The first day of the trial challenging the Alaska Redistricting Board's work is underway. Today, they'll be kicking it off with the East Anchorage plaintiffs, who are challenging the Senate pairings with the conservative Eagle River.

#akleg #akredistrict

It's going to be an unusual trial because the direct testimony has already been filed. The opening arguments, too. They'll be starting out with cross examination and then direct testimony.
First, they're taking up several objections raised by the Alaska Redistricting Board against lay testimony and expert testimony brought by East Anchorage.

Judge Matthews rejects both motions, adding that he'll take the hearsay testimony as it comes.
Judge Matthews says the Alaska Supreme Court has DENIED the Alaska Redistricting Board's motion that would have kept the documents the board is attempting to keep secret with attorney-client privilege.

He says he has yet to review the documents but will have a ruling soon.
East Anchorage has a pair of motions came in late last night. One that attempts to strike a portion of testimony from Board director Peter Torkelson and then something dealing with cross-examination and redirect.

Matthews says you don't get to redirect if someone doesn't cross.
As for that Alaska Supreme Court order, it doesn't make any of those documents automatically open to the plaintiffs. Judge Matthews wants an in camera review of the documents to review whether the attorney-client privilege claims are legitimate.
Alaska Redistricting Board counsel Matt Singer says a lot of words that just go over my head.

I think the gist is, essentially, "It's not fair!"
Singer says that the current setup bars the Board from bringing up Board members Marcum, Binkley or Simpson (the conservatives) from additional questioning today. Judge Matthews says, basically, he should've accounted for it during the depositions.
Singer says not being able to bring back Simpson, Marcum or Binkley just because Wells isn't planning on doing a cross examination of them isn't fair: "A manipulation of the evidence, it's manifestly unjust."
Holly Wells, attorney for East Anchorage plaintiffs, says allowing Marcum, Binkley and Simpson to testify today would be essentially allowing another round of direct testimony. She says it's completely different than allowing East Anchorage to call Bahnke for cross.
Wells says the board has been "extremely aggressive" with the East Anchorage plaintiffs. She basically calls Singer shady in how he's handled the case, worries that he plans on introducing a wholly new argument to the court.
Brena, attorney for Skagway/Valdez, says board shouldn't get a second crack at creating the record: "They shouldn't be able to make up a record after they made a decision."
Singer: "This changes every time we meet!"

He says that the "decisionmakers" should get a chance to explain their reasoning to the court... again.
Judge Matthews says he'll take up the issue at a break later.

He notes that Singer could've filed supplemental affidavits... as he has already been doing.
Alright! Into witnesses from East Anchorage.

First up is David Dunsmore, who worked for Alaskans for Fair Redistricting (the progressive-leaning group), who was present throughout the board actions.

Singer will start with cross.
Singer asks about his employment. Dunsmore worked for Wielechowski, then for AFFR, and then now Wielechowski again?

Singer: That's the union group, right?

Dunsmore: Unions were one of our backers.

Singer: That's all I had for you.
Any cross for Dunsmore?

Wells: Nope.

Judge Matthews: Anyone else want to question Dunsmore?

Other attorneys: Nope.
Up now is Felisa Wilson, a retired Air Force Major who testified in favor of keeping East Anchorage together and JBER tied to Anchorage rather than Eagle River.

Singer: You liked the House districts, but not the Senate right?

Wilson: Yep.
Singer: And you're the treasurer for the Alaska Democratic Party, right?

Wilson: Yep, it's a volunteer position.

Singer: That's it, thanks for your service.
Brena has a question for Wilson: Do you believe the Senate pairings were constitutional?

Wilson: I can't say anything about the constitutionality of the Senate pairings.
Brena: Do you think they considered the socio-economic integration of the communities?

Wilson: No, I believe Eagle River should stay with Eagle River and East Anchorage should stay with East Anchorage. Eagle River is a cohesive community.

She mentions EagleExit.
Wilson: "When I lived in Eagle River, it was like Mayberry. I never had to leave. ... It was fantastic and wonderful."

She says when she moved into Anchorage, her community became JBER and Government Hill area. Said it was similarly cohesive with itself.
On re-direct from Wells, Wells asks whether her time with the Alaska Democratic Party affected her testimony or testimony to the board.

Wilson: No. ... I was working for the common good. I'm concerned minority voices in North and South Muldoon will be diluted.
Wilson says she never did outreach to Eagle River trailer parks because there weren't any.

Says she's done much outreach to East Anchorage trailer parks because it's her community now.
Singer says they're getting off the topic.

Judge Matthews agrees
Wells, in a new line of questioning: What does voter dilution mean to you?

Singer: Objection!

Wells: Dilution is a loaded term, I hope that the court can understand what she means.

Judge Matthews: It's beyond the scope, objection sustained.

That's it for Wilson.
Now up is the East Anchorage expert witness Dr. Chase Hensel.

Singer starts with cross examination that outlines Hensel's work with rural Alaska and their (Singer and Hensel) previous work on historical trail access. Hensel has some work as a litigation consultant.
Singer is asking, basically, whether Dr. Hensel is competent to perform voting block analysis or race dilution.

Wells notes that Dr. Hensel has not claimed to be an expert on either issue. His perspective is dealing with geographic dilution.
Singer says the East Anchorage plaintiffs have injected race into the issue.

Wells says that's not the case, it's about what understanding a community of interest is.
Matthews overrules Wells' objection. Says it's broadly applicable to the testimony.

Singer continues: Rep. Matt Claman recommended you, right? You guys are rafting buddies, right?

Hensel: That's correct.
Singer: Did you ever come into Anchorage to visit the place as part of trial preparation?

Hensel: That's correct.

Singer: Do you know about Scenic Foothills?

Hensel: I've read a lot about it.
Singer starts questioning Hensel on the Alaska Constitution.

Wells: Objection! Hensel has never been presented as a constitutional expert and Singer is starting to present it as fact.

Judge Matthews sustains the objection.3
Singer: Does "community of interest" appear in the Alaska Constitution or any state law?

Hensel: I don't think so.

Singer then brings up Facebook .
There's something about the Eagle River Facebook page. Singer notes that there's a few thousand in the group when there are tens of thousands of people living in Eagle River.

Hensel says it's not clear whether that's meaningful or not.
Singer asks if Dr. Hensel has any notes. He says he has been making some and had six lines of something he thought about before taking the stand and wanted to bring up if given the opportunity.

Singer asks him to toss 'em. Judge Matthews and Wells both agree. NO NOTES.
Singer pops up some minority data, noting that there's a difference between total population and voting-age population.

There's an objection from Wells: "Mr. Singer is in essence testifying and that's outside the scope of the testimony of Dr. Hensel."
Singer: They're making a claim of minority voter dilution. I'm going to make a case against it.

Wells: He's replacing expert testimony with himself.
Matthews seems to kinda side with Wells.

It's a trial with a lot of kindas.
Singer is having trouble getting one of the documents. He asks Baxter to put it back up, who notes that it was actually an assistant for Wells that put it up.

Judge Matthews: You don't have it?
Singer suggests they maybe take a break: So, we don't waste the court's time.

Judge Matthews: Or anyone else's.

They figure it out and get the chart back up.
Then Singer asks Dr. Hensel for some analysis.

Dr. Hensel: This isn't something I studied. ... It seems like a waste of the court's time.
Singer: Did you consider how your proposed pairing (North Muldoon and South Muldoon) would affect other districts?

Dr. Hensel: No, I wasn't asked to consider that.
Singer: If we assume that White voters vote differently from minority voters.

Dr. Hensel: I'm not willing to agree to that.

He adds that issues like income, etc would also have an impact on it.
Dr. Hensel says race, ethnicity is important but not necessarily the key factor in deciding whether a community is closely connected. He notes income and other factors bring things together.
Singer: Your proposition is North Muldoon and South Muldoon belong together? And Eagle River and Eagle River belong together?

Dr. Hensel: Yes.

Singer: Did you ever think about pairing East Anchorage with Mountain View because they both have a lot of minorities?
Dr. Hensel says it seems like the board was dead-set on Eagle River pairing with JBER and is using it as justification for other things: "It seems disingenuous to cut the deck one way and then claim it's all you have to work with."
Singer: Is it disingenuous to say that East Anchorage is connected to South Muldoon when they might also be connected to another community?

Dr. Hensel: This was what I was asked to consider.
Dr. Hensel: What I was asked is whether S. Muldoon and Eagle River were properly paired together.

Singer: But you didn't look at whether S. Muldoon had connections to the (UMed district).

Dr. Hensel: No, I wansn't.

Singer: Or whether N. Muldoon had connections to Mt. View.
Singer on redistricting integration being based on "Live, work and play." He asks about the major employers: Airport, etc.

Singer: Are any located in South Muldoon or Eagle River?

Hensel: No.
Then there's some talk about the ski areas in the Anchorage area, golf courses and hiking at Arctic Valley.

Objection from Wells: He's testifying.

Judge Matthews: Question mark.
A phone goes off for a while.

Dr. Hensel: Sorry, it'll be over in a while.

Judge Matthews: If that's the worst that happens in this trial, we're probably doing OK.
Singer is basically making the case that the Anchorage municipality is completely integrated with one another and any effort to connect one district with another is moot. (The precedent KINDA agrees with this, that the board can do whatever it wants within muni boundaries)
Singer: Your claim is Eagle River is going to drown out Muldoon.

Dr. Hensel: By "drown out" you mean dilute?

Singer: Well, what does dilution mean to you?

Dr. Hensel: It means your vote counts less than it did before.
Singer introduces data produced from Board director Torkelson. Wells has an objection and says that if they want to use data from Torkelson's affidavit then they need to postpone this testimony because his affidavit has inexplicably changed some numbers.
This seems like one of the issues raised by Wells in the last-minute motions last night. She's basically alleging that Torkelson's affidavit is present numbers as if they are unedited when it appears that the numbers were, in fact, tweaked census numbers.
Things are getting pretty confused here.

Judge Matthews says they'll take their morning 15-minute break to get it sorted out.
Dr. Hensel raises his hand, noting that the numbers presented here are at least 2% off of what Torkelson had in his affidavit.

Judge Matthews says they'll deal with it after the break.
Back in 15!
Apparently the accuracy of the numbers that were cited has been an issue for several months, only being accurately updated in the last week or two.
Coffee and toast acquired in time for them to just be coming back now.
The impact of those incorrect numbers isn't immediately clear, but we might find out soon.
Back into cross of Dr. Hensel, Singer asks if he talked to anyone during the break. Hensel says, yes, he talked with Wells because he was concerned that the numbers just provided by the board were inaccurate.

"I just wondered what that error was."
Dr. Hensel notes that the colorful chart provided earlier, which were numbers provided by the board, didn't match the inset that Singer provided in Torkelson's affidavit were wrong.

Singer then tries to explain why the difference.

Wells objects as he's testifying

They move on.
Now they spend a bunch of time on this map, talking about whether something's contiguous or not.

They get onto a point on whether districts need to be connected by a road to be contiguous. Dr. Hensel says it should, at least for Anchorage. (S. Muldoon and Eagle River are not).
Singer says Dr. Hensel is making stuff up because the Alaska Constitution doesn't mention roads, noting such a requirement wouldn't be feasible for rural Alaska.

There's an objection from Wells again. Overruled.

Hensel notes that planes, boats can be connectors for rural AK.
The whole point that Singer is making is, essentially, that you can connect any urban district with any other urban district as long as they are in a municipality.
Singer: So you're saying that people have a constitutional right to drive thru their district without leaving it.

Hensel: You're mischaracterizing it. What I'm saying is it seems odd to drive thru two House districts to get from Eagle River to S. Muldoon.
Singer argues contiguous road connections are no big deal because most legislators work at the midtown Wells Fargo building anyways.
Singer: So, you're saying that the two Eagle River districts MUST vote together.

Hensel: My point is the power of the voters of Eagle River is magnified and the power of the voters in (S. Muldoon) is diluted.
Singer asks how it's diluted.

Hensel says that's because S. Muldoon is a swing district and Eagle River is a block Republican district.
Singer says that S. Muldoon district has only voted for a Democrat once in the legislative races (Liz Snyder in 2020, she also nearly won it in 2018).

Hensel notes that he's also looked at the presidential races and other statewide races, where it's been closer.
There's a line of questioning from Singer that is to the effect of "how do we know anything about anything when it comes to how S. Muldoon votes."
And now we're looking at the 2013 proclamation maps.
That was back when the South Muldoon district was paired together with A South Anchorage seat through some tenuous Hillside connections.

Dr. Hensel: I don't think it was a good pairing, either.

Singer: But it was approved, right?

Hensel: I believe so.
Singer: Can you think of any laws that specifically affected East Anchorage rather than Eagle River?

Hensel: No.

Singer: That's it for questioning. I prefer working with you than sitting across the table from you.
Stacey Stone, attorney for the Mat-Su plaintiffs, has some questions for Dr. Hensel.

She asks whether he had been involved in a trial involving Ahtna. (He didn't testify, but had an affidavit)
Wells on cross: Tell us what kind of data you gather in your work?


Judge Matthews: Overruled, you brought it up.

Dr. Hensel talks about collecting various different metrics to understand community and community connections.
Wells: What is your experience with community-based research in Alaska?

Singer objects, is overruled.

Hensel talks about several rural communities in Southwest, Southeast, North Slope, the Interior and several Anchorage-area civil trials.
Wells: Why would you consider total population rather than just voting-age population?

Hensel: 15-year-olds are part of the community as well and they'll be voters under this plan.

Wells: Were the numbers exact or rounded?

Hensel: Rounded, I was looking for a general sense.
Wells: How do you define if a community exists?

Hensel talks about socio-economic factors but also the people's sense of place, referencing EagleExit "where do you shop, where do you worship, where do you recreate?"
Dr. Hensel says Muldoon does not have the same cohesive connection within itself as Eagle River has within itself but says that's largely due to external factors like a "topsy turvy" lack of zoning.
Dr. Hensel says that Eagle River might share a school district with East Anchorage, but the schools and academic achievement paint very different pictures.

Singer objects: This is narrative at this point.

Judge Matthews asks them to move on.
That's it for Dr. Hensel's testimony.

Judge Matthews has no additional questions.
That's it for the Alaska Redistricting Board's cross-examination of the East Anchorage's witnesses.

Singer now wants to bring up Marcum for re-direct, which was the issue at the beginning of the today's trial. Plaintiffs argued against this because Wells is not doing a cross.
Judge Matthews says he needs to still think this position through. Will address it after the lunch break.

Now up is Board Member Melanie Bahnke, who Singer wanted to bar from testifying because Bahnke didn't support the East Anchorage pairings.
Wells now suggests they take a break. She may consider no longer calling ANY board members if Singer is planning on trying to use the fact that she testified as a weapon against the trial.

10-minute break.
They're back now.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Matt Acuña Buxton

Matt Acuña Buxton Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @mattbuxton

Jan 21
On the board testimony issues, Judge Matthews: "Both parties make arguments that are well-grounded."
He says Singer already had the chance to file testimony and supplemental affidavits for his witnesses. Singer doesn't get to call additional re-directs (additional questioning) but can file supplemental affidavits for consideration.

Plaintiffs would get opportunity for cross.
Wells apologizes for requiring Bahnke fly into Anchorage, says she will not be calling her for cross examination today
Read 33 tweets
Jan 20
The House Finance Committee is underway with an overview hearing on Gov. Dunleavy's budget proposal.


Steininger explaining how the state's budget has been reduced by ~5% since Dunleavy took office with most of the cuts coming to the University of Alaska and a few other areas. Notes quite a bit of it, though, has been eaten up by more spending on public safety, corrections.
Rep. Foster asks why Steininger chose FY19 as the starting point, asking whether it's intended to make the budget look better.

Steininger says it's to "focus on the achievements of this administration."
Read 36 tweets
Jan 20
S. Finance is underway. They're taking a look at the revenue forecast with DoR's Chief Economist Dan Stickel. Stedman prefaces by saying investments have surpassed oil, but "that might be switching around."


Stedman says they all need to start settling into a base number for oil price. The state has started to update it more regularly, which Stedman suggests is not particularly helpful because it can make for big swings in the budget outlook.
How's the state's economy doing? "Still a ways to go," Stickel says.
Read 21 tweets
Jan 20
Meanwhile, the Superior Court has its final pre-trial briefing. The Alaska Redistricting Board is refusing to make members Borromeo and Bahnke available to testify on Senate pairings.

Singer: "I don't have any obligation" to provide witnesses who didn't support the plan.

Singer, board's counsel, says the depositions are fine.

It sounds like they're going to be putting up Budd Simpson, not Bethany Marcum—the member who came up with the pairings.

Judge Matthews seems to agree with Singer. "What more different information am I likely to get?"
Attorney Holly Wells, the attorney arguing the Senate pairings, says that Singer prevented Borromeo and Bahnke from speaking about executive sessions.

She says they're prejudiced, here.

Judge Matthews seems to suggest there's some merit to that argument.
Read 16 tweets
Jan 19
For the afternoon #akleg, we've got concurrent hearings of the S. Finance Committee on Senate President Micciche's alcohol rewrite bill:…

House Judiciary on a bill dealing with access to MJ conviction records by Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins:…
JKT on his legislation, says it would remove some records of convictions for simple marijuana possession from the public record. You'd have to have been 21+ at the time with no other crimes committed in the act to have your record sealed.

He says it matches the current times. Image
Over in Senate Finance (I'm not sure why I'm doing this to myself), Sen. Micciche says not everyone agrees with everything in his alcohol bill but says it has broad support from the industry associations.

He's been carrying it since 2015. It's been sunk by industry many times.
Read 16 tweets
Jan 19
The Senate Finance Committee is underway. On today's agenda is a look at the state's production forecast (which plays into revenue and therefore the budget).


#akleg Image
Sen. Stedman is opening up with an introduction of committee staff as well as legislative aides. When he gets to Sen. Bishop's team, Stedman says: "His duties are whatever his boss assigns him."
Sen. Stedman on the budget process: "We will pull out of the non-reoccurring funds ... and boil it down to the base budget."

"It's very important that we have a base document to go through" instead of the Gov's budget that he claims "is balanced when it's not."
Read 23 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!