Monday, October 16, 2006
I have obtained an explanation from Ali Ansary for his position. I will be pointing out the serious errors paragraph-by-paragraph. I don't believe Ali is actually familiar with this, aside from what he's been fed by Student Action, and I hope he will pay attention and familiarize himself. If this is the narrative being fed to all the senators, then they're probably voting out of ignorance.
Dear Constituents, There is little evidence that hiring legal council was necessary. Indeed, the rest of the letter contradicts this.
I write to you today to express my opinion on a matter that has recently arisen within the ASUC senate. As you may remember, this summer saw the ASUC faced with a highly contentious legal battle in determining which party / candidates would fill the ASUC Executive positions. Because of the uncertainty well into the summer and apparent final judicial council ruling, it became necessary for the executive members elect to hire legal council out of their own pocket to ensure interests of the electorate were served.
To give you some background. Prior to votes being tallied, the Student Action party was accused of a campaign violation in which the Judicial Council rightfully penalized the party for the violation that occurred.The positions were not legally filled at this point, as the Judicial Council had not yet certified the election.
After all the cases were presumably closed, the votes were counted and the executive positions had been filled.
After this point, the Judicial Council saw there was an appeal and, after hearing the case, retroactively levied a judgement of multiple censures which, in effect, disqualified the (Student Action) candidates. This was done "unlawfully" according to the ASUC attorney Mark HimelsteinThe case was not an appeal. It was a new case. Indeed, much of the reason the Judicial Council overturned its decision later was because it wasn't an appeal.
Previous cases had shown parties not content with J-Council rulings could and would take their cases to district and state/ federal court, and in the past, the Council itself being the defendent, was provided counsel by the ASUC attorney. However, Mr. Himlestein stated he would not be able to represent the Judicial Council because according to him the case would not stand in federal court. Furthermore, a former ASUC executive who now practices law went to the Judicial Council to respectfully notify them of their unconstitutional decision, whose opinion they disregarded, and proceeded to uphold the ruling. I want to stress that the Judicial Council upheld an illegal ruling.This is an outright lie. The Judicial Council ruled that the Student Action senators were disqualified. Their next ruling on the issue was overturning that previous ruling. They never "upheld" anything against the advice of lawyers and this former ASUC dude.
At this point, with no other options in sight, the executives had to ensure that through their appeal process (whatever form it took) they were properly represented. The four brought in a firm to represent them, which resulted in expenditures of close to $22,000 as a group. Let us clarify, it is not just the President, but also our Executive VP, External Affairs VP, and our Academic Affairs VP who are all seeking reimbursement.The appeal hearing was still pending! They still had an option, and had already planned to exercise that option, and County Court told them they had to exercise that option before coming to the court. And they won with that option. There was no need for the lawyers.
The ASUC is comprised of all of us. Thus, it doesn't matter whether the current executives were senators or not during the summer, or if they were executives or not. They are part of the ASUC, thus we are all part of the ASUC. We pay fees so we are all entitled potentially to this fund. Please note Article VI of the constitution which claims that the funding that is put into the Legal Defense Fund is from "annual revenues." These revenues aside from our student fees, include revenue form the Bear's Lair, Naia, Efollotte, and other commercial revenues.All litigants in front of the Judicial Council must personally absorb the costs, and they aren't particularly big. I spent about $20 in copies over the summer for my suits, and that's it. Lawyers do not have special knowledge that helps navigate the internal rules of the ASUC, and that is why there is no provision for lawyers or representation to be guaranteed to litigants. The Judicial Council overruled their ruling based on the internal rules of the ASUC, not because their actions were illegal.
As of now, the ASUC executives have been sworn into office and there is no decision that can overturn their position in the ASUC. If anyone chooses to center on personal or party politics they may. However, regardless of the outcome of this bill, let us not forget the ASUC executives will continue to maintain the same position, which in all respects is rightfully theirs. Our decision on reimbursement should not be politically bound and to not refund the four executives for their legal fees incurred in the line of their duties will not affect their power that they maintain, rather it would set a precedent of showing that a seemingly unjust decision could not be countered by the ASUC unless an individual was willing to personally absorb the costs.
It is clear to me the paramount importance of ensuring all arms of the ASUC continue their functions in helping students and creating opportunities. The decision I have made in supporting this bill is made based on my interpretation of the facts and issues surrounding the cases, is made in spirit of my goals and beliefs as an independent candidate I am, and in hopes of representing.
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