Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Redistricting Board: Impact of US Supreme Court Shelby County Case and Alaska VRA Challenges

The Board is meeting now to review the applicants for their vacant Executive Director position.  Because the Alaska Supreme Court ruled they must pretty much start all over again, they needed a new ED.

The Board Chair knew that the Board would be going into Executive Session to discuss the personnel issues and figured there would be very little on the public record and no need for the LIO link.  I was able to talk to him before the meeting and pointed out that 1)  the agenda included attorney comments before Executive Session, 2) Board member comments after the Executive Session, and 3) the LIO access had been posted on their website.

Soon after I got a call from the Administrative Assistant that it would be on LIO.  There was some difficulty with the connection, but by 1:10 it was on.  Board Chair Torgerson was loud and clear, but staff attorney Michael White was hard to hear so my notes are incomplete.

Basically there were two issues attorney White discussed:

  1. How would the US Supreme court Shelby County v. Holder case affect the Board's work?
  2. How would the Alaska case challenging Alaska's need to be covered by Sec. 5 of the VRA affect the Board's work? 

His response was hard to hear.  Basically I think he said if Shelby County prevails, we might not have to get pre-clearance.  It wasn't clear to me what he said about benchmarks - whether the board would have to still try to make sure Native voting power is preserved in the Native districts.

I don't know the details of the state's legal challenge of the VRA though White mentioned something about a fire in a village about 30 days before the election and the state couldn't move the polling places without preclearance but the village was moved and . . .  I'll have to check on those details.

By the end of the teleconference, there were six others listening in besides me, so that's not insignificant given how little publicity this had and how on-again-off-again the LIO coverage was.  Here's a screenshot from the LIO page just before the Executive Session.  (It was audio only, not video.)

I just got word that it's not clear if they will come back onto the LIO after the Executive Session today, but they will be on LIO at the start tomorrow before Executive Session.

The email said:
They start at 9:00AM and the first interview is at 9:10. I will work with the LIO to schedule coming back on when they are done with the executive session. . . The interviews are scheduled for 50 minute intervals and the last one is scheduled to begin at 1:20 PM. I don't know if they will break for lunch or have a break after the interviews.
 There are five candidates to be interviewed.  I'll post this now and then go through my very, very rough notes (it was really hard to hear) and try to edit them a bit.  And add them below shortly.  

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