Monday, July 10, 2006
Now, for some fun
With my case resolved, I think it's time to share some of the more... exceptional e-mails that were exchanged, so that the public has a more complete view of how exactly Student Action behaves.
This is long, so I'm going to do what passes for a cut on my template. Also, blockquotes are necessary to catch italicized emphasis. I might shift over to blockquoting overall, so let me know what you think. If you want the short version, scroll down to the TEMPER TANTRUM notice. Otherwise, read it in sittings.
Shortly after Executive Order #7, in which Manuel Buenrostro (or Manny Buenrostro, for Googling purposes) declared his party the victor and said nobody could do anything about it, and the subsequent executive orders by Oren Gabriel, Ben filed charge sheets against them. The body of the e-mail was:
To Whom It May Concern -
The following two charge sheets have been attached in response to orders made by President Buenrostro and Senator Gabriel. Documents refenced in these charge sheets have also been attached.
Outgoing ASUC senator and "Future American Senator" David Kim responded, in senatorial form:
Dude just accept your obvious loss. The J-Council doesn't exist for one to easily manipulate/solely influence from behind.
Apparently, it exists to be unconstitutionally overriden. Note, of course, that it wouldn't be getting "solely influence"d if Student Action would actually show up to the god damned hearings. Here, the "obvious loss" appears to be "having been outmaneuvered through a constitutional loophole."
After Executive Order #8 was filed, I filed a charge sheet against it. In response, Manny wrote:
I suggest that the Judicial Council and I mean all of its members consult with Mark Himmelstein before making any decisions on this EO. It has been done with much consultation, solves the confusion that EO#7 might have caused and provides for the ASUC to properly function during the time being while allowing the Judicial Process to continue. Issuing a preliminary injunction will continue to hurt the ASUC over the summer as we all know that there are many functions that must be taken care of. I can no longer fulfill most of these functions since I am in LA.
Please call me if you have any questions about this and I will make myself available as much as possible.
"As much as possible" sure didn't include answering questions in an affidavit. Or appointing a spokesperson. Or filing a brief. I like how he suggested that EO#7 caused confusion. No, Manny, we all understood it perfectly. It just happened to be blatantly illegal.
Anyway, after subpoenas were issued, and Sonya was trying to find out Manny's status (because he wouldn't respond to me when I asked), he wrote:
This is no surprise as I have mentioned this several times. Neither me nor Anil can fulfill the duties of president at this point. That is why EO#8 was completely legal and recommended by Mark Himmelstein. I recommend that you do your duty of protecting the ASUC and lift the injunction so that the ASUC can function properly until this mess is resolved.
At this point you are not just hurting SA but hurting the ASUC's ability to function and creating a tuff situation for those staff members of the ASUC-Auxiliary that work so hard for us. Please consult with Nad, Mark, and Jan to get a better take on this situation.
You are causing harm to the asuc with your injunction.
Protecting the ASUC is actually the President's job, not the Judicial Council's. The Judicial Council's job is to judge compliance with the ASUC's rules. Now, if Student Action was really worried about protecting the ASUC, you might wonder why they're suing it, and refusing to talk to other candidates in order to come to compromises. I'm not wondering that, though. (Mark Himelstein's name is also misspelled)
After sending the questions to Manny, as well as a witness list, he wrote:
Please resend all questions with the deadline. I dont have much time so but will try to answer ASAP.
One has to wonder, of course, why he'd need a deadline to answer ASAP. Sonya set a deadline, and Manny missed it. She also set a deadline for the rest of the Student Action candidates, who also missed it.
Somewhere around here, Oren's lawyers contacted the Judicial Council about their county court case.
Then, after the deadline for briefs (which were never submitted), Oren Gabriel wrote:
To Whom It May Concern:
Please be advised that you will receive the affidavits of the current ASUC Executive Officers by midnight tonight. Any delay is the result of the affidavit requests being sent out over the 4th of July weekend.
President, Associated Students of the University of California
211 Eshleman Hall
Berkeley, California 94720-4500
I've included the signature. Note Oren's title. Note also that the affidavits are described as those of the current executive officers. This is while both EO#7 and EO#8 have been stayed, the election results haven't been certified, and Student Action has been disqualified.
Interestingly, despite the fact that they were so urgently needed to run the ASUC, the executives apparently didn't have a whole lot of time over the 4th of July weekend immediately following EO#8.
Then the affidavits were sent. Oren identifies himself at the end of his as
ASUC President 06-07
Now, this is perjury, but I decided I wouldn't push the issue beyond pointing it out to the Judicial Council. I kind of wanted to avoid making things even messier than they already are by filing another "lawful order of the Judicial Council" case, especially since it would delay things even further.
In response to my question about what efforts he had made to contact Lauren Karasek:
In response to question three, I have not been in conversations with any of the other contenders for the position of ASUC President. Please note that I was elected to this office by in excess of 2,500 votes.
Well then. I guess he doesn't need to talk to anyone, does he?
And now we get to the really funny.
**TEMPER TANTRUM AHEAD***
Manny wrote to Sonya Banerjee, Judicial Council (acting?) chair, Thursday night:
Feel free to share this with anyone, I am moving on and am happy with everything I've done. There are those people that I might disagree with but that I still respect because they stand for something.
Then there are those that don't stand for anything except their own power and sense of importance. You my friend are the most power hungry person I have ever met and should be ashamed about the harm that you have brought upon the ASUC and the student body.
I love the UC Berkeley campus and I love the ASUC. Please look outside of your bubble and learn how your actions affect the whole association. You take actions quickly when your power is challenged but are lazy when a matter affects the whole association (your quick response to EO#7 proves this and this point alone makes me happy to have issued it).
Keep feeling important and pretending that you are powerful in your bubble if that is what makes you happy, but you should be ashamed.
I then suffered a serious head injury as I fell out of my chair laughing. For those of you curious as to what Manny is doing now, he's teaching 3rd graders. Somehow, I think he'll fit right in with them. (I hope he doesn't teach grammar)
Here is an appropriate time to offer praise to Sonya for her professionalism through this whole mess. The Judicial Council members could have said "fuck it" to their duties to the ASUC, and I wouldn't really blame them, since I have heard rumors that ASUC attorney Mark Himelstein will not be defending the Judicial Council members who behaved as they were bound to by the ASUC Constitution and derivative regulations. Apparently, he advised them to not follow the rules of the ASUC in order to give him a stronger case against Oren's suit, and the Judicial Council declined to violate their rules for that purpose. Seeing as how their actions were those of the ASUC, it seems that Himelstein needs to refuse to represent the ASUC as a whole for refusing to take his advice, rather than individual office holders who have no such discretion under the ASUC's rules.
Sonya's response to Manny's temper tantrum showed the same professionalism:
Thank you for your correspondence. I just wanted to remind you that if you are not going to appear before the Council for Saturday's EO hearing, and if you do not designate someone to act as your representative, the Council will interpret such actions as a plea of no contest as per JRP 188.8.131.52.2.
Somehow, I can feel some sarcasm dripping off of that "Thank you." Anyway, Manny finished up with a slightly less childish, though just as idiotic, notice:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to inform members of the Judicial Council and the student body that I cannot participate in any challenge to my Executive Order #8 because the Judicial Council is acting outside its legal authority and to the great injury of the Association. While I have attempted to work with members of the Council to resolve the current situation, I no longer believe this possible. My responsibility to the Association requires that I no longer support or give credibility to members of the Judicial Council in their attempts to subvert the Association.
Almost six weeks ago, the ASUC Elections Council released the results of the Spring 2006 ASUC elections. Under the ASUC By-Laws, the Judicial Council is required to certify the election results. Instead of doing so, four members of the Judicial Council waited 37 days after the election ended to hear charges seeking to overturn an earlier, final elections decision of an eight-member Council, despite the fact that the Council had already denied an appeal of that decision. The four members retroactively disqualified four of the winning executive candidates. They held their meeting illegally, without having the proper number of members present. Moreover, the process by which they reached their decision violated the ASUC Constitution, the ASUC By-Laws, and the Council's own Judicial Rules of Procedure. These egregious violations, which are too numerous to detail at length here, are fully explained in a letter I sent out several days ago.
Working with the ASUC's legal counsel, Mark Himelstein, I attempted to convince the Assistant Chair of the ASUC Judicial Council to rectify the illegal actions taken by her and other members of the Council. As the new ASUC Executives officially started their terms on the first day of the summer session, I believed it imperative to have leadership to keep the Association functioning. Out of this desire and at the advice of Mr. Himelstein I issued Executive Order #8, which temporarily allowed the newly elected leadership of the ASUC to assume office until the situation could be resolved in the proper manner. I have been surprised by the Assistant Chair's failure to consult with Mark Himelstein before taking actions on Executive Order #8, despite requests that she do so.
I have since been advised that the Assistant Chair of the Judicial Council is bent on continuing her illegal course of conduct. As part of this conduct, members of the Judicial Council have agreed to hear a challenge to Executive Order #8.
I believe that my participation in a challenge to Executive Order #8 can only give legitimacy to the illegal actions of four students who have deprived the student body of their properly elected leadership in direct violation of the ASUC Constitution and By-Laws. Because of the members' continuing illegal actions and the fact that order overturning Executive Order #8 would be illegal, I regret to inform the Judicial Council and the student body that I simply cannot participate in any challenge to Executive Order #8.
ASUC President, 2005 – 2006
Simon mentions some... oddities in the piece, including the lack of reference to EO#7. At this point, I decided to pretend to be one of those public figures who wants everybody to get along, and responded to the same gigantic e-mail list:
To Whom It May Concern:
The credibility and legitimacy of the Judicial Council is established not by the personal recognition of the President of the Association, but by the Constitution of the Association. Questions of compliance with the ASUC Bylaws and the ASUC Constitution are resolved neither by the President or by counsel, but by the Judicial Council. Compliance with the Judicial Rules of Procedure, by which the Judicial Council is bound, is ensured by Senate approval of the JRPs, and by the ability of the Senate to remove Judicial Council members "for malfeasance or dereliction of duty," and is not subject to the judgment of the President or counsel. In general, the President has no authority to declare the actions of the Judicial Council "illegal."
I assume that the Judicial Council will continue to display the professionalism it has displayed thus far and proceed according to the rules and regulations that guide the ASUC, and regard Manuel Buenrostro's "statement on EO#8" as a plea of "no contest" in accordance with JRP 184.108.40.206.2, meaning that Mr. Buenrostro "entrusts the Judicial Council to make a fair judgment." Unless otherwise ordered by the Judicial Council, I will be present at the hearing still scheduled for this Saturday to present the case for overturning Executive Order #8. I will do my best to present the opinions of the Student Action candidates through affidavits the Judicial Council has received. I encourage those candidates to show up in person, so that perhaps a defense can be offered through witness testimony despite the lack of a defense spokesperson. Further, their presence will put both sides of the election dispute in the same room, which may, hopefully, serve as a first step towards resolving ASUC's stasis fairly and constitutionally, rather than through partisan executive decree.
I share Igor Tregub's feelings on the matter: "I will hold myself to the high standard that is befitting of the Judicial Council and the Association, and this is irrespective of how J-Council or anyone chooses to proceed with this case." I am disappointed that Mr. Buenrostro has chosen to abandon such standards, but I wish to remind all parties that the ASUC functions only through communication, and respectful treatment of the apparatus through which that communication occurs. These problems are not resolved through external lawsuits, adversarial hearings, and unilateral decrees, but through cooperation between students who have diverse and often contradicting views yet share enough concern for their fellow students to make the ASUC work.
That was tough to type with a straight face, by the way. Sonya then responded as well, which does a pretty good job of destroying Manny's claims:
I would like to clarify a number of points which you addressed in your email.
First, I have not received the letter you cite having sent out several days ago.
According to the ASUC By-Laws the Judicial Council must certify elections results for them to become official (Title IV Article16.1.4). The Council is not mandated by ASUC law to certify results at any particular time, to the contrary we are mandated to wait until all pending litigation is resolved before we certify the validity of the election. We have certified the results for the RSF referendum as well as for the Student Advocate race. As senators begin their terms at the start of fall semester, the certification of those results at this time is unnecessary.
The case that was heard, Ratto v. Vakil, was a separate case regarding the perjury of the designated agent representing the Student Action Execs during the hearing ASUC v. Student Action Executive Slate.
The meeting in which the Council deliberated the hearing Ratto v. Vakil was not held illegally. We entered deliberations shortly after the hearing as is our custom, with 4 out of 7 current Justices present – a majority of Justices - which is the required quorum for such meetings (Judicial Rules of Procedure Article 6 Section 1).
I would further like to explain that my role as the Assistant Chair, and now as the Chair, is not to tell the other Council members what to do. While Mr. Himelstein's advice and opinions regarding the external litigation initiated by your associates are valued by the Council, we are not obligated to implement his advice to better our position against their legal action. We are obligated to uphold the ASUC Constitution, the By-laws, and the Judicial Rules of Procedure, which specifically obligate us to review the actions of ASUC officials and determine their legality.
When the Council accepted the charges filed by Justin Azadivar regarding EO # 8 we did so in accordance with ASUC law. The Judicial Rules of Procedure as well as the Constitution guarantees every student the right to petition the ASUC for redress of grievance and it is the function of this Council to review such claims and issue remedies as may be necessary.
Again, I would like to remind you that your absence, and the absence of a designated representative to speak on your behalf, at the hearing tomorrow will be construed as a plea of no contest (JRP 220.127.116.11.2).
And that leads us to the hearing, and then today's decision (which I was waiting for to share this stuff). I just thought I'd put all these things in a nice location so that people can look with confidence upon the behavior of Student Action.
. . .
. . .