It's trial day for the Mat-Su Borough/MSB Manager Brown's challenge to the Alaska Redistricting Board. They've got two main points:

We don't like Valdez; they don't like us.
You crammed too many voters into Mat-Su districts.


#akleg #akredistrict
They'll also get an out-of-order witness from the Valdez case, Valdez Mayor Sharon Scheidt.

The Redistricting Board had objected to several Mat-Su witnesses (their testimony is pre-filed) and Judge Matthews has overruled them, but notes that he'll still weigh the concerns.
First up is Mat-Su Mayor Edna Devries. Questioning first comes from Brena (Valdez) who's asking her about the socio-economic integration between Valdez and Mat-Su.

She says Mat-Su and Valdez are pretty different.
In cross questioning from Singer, the redistricting board, points out that DeVries was a legislator for a district that covered the Mat-Su AND Valdez. He also points out the connection between Mat-Su, the oil industry and Anchorage.
Singer making several points that Valdez residents would go to Palmer to get several kinds of services—car dealerships, big-box stores, etc—and it'd be the closest.
Singer asks DeVries, basically, if lawmakers need to make hard decisions and sometimes you can't always satisfy everyone. Devries agrees.
In redirect, Stacey Stone, the attorney for Mat-Su, asks if you're coming in from Glenallen, what big box store would you hit first?

DeVeries: The Fred Meyer in Palmer (which is the same for Valdez)
Now up is Michael Brown, the Mat-Su Borough Manager. He gets crossed first by Brena, who is asking about the connection between Mat-Su and Valdez.

Is Valdez part of the railbelt? No.
Does the Richardson connect Valdez and Fairbanks freight and also there's TAPS? Yes.
Objection from Baxter, the other attorney for the board: Leading!

Brena: It's not leading, it's cross-examination.

Judge Matthews: Overruled, but you are aligned.
There's an objection from Amdur-Clark (where the previous objection might've come from now that I think about it) calling it leading.

Brena reminds the court that he's a cross-examination.
Brena: What was the testimony about from Mat-Su on the Valdez pairing?

Brown: "Very generally it was opposed to being paired with the city of Valdez."

Brena: How about Denali?

Brown: They liked that.
Brena asks about some of the policy interests of the Mat-Su Borough vs. Valdez.

Brown says the Mat-Su doesn't generally care about the Alaska Marine Highway System.

(Which is correct, at least judging by their representation in the Alaska Legislature)
They're going over some of the connections between Valdez and Mat-Su. It's getting pretty into the weeds.

Amdur-Clark, attorney for Doyon group, says it's outside the scope of direct testimony. Baxter, for the board agrees. Overruled.

Brown says he doesn't know whatever it is.
Brown on the Valdez and Mat-Su: "What I'd say generally speaking is we lack a number of common interests."
A lot of back and forth that essentially boils down to: Valdez doesn't even go here.
Now into cross from the Alaska Redistricting Board, being handled by Lee Baxter. Basic line of questioning so far is:

Redistricting Board has to serve everyone, can't preference one area.
Brown believes Mat-Su will continue grow but can't actually prove it.
Baxter: You said Mat-Su and Valdez share NO social concerns?
Brown: I think it's very little.

Baxter has them pull up his affidavit that says "no" social concerns.
Baxter asks whether health care access, poverty, etc are concerns that both Mat-Su and Valdez would share?

Brown: Mat-Su cares about it, I would assume Valdez cares about hose things.
Observation: Mat-Su Borough Manager Brown sounds kinda like Danny McBride.
Baxter: Has the Valdez vote ever impacted an election?

Brown: I'd have to look at the data.

Baxter: Do you know Valdez is arguing Mat-Su is diluting their vote? How could Valdez also be diluting your vote?

Brown: The interests are so different.
Baxter asks whether there's a difference between not having shared interests and having contrary interests.

Brown returns to the ferry system: "It is not a top priority for the Mat-Su Borough, I suspect Valdez would see it differently."
Now in cross is Tanner Amdur-Clark, the attorney representing the Doyon intervenors (who are arguing against the Mat-Su/Valdez cases in order to defend the rural Interior district from further changes).

He's asking Brown about the assertion the MSB was due a certain # of seats.
Amdur-Clark goes to ask Brown about something regarding the maps. He goes to the Alaska Redistricting Board's online interactive map, which lands him with an objection from Stone.

Judge Matthews sustains the objection, noting that they agreed long ago not to use websites.
Amdur-Clark asks to read the URL into the record.

Judge Matthews: "The answer is no"
Taking a 5-minute break to get things sorted out.
Alright they're back. Going over the maps for the Interior/Fairbanks. Amdur-Clark asks whether he'd agree that the deviation is about 4.5%

Brown says he has no knowledge of whether that's accurate.
Now up is Valdez Mayor Sharon Scheidt, who's starting off with cross from Stacey Stone (atty for the MSB). She's testifying about Valdez's integration with the Richardson Highway (which would be the Interior district that Doyon's defending).
Scheidt's testimony largely mirrors testimony from Brown. She says Mat-Su would dominate the vote in the district but "not even likely aware of many of our issues."
Singer: Would you agree that Mat-Su and Anchorage have economic connections?

Scheidt: It seems as if they would.
Singer starts asking Scheidt about Valdez High School's basketball cheerleading 2021-2022 season schedule...
Not ENTIRELY sure about the point about that, but the gist seems to be that Valdez students travel all over the place.
Now they're looking at some of the proposals put in by Valdez. It would have split the Interior districts into two separate House districts (which is why Doyon is opposing it)
Singer is outlining some of the previous precedent that argues excess population of a borough/municipality should be kept together in a district, not split.
Now on cross is Amdur-Clark (Doyon group).

He asks about Valdez's connection with communities north. She says they're connected going north, like Kenny Lake, Chitina and Willow Creek.
Then he pulls up a map that shows some of them being split between the current district and the one that Valdez wants to be in.
The overall point Amdur-Clark is making, which includes going back to some previous maps, is that the current layout isn't entirely out of line with the historical maps.
Amdur-Clark is going after Scheider's assertion that Valdez is more socio-economically integrated under an alternative plan. He asks if she has done a specific analysis on these claims.

She says no, but that's her understanding from her experience.
Amdur-Clark wraps up after some back and forth. They're going into a break.

There's some discussion about whether Scheidt can talk with Brena during the break. He can but she can be asked about what they talked about.

Back in an hour.
Back from the lunch break.

Now into redirect of Valdez mayor Sharon Scheidt.

They're looking at the initial versions of the board's adopted plans, which both called for Valdez to be placed in the rural Interior district rather in the Mat-Su district where the board put them.
In the final plan, the board moved Cantwell out of the Denali Borough and into the Interior district.

Brena is homing in on this move, which he calls a "strange appendage." The questioning is generating a lot of objections from board counsel Matt Singer.
Brena notes, basically, that the Alaska Redistricting Board broke the boundaries on the Denali Borough twice to create the final maps in apparent violation of the legal precedent (which was relied on for the creation of the Fairbanks North Star Borough maps)
A lot of Brena's questioning is running into objections from Singer. He's usually pivoting away rather than challenging them.

Essentially laying out Valdez's integration with the various surrounding areas.
Showing her a Valdez proposals, Brena asks: "Does this map make sense to you as something the board should've been able to figure out?"

Scheidt: Yes. Not perfect, but everyone gets a little.

Brena: Everyone should give a little, don't you think?

Amdur-Clark: Objection!
Brena compares the previous plans, which made the Valdez-containing House district ~45% Mat-Su, to the current plan, which makes the Valdez-containing district 75% Mat-Su. He asks why it matters.

Scheidt: I believe it's a dilution of votes.
Brena notes that Valdez has historically been paired with Richardson corridor or Prince Williams Sound. Brena: Have we ever been orphaned from both since statehood?

Scheidt: No.
Brena asks a question about the board process.

Objection! Leading!

Brena: He's right, it was leading.
Brena asks whether the final map came as a surprise.

Singer: Objection!

Brena: I was just asking whether it surprised her.


Scheidt: Yes, I was.
Brena asking a lot about Valdez's actions in the redistricting process. He asks the purpose of the city offering its own plan, asking if it was to "get the board back on track."

Singer objects, sustained.

Brena rephrases.

Scheidt says it was a starting point.
Then there's this proposed map that would totally upend the rural districts in order to put Valdez where it wants.

Scheidt, Valdez's mayor, says it's a better map on all counts.
Brena: I'm done with the journey of the maps, but I'm not done with my witness.
Brena, calling back to the board's presentation of the high school sports schedule, asks whether it should affect the court's decision on house maps?

Scheidt says no, noting that most of the conference ACTUALLY is spent in the Richardson corridor (where they want to be)
Brena: You recall being told to suck it up, right? (Yes) Do you know of anything Fairbanks, Doyon or Ahtna asked for that they didn't get?

Scheidt: No.
And that's it for Valdez Mayor Scheidt.

Back to the Mat-Su plaintiffs, who'll be presenting their expert witness. Taking 5 or so while they get him logged in.
Into the portion of the hearing where we're getting more technical issues. For a minute, all audio was playing back about 20-30 seconds.
The Mat-Su plaintiffs are now presenting their witness, Stephen Colligan.
Asked about the maps by Brena (representing Valdez), Colligan says Valdez and Mat-Su don't fit together and are competing for resources (mentions ports).
Colligan says the board's refusal to acknowledge Fairbanks (Binkley's hometown) could be split until very late in the process created a cascading set of problems that rushed the board through many other decisions (like what to do with Valdez).
Brena continues his questioning about the board's priorities. Colligan suggests that Alaska Redistricting Board chair John Binkley played favorites with Fairbanks and Interior villages.
Ladies and gentlemen: The Cantwell Carveout.

Brena: Does this strike you as a "strange appendage?"

Colligan: It's offensive and I can't unthink it.

(I mean... he's not wrong)
Colligan notes that it's not just offensive sophomorically, but says that as a mapper it looks like a bunch of unfinished work.

IIRC, this was made pretty loosely as they were finalizing the process. Not any objection at the time.
Colligan brings up the concept that constituents should be able to drive through their district without leaving it.

It's a similar point that was raised by the East Anchorage plaintiffs, which was opposed by the Board attorney who argued there's no constitutional basis for that.
Colligan's critical of the board decision to start mapping in Southeast, where the geography makes it difficult to meet pop. goals.

Says it created a mess in Mat-Su "It's like when you ask your kids to clean the house and they sweep it all under the bed to make it look clean."
They're getting into process issues, arguing the board rushed its process.

Colligan: Redistricting is an abstract art and it's hard to do Picasso by committee.
Into cross examination from the board, led by Lee Baxter instead of Singer. Baxter points out that Colligan was the former GOP Party chair and worked on Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting.
Baxter: Are you aware the Alaska Redistricting board can't favor one group over others? Its job is to produce the best map for all?

Colligan: I understand that, probably better than the board.
Colligan keeps elaborating.

Baxter: We've got a clock we've gotta stick to, please stop elaborating.
Baxter, referencing Colligan's "offensive" appendage map, asks him to look at this appendage into the Fairbanks North Star Borough and asks him if it's offensive.

Colligan says he can't say.
Then he pulls up the proposed map by Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting (the Ruedrich, GOP-leaning group) and asks Colligan whether he thinks a district going from Anchorage Hillside, Turnagain arm and onto the Kenai Peninsula was offensive.

Colligan says no.
There's an objection from Stone, saying he's being presented as a Mat-Su witness and it shouldn't branch out.

Amdur-Clark (for Doyon): "What's good for the goose is good for the gander here, c'mon!"

Matthews allows the questioning.
Now they're into the socio-economic integration of some of the Mat-Su and the Denali boroughs, which are paired together into the same House district (well, minus the Cantwell carveout):
And now into the "does contiguity mean you can drive a car throughout it without leaving its boundaries?" argument. Going over several other districts on whether they're contiguous.

Colligan notes you need to look at the transportation modes used within a district.
Baxter notes that some of the maps produced by AFFER (Colligan/Ruedrich's GOP-leaning group) would've orphaned Badger area in Fairbanks, failing this contiguity test.
Baxter: You made up the automobile test for this litigation, didn't you?

Stone objects, noting it's a transportation contiguity test.

Colligan agrees that it's about the forms of transportation used within a district.
A bunch of challenging of the AFFER plan that basically argues it wasn't any better—and possibly worse—than what the board came up with on the whole.
The board wraps up its questioning of Colligan.

They're taking a break and then will be back with continued cross from Amdur-Clark (Doyon) and then redirect from Stone (Mat-Su). It's looking like they might not finish with Colligan today.
Alright, the Alaska Redistricting Board trial is back.

Doyon's Amdur-Clark is doing cross of Colligan.
A lot of questioning about the internal process of the Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting.
Amdur-Clark: Was the point of AFFER to get more Republicans get elected to the state Legislature?

Stone objects.

Colligan says that despite being the former GOP chair and working with Ruedrich, that wasn't the point of their plans.
Amdur-Clark asks whether it's a coincidence that AFFER's plan would elect more Republicans than the plan adopted by the board.

Colligan reference the Senate Minority (Dems) plan.

Amdur-Clark: I'm not sure that answers my question.
One of the key issues raised by Mat-Su is that the deviations over 1% or 2% should invalidate the plan.

Amdur-Clark asks whether there's any cases that specifically say such a deviation is actually unconstitutional.

Colligan says no, but says it did come up in last round.
Amdur-Clark notes that one of AFFER's plans included Cordova in the Interior district (that Amdur-Clark is defending on behalf of Doyon).
Amdur-Clark brings up the whole "everything within a municipality is socioeconomically integrated" point. It's an important point for how House districts are drawn, which Amdur-Clark says runs against how the AFFER plans were drawn.
There's some previous testimony from Colligan that argues the board needed to respect some boundary within the Mat-Su Borough that Amdur-Clark brings up.
Colligan keeps elaborating on several points, which is irking Amdur-Clark. That's because it's eating into his time allocation for his case.
Amdur-Clark is going after the position that you need to be able to drive everywhere in a district without leaving it. He notes that the AFFER plan that paired Hillside Anchorage with Nikiski would've done just that.
In redirect by Stone, she asks Colligan why he said he knew the process better than the board.

He says it's because they all went off on their own, got dug in and then spent the final days fighting instead of addressing the Mat-Su Borough's mapping concerns.
The questioning largely centered around Colligan's observations of the board process with the takeaway being that he didn't think very highly of it.

That's it for him. Before they wrap up, they're going over some housekeeping issues.
Judge Matthews says that he's still in the process of reviewing the attorney-client privilege raised by the Alaska Redistricting Board.

Stone says they're getting together an exhibit list for the remainder of the trial so the board and Amdur-Clark can review it.

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#akleg #akredistrict

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