Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Alaska Redistricting Board - Riley and Petersburg Ask For A Schedule and Public Hearings, Board Says to Court: Don't Interfere

The Alaska Redistricting Saga continues. It's a little difficult to keep up with this, and I'm not sure I have everything, but here are some court documents that have been filed recently concerning the Alaska Redistricting Board's process for creating a third, and hopefully final, Proclamation Plan (redistricting plan) for the rest of the decade.  (I said third, but I guess it depends on which ones you count. The Board references a second proclamation plan. There was the original and the amended original.  There's also the interim plan that was in place for the 2012 election.)

This post will give an overview of the four documents I've gotten hold of that were filed in May with the Alaska Superior Court.  Then I'll try to go through each of them individually in separate posts.  In the meantime I've posted all four on Scribd and for those who are impatient, and can't sleep, you can look there.  I've linked them at the bottom of this post.  


Their first plan was rejected and they were told to follow the Hickel process.  That means, briefly, that they need to design a plan using the Alaska Constitution's guidelines first.  Then, if necessary, they must make the minimal adjustments necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The last plan was rejected and their next one - the Amended Plan - was also rejected, but was used, with some little changes, as the Interim Plan for the 2012 election because there wasn't enough time for another round before the election. 

In December, the Alaska Supreme Court told them that the Interim Plan that was used for the 2012 election had to be redrawn from scratch.  A couple more appeals and orders from the Court have repeated this order. 

The Board hasn't done much lately.  They had a meeting in February.  They met again in March to select a new Executive Director, but after they were forced to hand out the resumes of the candidates they decided to not hire an Executive Director.  So two plaintiffs have filed with the Superior Court to get the Board moving.

The May Court Filings in Superior Court

The original plaintiff - Riley - May 15, 2013 -  filed a motion with the Alaska Superior Court in Fairbanks
1. to give the Board a schedule that will insure that there will be enough time for Voting Rights Act clearance and for the almost certain lawsuits that will be filed to all be resolved in time for the 2014 election.  At the very latest, that means May 2014 so that the Board of Elections can do its job and so candidates will know the districts they will run in.
2.   to require the Board to hold public hearings before they finalize their plan. 

The City of Petersburg  - May 15, 2013 -  whose original filing was consolidated with Riley before Petersburg dropped out, has filed asking for the same things as Riley - a schedule and a requirement for public hearings. In addition they asked the Court to set a deadline by which the plan should be completed.

The Petersburg's motion is much longer and detailed than the Riley motion, with lots of reasons listed for each request. 

The Alaska Redistricting Board Response - May 22, 2013 - rejects the claims of both Riley and Petersburg.  The Board's two major points were:
A.  It is within the board’s authority to set its administrative schedule and the Board fully intends to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to have a final plan in place for th 2014 elections. 
1.  The Board is an independent constitutionally established entity whose administrative schedule this court has already recognized it does not have the authority to mandate.
2.  The Board has not yet actually adopted a timeline for completion of its work, but if it should follow the Board chair’s draft timeline, that timeline provides more than sufficient time for judicial review of its new plan.
3.  The Board’s decision to wait for the US Supreme Court Decision in the Shelby County Case is rational and reasonable.
4,  The Board’s second amended proclamation plan is not subject to new litigation challengers or full blown litigation.
B.  While the Board has made no decision on whether it will hold public hearings on its second amended proclamation plan, it is clear that the Alaska Constitution does not require public hearings on remand.
There are lots of details backing this up, which I'll try to outline in the following posts.

Petersburg - May 24, 2013 - filed a reply to the Redistricting Board's response.
A.  The Board’s Authority to set its timelines
“Petersburg Plaintiffs recognize the Board’s authority to prescribe its own timeline.  However, this authority is by no means absolute and is directly limited by the Board’s obligation to comply with the Supreme Court’s Order that the final plan be adopted before the 2014 elections.”
 It goes on to raise their fear that there will not be enough time and the 2014 election will be held using the current interim plan, which, they point out, the Supreme Court has said, includes unconstitutional  districts in SE Alaska, where Petersburg is.
“B.  The Board should not postpone the Redistricing Process until a decision in Shelby County, AL v. Holder, Att’y Gen., et al., No. 12-96 (November 9, 2012)”

C.  The Board Should prepare for and expect lengthy judicial review
[The Board, in its Response, argued that “the Board’s second amended Proclamation Plan is not subject to new litigation challengers or full blown litigation.”]

“D.  Public Hearings Are Required”
[Note:  I've had trouble with the capitalization - Blogger changed all the title caps in the sections from the filings.  Further I can't cut and paste from pdf's I have.  I'll trust that this won't bother anyone too much.]

You can read each of the documents at the links below:

May 15:  Riley Plaintiffs Motion For Order Establishing Deadlines And To Holding Hearings on Final Plan

May 15:  [City of] Petersburg Plaintiffs' Motion for Adequate Timeline and Public Hearings on the Final Redistricting Plan

May 22:  ARB’s response 20 pages plus exhibits (total 36 pages)
Defendant Alaska Redistricting Board’s Consolidated Opposition To Riley Plaintiff’s Motion For Establishing Deadlines And To Holding Hearings On Final Plan And Petersburg Plaintiffs’ Motion For Adequate Timeline And Public Hearings On the Final Redistricting Plan

May 24:  Petersburg Plaintiffs’ Reply to Defendant Alaska Redistricting Board’s Consolidated Opposition to Riley Plaintiffs’ Motion For Order Establishing Deadlines on Final Plan and Petersburg Plaintiffs’ Motion for Adequate Timeline and Public Hearings on the Final Redistricting Plan

1 comment:

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.