Saturday, October 30, 2021

Alaska Redistricting Board: State Wide Testimony Today Overview And Rough Notes

The Alaska Redistricting Board met in a Statewide call-in to take testimony today on the six maps that were adopted in September for consideration.  They have been gathering feedback across the state before submitting the finalized maps.  

I took running notes, which are really rough.  In 2011-12 I posted such notes because there were no other ways to get the information.  This time round the Board is doing a pretty good job of getting the testimony posted on the Board’s website within a week or so.  

Today Board member Nicole Borromeo chaired the meeting and Board member Bethany Marcum sat in as well.  Board chair John Binkley also listened in and occasionally made comments.  They had scheduled times when different parts of the state could call in and get priority.  When there were no more callers from that area, they took calls from all over.  

Some of my quick impressions:
 Fairbanks callers overwhelmingly preferred Board version 4 (v4) and the AFFR maps.  And disliked v3.  They particularly opposed putting North Pole and Fairbanks into the same district.  
Southeast callers still have a bad taste in their mouths about the original maps that cut out Rep. Story from her district and put her against another Democratic incumbent. 
There were a couple comments from the Homer area that wanted Fritz Creek to be part of Homer.  This reflected a lot of testimony at a previous meeting.  

The meeting also got me thinking about the whole issue of what things really are important to be together in state House districts.  What’s important and what is merely cosmetic or emotional?   I’ll flesh that out in a later post.  I’m still thinking it through and trying to bore down to the key elements and not have a lot of fluff.  

So, here are my notes.  Some caveats first:

 GIANT APOLOGY ABOUT PEOPLE’S NAMES!!!  I’m listening in via the phone. The Board has the list of people who have called in and want to talk, so they aren’t asking people to spell their names.  Leave corrections in the comments or email me (see upper side bar right)
I type as fast as I can and while I once was a pretty good typist, my fingers are getting slower.  Also, my ears aren’t as good as they were.
So, what you should expect here is the gist of what people were saying and if there is something important you can look for it when the Board posts the Oct. 30, 2021 testimony.
Assume errors and omissions.  

Some Abbreviations
 SEI = Socio-Economic Integration
 FB= Fairbanks;
 NP = North Pole
v3 and v4 = Board maps versions 3 and 4
FNSB = Fairbanks North Star Borough
AFFR = Alaskans for Fair Redistricting (3rd Party)
AFFER = Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting (3rd Party)

About 10:15 am   Nicole Borremeo:  
James Squire = Delta, Gulkana - we should be connected with Eilson - they have missiles and so do we.  Drainage, geographic features should be part of this process.  I sent a map that does a much better job.

Up highway to Eilson, Denali Borough, Clear Air Force - moves the needle of SEI (Socio-Economic Integration) and compactness.  Koyukuk drainage.  

Directed to use the census numbers.  Our area has more PFD applications than shown in our Census Count.  No reason to deny them.  Privacy.  Boundaries in wilderness, not on highways.  If you can see campaign signs on both sides of the road, then that’s a problem because those people should be in same district.  

Nicole, Marcum - questions?

Fairbanks Area - AFFR Map

[Here's a link to the Board's Map Gallery]

Casey ?Cafort - Fairbanks.  Grown up in FB and NP and two distinct communities, shouldn’t be in one district.  FB oriented along river.  FMeyer.  V3 follows boundaries, but no reason to redistrict. Don’t follow those things precisely in Anchorage.  As recent UAF graduate.  Hope you keep UAF together - only AFFR map does that now.  UAF critical part of our community and economy.  Appreciate opportunity to be heard.

Nicole:  Thank you.  

Kelvin Rogers - Support AFFR and preference for version 4 over 3.  V3 makes no sense to me - puts us with NP a place I’ve been a few times over my 6 years in FB.  V4 splits up FB along lines that makes sense.  


?Bretta  McAdams - grew up in FB, schools here.  Learned to drive here.  Alaskalands, Blockbusters.  Like John Binkley.  V3 is political map by former politician that gerrymanders FB.  Also divides FB by n-s which is against the Chena River that goes east west.  Both AFFR and V4 give us better representation.  

Alissa Franklin? - FB community organizer here for about 21 years.  Raised and school and now work as organizer.  Really know the community.  Others my points as well.  Definitely not v3, unnatural to neighborhood, work, etc.  V4 and AFFR better job capturing that natural orientation.  Why v3 so bad?  D31  Ester, Fox, Goldstream, Farmers Loop - that’s a good hours drive to get to Two Rivers.  Completely different communities.  Talking about neighborhoods - how is this fair to any of these communities.  Eilson completely different needs from University.  How people compete with each other.   Not fair and equitable.  How do we best represent these needs without cutting district in half.  Majority of POC live in these areas.  Access to voting, have to cross two different districts to get to their voting place.  AFFER/AFFR? do better job of how we’re laid out, not competing with each other, but picking person who represents our communities/  Wish I could drive you around

Leo Hippert?  - Needlessly under represents FB  Treated FB differently from other places.  Things oriented east west.  As U student feel connected to U and Goldstream, Ester, similar values and have one voice on issues.  AFFR and v4 represents these, but v3 is bad.  AFFR has racial ???  NP and FB different interests.
Nicole - any SEI issues in AFFR maps that you’d like Board to consider.  A:  Not really didn’t do research on that.  

Stuart Chapin - FB for last 50 years.  Appreciate importance and glad listening to testimony.  Strongly prefer AFFR or v4 and feel v3 divides FB in ways that are not in the best interests.  Prefer AFFR for two reasons.  V3 under represents FB in state.  V3 doesn’t represent various communities that make up FB area.  FB along east west along Tanana River.  People who share values and service area interests should be grouped together .  AFFR much better than v3.   Hope you take the FB testimony into consideration because we all agree.

North Pole - Barbara Kendall?  50 years in Alasak.  Any plan for NP should include Eilson and Salcha.  Where we do shopping, churches, housing.  Some adjustment to AFFER plan, but concur that AFFR and v4 would do best.  Would increase population a bit - but in NSFB and better aligned.
Q:  You like AFFER.  Yes.  Prefer over v4.

Allison Cafort - lifelong FB resident, grew up in ?? And NP.  Now west FB.  Distinct communities and shouldn’t be in the same district.  V3 does that not good.  Also overpopulates.  V4 and AFFR follow east west orientation.  As current UAF student - keep U and Fox etc. together - where many faculty live.  AFFR map.  

Lori Huffer?  15 years FB.  And unique NP area.  Thanks for listening.  Support competitive fair and equitable map.  NOT v3.  Interested in AFFR and V4, better represents our communities.  FB and NP seen as separate communities.  Thanks for insuring we’ll have appropriate representation by not using v3 and focusing on AFFR and v4.  
Q:  Any SEI issues?  I guess we lost her

Gary Kendall - NP- overview comparisons of versions.  Balance several criteria - pop.  Compactness, SEI.  In interest of representation give more weight than just population .   AFFER map seems to be the best balance of factors under consideration.  NE corner of D6C - portion goes north of the river and down toward NP, that would be better placed with 9E, NP Moose Creek, based on where people are and work and interests  D8D, westward with Badger Road border- move it up and make border along the river better than the road itself.  AFFER map does better job of bringing in North Creek Salcha and Eilson .  Thank you.

Martha Roberts - final FB in queue for now.  50 years in FB mostly in University and now just north of Farmers loop.  Agree with others v3 shouldn’t be used.  FB in5 districts all the others have 6 districts.  Also separates NP from Eilson.  Main testimony is against v3 map.  I prefer the Senate minority map which puts my area with ??  Which seems better than with Fox.  
Nicole:  FB has 5 districts in both v3 and v4.
Martha:  Oh, I miscounted.  When release Senate pairings?
Nicole:  Not yet, plan to do closer to Nov 10.  These are still draft form.  

Move outside of interior - 

Sen. Tom Begich - State senate minority leader, here because Wednesday you asked views on constitutionality.  Touch lengthy.
Alaska Court have focused on lover deviations of house districts over time.  But Board seems to be moving to maps with higher deviations.  Many 3rd party plans have said there can be lower deviations without sacrificing the other criteria.   Likelihood v3 and v4 lawsuits because 
of deviations.  Those decisions March 21, 2002 Court - priority must be given first to Federal Constitution, VRA, and then to Alaska Constitution.  1.  Contiguousness and compactness, SEI, Community boundaries, geographic boundaries.     Representation over SEI.   Overemphasizing  SEI over others is inconsistent.  
First you draw the map with Alaska Constitution, then 

Reynolds and Brown - federal considerations — Alaska SC found Alaska should have narrower standards.  Newly available tech advances make it easy to meet lower deviations.  10% deviations in Anchorage meet federal standards, but burden shifted to board that lower deviations impracticable. If districts can be created with our technology.  Boroughs and cities are defined as SEI, then Board is compelled to lower the deviations.  As you heard from FB.  
All FB and Matsu districts and 16 Anchorage districts are all .14???   And Kenai and SE also .

Focus on deviation emerges from Hickel and 1998 - AK constitution requires relatively SEI - means we compare to proposed districts to previous districts and alternative districts.  
Board reduces FB representation and gives extra FB to other district.  

Hickel - excess pop shouldn’t be given to other districts.  It may be necessary to divide a borough, however where possible all the excess population should go to one district.  You want to give representation to those who deserve it.  Board maps don’t that   Proportional representation.  
Board’s counsel has interpreted this differently.  Kenai Peninsula Borough ….   Recognizes that it shouldn’t divide the municipalities, was open for legitimate non-discriminate polices.  In that passage, court conclusion honed in on MOA and Matsu B’s together because fractional seats.  That’s important.  Underscores how interpreted by the courts and how interpreted now.  
Footnote seven:  2002 case Matsu 3.8 and Anch - .? Would support 20.4 seats.  But Board gets 17 and Matsu gets 4 for 21 seats.  Saying because way board did it, created an additional seat.  Today, the over pop 5.8 for Matsu and 15.8 of Anchorage would create total of 16 + 6.  Excess then 2001 combining excess would be excess of ??? Seats and would have to look north or south to do that excess.   West was not excluded as an option.  Can’t be absorbed - 2001 told board to take hard look at north.  Now, today Board trying to do that.  Kenai, Matsu, Anch. And FB need low deviations meeting standards.  AFFR maps do this.  Board is compelled to meet standards of 3rd party maps.

Cordova with SE?  Court acknowledged to Baranof Island would be compact, but further would not.  Including Cordova in D5 to reduces deviation.  That ruling allows Board to consider Cordova with SE to reduce deviation.  

ER and Anch - part of SEI of Anchorage, but compelling testimony should ER be separate.  2 districts from ER and Peters Creek.  Might be compelling to combine house districts in this area into single Senate seat.  Anchorage neighborhoods substantial dispareity.  SEI - multiple compact continuous districts.  In Groh we considered ….   

If low deviations can be met without sacrificing AK constitutional criteria, it’s important.  

Kenai-  less disruption to overall map, should be considered.  Multiple ways to do Anch and FB under 1.4% deviation  SE   - more mathematical precision in urban areas.  Limits opportunities for gerrymandering.  
AK court has ruled that Delta Junction (2001) has no constitutional right to be in a single house district, as long as each portion is integrated.    Board should take hard look - Saxman is part of borough, more connected to Ketchikan than with other Native districts in SE.  

How you arrived at higher deviations is what matters.  
Lengthy answer - hope it answers your questions.  
Nicole:  Thank you.  Board did ask for clarification and apology.  Clarification - Board chose John Binkley to chair meeting but we are all equals.  

Returning to Fairbanks:
Darla Hudson?  - short comment.  Don’t support v3.  No sense to put FB with NP.  Been here for ??30 yers. Listening to Mr. Squires - not grouping Delta with Koyakuk.  Natural borders.  ??
Eilson and Salcha do most shopping in FB, not in Delta.
Christina Buckington??  - After reviewing maps, Doyon coalition along with aspects v4 and Minority Senate map.  Do not support v3.  Donut shape Doyon keeps contiguous urban and rural areas together.  Also integrate tribal communities.  Minority map keeps communities together though I haven’t reviewed the map beyond FB area. 

Mindy O’Neall - Presiding officer of FNSB Assembly - voted - stayed away from comments about one map.  Biggest concern - general underpopulation of overpopulated districts.  FB has right to 5 plus districts.  Ask that extra population be put into a single district.  Due to urban nature it’s unnecessary to require to go through other districts to get to other side of districts.

Neighborhoods that share values and common - Excess pop into one district rather than spreading among five districts. 

Nicole:  clarify - testify on behalf of  NSB Assembly A:  Yes

Ellen Murray McKazy? - Live -   2007 retired from teaching at UAF.  AFFR map best for us.  Binkley map out of balance.  Would have me with NP.  Not my community.  Overpopulates us. Underprepresented and Matsu and Anch overrep.  Does not match east-west orientation of FB.
V4 and AFFR maps respect east west divide.  First choice is AFFR map.  Second v4.  Thank you for considering my opinion and for your work.  

Nicole:  switch to SE, Kodiak, Kenai

???   I wanted to voice opinion of Kachemak, Homer on Kenai.  I oppose v3  spell my name: 
No thanks Terry, we have info already.  Board proposed maps v3 and v4 strongly oppose.  Seperating Fitz Creek from Homer makes no sense.  
Don’t understand Doyon map very well - Sen Minority looks very logical to me as well as the AFFER Kenai Peninsula looks logical.  Alll the others including AFFR makes no sense.  Separating Frizt Creek is out of the question.
Nicole:  We did Homer area weeks ago and others made same point.  
SE callers:

Mr. Witte???  I can’t do better than Sen Begich, but would add minimizing deviation so opposed to v3 and v4 and support Doyon, AFFR, and Senate Minority because they have smaller deviations. Oppose AFFER because of Mendenhall - and v3 because of obvious intentional carving out rep Story.   
Nicole:  For the record, the Story was corrected early on the map.  Can I ask a question about the deviation.  United Ketchikan Wrangell borough - keep Prince of Wales?
I’m in Juneau and I’ll leave that to SE people.
Nicole - divide between Juneau and Valley?
Mr.  Valley homogenous in terms of economics  AFFR and Sen Democrats have minor differences but keep valley as one district.  

Jaeleen Kookesh - Sealaska Corp - thank Board for their service.  Appreciate opportunity to comment.  Sealaska proud to work with Coalition with Doyon- urge to consider this map.  Specifically to issues of importance.  Borders of house districts inSE.  Rural Alaskan communities and support of Doyon around FB and NSB.
SE:  Compact, contiguous and SEI population 3.89 districts - two senate seats and four districts.  Preferred SE Alaska Island district.  Angoon, Kake, Sitka.  Key feature of SE is islands.  With exception of Admiralty Island in north.  Some options for Juneau.  [Can’t keep up with details]  Many rural communities with areas that do not share concerns and culture.  We support our coalition partners for rural communities
3.  Concerns about FB v3 map.  About 800 people more in each district.  Will submit written testimony.  Want to thank you.  History my late father lost his seat in rural Alaska. 
Nicole:  can PofWales Island be split?
Kookesh:  We didn’t look at breaking up communities.  Looking at PoW - at least the traditional Native communities stay together.  Don’t want to speak for the island.  
Nicole:  If you of PoW contacts, please have them contact us.

Jim Ayers- Thank you for service, maps and tables.  Worked in Juneau for most of 40 years - Douglas, Auk Bay.  Worked with some of you and respect you very much.  Our community is wonderful place to live, work, raise a family.  Community works well.  Talked to you a few weeks ago.  Community naturally meeting the fair, balanced, non-partisan way - Valley flow together.  Downtown flow together.  V3 and v4 bring divisiveness.  Board says they corrected concerns about line cutting out Story.  I heard that - if that correction you referred to mean you are no longer pursuing that?
Nicole:  yes it was corrected.  Unfortunate software glitch. No intention to pit current elected representatives.   Board has no knowledge where representative live.  No intention to pit incumbents against each other or protect them.
Ayers:  State suffers from continuing strife and divisiveness. Imperative you consider whether you actions increase that divisiveness in our state.  I worked with Bill Hudson.  He was elected in Juneau several times and he likely would be elected again.  If there is a reason or motivation of some to change the representatives we’ve elected, they should choose a candidate and not change the district to achieve your goals. Support Doyon, and ?? maps.  Urge you to do right thing for us.  And thank you again for your public servie.

Nicole:  Question from John Binkley
Binkley:  I have Borromeo’s comments - I believe the architect of that area in v3 and v4 have - there was an appendage and what you’re suggesting it was ??  [hard to understand I think he’s emphasizing it was accidental.]  We decided not to formally make those changes.  Just making maps - public hearing process  [can’t understand, bad connection]  
Ayers;  30 second Response?  Thank you so much Sen.  We’ve known each other a long time and great respect for you.  And firmly believe in your forthrightness and what you’ve said. I’ve looked at maps.  I don’t support v3 and v4.  I do support Doyon and irrespective of politics, I do believe you’ll look at the best aspects of the redistricting.  
John:  I’ll call back in and try to get better connection.
Susan Warner in Gustavus.  Thank you for your work to fairly redistrict and for offering Doyon map that retains connection with Juneau and Haines.  Please consider D33 boundaries to have a say in our inside waters adjacent to our community.  

11:58am  Nicole:  that includes all the callers we have in queue.  
Juli Lucky:  We will be available until 4pm to call in.  
Calls will be prioritized by time for areas, but anyone can call. 

12:34   Caller from Juneau
?? Lyman - some maps left me horror struck.  Most favor Senate Minority map.  Don’t know how ? Harbor put together - or putting representatives together, clear gerrymandering.  My preference is Senate minority map. 

Nicole:  comments from Board.  Ms. Lyman, the board is committed to a fair map and no intentional gerrymandering.  

Times for certain regions:  SE currently, PWS and Kodiak, but no calls in line so anyone can call now.  
1pm Kenai Pen. Anchorage Matsu
2pm Northwest (I think that’s what she said)
3pm Statewide

Caller from Fairbanks
Leslie Peters - live just south of Chena Pump Road, since 1975.  Past redistricting.  This time since I’m retired I had time to look at maps carefully.  Don’t agree with v3 or v4.  I prefer plan forAFFR, less community division and less deviation.  Allows North Pole to have its own rep.  I’ve worked and taken class at University and don’t have that much in common with other places.  More in common with peoples over the ridge.  Mr. Binkley know that.  Putting districts in direct conflict.  Should look at AFFR maps.  Thank you for your efforts, has to be tough task.  

Binkley:  thank you Leslie for coming out and testifying and paying attention. It is hard, daunting putting all the pieces together statewide. To get the best possible map.  We share a district, we’re neighbors.  Do we keep the district as a whole or take the extra .2 population.  Which part of FB do we send to that extra district?  West side?  Eilson?  Or the North side?  Or keep it altogether even tho overpopulated.  
Leslie:  Thank you.  I looked at deviation numbers and I understand that.  Biggest reason tried to find those that have less deviation.  Thanks for listening.  

12:48  Andrea Dewees - calling from SE Lifelong Alaskan.  In support of map proposed by the Senate Minority, best for SE.  Appreciate your considering interests of voters not incumbents.  I like how Juneau is grouped.

Catherine Heinz?   Thanks for having this on a Saturday.  I live in Two Rivers, a pretty gerrymandered district and I hope this will change.  I think you know what I’m talking about.  I looked at proposed changes and want to throw my support to v4 or Doyon.  Want to see the communities united and not spread out - like Chena Hotsprings.  That’s all.  
Binkley:  Thanks for participating.  I appreciate what you’re saying over past cycles - your current rep is from Tok and that’s difficult for someone in NSFB is difficult. 
Catherine:  I realize that represent statewide issues as much as when my neighbors talk about what’s important to us and whether this person in Tok knows anything about our neighborhood, schools, etc.  A huge district that person has to carry and canvas.  Not useful.  
Binkley:  I appreciate that.  Question before us really is do we keep the whole Borough together in five overpopulated districts or do we break it apart and send a small portion to a rural district.  
1:05  Anchorage Chelsea ??  Support the AFFR map.  Only one that fairly represents the diverse communities of east Anchorage, Mountain View and downtown.  Not connected to ER.  Although the board may prefer one of their own maps, I’m hoping they consider AFFR.  I live in South Anchorage.  AFFR doesn’t pair hillside with East Anchorage. 
Nicole:  Any SEI criteria to consider?
Not at this time, but I’ll get back to you if they come up.  

1:33  Christopher Constant - speaking personally.  Not as chair of Assembly redistricting committee.  PreferAFFR map.  ER kept separate.  ER has own perspective.  Govt Hill connected with ER is several maps that are politically opposite with how we live and organize our lives.  ER prides itself on large maps, wells and sewer system.  In my neighborhood small lots, city utilities.  Listen to ER they have been clamoring for their own city.  They have unity of demographics and economics that is very different from our community.  So strongly urge you to use AFFR map.  

2pm - Alaska NW Districts now

John Sowell??? Juneau  Concern with redistricting maps.  Against each other.  Takeoverof the country.  Adding  districts to make up imbalance.  We’ll be in SC.  Hope we do.  I am aware the intention is to have story.  I think there is something untoward about redistricting.  Maintain our representation .  That’s about it.  Thanks.  Not much business this afternoon.  Do want to be more specific.  Can’t give.  Representation here in Juneau.  Thank you.
Kotzebue - John Lincoln - President of NANA regional corporations.  15,000 shareholders in NW Alaska including Buckland And Deering.  Keeping our SE Integrated  together.  Clear evidence of 
Roads, ancient social ties and more.  All testifiers in Kotzebue want to keep Buckland And Deering together.  

3:09 - John Rasmon?  - FB  would like to keep Salcha, Wainright, and ??  together.
Nicole:  Thanks for your clear preference of v4.  

3:15 back  Anchorage
Diane Preston - After navigating your website you did a lot of work.  AFFR and AFFER maps hard to navigate.  AFFR map seems the best.  AFFER pairs me with Chena Hot springs road and separates me with my across the street neighbors.  Senate Minority also splits my neighborhood too.  V4 keeps me with my neighbors. AFFR looks the best for Fairbanks.  

3:29 Anchorage caller

Laura  ??  AFFR plan shows all neighborhoods equally represented no district varying more than 36 people.  Only one that fairly groups downtown, mt. View, Fairview.   Doesn’t group downtown with JBER.  Follows community council districts as much as possible.  Has Chugiak and ER form own Senate district.  Eagle Exit wants to separate so they should have their own Senator.  

3:47 pm caller from Fairbanks
Mary Elizabeth ??? - here over 30 years.  Important to all of us.  My issue concern with v3 not fair for the Borrough.  According to the Census, we should get 5.23 house seats.  Five seats for the borough and then one other seat with the excess population.  Should go to an adjoining district to meet one person one vote standard.  
Binkley:  What part should be put into an adjacent district?
Mary Elizabeth ??  - West side - they have their own style.  
Binkley - where do we put the extra 4000 people - go into a district with representative far away - people complained about being represented by someone from Tok.  

Nicole Borromeo, also online Bethany Marcum and Chair John Binkley have been online and we are signing off now.  Adjourned.  


Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Man From Porlock

 Indulge me as I borrow this poem from the Poetry Foundation website.  Coleridge was born in 1772, which means he was three years old when Paul Revere made his famous ride.  Four years old when the Declaration of Independence was written.  Nine when the Articles of Confederation were written.  How much would a child of that age have been aware of the momentous events that were taking place then?  He was 11 when the Treaty of Paris ended the war in 1783. 

This poem was written in 1797 when Coleridge was 25, when John Adams was succeeding George Washington as the second president of the United States.  And, a note to give poets and other writers hope, it was published in 1816, a year after Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo.  

You can't read it like a tweet.  You have to slow down.  The words flow in a different rhythm.  Let yourself relax and get caught up in that rhythm. 

Kubla Khan


Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!

A savage place! as holy and enchanted

As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By woman wailing for her demon-lover!

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty fountain momently was forced:

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:

And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;

And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war!

   The shadow of the dome of pleasure

   Floated midway on the waves;

   Where was heard the mingled measure

   From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

   A damsel with a dulcimer

   In a vision once I saw:

   It was an Abyssinian maid

   And on her dulcimer she played,

   Singing of Mount Abora.

   Could I revive within me

   Her symphony and song,

   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,

That with music loud and long,

I would build that dome in air,

That sunny dome! those caves of ice!

And all who heard should see them there,

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

And close your eyes with holy dread

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

So why have I introduced this poem here tonight?  In part because the post I was writing just isn't ready yet and I thought I shouldn't let too many days go by.  But that's not why I offer Coleridge.  Coleridge comes courtesy of Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize winning Turkish novelist.  In his incredible book Snow, poet Ka goes to Kars, a town in the northeast of Turkey, as a journalist.  It snows the entire time he's there.  Ka has lived in Germany and is a famous Turkish poet and while the people of Kars have different suspicions of why he is in Kars, they know he's a famous poet and he's been asked to recite a recent poem.  

Just before his public recital, Necip, a local youth who has aspirations to be a poet as well, corners Ka and tells him about a landscape that appears to him when he tries to imagine a world where God does not exist.  Pamuk writes:
"He thought about Necip's landscape - he could remember his description word for word as if it were already a poem - and if no one came from Porlock he was sure he would soon be writing the poem in his notebook."
The reader of Snow is just as surprised and puzzled by the reference to the man from Porlock as you might be.  But Pamuk continues:

"The man from Porlock!  During our last years in school when Ka and I would stay up half the night talking about literature, this was one of our favorite topics.  Anyone who knows anything about English poetry will remember the note at the start of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."  It explains how the work is a 'fragment of a poem, from a vision during a dream";  the poet had fallen asleep after taking medicine for an illness (actually, he'd taken opium for fun) and had seen, in his deepest sleep, sentences from the book he'd been reading just before losing consciousness, except that now each sentence and each object had taken on a life of its own in a magnificent dreamscape to become a poem.  Imagine, a magnificent poem that had created itself, without the poet's having exerted any mental energy!  Even more amazing, when Coleridge woke up he could remember this splendid poem word for word.  He got out his pen and ink and some paper and carefully began to write it down, one line after the other, as if he were taking dictation.  He had just written the last line of the poem as we know it when there came a knock at the door.  He rose to answer it, and it was a man from the nearby city of Porlock, come to collect a debt. As soon as he'd dealt with this man, he rushed back to his table, only to discover that he'd forgotten the rest of the poem, except for a few scattered words and the general atmosphere."

What does this have to do with anything?  I suppose someone could use it to interpret what is happening in the US today, but for me it's just an interesting, unexpected pleasure of reading Snow.

Though we all get visits from the man from Porlock at the most inopportune times.  
Oh, and it began to snow about the time I was reading tonight.  

You can learn more about Coleridge's contributions here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Alaska Redistricting Board: The Political Outcomes Of The Maps - A Different View

  1. The Board has taken six different maps on the road and is sharing with the public.  
  2. Two of the maps (Version3 and V4) are maps the Board members made.
  3. The other four maps were made by 3rd parties interested in the process.  
    1. AFFER - Alaskans For Fair And Equitable Redistricting
    2. AFFR - Alaskans for Fair Redistricting
    3. Doyon Coalition
    4. Senate Minority Coalition  
You can get more information about the 3rd Parties in an earlier post.  Or you can look at the maps and see if you can guess which ones lean which way by the results.  Then check the link.

The Alaska Landmine published some maps and lists of information on how the maps impacted incumbents.  Here's the post for the Board's v3 and v4 maps.  Here's the post for the 3rd party maps.  The mapping and calculating the impact on incumbents were done by Robert Hockema.  

I've taken Hockema's lists and reorganized them in a way that makes it easier for me to see things clearly.  We all have different ways of taking in and making sense of information.  This works best for me.  But I want to thank Hockema for the work he did that lets us all understand how the different maps impact incumbents.  

Look at the charts.  I have some comments at the bottom, but I want you to raise your own questions and conclusions before you read my thoughts.  

[If I make the charts too big, they stretch over into the side column.  But these are higher than normal resolution and so you should be able to click on them to enlarge them.  If you're sight impaired, let me know and I can send you charts your computer can change to audio.]

1.  Board Map v3

2.  Board Map v4

3.  AFFER Map

4.  AFFR Map

5.  Doyon Coalition map

6.  Senate Minority Coalition Map


Factual Observations

  1. All the maps pair some Democratic and some Republican incumbents and have districts with no incumbents
  2. Some have more Democrats paired, others have more Republicans paired
  3. Four of the six have at least one Democrat paired with a Republican 
Some Background
  1. The Board agreed early on to "not protect incumbents."  They never agreed to "not target incumbents."  I pointed this out at public testimony and requested they add 'no targeting' to assure the public that the maps were not intentionally aimed at blocking certain incumbents.  They haven't done that.
  2. The Board's executive director has publicly stated on various occasions that the Board's data base does not have political information in it.  Thus, to intentionally gerrymander, a Board member must 
    1. already know where incumbents live
    2. get that information from someone other than fellow Board members or Board staff, OR
    3. have some other means of going after incumbents
  3. In Anchorage, the bowl tends to be more Democratic in the north parts and more Republican in the south and hillside parts.  
  4. The current districts tend to go north-south.
  5. To pair Democrats in Anchorage without knowing exactly where they live, one could switch the north-south orientation of northern districts to east-west and probably catch some incumbents in the same district. 
  6. Before mapping began, Board member Marcum mentioned several times that she'd heard from the public that east-west maps made more sense than north-south maps.
  7. I also asked, in public testimony, that Board members publicly report if they got mapping advice from people other than Board members or staff, that was NOT given to them in public testimony.  Two Board members did publicly state they did not get information from anyone but Board members and staff.  The other three have not.  

Evaluative Observations

  1. It's probably difficult to make maps that don't pair any incumbents while meeting the basic criteria for legitimate maps (compactness, contiguity, socio-economic integration, and low deviation) - but not impossible 
  2. One can infer that some maps intentionally paired incumbents, that is they gerrymandered the maps to improve the outcomes in the elections for one party or another.  We can't know for sure, but given the leanings of the map makers, and peculiarities in some maps, it seems likely.
  3. It's my sense that while some Board members and 3rd Party map makers have sincerely used the mapping criteria to try to make fair maps, some, when explaining how and why they made the maps appeared to be using the criteria to justify what appear to be gerrymandering attempts.  

Monday, October 25, 2021

Afternoon In Alaska - And Thanks Cameron Lowther

 We took advantage of late October sunny day to go for a hike this afternoon.  

McHugh Creek ought to still be snow free we thought.  And it was.  Well, a little snow up on top, but not like all the hillside snow in Anchorage.

All the leafless cottonwoods look so cool, just waiting for us to join their party.  

And ripe rosehips everywhere just begging to be tasted.

There are a number of little streams crossing the trail and sometimes just random water making the trail muddy.  But there are boardwalks here and there most of the time when needed.  And this particular stretch even told us that Cameron Lowther built it for us.  So thanks Cameron and all the other anonymous boardwalk builders for making our hike a little easier.  

Yes, there was sun when we left and it was still out when we got there 20 minutes later.  But it seemed clouds were coming in from the south.  But the sun was resilient and the clouds not that diligent.  
Here's one of those little rivulets I was talking about.  

Whoever lives in here, wasn't answering the doorbell.  

McHugh Creek was the perfect spot, because just south of the entrance to the parking lot there was road constructions and cars were lined up.  Which also meant, when we left, there were no cars for a while because they were waiting to get let through the construction zone.  

Driving back the tide was out in Turnagain Arm and the Alaska Range was visible in the distance.  

A quick stop at Potter Marsh.  There were three swans off in the distance.  I don't have one of those huge telephoto lens like the lady at the pull out, so I didn't eve try.  But the grasses and the still water were enough for me.  

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Recalls Are A Pain [Updated]

[Updated Nov 2, 2021 - For folks not in Anchorage, the recall has failed badly.  There are still by mail votes trickling in, but as of Nov1, No was well ahead.]  

While I'm strongly opposed to the Meg Zaletel recall, this post was supposed to mention that briefly as I talked about problems with recalls in general.  Not that they shouldn't happened when politicians act badly, but that they shouldn't be used to harass hard working politicians over policy disagreements with ridiculous technical violation charges.  

But as I tried to track down the details, I kept discovering odd things about the people behind the recall effort.  

Let me say here, Meg is a great Assembly member.  But that's why she's a target here.  These are an odd set of characters trying to get her recalled a few months before here actual reelection would come up.  (Though in fairness, court challenges delayed actual signature gathering.)

Sometimes blog posts often write themselves and I'm just the fingers that work the keys.  Right now there's a struggle happening with this post between me and the mysterious force that throws strange facts my way in an attempt to hijack a post.  This wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I started.  

So let's use  the Meg Zaletel recall election as an example of an Alaskan recall vote.  

Step 1:  From the Alaska State Statutes:

"(a) An application for a recall petition shall be filed with the municipal clerk and must contain

(1) the signatures and residence addresses of at least 10 municipal voters who will sponsor the petition;"

Steps 2 and 3 and maybe 4, depending on how you count.  The Zaletel petition was rejected by the Municipal Clerk, but later approved - in part - by the Superior Court and then the Supreme Court.  

Step 5:  Getting enough signatures to put the recall on the ballot.

From Alaska Statutes:

 "the petition shall be signed by a number of the voters residing in the district equal to 25 percent of the number of votes cast in the district for that office at the last regular election held before the date the written notice is given to the contact person that the petition is available."

2019 District 4 Assembly Results

So, there were 9769 total votes cast in the district 4 Assembly seat election.  25% of that is 2442.  (Other sources say 2468).  I read a claim somewhere that they ended up with 4900 signatures, but I can't verify that.

You may notice that the person who came in second was Christine Hill.  She was the local Republican Party chair who passed out yellow stars of David at Assembly Meetings on mask mandates recently.  

Here's the district:


South:  Abbott Loop and a bit of Dimond

West:  Minnesota, C St, and Spenard 

North:  Campbell Creek, Lake Otis, 15th

East:  Along APU eastern border, a bit of Tudor, then Campbell Airstrip Road back to Abbot.

The original recall petition signed by, apparently, a group of 14 neighbors in Geneva Woods.  You only need 10 people to sign the original petition for the recall.  Then you have to get the rest of the 25% of people who voted in the election.  

This petition was ultimately accepted.  Another that claimed she limited public participation by limiting number of people who get go into the chambers was rejected because the Municipal Code explicitly allows for call in testimony.  

Basically, when there were over 15 people in the Assembly chamber, Zaletel (and all the other members present) didn't adjourn the meeting and leave.  Clearly a legalistic complaint that could have been made about all the other members of the Assembly.  And I'm sure the petitioners, who opposed the COVID restrictions, enjoyed the irony of using one as the basis of the recall.

The basic issue is that Zaletel is competent, rational, works hard, and but has different views - as does the majority of the Assembly - from the petitioners.  She also supported using the Golden Lion Hotel as a rehabilitation center.  The hotel is near the upscale Geneva Woods neighborhood almost all of the petitioners live in.  

As I was trying to track down details for this, I found several far right wing groups tracking this both in Alaska and nationally.  And we can see by the money being spent on this recall on both sides that this is much more than a typical recall.  This is part of the Trump encouraged attacks on all levels of government.  

OK, so that's what's happened regarding this current recall election which is a vote by mail election that ends on Tuesday.  

The $75,000 contribution to the recall campaign by Marc McKenna, head of McKenna Brothers Paiving, of course, raises questions.  One of the biggest users of paving are governments with streets to pave.  But I also learned that it was at a birthday party for Marc and his brother Matt in 2014, that the infamous Palin family brawl broke out.  I can't completely verify all that was reported in that link, but the BBC also reported on the party and quotes Marc's brother Matt.

So I really didn't get to say the things I was thinking about when I was contemplating this post so let me do it quickly now.

  1. It's hard to make a NO recall sign.  Look at the picture up top.  I think the NO RECALL part should have been bigger than Zaletel's name. Driving down the street you don't have much time to look and you can't be sure if the sign is telling you to vote yes or no because the no is too small.  [UPDATE Oct 25, 2021- walking through my neighborhood this morning I saw this]
    new and improved No Recall sign.  Compare to the one at top - the NO RECALL is much larger.]
  2. It's important to have a recall option.  But it should be a little harder to get it on the ballot.  The problems with Meg Zaletel are NOT issues of her violating the law or misconduct.  These people don't like her politics and can't wait for the next election. 
  3. They also tried to recall Felix Rivera in the last municipal election.  He represents District 4 with Zaletel.  That recall lost in the election.  BUT, that was a regular election.  More people show up at regular elections.  The recall crowd has more momentum in a special election.  
  4. So, as good as Zaletel is, her not being recalled is not at all certain.  
  5. That said, any day now there will be a recall drive started to oust Anchorage's Mayor Dave Bronson.  He's responsible, in my mind, of killing 50-60  people in Anchorage since taking office in July by not taking action to stem the spread of COVID.  In fact his actions have helped it spread rapidly making Alaska the top state in the country in terms of COVID infections per 100,000.  But the petitioners will have more specific violations.  

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Rich Screw The Poor in Netflix's The Billion Dollar Code And Squid Game -

1.   Billion Dollar Code. 

It tells the story of two young, idealistic, naive German nerds in the early 90s who create a program that allows you to fly via your computer screen to any place on earth.  The story skips back and forth between the story of developing Terra View and the law suit against Google and Google Earth for appropriating their creation and violating their patent. 

I don't know how accurately the series portrays the real events, but even if it's not accurate

  1. it's a good story with good characters
  2. the general idea of super large corporations buying out, if not stealing, the work of others and thus taking out competition and creating huge Goliath corporations is what is happening in the world.  Just consider that over the years Google has acquired Blogger (the platform for this blog), and YouTube (where I post videos for this blog), 
Code is in German with subtitles, though I suspect you can listen to it all in English, but I didn't check. It's interesting and humbling hearing the attorneys for Terra View's creators switch back and forth between perfect German and perfect English.  

Another nice feature is that there are only four episodes.  And while they are listed in "Season 1" it essentially ended with S1E4.  

For those interested in how our economy favors the wealthy, definitely watch.  

2.  Squid Game

Netflix was pushing Squid Game and I reviewed the brief description and decided I could pass.  It sounded too violent.  But then I read a review about how it was Netflix's biggest hit ever.  So we watched Episode One. 

Way too violent.  

Then I read another review that talked about how it was a critique of capitalism, particularly in South Korea.  How people in debt are offered an opportunity to play a game and potentially win billions of won.  The players get picked up in vans, put to sleep, and driven to a secret island. 

We decided to give it another try.  What I've said above shouldn't spoil any of it for you. All that happened in the beginning of Episode One.  

But it is a very loose commentary on poverty and debt in South Korea which, along with Yuh-Jung Youn's Academy Award winning film Parasite, have revised my sense of how things are actually going for people in South Korea.  In this series - there are nine episodes in season one and enough loose ends that a second season is inevitable - there is lots of violence and a very clear contrast between the very rich and those who keep falling behind economically.  

I don't know that I would recommend Squid Game.  It's interesting, good film making with good visuals and good acting.  But there's also enough blood to fill a Blood Bank.  And some good twists and turns.  

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Manchin - Thinking Out Loud

[I live in Alaska.  I've passed through West Virginia long ago.  I have no inside knowledge about Manchin.  Just general thoughts about how people behave in political organizations.]

Manchin and Sinema keep trading places in the headlines as the person who is holding climate change and other critical issues hostage.  

Since I live in an oil state, I have an inkling of the pressure that any US Senator from Alaska feels - Democrat or Republican.  When Mark Begich was the Democratic Senator from Alaska, he supported oil development.  It's part of the job of an Alaskan Senator.  Or at least the perception is that if you aren't an oil supporter, you won't get elected.  Oil money will sink your campaign.  So Alaskan Democrats might lobby a Democratic Senator on climate change, but we know oil interests lobby harder.  Sen. Murkowski understands the importance of climate change and bows to oil and GOP pressure.  

So I understand that Manchin needs to stand strong on coal.  He stands strong with the coal industry and the jobs it brings his state.  Even if the demand for coal is waning.  Even if many coal miners die a premature death from black lung disease.  In Alaska oil doesn't actually employ that many people compared to other sectors.  And almost 40% commute from Outside for one or two week rotations. But for the last 40 years it has paid for state government.  Whenever there is any opposition to what the oil companies want, they spend massive amounts of money to sway public opinion that only oil can keep Alaskans employed and enjoying the lifestyle they've come to expect.  Even if it's not true. 

I saw a Tweet yesterday responding to someone complaining that Biden couldn't deliver major legislation the way LBJ or FDR could.  The responders pointed out that LBJ had a 66-34 Democratic majority going into the 1964 and a 68 -32 majority after the election.  There were lots of Democrats from the South that wouldn't vote for the landmark Civil Rights legislation.  LBJ needed Republican votes to beat the filibuster, which in those days you had to actually carry out by speaking 24 hours straight or longer.  But when you were done, the vote was taken and it wasn't 2/3.  Today you just push a button and kill the legislation.  Biden has 48 Democrats and 2 Independents and 50 Republicans. He has no wiggle room whatsoever. 

One could say that by holding up critical climate change legislation to prolong the coal industry's slow death, Manchin is condemning millions of people around the world to premature deaths.  Not just because of this one bill, but because if the US falters on this, then it will give other countries around the world an excuse to go slower too.  And the slower we go, the more people will be displaced and die because of how climate change will play out.  More violent storms.  More drought causing massive fires and forcing people off the land their families have farmed for generations.  More wars to fight for scarce resources like water, arable land, livable temperatures.  And it wouldn't be wrong to say - and history books might - that Manchin was the person who did this.

But Manchin is only the focal point because of other problems as well:

  • Our US Senate is grossly unrepresentative.  Because every state, no matter the population, has two senators, small, rural states have more more senators than their small populations deserve.  Alaska, with 733,391 people has two Senators just like California with almost 40 million people  - 54 times as many people!  Democrats in the Senate represent 43 million more people than the Republican Senators represent.  
  • There are 50 Republican Senators who aren't being put in the spotlight like Manchin.  What are they doing?  There isn't one who has the courage to vote yes?
  • Minority leader McConnell could work out a deal to get this passed.  But making Democrats look bad is his main objective.  That and voter suppression is the only way Republicans can stay in power at all for now.  
I don't know what other pressures Manchin is under.  It's clear he's not looking at his situation in a long term world survival perspective.  He's up for reelection in 2024.  Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels and it's going to end soon,  It's already way down in production and use,

So what must be going on behind the scenes? Some (not mutually exclusive) possibilities.  

  1. He needs to publicly (in West Virginia) appear to be the man who stood up to protect West Virginia's coal,
  2. He needs to protect the coal interests of his major financial backers.
  3. He wants to protect his own financial interests in coal.  

Numbers 2 and 3 are harder to make deals on.  If it were only #1, it would seem like the Democrats could do a number of things that benefit West Virginia in exchange for his vote like:

  1. exempt West Virginia from restrictions on coal- though if power plants are giving incentives for clean fuel, that would mean they would move away from West Virginia coal even if it were exempted.
  2. offer boosts to care for coal mine related health problems for West Virginia
  3. offer job retraining programs for coal miners and incentives for businesses in West Virginia to hire them and/or incentives for companies outside of West Virginia to relocate or open work places in WV
  4. make a big public show of all the sacrifices Democrats had to make to satisfy Manchin for WV consumption
He's already getting lots of attention for standing firm for West Virginia's interests (whether that's true or not, it's the perception) so I'm guessing it's pressure from businesses more than voters.  Or, businesses that will spend money in the next election supporting or opposing Manchin.  While he first got elected by a strong majority in 2012, in 2018 he squeaked by with less than 50% of the vote.  

But life oddly thrusts people into the spotlight for different reasons.  Had Georgia not elected two Democratic Senators, Manchin would be much less important.  Maybe invisible.  And people really mad at Manchin have to remember if he weren't a Democrat, McConnell would still be the Senate Majority leader.  

I'd also note that we see many headlines about Manchin as well as those about Biden being in trouble because conflict and drama attract eyeballs, so the media push the conflict and use competitive sports metaphors as a way of getting more advertisers.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

"Neoclassical economics is a hell of a drug."

The kind of economics taught in intro courses - micro and macro - always seemed to me to be missing a lot.  Like how many truly rational decisions do humans make every day?  It always seemed like a ponzi scheme where you have to keep finding more and more people to buy your product/service. Standing steady is falling behind.  And there was the vast destruction of earth to find and exploit and transport the raw materials needed in production.  And the faith in the bizarre scientific formula:  The Invisible Hand.  And the total lack of ethics as a consideration.  

Then, slowly, within economics itself came people challenging the orthodoxy.  Experimental economics set up actual empirical tests of the previously sacred mantras of market economics.  Then behavioral economics started looking at human economic behavior more carefully.   

That, plus watching the price of text books go up and up and up, made this tweet resonate with me.

[Click on the Tweet Image to get to the whole thread]

There's a whole thread there that's worth  reading.  It links to a free online textbook called The Economy.  Here's the beginning of the Table of Contents:

Sorry it's not clearer.  But you can go to the book yourself.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Why Secrecy At The US Supreme Court?

In a CNN article The secret Supreme Court: Late nights, courtesy votes and the unwritten 6-vote rule  Joan Biskupic,  tells us that the justices have a weekly meeting in secret.

"At their weekly private sessions, the nine decide which pending petitions to take up and, separately, cast votes on cases that already have been argued."

Justice Stephen Breyer is quoted:

"Regarding the general need for confidentiality, Breyer said, 'Transparency is usually a word that means something good, but I would say about the conference, it's important not to have transparency. ... It is very important for people to say what they really think about these cases, and that's what happens. So I worry about changing that and somehow bringing the public into the conference.'" (emphasis added)

 This really needed to be followed up.  Here are some questions I would have wanted to ask in that interview. (I recognize that these things might not come immediately to mind in the interview, but Biscupic is  described by CNN as 

"Joan Biskupic, a full-time CNN legal analyst, has covered the Supreme Court for twenty-five years and is the author of several books on the judiciary."

These are Supreme Court justices with lifetime appointments.  They can't be fired for what they say unless it rises to the level of impeachable by the US Senate. 

Justice Breyer, can you give some hypothetical examples of the kinds of things justices say that you think they wouldn't say if these meetings were public?

It's not that their language or behavior is objectionable because you say:

"What happens," Breyer told CNN, "is it's highly professional. People go around the table. They discuss the question in the case ... the chief justice and Justice (Clarence) Thomas and me and so forth around. ... People say what they think. And they say it politely, and they say it professionally."

Are there people outside the court who they feel accountable to and they would feel compelled to hide their real thoughts so these people wouldn't hear them?

If, for example, someone appointed to the court based on the strong support of the Federalist Society.  Do they say things that organization might object too?  If they said those things at these meetings, isn't it likely that other justices also appointed through the efforts of the Federalist Society would let that be known to the Federalist Society?

Is it because they are polite and reasonable to justices that their 'side' dislikes and that would be embarrassing?  

Are there things you might self-censor if this were to be public?  Why?

Is there an issue that what they say might reveal a bias for or against potential litigants at the court? 

Do they tell jokes that might be offensive to some groups in the US population? 

Are there concerns that US Senators who voted for a judge would regret that vote?  So what?  I mean simply, what would be the consequence to the judge?

Are you Ms. Biscupic perhaps too close to the court that you are reluctant to push Breyer beyond some line of appropriateness?  Would a different reporter who didn't have a relationship with the judges feel more comfortable asking such questions?  Or would such a journalist simply not have the access you have?  And would pushing further to ask these sorts of questions jeopardize your access to the justices?  I know nothing about Ms. Biscupic.  I could be totally wrong here.  I do know there have been concerns that the White House press falls into a relationship with the President and his press secretaries that can be jeopardized by asking unacceptable questions.  That's probably true about journalists who cover the court as well.  

Again, these justices have lifetime appointments.  What do they have to hide at this point?  And from whom?  I'd surely like to hear Justice Breyer or other justices answer these questions.  

I'd also note that I have, in the past, studied the concept of privacy in government, quite closely.  Nearly all public officials fear public scrutiny and in this day and age of social media, any ill-advised words could easily be copied out of context and tweeted to the world.  But Congress has adapted to C-Span.  And justices who feel the same concerns about becoming viral sensations would have a better understanding of the concerns that everyone else has.  

I would argue that all groups that are used to being able to talk, unaccountably, in private, resist when that protection is challenged.  

I recall working hard to get the Anchorage Municipal Assembly covered live by the local cable company when they arrived in Anchorage in the mid 1980s.  Assembly members on all political sides voiced concerns that such exposure would change how members debated.  But after a couple of months it quickly became obvious that a) citizens were tuning in and b) that assembly members forgot the cameras were running and didn't really change their behavior.  Recent turmoil at the Assembly was available for all to see first hand and not simply depend on how the media reported it.

So I would hope that journalists who have access to Supreme Court justices do dig deeper and push the judges to voice exactly how and why they would not be candid if the meetings were public.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

Statewide Redistricting Info Session Tonight at 7pm

 I haven't been getting emails from the Alaska Redistricting Board lately.  There is something not working.  I don't know if it is just my email or if others are also affected too.  I did talk to the Board's executive director and he sent me a copy of the last one.  It's at the bottom of this post.  Here's the link for tonight:

Meet the Maps:  Friday, October 15: 6:00pm – 7:00pm: ZOOM:

There was a previous statewide meeting like this and the videotape of that meeting is here. It gives an overview of the maps and some of the issues that the mappers ran up against.    This is presented by Peter Torkelson, the board's executive director who knows as much as anyone about this decade's process.  

Here's the last email message sent to subscribers from the Board:

"A couple of quick updates for today:

  • Public Testimony received though Saturday, October 9 has been posted on: Alaska Redistricting Board - Minutes & Audio (  I have not been able to spend a lot of time on emails so if you sent something to the “testimony” email asking a specific question and I haven’t gotten back to you, I will be getting to it soon. You can always send an email to me at this address if you have urgent questions.
  • District, Regional, and Statewide map collections – all six maps in one file for each area – will now be posted on the Online Public Notice system for each community public hearing (the links are included in the information below). The statewide and regional collections are already posted on our map gallery, but I’ll also be adding those to the public notice so they’re all in one place.  I have prioritized this week’s meetings (which should be done today) and am working on getting the rest posted – all of them should be posted by the end of the week. I will also be going back and posting for the previous meetings – you can find these in the Online Public Notice system by searching for “Alaska Redistricting Board Public Hearing“ in archived notices.

    NOTE: The Anchorage district file is 96 maps – if you’re having trouble finding the appropriate maps for your area, it is probably easiest to use the Anchorage regionals to create a list of districts. Still having trouble? Feel free to email me your address or area of interest and I’ll pull the district files for you.

"Juli Lucky (she/her)

Staff, Alaska Redistricting Board

(907) 251-9295 cell



Upcoming Meetings and Important Dates:

Open House/Public Hearings:

October 12: Seward: 4:00pm – 6:00pm: Community Library

October 13: Homer: 5:00pm – 7:00pm: Best Western Bidarka Inn:

October 14: Soldotna/Kenai: 5:30pm – 7:30pm: Kenai Peninsula Borough Building: Online Public Notice

October 15: Kodiak: 12:00pm ‐2:00pm: Afognak Building: Online Public Notice:

October 18: Delta Junction: 12:00pm – 2:00pm: Community Center: Online Public Notice:

October 18: Fairbanks: 5:30pm ‐7:30pm: Carlson Center

October 19: Bethel: 4:00pm – 6:00pm: Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center

October 21: Dillingham: 12:00pm – 2:00pm: City Chambers

October 22: Dutch Harbor: 4:00pm – 6:00pm: The Grand Aleutian:

October 25, Palmer: 6:00pm – 8:00pm: Assembly Chambers:

October 26, Wasilla: 6:00pm – 8:00pm: Menard Center:

October 27: Anchorage: 5:00pm – 7:00pm: The Lake Front:

October 28: Utqiagvik: 4:30pm ‐ 6:30pm: North Slope Borough Assembly Chambers

November 1: Cordova: 4:00pm – 6:00pm: The Cordova Center


Statewide Call-ins (will be noticed as soon as detailed schedule is finalized):

Teleconference numbers: from Anchorage 563-9085; from Juneau 586-9085; 
from anywhere else: 844-586-9085

Wednesday, October 20

Saturday, October 30


Meet the Maps:  Friday, October 15: 6:00pm – 7:00pm: ZOOM:


November 10, 2021: Day 90: Adoption of Final Redistricting Plan"