie:  I wouldn’t want to have two choices and pick the lesser.
Torgerson:  we have five or six all within VAP??????
Taylor Bickford:  If she says one or two plans comply.  then look at third party plans, to see which of their deviations comply.  ???????
[I think they are just brainstorming as they wait to hear back from Lisa Handley]

Torgerson:  Other thoughts.
Green:  ???? having it on record……
Torgerson:  Need to treat our plans with the same criteria we looked at the others.
Brodie:  To a certain degree that’s right.  If plans meet VRA and complies easier.
Torgerson:  Making a finding  geez.
White:  You’re saying, just because we discussed what they are, we should be voting based on knowledge, what consultants think.
Brodie:  I guess it becomes qualitative, if you say it violates constitution because of X here or Y there, it’s subjective.  I’d hate someone to say you ignore that one and chose this one.

White:  I’m not talking about findings themselves.  We should look at these plans the way we looked at third party plans.
Brodie:  We should have done that before we sent it away.
Taylor Bickford:  If we pick a plan … third party says you picked a plan that didn’t have the least violations.  Maybe the other plans are less.  I think they’ll do that analysis anyway.
White: I think I hear your point.  One plan you have to deviate here and here.  Fairbanks will be the same, there might be deviations in different areas, but it becomes down to the board’s judgment.  Just a matter for the board to choose.
Brodie:  pretty abstract concept.
White:  Glad they gave us the word reasonable. 
Torgerson:  How many times have we put on record that this is the most constitutional plan ever in the universe.  Is that a finding?
[their saying it doesn’t make it true]
White:  Here’s what I anticipate;  Get Lisa’s info. If it doesn’t comply ok, remove it.  If both are, give me 15 minutes.  Here’s my opinion on both.  Then board discusses, then on the record, we like plan X because, it minimally violates the AK constitution.  Then we have everything on the record to adopt a  plan.  Then senate pairings then Analyses for truncation, then adopt in concept, give staff a few days to do clean up work, then do proclamation by phone or however.  Can be done when it’s done.  Doesn’t delay it going to court.
Torgerson:  Do we need to review your submittal to the court?  Did we come back together I don’t remember?
White:  No, we did proclamation then people challenged it.
Torgerson:  I’m trying to see if we need to get back together, besides for signing?
White:  I don’t believe so.  Just give me the authorization to file the amended plan with the courts.
Torgerson:  We automatically make findings on why we adopt one over the other.  Before we adjourn, we adopt, senate pairings, truncation.
White:  Senate pairing
Torgerson:  Because of Fairbanks
White:  And the chain.
Truncation issue.
Torgerson.:  Truncation comes with adoption.
White:  I recommend, this is our final plan, staff do fix up stuff. 
Torgerson:  Board, if we do this, is it reasonable that we ask legal and staff make findings and we would adopt them or we could do them as a board.  Staff to present findings first, it could be next week sometime, not have to be in this marathon session we’re in, but put off to next week.
Green:  comfortable with that
Brodie:  OK, yes, we still review.  Planning and Zoning staff does it and we review
Holm:  In writing easier to review.
White:  When you leave today, everything is done, Then just need to write it up.
Torgerson:  I don’t think we’ll get done today, but understand.  wrap up tomorrow.  Then authorize Eric to make Metes and Bounds changes, keep the deviation under 10%.  I’m ok with that.  Truncation tried to take up tomorrow.  Adopt findings and Final proclamation  at same time.
We should recess. Mr. White call Handley and see where she is at.  Look at Constitutional deviations to see where they are.  You need 15 legal minutes or 15 Michael White minutes? 
2:30pm  We’ll go off teleconference and off record until 3pm. 

3:30 - it was pushed back to 3:30 so it’s coming back into session now. 

We sent the maps to Lisa, VAP wasn’t high enough in hd 37.  The higher the better, more likely to get pre-clearance. This time going in with expedited review.  Want to go in with best chance.  Taylor needs a couple of hours to work on getting the VAP up a little bit.  I’m considering that will get late.  I don’t want to rush too much.  Legal still needs to take a look at the two maps and make their comparison for the Hickel process and that will take some time.
Holm:  Tomorrow I’m teaching a class at 2pm - so you know. 
Torgerson:  I’m working on the path at ten.  You’re not kidding me, the Final four starts at two, I see right through that.  Nice try.
Holm:  That’s true, but I’m doing a class. 
Torgerson:  If we have four board members, I’d like five, but we’ll pass up the planter painting class and finish off the plans. 
Holm:  If we can make the decision in the morning and take a later lunch.  The class won’t be more than 30 or 45 minutes. 
Torgerson:  Good compromise.  Anything else we really, really need to talk about?
Taylor Bickford:  Want to touch on what John said, she said we’re close. The Senate districts work, the other house districts work.  Just 37.  We’re at 41 now and need 42%.  You’ve taken in new sections, it’s wishy washy, so it’s better to just get into ok numbers.
White:  She’s talking about the PAM_E plan, not the Anchorage. 
Torgerson:  Not Pam_E [3/30 - 1]
White: Whatever we’re calling it.
Adjourned.  3:36pm

Friday, March 30, 2012

Police Bust City Hall Sidewalk Protesters - $1000 Fine

Thursday Morning Anchorage City Hall
Brett (see, if I were a real journalist, I would have made sure I'd gotten his name spelled out - it might be Brent, I'm not sure) told me it was $75 for illegal camping and $1000 for 'use of a public space without a permit.'  He looked for the citations but couldn't find them.

Yesterday (Thursday) there were sleeping bags for about ten and I was told about six had spent the night.  The 72 hour notice expired Sunday night and I spoke to protester John Martin Monday morning. 

On Tuesday the mayor brought John Martin coffee.  I was wondering when the police were going to come and take things.  Some speculated he was going to wait until after next Tuesday's election.

The police came Thursday night.  You can listen to John and Brett report what happened in the video, which I got this morning on the walk from the bus terminal to the redistricting board meeting.

And to Anon, who asked, in a comment on the post about the mayor bringing John coffee, why I couldn't have waited to post that (which made the mayor look human) until after the election.  Maybe this post answers your question.

Redistricting Board Looks at Bethel-Anchorage Senate Pairing But Seems Headed For Another Plan

I got to the meeting about ten minutes late - there was another story in front of City Hall as I was walking over that I'll get up as soon as I can.  When I got in they were talking about issues raised by pairing Senator Hoffman with another incumbent.  Actually, any Native Senator with any other incumbent.  Board member Green said she'd just gotten an email from the Alaska Village Council Presidents protesting such pairings.  So the Board was trying to find other ways to get both constitutional and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

Board Executive Director Taylor Bickford had already been working on alterantives.  They thought the Bethel - Matsu pairing would solve the problem, but that would have paired Bethel (and Hoffman) with a sitting Matsu Senator.  (Leonard Lawson, who drew the Rights Coalition map with a Bethel and Matsu senate district, leaned over and said theirs paired Bethel with an open senate seat district.)

In any case, Bickford was not looking back at pairing Bethel and Anchorage in a Senate seat and he found a House district in an open Senate seat.  When I say to board members of staff how ridiculous it seems to me to be pairing a midtown Anchorage house with a Bethel house district, they say, "That's how Fairbanks feels."  But they now have urban City of Fairbanks in one Senate seat and such an urban area of Anchorage paired with a district that's completely off the road system seems absurd.  And I think the Board knows that, but are doing it to show they tried to take population from Anchorage.  Here are the maps.
Top: Whole Bethel-Anc map; Middle: HD 36 paired with Bottom: HD 35 Midtown Anchorage
The pinkish semi-circle in the middle image above is the link from HD 36 over Cook Inlet into Anchorage.  Bickford said he wanted to pair it with 19, but it has an incumbent Senator.  HD 35 the circled orange district is the one that would be part of a senate seat with Bethel.  Actually it's a whole swath of Alaska from across the inlet to the Bering Sea.

Then the moved on to a more likely map, but one that still looks pretty amazing.  This one goes back to the original Proclamation Plan rural districts, but rejoins the Aleutians, and then has to make a whole series of adjustments to other rural districts to get the deviations (in population from district to district) under 10% statewide.  To do this they also had to make what Bickford said were minor changes to the Fairbanks districts they presented yesterday.  But look at the yellow District 39 that goes from Gamble and Savoonga in the West across Alaska to the Canadian border and then down to McCarthy and the Copper River area.  I know the old HD 6 was nearly as big.

Map 3/30 -1  - After tweaking they'll send this one to check about VRA compliance

The Board broke around noon and will reconvene at 2pm.  Bickford and GIS guy Eric Sanford will work on getting the deviations down and getting a map that is good enough to send to Lisa Handley, the VRA expert, to see if she can endorse this as in compliance with the VRA.    I know this maps looks similar to the Bethel-Anchorage, but it doesn't go into Anchorage and it's labeled 3/30 - 1. 

It seems to me that the Board has spent so much time focused on having their baseline Hickel Process constitutional map as a starter, they have forgotten that the changes have to be the minimal changes (from the constitutional requirements) possible to get VRA compliance.  But I'm wondering about the PAM-E plan that the courts used last time as an example of a plan that was both constitutional and VRA compliant.  Won't they again point to it and say it meets both sets of requirements while the new map the Board is working up  has to violate the constitution - not to meet VRA requirements - but to avoid pairing a Native incumbent with another incumbent.  And I'm thinking of Lisa Handley's testimony the other day [sorry, I have a lot of it on audio and I'm trying to get it up soon] where she said that pairing a Native incumbent wouldn't prevent Department of Justice approval (that it complies with VRA.)  Maybe I misunderstood something, but I thought they had to have the least possible variance from the constitutional requirements as possible.  I'll see if I can ask someone.  Or maybe HD 39's lack of compactness and lack of socio-economic integration will be seen as minimal and the other districts are ok.  Certainly, as Bickford said today, rural Alaska isn't easy to make small districts with. 

It's almost 2 so I need to get back.  Don't have time to do anything with my notes except spell check.  SO BEWARE - these are rough and approximate. 


10:09 I arrived late
Alaska Village Council Presidents - email opposing rural Senator pairings. 

Taylor Bickford:  the other day saw Bethel-Matsu pairing and were excited with that possibility.  But it contains an incumbent Senator.  Our goal has been not to pair the Bethel Senator with another Senator.  But checked numbers, and couldn’t get the Senate to more than 42%, but with the outgrowth of rural areas and growth of Matsu, it would lead to future problems of [Native effectiveness].  Tried to remove the Senator, reached a low point, would have totally changed the nature of Matsu.

Started looking at another option - focused on Bethel - Anchorage.  Letting you know what I worked on and why I’m not showing a Bethel-Matsu option. 

Bethel-Anchorage - started with Hickel plan - had Native horseshoe which Lisa said was too low VAP.  Had to take that district as drawn and figure out how to unpack the other districts to raise the VAP. 
Step 1.  39 is necessary to unpack the interior district.
Step 2.  run it into Nome to unpack the Native
3.  Have to get urban population.  38 has to do this.  39 and 38 are unavoidable result of getting a fifth Native district.
The need to build two more house districts that can be paired for VRA and avoid pairing the sitting Senator Hoffman.  And get 3rd effective Senate district.

I built Bethel and Aleutian districts so Aleutians back together.  Similar to ours and similar to some of third parties.  Can’t combine Kodiak and Aleutians.  If pair Bethel and Kodiak, back to incumbent pairing.  So, where do you take the Bethel House District?  And so here’s what we have, connecting Bethel with an Anchorage district.  Found the closest district - 19.  But that has a sitting Senator. 
then 16, sort of a midtown, west district, touches water, has Native percentage similar to Kodiak, 18%. 
White:  Midtown?  That’s where I live.
Taylor Bickford:  Yes we targeted Michael White.  We’re jumping the water to go into Anchorage.  If you were to do that, the Senate district VAP would be 42%.  Unlike Matsu didn’t have to carve out incumbents and shifting the rest of the map 
Three effective Senate districts at

This plan accomplishes our goals of figuring out what to do with Bethel and Aleutian region. 
Other problems?  Pretty big jump to Anchorage.  If I’m looking for an issue, that’s it.  Didn’t have to do anything with 36 or 37.  Real issue is the jump to Anchorage. 

Torgerson:  Does Fire Island in the district make it look a little better? 

White:  Would have to reconfigure Anchorage Senate Seats. 
Torgerson:  Mike, is that going to raise problems.
White:  Some water jump allowed.  House districts Contiguous, compact, SE I.  Senate seats only Contiguous.  Across the water isn’t that far.  Not like 1000 miles or 100 miles. 

Torgerson:  Could be an issue?
White:  Going across Cook Inlet, not like going across seas???
Torgerson:  Compactness issue?
White:  Done for population reasons?  Relative compactness.  Coming down like that, a little concern. 
Taylor Bickford:  I can say from practical, not legal, perspective, when you get to rural Alaska you have to throw compactness out the window.  Not realistic to expect perfect compactness. hd 6 in Benchmark certainly not compact.  Given what we have in front of us to avoid an incumbent pairing, we have Bethel and Matsu. . .
One district goes under -5%   - 9.1% variation.

Torgerson:  Other questions?  Let’s look at other ones you worked on.  We can hop back and forth. 

Taylor Bickford:  This plan - 3/30-1 
People can’t find maps,  Recess 5 minutes (10:33)

Taylor Bickford:  Talking a lot about incumbent pairings.  Only talking about this as a Voting Rights Act issue.  You know about briefs from Native organizations, and Marie’s email, and the effort is to not have a native incumbent pairing if possible.

Drawing of 39 and 38 is result of Lisa saying Hickel plan saying these not effective house district (6) and so that’s what we are doing.  That leaves you with everything underneath. 

Start with pan similar to Proclamation plan, and not have a Native incumbent paired. 
Bethel is, starts with Bethel and works its way down.  The other day all frustrated and thinking no way to work it out.  I think we can.

Started by reuniting the chain.  We considered Aleutians east and west.  Originally cut off and paired with Bethel over span of water.  Reunited Chain and ran them as far up the Peninsula as far as I could.  This goes from Bethel into unified Chain.  Contiguity similar to what proposed by 3rd party groups.  I don’t see this as a stretch Lincoln-Penn to Dillingham.
Torgerson:  It doesn’t really go to Dillingham.
Taylor Bickford:  Into Dillingham census area but not into city of Dillingham.  D is actually located here in HD 36.  Native preferred incumbent in Dillingham and one in Bethel, so we want to not pair them. 
Torgerson:  Most of the connection is uninhabited.
Taylor Bickford:  Major change.  36 absorbed ??? had to pick up a couple of villages from 38 to 36 (Holy Cross ……)  Similar to Proclamation.  Corrected Chain splitting.  Unpacking the old 6 district.
Senate pairings.  40 and 39 = 65%
37-38  43.9%
Kodiak and Bethel Region without Bethel 47.6%
House - 5 effective.  Only one slightly below 46.2% but a lot of benchmark 37 so ok.
Problem in last plan from Tyonek into Anchorage.
Here, picks up Nunivak Island, goes across the water.
Lake and Penn B is divided. 
White:  Not enough population to support a district.  >50%.  Borough has less than 2000. 
Torgerson:  Majority live in Chignik.
Sandberg:  Most in Iliamna area. 
White:  This plan does not incorporate the Fairbanks ???.  For deviations.  Tweaking.  Bethel Anchorage does include Fairbanks. 
Need some clean up.
Taylor Bickford:  If the board were to ask us to look more, could take Rural Districts out and put them into the Hickel plan.  Could take them out of Proclamation and put them into Hickel plan.  ?????
Torgerson:  What are you referring to Fairbanks?
White:  The map you did yesterday.
Torgerson:  OK.
Taylor Bickford:  I would have taken Rural districts and put them in Hickel Template with Fairbanks, but didn’t have enough time to do that. 
Torgerson:  My sense to send these to Lisa to let her look at them at break.  Hickel Plan, most constitutional plan ever made…..???
Torgerson:  How long would it take to do that?  More concerned if not going to change much, get her ok on the concept.
Taylor Bickford:  If we recessed to 11:30, I could come back with the Fairbanks fix.  Lisa won’t be back to her desk til 12:30 our time.
Torgerson:  You have a lock on your door?  You can get it done in half an hour.
PeggyAnn McConnochie:  I’d like to thank you Taylor for coming up with something we hadn’t thought of. 
10:56  Torgerson:  Let’s recess.  Try to get our deviations down.  Stand in Recess until 11:30. 

11:32 - Reconvened
Torgerson:  We took a break for Taylor to incorporate the Proc Plan started plan into Hickel Template.
Taylor Bickford:  To clarify, I did start with rural from Proclamation, but did start with Hickel.  Because the Fairbanks deviations were a little higher, we had to do a little adjusting to get the whole thing under 10%. 
Torgerson:  Can we identify your changes by map.  3/30 - 1 so we’re clear? 
Taylor Bickford;  Went into Fairbanks and made minor tweaks, didn’t affect anything we talked about yesterday.  Tweaked the ?? district, got the overall deviation down.  Had to bring our highest district down to be under 10%. 
Torgerson:  Can we back up.  I’m sure Jim in Fairbanks would like to know.
Taylor Bickford:  Shifted pop from 2 into 3 and a little from 3 into 1.  Just, cant tell yo exact blocks, switch of less than 100 people.  This block is enormous - 242 people, just the nature of the shape of the blocks.  Asked Eric to see if he could bring - neg 5.99 in district 36 - could he get that lower.  Started with Anvik and Grayling.  Added them both and that brought 36 under 5%, but a tenuous connection between 38 and Wade-Hampton.  Said add Grayling back and kept Anvik, deviation down to 5.51.  We’ll clean the zero blocks to make it cleaner - no population.  Reducing most overpopulated district and underpopulated district brought over all to 9.1%.
Torgerson:  Remind me?
Taylor Bickford:  I think about 8.7 for Senate and 8.? for House.
Torgerson:  Concerned about Grayling connection? 
Taylor Bickford:  No not now.
Torgerson:  You could make the corridor look better because this area is empty. 
Sandberg:  Anvik would have been an island. 
Taylor Bickford:  We’ll clean it up.  Same as we’ve been discussing, got Statewide deviation better by slight fixes in Fairbanks.
Torgerson:  Dividing Kenai twice now?
Taylor Bickford:  .3 excess - Kodiak takes part and remember two villages in 36 and that was in proclamation plan and that was never an issue - Nanwalek and Port Graham.
Nothing can be taken out of 37.  Existed in Proc plan.  Population deviation…
Torgerson:  As goal for analayis from Dr. Handley, enough for her to review?
Taylor Bickford:  Eric and I can get this together.  She won’t be back until 12:30 and we can get it done by then. 
Sandberg:  She needs the recompiled election results for these districts. 
Taylor Bickford:  We may find small technical details, but for her analysis this is all she needs.
Torgerson:  How will we handle her report.
Taylor Bickford:  Mike’s the one who has been communicating with her.  I assume she can.  Asking to check this plan, Anchorage-Bethel plan?????
Brodie:  Her computer spits it out, we’ll ask for that verbally with follow up in writing?
Torgerson:  I agree, curious if they had already asked her about that.  In my opinion, just want a yes-no, on the right path or totally off.  I’m very comfortable with a verbal and something in writing tomorrow.  She doesn’t do finals til we adopt it,  Then we get the final-final.  Any other questions or discussion?  She said two hours, that’d be 3:30.  I’m thinking about recess til 1:30.  I know we won’t have Lisa’s, but we have other work.
Taylor Bickford:  2 o’clock would be better. 

It Couldn't Be Easier - Just Click Here To Listen In at 10am

You're in your office or at home or in a coffee shop.

Just click here and get to the Legislative TV website with the link to the Redistricting Board online.  Just watch ten minutes to get a sense of what it's like.

Or check out the legislature while you are there.  The House Finance Committee is live now.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Board Finds Fault With Third Party Plans

I came back for the 2pm reconvening.  That was pushed back to 2:30 and they actually got started again at 2:37.  This section of the afternoon was spent
  1. reviewing the third party plans that were submitted and then 
  2. approving the modified (to fix HD 1 and 2) Proclamation plan as a backup in case they can't get a new plan ready soon enough for the 2012 election.

Board Attorney Michael White began first with the Rights Coalition plan which he dismissed out of hand because it didn't follow the Hickel process, that is, they didn't prepare first a plan that met the state constitutional requirements and then go from there to  modify it to meet the Voting Rights Act (VRA) requirements.  There were lots of ironies in this.  White has expressed his disagreement with the Court's requiring the Hickel Process and now he was using that as a standard to knock down the plan worked up by Rights Coalition tech expert Leonard Lawson who was an expert witness (after the Board's protest was denied) for the plaintiffs at the trial in Fairbanks which led, eventually, to the Supreme Court imposing the Hickel Process on the Board.   White acknowledged that the Rights Coalition argued that they didn't need to present an original constitutional plan because their plan was both constitutional and in compliance with the VRA.  But White went on to point out parts of the plan that he said were not constitutional and those breaches could only be justified, if at all, by following the Hickel Process and showing they had to violate the constitution to meet the VRA.

Then he went on to question whether they even complied with VRA.   Here's the Rights Plan below.  A couple of commenters in the previous post asked me to post it and I had just gotten hold of an electronic copy of it during lunch.

Rights Coalition Plan - click to enlarge

[You can get pdfs of all the submitted maps here.]

Next White (and executive director Taylor Bickford) used the checklist -
___Hickel Plan (Did they have a plan that was constitutional first and then a plan that also complied with VRA?)
___Meet the VRA?
to get rid of the two Calista plans and the AFFR plan.  The Calista plan was the only one that had followed the Hickel Process. 

Then they reviewed their own revised proclamation plan - the changes to Fairbanks.  Instead of looking for what was wrong as they did with the others, they only explained what was right.  And the Board looked at the Fairbanks map it created and the Board saw that it was good. 

Up until late yesterday the board's policy was:  If you want to send us something, we're a public agency, so you can.  We may or may not look at it.

Yesterday they agreed to look at the third party plans, but didn't give a checklist of what they were going to look for.  I think it had to be obvious to the third parties that their plans would have to meet the Constitutional and VRA requirements.  Not so obvious was the need to have a Hickel map, though any map that the Board eventually uses will have to meet both the VRA and constitutional requirements.  If they don't meet the constitutional requirements they will have to have a first draft of their plan that does so the court can see why they had to violate the constitution to get the VRA approval.

But both the AFFR and Rights Coalition believed their plans were constitutional.  Thus they didn't need to have a benchmark constitutional plan so the Court could judge the need for their deviations.  There were, in their minds, no deviations.  The Board found various constitutional deviations (and with the Calista plan too) which I can't really evaluate.  Compactness and socio-economic integration are so subjective.  But I'd wager that if a third party had submitted one of the Board's old plans from earlier in the process, a plan the Board then thought was Constitutional, today they would have rejected it as unconstitutional.  They just seemed to have a much less generous eye when looking at other people's maps than when looking at their own. 

I would also note that Calista, the only third party to submit Hickel Plan maps,  has worked closely with Randy Ruedrich, chair of the Republican Party, and who has spent a lot of time sharing his opinions with the Board members and staff during breaks.  I didn't ask Randy why AFFER (the key group he was working with to submit plans earlier in the process) didn't submit a plan this time round. 

Basically, after rejecting the idea of soliciting plans until yesterday, it seems the Board decided it would be a good idea to get them in and then put on the record what was wrong with each one of them before moving on to approve their own plan.  The way they dispensed with the maps suggested to me that they weren't looking to find a third party plan in compliance.  In fact the existence of other plans that met both the Constitutional AND VRA requirements is what derailed them the first time round.  They had what they thought was such a plan, but rejected it because it paired Native Senator Hoffman with Senate President Stevens.  They decided that it would be rejected by the Department of Justice.  But it was considered constitutional.  And its existence was a reason the trial court said that such a plan could be drawn.  Would it have been considered constitutional had it been submitted by a third party today?  I doubt it.  And, curiously,  yesterday when their VRA expert Lisa Handley spoke to them over the phone, she said that pairing a  Native incumbent in a plan with high VAP would be a stronger bet than not pairing, but having a lower VAP.  Basically she said the one they didn't send in because of the pairing, probably would have been ok. 

My head's starting to hurt trying to think through all this. 

They finished the first part of the afternoon about 4.  I was getting groggy and decided to go home and listen in via internet.  The 4:30 return was pushed off to 5:30.  When I tried to hook in online about 15 minutes late, it said the next meeting was 10am Friday.  They've also announced meetings for Sunday and next week.  It doesn't mean they'll use all those days, but they need to get public notice out in advance just in case.  They have put up a link to some "board maps", but I'm not sure what these are.

Here are my rough notes from today's meetings.  They are particularly rough, but it's better than nothing until the official transcripts become available.  So, read them knowing there are serious gaps and paraphrasings. 

ROUGH NOTES (see warning above ⬆)

Redistricting Board March 29, 2012

10:03  Open
Roll Call
Agenda approved
Third party plan offered option of stretching Bethel to Matsu, so Taylor will try this with the PAM_E.  This is Suggestion for AFFR?
Taylor Bickford:  AFFR and Rights Group.
Torgerson:  I’ve talked to Taylor to also look at including Anchorage.  We have a lot of Natives in Anchorage.  If we try to Matsu, we can try Anchorage too. 

Board Discussion of Draft Timeline
We had talk about the timeline.  Start with the court ordered timeline, that was vacated.  But a good start.

Compares the Court to the Chair’s

1.  Board start work - 3-26
2.  Board Drafts Constitutional Plan   2-27
3.  Plan reviewed by VRA expert - 3-28
4.  Board Adopts Amended plan - 3-30
5.  Board Adopts proclamation - 3-31
6.  Board Submit plan to Court - 4-04

Had Taylor call Republican and Democrat Party to find out how much time they needed = both said two weeks for notice to public of actual plan so people can ??

Mr. Ruedrich suggested we petition the court to adopt our plan so we know what we go back to and that we continue our work so we get it done.
Kay Brown’s response just got, basically very aware of board’s time crunch, not opposed to delaying candidate June 1 deadline or even delaying the election, but there should be a two week notice. 
Oddly enough we found agreement within the parties.

Instructed legal to give us a draft motion to the SC to draft the proclamation plan.  Very draft document, other things will probably be added to it, but don’t want to be in a crunch on when the time comes.

White:  Still not sure if it has to be pre-cleared before hand.  I do believe if it is submitted it would be pro-forma. 

Torgerson:  Possibly the board needs to adopt two plans.  We’re adopting the Proclamation Plan with the Fairbanks fixes.  On a parallel course we would have a different plan as we’re going along. 
White:  Let SC know we have the fixed Proclamation plan as a back up ??? [Not sure what they were saying.] 
Torgerson:  If we make the decision by the 15th, the timeline is right on the nose with the two week notice.
We’re two weeks ahead of the last redistricting board, but they didn’t have the Native pre-clearance issues we have. 
I’ve tried to get answers, but they are so elusive, especially DOJ pre-clearance.  One thing I picked up on is that people are assigned to us, 5 DOJ folks, they’re familiar with our earlier submission.  they don’t have to start from scratch. 
White:  The board needs to have Lisa look at any plan prior to submitting for VRA. 
Torgerson:  I figure if we give her a plan tomorrow, she’ll stay up all night long to get it back.  If she can’t do it Friday night and we can’t get our work done, I’ll roll this to Sunday.  We’re going to notice meetings all next week.  We don’t know what we’ll need.  We can keep going and not have an issue with open meetings. 
Back to agenda.  Board will take

STaff will review 3rd party plans submitted and compile a report when we get back.  Have them present their findings and if their are Constitutional and VRA issues.  Also instructed Taylor to look at coming concept of AFFR plan that takes Bethel into Matsu that solves a lot of problems.  I’ve instructed Taylor to look at the same pairings, but bringing that into Anchorage.  Matsu is 17.1 VAP and Anchorage is almost 18. 

Then we’ll look at Fairbanks 1 and 2.  We’ll take a look at that and then staff presentations and mine on the conceptual Bethel - Matsu.

Taylor Bickford:  Plans we received this week, a lot of stuff moving around.  Not necessarily organized.  By 2pm we’ll have them organized to pass out.  For people on line some questions about being able to follow along.  We’re getting a lot of things on the fly, we’re doing the best we can.  Trying to get stuff on the website.  Hope people online will

Hickel Plan from Calista
Rights Coalition
Last night two more Calista plans

I’m assuming at this point we don’t need to look at Calista’s Hickel Plan, or do we need to look at them all?
Torgerson:  I can call the Chief Justice.  Just look at them all.
Taylor Bickford:  Last night’s AFFR plan had an issue with it, I’ll check if they will get us a new one by 2pm.  The AFFR plan had an issue.  Talked to them last night to give them a heads up.  They said they are working on something and I’ll check after this meeting and.  They’re total deviation was too high - 11.8.

Brodie:  Nothing stops us from adopting the Proclamation Plan????
Marie:  I want to express my appreciation that we are going to review the different private plans. 
Torgerson:  We’ll stand at recess until 2pm.  time now 10:27. 

Afternoon is pushed back to 2:30pm

2:37pm  Reconvening - Packet of maps and deviation numbers are being passed out. 
Torgerson:  Assigned legal and staff to review 3rd party plans and see how far they could get and we’ll start with that.
then move to adopt Fairbanks 1 and 2
Then other plans.
After Fairbanks take another 30 minute break to let staff work on their Bethel-Matsu and Bethel-Anchorage attempts.

White:  Took Calista, AFFR, and Rights Coaltion and put them through the same analysis  and then VRA and Constitution.

Rights did not start from Hickel plan the Board adopted.  From our analysis that by itself disqualifies.  Their conviction is they don’t have to apply a Hickel plan because it meets the Constitution and so they don’t need a Hickel.  I think that’s wrong.
No Hickel - we couldn’t adopt this and take it to the SC.
VRA compliance - on it’s face appears to meet 5 effective, one  and one.  One is just one % above the minimum. 
41.8%  Statewide
in old six 50%
Chain - maybe to 35-37% range
Any time you move off exact configuration of those two 37 and 6 - then the numbers change. 
Taylor Bickford:  We did get the maps on the website if you are listening online. 
White:  3rd point, they did change SEast, pairing Kookesh and also pair Thomas with Northern Juneau (Munoz)
State compliance.  Under the 10% so that’s ok.
Start at top and work down.  HD 39 Only way to justify it is by citing VRA.  Departure.  Close to Proclamation Plan.  McCarthy to Nome. 
HD 38 BEthel District - how they solved urban population shortfall go across the water to Home and Kenai.  I think no question would not be relatively Socio-econ integrated.  mr. Lawson proffered some justification for the connection, as a whole, I can’t see getting that part of Kenai to Northern portion, I don’t see it.
Compactness issues possible. 
HD 37 Chain district - running it up - maybe some compactness issues, but not major issues. 
HD 36 - Wade Hampton - shape, dragonish, maybe some compact.  Designed that way to comply with VRA, but
HD 31 - Yakutat, Cordova, Kenai Cooper Landing to Anchorage to Rabbit Creek - not socio-economically integrated.  Yakutat to Kenai hard.
HD 18 - in anchorage.  Appendages - haven’t looked in detail,
HD 10 in Matsu - questionable compactness
HD 5 - Richardson Highway - serious compactness and SE Integration.  Nor Compact.
Proportionality - Kenai Borough split three ways. 
Court found complied with Constitution but not VRA.  3rd thing then minimal change to be in compliance.  Looking at Rights as a whole - there has to be at least one SE-Integreation problem and at least one compactness problem.  If you look at this plan and give them the benefit of the doubt that the deviations relate to the VRA, I think it’s easy to say this wouldn’t pass Supreme Court muster. 
Taylor Bickford:  No way to tell that their constitutional deviations were necessary to VRA since there is no Hickel Plan. 

Calista 1:  Breaks up Traditional NS district and takes it down to McCarthy. 
Started with Hickel plan we adopted and so it seems it complies with the Hickel process.
Solved problem by taking population out of Fairbanks. 
VRA - does appear to meet - 5 ability to elect (effective)  3 senate seats - one in R is 41.8%, but it’s in the Aleutians.
Constitution  -
40 NSlope - compactness, SE Integration, Mix of different Native groups
39 compact - assume both required by VRA
36 - similar to our proclamation plan - Keeps chain split with one difference - puts Akutan back into Aleutian borough. contiguity issues. 
Other than Sen Kookesh doesn’t pair any other Native incumbents. 
4 departures from the constitution - I think the least amount.
Taylor Bickford:  37 and 36 and splitting of Chain is their own issue and separating to protect incumbent is different issue. Same rationale we argued in Proclamation. 

3:09 Eterra does mapping for Calista

Calista 2 - looks a lot like the Proclamation Plan, starts with Hickel template.
Solve rural population shortfall by going tinto Fairbanks.  VRA exact same as first plan. 
…… missed a bit……
Problems due to VRA. 
Three areas not totally constitutional necessitated by VRA. 

Calista VRA mod 2
Marcia Davis - based on Hickel 1made VRA adjustments.  HD 5, lowest slightly under 41% is an Aleutian district.
Torgerson:  You lost me
Taylor Bickford;  36 includes Change and Bethel - 41.41% Native VAP, but no polarized voting in the chain, so this will work. 
37 and 38 ok
Aleutians with Kodiak is 38?%  OK.  Does not have a third effective Senate district and we think wouldn’t get preclearance.
40 - potential SE Integration and compactness issues - NS + Athabascan
39 - almost identical to others SE I and Compactness
38 - combine urban-rural so know SEI problem, but since urban-rural needs to be somewhere
37 - I didn’t see issues here, maybe some compactness

AFFR Plan -
within 10% after fixing some computer problems
Did not start with a Hickel Plan so under the process it would be disqualified
Population shortfall - used Fairbanks and Kenai
VRA - appears to be retrogressive because only 2, not 3 Effective Senate seats, 5 effective house.  3rd Senate seat is 39.1  (39 and 40)  Bethel with Matsu.  More than 3% under the standard.  In House seats have concern, if problems - need more analysis
35 - contains much of same area of HD6 is at 45.31 so 3% over, but HD 6 needed 50%, don’t know if different enough. 
Taylor Bickford:  chunk of 35 out of urban, our VRA testimony - if you’re going to add urban population to rural you should take Democrats over Republican because more likely to cross over.  They take Republicans and because of how close they are I think this is a problem. 
White:  If you had 60% VAP wouldn’t be a problem.  Here it’s too close.  That’s why we took from the other side of Fairbanks. 
Taylor Bickford:  Focus on 45% - average for state is 42, but HD 6 was 50% - so should be higher
38 - Down around that area where Lisa starts fidgeting in her chair. 
Taylor Bickford:  Given Lisa had heartburn with Chain district below 38%, I suspect this would cause her even greater concern.
Brodie:  I thought you had concern with Valdez going into Anchorage. 
State Constitutional - Split NW Arctic Borough.  Maybe not a problem doesn’t have enough population to have own district. 
HD37:  First time I’ve seen this, unique, maybe compactness.  Potential long skinny district. 
Proportionality - NStar Borough 2 ways.  Kenai 3 ways
White:  this is quick and dirty, more time, maybe more issues.  Thank the third parties for putting these in.  Ideas that will help the Board. 

Torgerson:  After finish Fairbanks we’ll take 30 minute break

Brodie sitting at the computer: 
First thing Taylor did was take lower end of FNSB the highway district out.  City District split a couple of ways.  Put all of this district (4) into city of Fairbanks.  Talked about yesterday the Base issue, I think that’s ok.  I thought I had the right numbers for the City, but not sure.
All of 4 in City of Fairbanks. 
HD 3 takes in all the eastern part of Fairbanks.  Cleanest way.  Still has 38 into western outskirts.  A few minor adjustments here to make the numbers pretty equal.  Close to making all the districts the same size. 
White: Borough now only split one way.  Deviations in the 3 and 4%.
Taylor Bickford:  That was unavoidable.  Only our former 1 the court didn’t like (the appendage)  Had to fix former #1 and that affected the boundary of both. 
2 Up here stayed the same to pick up some trading population.  Adding back in the highway district.  Numbers here do not correspond to Proclamation Plan.
White:  I suggest you use the same numbers as proclamation plan. 
Brodie:  it depends on how we pair them.  If we pair the two City districts, we have to pair them.
White:  No requirement since that is not resolved.
Torgerson:  Jim, you ok with this?
Holm:  I think so, not sure about the senate pairings.  City paired. 
Torgerson:  Goal of the board to keep city intact and open whether proportionality is an issue.  As long as we have it, it’s an easy fix. 
Brodie:  I think this satisfies the courts concerns.  Fixed 2 by squaring it off.  Instead of the narrow corridor.
Torgerson;  and we added the bombing range.
White:  5 didn’t cross over . . .
Torgerson:  We should adopt this in concept.
White:  We’re doing this for the Supreme Court in case we can’t finish the other plan.
Torgerson:  Why don’t we adopt this as the amended proclamation plan.
Don’t ask technical questions.  I’m too tired to ask. 
White:  In order to comply, we have to say these districts are compact and meet. 
Torgerson:  I’m not working for an interim plan.  But if we have to, I’m not sure the SC said we had to have constitutional issues within boroughs.  I find those pretty darn compact.  Thanks Bob.
White:  When done, I have to submit to trial court.  We’ve complied with your order for 1 and 2.  Maybe your explanation on the record is sufficient. 
Torgerson:  Have to make findings on portion of the plan . . . . put something on the record. 
White:  humor me
Torgerson:  We did away with the Kawasaki finger.  Moved the bombing range out of the district, and made it not reflect the highway corridor. 
Roll Call vote: 
Five yeahs  0 nays  adopted amended Proclamation Pan, Fairbanks 6,1,2,
Take a recess until 4:30 or thereabouts so Taylor can finish his plan on Bethel Matsu.  Probably

Redistricting Board Back on Track

I likened the board yesterday to a graduate student having a meltdown late into a major semester long project.  And today, like such a student,  the board seems to have gotten their frustrations out of their system, gotten a good night’s sleep, and this morning were proceeding with renewed energy and professionalism. They began with timelines for the Board to finish.

1.  Board start work - 3-26
2.  Board Drafts Constittuional Plan   2-27
3.  Plan reviewed by VRA expert - 3-28
4.  Board Adopts Amended plan - 3-30
5.  Board Adopts proclamation - 3-31
6.  Board Submit plan to Court - 4-04

New Love for 3rd Party Plans and The Bethel-Matsu Senate Pairing

The third party plans that were disparaged yesterday were cited today as giving the board possible new options.  Chair Torgerson said that the AFFR’s and (with prompting from executive director Bickford) the Rights Coalition’s pairing of Bethel and Matsu House Districts to get the third Native Senate district looked promising and that he’d instructed staff to see if they could adjust the plans they are working on to achieve that. [I put up a video of AFFR Rep Joe McKinnon talking about this plan in the previous post.  I couldn't figure out the third Senate pairing.  It turns out to be the Bethel-Matsu pairing.]


Working On Two Plan Strategy

The Board is now working on two plans to move forward.  One is their new plan that has gone through the Hickel Process mandated by the Supreme Court.  But there have been concerns about whether they can pull off a plan that will get both DOJ approval and Supreme Court approval soon enough for the 2012 election deadlines. 

So, they are also planning to submit a copy of the original Proclamation plan with the two Fairbanks districts that were ruled unconstitutional (HD 1 and 2) cleaned up.  The Supreme Court has given the Board the option of using the Proclamation plan as a fallback for the 2012 election if they can’t get a new plan created and approved in time for the election.  This would allow them to have a fallback in case the new plan doesn’t get approved in time.

Break Until 2pm

The board recessed until 2pm to give the staff time to work on the plan that would pair the Bethel and Matsu districts.  Chair Torgerson also asked them to look at pairing Bethel and Anchorage, though taking precincts like Kincaid or Inlet View as they talked about yesterday seems particularly bizarre to me and others who were watching.

Joe McKinnon Video on AFFR Redistricting Plan

The Redistricting Board is trying to find a plan that will meet both the Alaska constitutional requirements and the Voting Rights Act (VRA) requirements. The initial plan they drew up did get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the VRA, but there were districts that didn't meet constitutional standards. The VRA takes precedence over the Alaska Constitution, but if there must be violations of the constitutional standards, they must be minimal.

The Supreme Court said they couldn't evaluate the Board's submitted plan because they had no benchmark against which to measure whether the constitutional violations were the least they could be. So now the board is doing what it can to develop a new plan. They are having trouble getting to one.

 Meanwhile, I know, from talking to people at the board meetings, that there are at least three groups that have developed plans:
  •  Calista has submitted one or two plans. 
  • The Rights Coaliton (a group which includes the Democratic Party) has submitted a plan. 
  • AFFR (Alaskans For Fair Redistricting made up of union and Native Corporations) 

In the video below, Joe McKinnon talks about the AFFR plan.  I've looked at the plan since we made the video and I need Joe to show me the third Native Senate seat.  It's hard to evaluate the constitutionality from the page size maps, but the compactness and contiguity seem to be ok for the larger districts.  For the smaller districts, there's not enough detail to know. 

Joe expresses some concern about the process - the lack of interest expressed by the board for third party plans.