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Nap Time!!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
More charges!!!

Andy Ratto has filed more charges against the executive candidates for Suken Vakil's full-of-shitness, specifically concerning one-day chalk and "see us chalking" comments. It's kind of late, but I'm not sure the Judicial Council can independently refuse to accept the case and certify the election results anyway. If Andy wins, the executive slate might be disqualified.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/31/2006 05:44:00 PM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Still on vacation

Genius! As some of you know, Prop 82 is being voted on sometime soon. June 6, I think. Prop 82 is the excellent idea of extending the highly successful public education system to pre-school.

The good thing about text is that you can type things without a straight face, and no one can notice. This editorial, for instance, explains that, because successful pre-schools exist, the state can follow their lead and therefore "has the know-how" to make this work.

Of course, those of us paying attention to the world as a whole know that successful regular schools exist, and the state therefore "has the know-how" by the same standards to make public schools work. Apparently, know-how isn't worth much.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/30/2006 06:16:00 AM #
Comments (2)
. . .
Monday, May 29, 2006
Woooo! Party!!!

It's vacation time!!! Whee!!! Yay!!! (Note: A Beetle vacation involves sleeping 2/3 of the day, and watching reruns for the other 1/3. All you folks going to exotic locales and such are just cheating yourselves)

I'll probably not be posting for a few weeks. No guarantees, though.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/29/2006 10:56:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Hmm

I won't comment on the fact that this piece is in the "news" section. I will note, however, that AP Political Writer Ron Fournier doesn't seem to know the difference between a "step" and a "possibility." What he presents as "three steps" is actually three possibilities for voters to dump Republicans next election. They don't have to go in order, or together, or anything you'd normally expect from things described as "steps."

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/29/2006 09:56:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Your skin is showing

Hmm... "Bush Gets More Bad News from Iraq". A bunch of murders and such in Iraq. While this is certainly bad news, one wonders why it's only Bush that's getting it. Are the rest of us not troubled by it? What about the Iraqis? Isn't this pretty bad news for them?

Of course, if the press is only concerned about what's going on in the world in terms of how it affects Bush's political position, then this kind of approach makes perfect sense, I guess, though I wonder if we should be a little disturbed by our press's focus.

In general, though, I wish the press would spend less time telling the public what the public thinks. Maybe the press could report the events of the world, and leave determining public opinion to... you know... the public.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/29/2006 02:40:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Happy blank day

According to my newspaper front page cues...

Happy Day After Some Guy Hit One More Home Run Than Some Dead Guy, Putting Him Into Second, Not First, Place.

(Also, it's Memorial Day, where we honor those who got shot with guns in order to defend our right to pretend like people hitting balls really far with wooden sticks is important, but that's no big deal.)

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/29/2006 12:38:00 PM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Sunday, May 28, 2006
BIG!!!

This story about biosomething research on microbe diseaseblahblahness in some city somewhere has been headlined on the front page as "Biggest, Scariest Bugs Here?" and "Big, Bad Bugs Come to Tracy" (or something similar). Note the use of the word "big" to refer to microbes.

I dunno if they meant it ironically, or just pay no fucking attention to what they're doing.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/28/2006 01:29:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Yeah, that makes sense

So, there's a state bill floating around to require textbooks to mention the contributions of gays or something in history. Gustavo Serina is one supporter:

In the 1960s, I was graduated from Stuyvesant High School, the most prestigious high school in Manhattan. In English class, we read landmark American plays by Thornton Wilder and Tennessee Williams; revolutionary poetry by Walt Whitman; important novels by women such as Willa Cather; and major works by African American writers such as James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry.

One thing was omitted from the curriculum, however. Students weren't told that Wilder, Williams, Whitman and Baldwin were gay or that Cather and Hansberry were lesbians. Silence about their sexual orientation denied them a crucial part of their identity as people and artists.... And when schools stage "The Nutcracker," students should know that Tchaikovsky was gay.


Why? Well... you know... so gays feel better about themselves, I guess. Should the textbooks also make a point of mentioning which historical figures are straight, soas not to deny them a crucial part of their identity as people? Or do we only think about historical figures in terms of their impact, rather than as people, which is why we don't talk about the boring personal details of every person in the history books? (Did you know that Joe D. Famous liked bacon?)

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/28/2006 08:45:00 AM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Wheeagain

The exit exam is currently on the "In Place" side of Limbo. Yee. Haw.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/24/2006 04:35:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Haha

Suken "One-Day Chalk" Vakil is not new to the Student Action approach. The Patriot has more.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/24/2006 04:28:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
By the way

In case you're wondering why I'm harping on this, it's not just because legal technicalities are fun. There are serious implications for the fairness and justice of future elections. Consider a hypothetical:

Candidate W is charged in front of five justices for some campaign violation.

Justices X, Y, and Z all hold that W violated the by-laws and should receive one censure, but for three different reasons, A, B and C.

How I would read the rule being discussed would be to consider the decisions as follows:

X: W violated the by-law for reason A

Y: W violated the by-law for reason B

Z: W violated the by-law for reason C

However, in light of the appeal denial, the way they should be considered is like this:

X: W violated the by-law, and
Reason A is true

Y: W violated the by-law, and
Reason B is true

Z: W violated the by-law, and
Reason C is true

And thus, the "narrowest grounds" is to rule that "W violated the by-law," but for no reason.

Already this is pretty silly, but there are practical realities now. Suppose a candidate next year wants to campaign, but doesn't want to violate this by-law. How does this candidate do it? Does she avoid satisfying reasons A, B, and C? Only two of the three? None of these reasons are reasons why W violated the by-law, after all. Where does this new candidate get her guidance? Apparently, the Judicial Council can declare candidates in violation of by-laws without any reason whatsoever.

These are real issues, and the Judicial Council does no one but itself a service by coming up with excuses that, in the short term, let the Judicial Council avoid having to go to another hearing, but in the long term, twist the rules by which the ASUC functions into a nonsensical, meaningless mess. Now would be the time to start impeaching justices (under Title XXI, Article II, Section 2.1.5), not when they happen to rule against you, and a loud constituency whines.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/23/2006 05:47:00 PM #
Comments (6)
. . .
Whee

As everyone pretty much expected, the Judicial Council rejected Ben's appeal. I might have, too, but the grounds for rejection are pretty silly.

Amaris White and Marisa Cuevas agreed that the Marks' rule had been misapplied, as I did:

We believe that the Judicial Council did not use the most conservative reason, but the most conservative remedy, and that for this reason the use of Mark's Rule is inappropriate.

The rest of the council: Sonya Banerjee, Robert Gregg, Stephanie Lam, Carmel Levitan, and Kate Feng, decided to deny the appeal on some strange grounds. Note that neither opinion addressed the explicit, unquestionable violation of the JRPs in refusing to actually state what rationale was used in the original decision.

From the appeal denial:

It can be argued that a continuum must exist between narrow and broad interpretational viewpoints, and that the Marks rule mandates the adoption of the narrowest concurring viewpoint.

Again, from the JRPs:

According to the "Marks" rule, "when a fragmented [Council] decides a case and no single rationale explaining the result enjoys the assent of [a majority of the Justices], 'the holding of the [Council] may be viewed as that position taken by those Justices who concurred in the judgments on the narrowest grounds.'" In the final decision, the Council shall state the narrowest rationale for the decision.

Note that this definition only discusses "rationale," not "viewpoint" in general. Again from the decision:

However, the majority of the Council feels that the narrowest grounds of agreement, as stated in the decision, is the fact that violations did occur, which does encompass both viewpoints.

There's nothing narrow about "a violation has occured." That's the largest amount of agreement, but it's not even "grounds" at all.

The fact that violation was established is justification for the maximum amount of censures agreed upon by the majority of the Council.

There is absolutely no justification for this comment. None. I can't even argue against it because of how out-of-left-field it is.

JRP 5.1.3.1 does not explicitly state that the majority of the Council must agree on a system to allocate censures, because if the Council were to have agreed on a methodology to allocate censures in the ASUC Exec. Slate case, then there would have been a majority opinion and the Marks Rule would not have been used at all.

It does, however, say explicitly that the majority of the Council must agree on any decision, and the number of censures is no exception. The use of "narrow grounds" is one approach to get to this majority opinion.

Overall, a very disappointing performance by the Judicial Council on this case. We shouldn't read decisions that look like they involve the Judicial Council twisting and turning in order to get a particular result (in this case, avoid another hearing). They certainly shouldn't look like excuses.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/23/2006 04:03:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Monday, May 22, 2006
Only

Hmm...

President Bush on Monday embraced the new leadership in Iraq as a turning point in the war but claimed only gradual progress in years of fighting and acknowledged that Americans are uneasy about the outcome.

That's right. Only gradual progress. How unfortunate that it's not the other, greater kind of progress.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/22/2006 10:05:00 PM #
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. . .
Dude, WTF

Waah, says Tam Nguyen. Fewer adjectives than a Felarca piece, but about the same amount of beef.

Institutions like UC need to be able to take race, ethnicity and gender into consideration in order to achieve their mission of educational excellence, since diversity is a crucial element to achieving this goal.

How so? Or, more accurately, how does diversity of race help achieve educational excellence?

Most of the piece is whining about the inequities of the K-12 system. However, Nguyen dismisses the anti-affirmative action folks' argument that the problem should be solved at the K-12 level. Why? Who knows.

Additionally, Asian Americans continue to encounter struggles with a glass ceiling that prevents them from continuing on to graduate or professional schools or entering tenured faculty positions or high level managerial positions.

Damn right! I mean, when's the last time you saw an Asian grad student or professor?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/22/2006 02:50:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Saturday, May 20, 2006
A little more trouble

Golzar Ansari explains about iPods in schools:

IPods are absolutely crucial to a school's learning environment.

The rest of the letter goes into great detail as to how this is not the case. I wonder if this is one of the exit exam failers.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/20/2006 02:27:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Friday, May 19, 2006
Rayn

It's raining today! That means the chalk might be washed away.

Let's note: Suken Vakil said the last day of chalking was the Sunday before elections. He also claimed it lasts for one day.

It has been out there for 25 days. For future campaigners, note that 25>1.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/19/2006 02:42:00 PM #
Comments (2)
. . .
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I have a plan!

Mayor Tom Bates has a plan for Telegraph Ave. The plan is like most plans in response to things going to hell. Here's the plan:

Do some stuff. All kinds of stuff. Stuff that can be described by different words, and that requires all kinds of different people to pretend to take action. This way, it'll look like something is being done. Bring on the stuff!

The city has offered plans to clean up Telegraph before only to see them fall apart. Al Geyer, owner of Annapurna, an eclectic shop offering everything from bongs to books, said the city needs back up its rhetoric with action.

"A lot of these sound like platitudes to me," he said. "They offer services when the spotlight is on Telegraph Avenue. Then when the spotlight is off the services are cut back or withdrawn."

...

But Geyer said Telegraph must retain its history and resist changing its nature.

"It's where Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl, its where coffee club culture began," said Geyer. "Berkeley is famous for its restaurants and boutiques."


Dammit, Berkeley, make Telegraph better! But do it without changing anything!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/18/2006 06:18:00 PM #
Comments (8)
. . .
How many errors can you find?

This story about referenda results contains at least three factual errors.

Voters also supported the memorandum that would grant more autonomy and influence to the Graduate Assembly, with 74.4 percent in favor.

Actually, the number is 30.5%. That's the precentage of voters who voted in favor. This is because a vast majority of voters abstained. A quasi-error is the idea that the memorandum "would grant more autonomy... to the Graduate Assembly," when it does no such thing.

Referenda require a simple majority to pass.

Constitutional amendments, such as included in the GA referendum, require 60% of the voters who vote 'yes' or 'no.'

"A vast majority of voters abstained from voting ... which is kind of significant," Wren said. "It's a really convoluted, confusing memorandum and most people didn't have a lot of information."

This is not an error, but I should point out that, at the hearing, Manny and Josh admitted that they deliberately avoided putting any information about the Memorandum in the ballot question.

The assembly is currently required to pay 33 percent of election costs but has not paid its share in recent years, ASUC officials said.

Actually, it's required to pay a part equal to the proportion of ASUC members who are graduate students. This turns out to be somewhere around 30 percent.

Jay Stagi, chair of the assembly's Organization and Rules Committee, said the memorandum cements better relations between the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly.

"I really am grateful for students on all sides," he said.


Specifically, grateful for the ASUC for being pliant and doing whatever they said, and grateful to the undergrads for failing to understand the referendum.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/18/2006 01:27:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Shock

Calstuff reports on the referenda. It's pretty much what everyone expected. For people in the future, pay careful attention to the GA strategy. If we didn't pick up on the fact that the GA is run by arrogant liars and thieves who take advantage of the weak last year, we can definitely see it this year.

Step 1: Generate a proposal that about 70% of the student body would oppose.
Step 2: Generate a ballot question that doesn't describe it at all, so most of that 70% doesn't know what the proposal does and therefore abstains.
Step 3: "Pass" a restructuring of the entire government with the support of about 10% of the student body.

Yay!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/17/2006 06:53:00 PM #
Comments (0)
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Yay!

Berkeley teachers who skipped work to go whine on May 1 are getting their pay docked. Yay!

Berkeley High School history teacher Jody Sokolower was not surprised when she received her letter.

"I teach a lot of students who are immigrants, and I teach history and I always try to teach students what's right," she said. "In this case, the cause we were fighting for was important enough for our actions, and we will proudly accept the consequences, comforted by the knowledge that our actions were just."


...

Haha, just kidding. Actually, it went more like this:

Berkeley High School history teacher Jody Sokolower was shocked when she received her letter.

"I teach a lot of students who are immigrants, and I teach history and I always try to teach students what's right," she said. "Most districts supported teachers and students. I really don't understand why Berkeley isn't."


What? Consequences? That's not fair!!!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/16/2006 11:27:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Monday, May 15, 2006
Hmmmmmmm

Let's see...

Constitution Summer is a student-led movement to advance a mainstream, nonpartisan, national call for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney through the use of city council resolutions and local ballot measures.

Uh... right...

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/15/2006 01:16:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Genius!

It's for the children! "The Deleting Online Predators Act." Excellent job with the name, there. Applause is in order.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/15/2006 12:55:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Take that, supporters!

And here comes the backlash!

More speakers aren't speaking, because of union protests. Unfortunately for the union, most people seem to be blaming them or their allies, rather than the university. It's even worse because the union had the opportunity to get what they wanted.

Nunez offered the union a deal last week whereby he would add a line in the state budget allotting additional state funding for the purpose of increasing the university janitors' pay.

UC officials said they were disappointed that the union rejected Nunez's deal, but union workers said they wanted a stronger commitment from campus administration.

"The problem is if it gets in the budget it could be line-outed at any moment," said union organizer Debra Grabelle. "What we want is a commitment from UC Berkeley that they are going to fix the problem no matter what."


Stronger commitment? How does that stronger commitment taste? I mean, I assume you can eat it, or buy food with it, like you could with a pay raise.

Backlash here, here, and here.

Normally, a union uses its collective power to say "Hey, if you don't give us what we want, we'll fuck you up!" This time, though, the union used its collective power to fuck over some of its biggest supporters, at essentially no cost to the university. Way to go!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/15/2006 12:49:00 PM #
Comments (4)
. . .
More Journalism!

John Waste interviews Oakland mayoral candidate Nancy Nadel. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like actual journalism.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/15/2006 11:31:00 AM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Uhh

Another class writing project. Some high school is banning iPods.

Mahdi Ardestani:

Good students would get bad records and reputations at the school for something that does nothing but keep the students mentally happy and stimulated.

Yeah, suffering disciplinary action totally hurts your reputation in a high school.

Val Chang:

My school, California High School, is trying to take away my sanity by imposing a ban on iPods, cell phones and other electronic devices.

Woo, boy, you've got a problem, dude.

Amanda Bagnall:

California High School's administration is looking to completely ban iPods on campus and take away one of the main sources of entertainment.

Well... yeah... it's school, not a theatre.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/13/2006 01:27:00 PM #
Comments (2)
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Friday, May 12, 2006
The "Marks" rule

I didn't get into it in this post, but I should mention that the opinion doesn't really explain how the "Marks" rule is being used. One could argue that the Banerjee dissent is narrower than the White dissent when defining active campaigning, but there's no obvious continuum for "narrow" and "broad" reasoning when it comes to defining the number of appropriate censures. The one-censure reasonings are:

Finally, one censure would be deserved for unintentionally chalking within 100 feet of the polling stations because the boundaries had not yet been clearly marked, which was not removed after the violator became aware of it.

One censure should be applied to a candidate who unknowingly commits the violation, and once informed, takes action to remedy the mistake.

Note that one reasoning cannot be subsumed in the other, because each has mutually exclusive factual requirements. The JRPs state:

In the event that the Justices cannot reach a decision that satisfies a majority, the "Marks" rule shall apply when determining the binding decision. According to the "Marks" rule, "when a fragmented [Council] decides a case and no single rationale explaining the result enjoys the assent of [a majority of the Justices], 'the holding of the [Council] may be viewed as that position taken by those Justices who concurred in the judgments on the narrowest grounds.'" In the final decision, the Council shall state the narrowest rationale for the decision.

The decision does not state the rationale used in the final decision:

We subscribe to the "Marks" Rule in issuing a ruling based on the narrowest grounds such that the opinions concur. The majority of the Judicial Council believes that the chalkings did violate 4.13.3.8, and we hereby issue three censures to each member of the Student Action executive slate.

The rationale is not stated here, and I think this ruling has been issued in error. In any case, there is no majority opinion on the number of censures, rationales aside.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/12/2006 08:56:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Whing!

Calstuff has the ruling. No majority opinion was reached, so the "Marks" Rule was used. I guess.

The punchline is that each candidate got three censures, no candidate got disqualified, and we're stuck with SA executives for another year. For the most part, folks agreed, but the three opinions had differing positions on what "actively" meant, and relied somewhat on the fact that there is photo evidence of Vakil at two sites, but not the other four:

Sonya Banerjee, Alexander Olsson, Kate Feng: The three-censure opinion. This opinion had some of the most tortured logic, I think.

The Student Action Executive slate candidates chalked in areas near polling locations before they knew exactly where the polling stations were going to be set up, so when the tape went down they were not campaigning knowingly or actively within the poll boundary.

However, the Student Action Executive slate was campaigning
knowingly when ECC Wren sent out an e-mail to the candidates telling them to remove chalk within 100 feet of the polling stations. It was the responsibility of all the candidates, including those at hand, to go to every polling location, find any chalking on their behalf, remove the chalking, and then report it to Attorney General Nathan Royer. It is because the Student Action candidates failed to take any action regarding their chalking, after they were informed to do so by ECC Wren's e-mail, that they were "actively" campaigning. In other words, they actively ignored ECC Wren's request and continued to campaign within 100 feet of the polls.

The implication here seems to be that, had the Elections Council not sent the e-mail, they would not be campaigning "actively." It's hard for me to understand the active/inactive campaigning distinction could be defined by an e-mail notification by an unrelated party, regardless of whether they're "actively" ignoring a request.

The censure schedule suggested in this opinion is:

First, it seems that if the candidates had waited until the blue lines were laid down to intentionally chalk within the 100 foot boundaries of the polling stations, then these candidates would deserve the maximum of three censures. Two censures would then be adequate for candidates who mistakenly chalk within 100 feet of the polling stations after the boundaries have been laid down and fail to correct their mistake once they become aware of it. Finally, one censure would be deserved for unintentionally chalking within 100 feet of the polling stations because the boundaries had not yet been clearly marked, which was not removed after the violator became aware of it.

The three censures come from:

Thus, because the Student Action Executive candidates unintentionally chalked in four of the six polling locations without ever knowing of the specific violations, they deserve one censure for this general negligence. The other two violations were committed when the candidates unintentionally chalked within 100 feet of the polling stations before the boundaries were defined, but then failed to remove the chalk after they discovered it to be within the boundaries. The candidates deserve one censure for each of these counts.

Again, I'm not clear on how "general negligence" is a meaningful distinction in the by-laws. Are they being censured for the existence of campaign chalk within boundaries? If so, wouldn't they be receiving double punishment for the two cases where an additional censure was given?

Amaris White, Marisa Cuevas, and Stephanie Lam: The five-censure opinion. This opinion is fairly straightforward. The chalk is considered active campaigning from the moment it's put down until it's removed, or the election ends. The censure count suggested here is:

Three censures should be applied to a candidate who deliberately violates this clause. Two censures should be given to the candidate who notices his violation, and proceeds to take no action. One censure should be applied to a candidate who unknowingly commits the violation, and once informed, takes action to remedy the mistake.

And, the five censures come from:

We agree that the remaining four offenses (Boalt Hall, Upper Sproul, Soda Hall, and the I-House) should be compiled into one remedy since there was no blatant knowledge of the violation. Thus, we believe the appropriate remedy to be one censure. Finally, the two instances at the RSF and Crossroads Dining Hall fall under the category of two censures, therefore making the total number of censures for each candidate five.

Again, there's no real declaration of how violations should be counted. I didn't find any justification from the by-laws for grouping the four violations into one, or keeping the two two-censure violations distinct.

Aurora Masum-Javed, Robert D. Gregg: The no-censure opinion. This one claims that the campaign wasn't active, but encourages the Senate to close the loophole that allows this. Good luck with that. Like the Senate is going to pass something that makes things harder for them. That would require principle.

The opinion makes a comparison to back when active campaigning was a disqualification:

Two years ago, campaign violations in Title IV Section 13.3 were punishable by disqualification, whereas violations under other sections of Article 13 simply mandated censures. We immediately see the extreme situations Section 13.3.8 would try to prevent, such as a candidate walking into a polling area and talking to voters or a candidate handing fliers to students at the polling stations. These egregious campaign violations are clearly different from the contested chalkings, so we must attempt to formalize a distinction.

I think this is the wrong approach. The Senate changed the by-laws to make this offense not disqualifiable. It's likely that they did this because they didn't want to overly punish those not-so-egregious violations that fall under this section. Anyway, the distinction is fairly reasonable:

Walking students to the polls is a physical action whereas there is no active component to chalk resting on a sidewalk. "Active" by this definition is putting additional energy into the environment that was not previously there. This encompasses movements and physical actions of candidates and their agents, which does include the act of chalking but not its mere existence on a sidewalk. Chalked slogans fall under the definition of campaign material, which is primarily regulated by Section 13.6. For example, Section 13.6.1 and 13.6.5 are restrictions on the placement of campaign material around campus. In contrast, the violations outlined in Section 13.3 all share the commonality of prohibiting actions.

Note that the distinction is being made between "campaigning" and "campaign material." This is a fair distinction, I think. It treads on dangerous grounds, though. Suppose one was to remove the chalk. Would this be campaigning? If another party removed the chalk, would it be campaigning? More importantly, if the Elections Council had removed the chalk, would this be campaigning? And if so, what about removing fliers? Asking "active" campaigners to leave?

Although we did not find a campaign violation in this case, it is only because of a loophole in the By-Laws. We certainly believe that the behavior was unethical, but it is not the job of the Judicial Council to close such loopholes or make judgments based on our own moral leanings. If the Senate wishes to avoid the consequences of this opinion, they must amend the By-Laws to prohibit the placement of campaign materials in polling areas.

Haha. Fat chance.


The thing that troubled me the most about both censure-causing opinions is that they neither set clear standards nor refer to the by-laws in determining how violations are to be counted. When should violations be globbed into one for censure? When should they be considered as distinct?

In close second, there is no consensus among the censure-causing opinions as to how many censures should be assessed. In the past, the by-laws clearly defined what standards had to be met for the different censure counts. The latest revision gutted these standards and essentially left everything to the Judicial Council, only setting a maximum (and completely neglecting to mention punishment for one set of campaign violations). I think the Senate would be better-advised to define this themselves rather than leave it up to the whims of the Judicial Council which may vary from case to case because of the details.

Finally, in consideration of this, as well as my case against the RSF Referendum campaign, I think the Senate needs to be far more clear in the extent of campaign violations, rather than leaving it up to the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council should be left with the job of determining whether a candidate has committed a campaign violation. It should not be given the job of fully defining the campaign violations from scratch every time a case comes up, which it currently has.

The questions for this case are above. The questions for my case are: What is the role of the University in elections? At what point does proponency (for the referenda) get established? Should proponents be able to set up their entire campaign before naming a primary proponent, thus completely avoiding campaign regulations (this is how the by-laws read now)? What use of university resources is allowed, and what use is restricted, particularly concerning electronic resources? How broadly should spam be defined?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/12/2006 08:06:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Eyes on the prize

Apparently, education is not a right, but a diploma is. Or so folks seem to be saying. See, it's okay if poor people go to shitty schools and fail to receive a public education, but it's not okay if poor people who go to shitty schools and fail to receive an education are not allowed to pretend like they received an education. I guess. It seems to me that equal protection would demand that everyone receive an education, not that everyone gets the diploma.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/11/2006 01:18:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Whoopsies

Relying on a Democrat? They should've known better.

Fabian Nunez did not speak at commencement, a dire blow to the hearts of graduating seniors. ("Graduating senior Bill Rasoul admitted he had never heard of Nunez...") He didn't want to cross picket lines.

During opening remarks at the commencement, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said university officials had been in "constant negotiation" with Nunez in the hour before convocation began to persuade him to speak.

How odd. Shouldn't they have dealt with this earlier? At Tuesday's hearing, I overheard Manny talking about how no Democrat would speak at commencement because of union stuff. It's not like no one knew.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/11/2006 11:28:00 AM #
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. . .
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Igor!!!

My prediction was correct, though in a sort of cheap way. Suken Vakil and Igor Tregub settled on two censures, one for campaigning within 100 ft., and one for an unattended sign. (Sorry, John) So we were spared the six consecutive hearings. We know Igor had already been willing to accept such a settlement, and Vakil's reasoning was that, because his witnesses sort of changed their story, he couldn't push the case anymore.

One change was that, supposedly, the calls made impersonating Igor were "joking" and had "people in the background" or something.

But the hearing turned out a lot more interesting than you'd expect from a settlement hearing, because the Judicial Council totally dressed down Vakil, essentially saying that he made the charges in bad faith.

The accusations made by the amicus brief seem to be correct. Vakil "thought" that Igor had filed charges against SA, violating the no-file agreement they had "informally, tenuously" had. But then stopped thinking that. Or something. His rationale quickly changed to "it was important enough to justify filing charges anyway." The following are interesting timings:

First Vakil filed the charges under seal. Then, according to Igor, he asked Igor if he had filed charges, essentially violating the no-file agreement. Vakil denied this, but I'm pretty inclined to think Suken "One-Day-Chalk" Vakil is full of crap.

First Vakil "got complaints" by some folks about Igor calling (presumably before the elections, and a week before the filing deadline). Then, when the filing deadline rolled around, he "quickly" filed the charges under seal. And then he decided to find out more about these folks' stories.

The reason Vakil gave for filing under seal was because he was, supposedly, afraid of people. Igor is so popular that Vakil would've been in mortal danger had his charges been discovered. Of course, since he'd eventually have to have a hearing, it's tough to see how doing this was going to protect him. Recall that the amicus brief suggested it was done to avoid Daily Cal coverage, and I should note that Vakil expressed incredulity and, perhaps, disappointment when he heard from the Daily Cal reporter that the Daily Cal was still publishing, just not every day.

Anyway, in summary, the situation is resolved, and Vakil is pretty much full of crap.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/09/2006 10:14:00 PM #
Comments (2)
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Journalism!!!

As you can see, I'm reporting on the Judicial Council hearings at 10pm. This in spite of the fact that the first hearing, AG v. SA ran long. You'll see in the next post, but for this one, I'll just talk about the chalking suit.

As far as actual arguments go, I've pretty much covered it already, so here are some of the hearing high(low)lights (horrendous ones in bold):

A full 30 minutes was spent trying to figure out which pictures were admissable evidence. Since the stuff in the pictures ended up undisputed, it was pretty wasteful.

Suken Vakil accused Election Council chair Jessica Wren of perjury. He was complaining about how she was working with the plaintiff (Attorney General Nathan Royer), and was therefore untrustworthy or something. "Collusion" was used.

Vakil made the argument that candidates can't be expected to send everyone to polls to make sure things were proper. While this is in true for many candidates, hearing it from the Student Action chair was kind of silly.

Vakil claimed that because the Judicial Council hadn't ruled their action to be a violation, they didn't know that it was. The implication, of course, is that no violation could ever be committed knowingly.

Vakil first claimed that the purpose of chalking is to be seen chalking, rather than for it to be seen while it's on the cement. This is apparently why they go out chalking at 2 in the morning. He eventually relented and mentioned name recognition, but insisted that name recognition is unnecessary by the time elections roll around.

Vakil also claimed that chalk doesn't normally last longer than a day, claiming to "not know" why it's still sitting out there today.

Vakil: "I don't think the Senate would pass superfluous language [in the by-laws]." I could play the "infinitely-recursive censure" card, but do I really need to?

Vakil also said that a disqualification is too harsh, considering the cirumstances. It would undermine the democratic process, you see, and would make the next candidate have no legitimacy. Otherwise, had the SQUELCH! candidates won, they would've been taken totally seriously.

I'll admit that I'm impressed by the straight face Vakil presented for the entire hearing. I also predict no censures.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/09/2006 09:58:00 PM #
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Don't speak for them. Let me

The Examiner has some funny letters today.

First, as a background, the San Francisco board of supervisors, inlcuding such visionaries as Gerardo "Coast Guard, not military" Sandoval, is trying to close a part of Golden Gate park to cars on Saturdays, because a bunch of whiny bicyclists wanted them to (Apparently, the weather in this particular part of the park is much better than the rest of the park, or something). A ballot measure some years back posed this question to SF voters, and they said "FUCK YOU" to the idea, so the bicyclists just bypassed the voters by going straight to the supervisors.

John Rundin leaps to the defense of the idea:

Opponents of the proposed Saturday closure to cars of a portion of Golden Gate Park should speak for themselves and not for the presumed scores of "elderly and disabled" who would suddenly lose access to museums ("Ban on cars in park hits roadblock," May 3).

You hear that? Don't speak for the elderly! Later, in the same letter:

And most elderly visitors need, partake in and enjoy the exercise the park can provide far more than they enjoy the noise, congestion, pollution and danger imposed by the automobile.

Let me speak for the elderly instead.

Opponents should also please stop claiming that the will of the voters was ignored. Some things are simply not for voters to decide.

Like civil rights, indvidual liberty, and the presence of cars in a park on Saturdays.

James Miller knows San Francisco.

Real San Franciscans want fewer cars, less pollution, alternative and healthier lifestyles to dominate our unique, scenic and narrow streets, which are not suited for the SUVs imposed upon them.

In summary, real San Franciscans are exactly like me.

Jason Jungreis knows science!

First, hydrogen is energy and not fuel. It is not only highly dangerous but also difficult to contain and, if it escapes, causes great environmental damage.

Uh...

Second, through conservation and renewable energies we can immediately achieve vastly more than the meager future potential of hydrogen. As a simple example, if everyone drove a Toyota Prius we could utterly cease all middle eastern oil imports, which would also have profound positive foreign policy effects.

Guuhh...

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/09/2006 11:41:00 AM #
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Monday, May 08, 2006
Hey, those are my rights!

Oh noes! Abraham Kneisley sees severe rights erosion! It's that damn Bush administration stealing all of our rights in an almost completely unnoticable way.

The evidence is now indisputable: Our challenge as citizens is to realize that history is not written but is being written. We must find a way to spread the truth to whomever will listen, in the hope that we can find a way to persuade our fellow Americans of the need to fundamentally reevaluate this disastrous and embarrassing crack in the bedrock of our democracy.

What's the example of this?

To honor the American tradition of the rule of law, its separate powers and our system of checks and balances, Constitution Summer scheduled a teach-in for Monday, May 1, in celebration of Law Day. At 4:30 p.m., prior to our 5 p.m. event, I noticed that sound equipment had not been set up and no staff was in sight. When I arrived at the Office of Student Life to inquire about the problem, I was notified that our event had been canceled due to staff shortages.

Wow. Color me impressed. The horror! Why, we may as well just call ourselves fascist subjects.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/08/2006 04:32:00 PM #
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Haha

So, where do the professors go to complain about their shitty students? Maybe here. You always think they're talking about some other student, but they're probably talking about you.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/08/2006 08:18:00 AM #
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Igor's defense

I'm looking over the briefs for Igor's defense against Suken Vakil's suits.

I'll mention the relevant details and my predictions for each case, but I should mention ahead of time that an amicus brief was filed by Senator Chris Abad, sponsored by Senators Ed Lam, Lisa Putkey, and Ben Narodick, in support of Igor. Note that this list includes a senator from each of Student Action's coalition parties. The brief alleges bad faith because, I guess, "Student Action doesn't like Igor, so now they're trying to off him." This doesn't really sound like an argument to me, and I don't see the Judicial Council ruling these as bad faith charges on these grounds, considering that there are explicitly listed grounds for what "bad faith" entails.

There's some stuff about undermining the democratic process by, I guess, the traditional "will of the people" argument. I don't buy it for a second. The whole idea of having campaign violations and consequences is because if people run illegal campaigns, then the "will of the people" simply isn't reflected in the votes. This is why the Judicial Council is given the authority to disqualify illegally campaigning candidates: as a deterrent so that the vote ends up being fair.

They do point out the interesting detail, however, that the Mutually Assured Destruction that normally prevents parties from filing violations against each other (because each has the resources to disqualify the other through sheer manpower) doesn't apply here, since Igor Tregub is an independent, so Student Action is taking advantage of the opportunity. This claim, though, is pretty much grandstanding and PR, and doesn't have much in the way of legal justification.

The charges were filed "under seal" with the intent of shortening the amount of time for Amicus Curiae Briefs. The plaintiff states that the immediate release of the charges will inflict "physical and emotional harm" on the plaintiff.

Okay, now that's funny. Anyway, the brief explains that the timing was to avoid the bad publicity, and to take advantage of the end of the Daily Cal's regular publication schedule.

While I agree with the sentiments expressed in the brief, proving "malicious intent" is generally impossible, and it probably won't have any legal effect. Still, they get the press coverage, like the post you're reading now.

On to the individual charges:

Dorm Campaigning: As expected, Igor is denying responsibility for the folks who called folks in the dorm. He is pretty forceful about insisting that it would be a "heinous violation" if a campaign had done so. Apparently, people were raising issues such as gun control in the calls. Evidence includes Igor's 83-page, 2100-call phone bill. Witnesses will testify that (and I'll put this in bold just to draw attention) the callers were impersonators who attempted to impersonate Igor's voice, and will also, if I'm not mistaken, impersonate Igor's voice at the Judicial Council hearing to show it's possible. The defense claims that Igor wouldn't do such a thing (it's bad campaign strategy, too), and will be calling character witnesses. All of SA's witnesses, apparently, are affiliated with SA. My Prediction: In much the same way that SA is defending itself by saying "it wasn't us!", Igor will, too, and I think he has a much stronger case for it. So I think Igor will avoid receiving censures, though I haven't seen what kind of evidence Vakil has.

Spam: Igor says he either had a pre-existing relationship, permission, or was part of the relevant organizations for his e-mails. My Prediction: As much as I dislike the way spam has been defined by the Senate in the by-laws (one could send an e-mail to every member of the ASUC (i.e. send an e-mail to every student), because she is a member of that organization), I haven't seen any evidence that any of the recipients didn't have one of the loopholes applicable, so I'm going to guess that Igor gets out of this one, too.

Unattended Campaign Signs: Igor claims responsibility for this violation, and is willing to settle for one censure. "Immediately after hearing about the fact that photos were taken, Mr. Tregub notified Attorney General Nathan Royer of the violation and expressed willingness to settle for the proper remedy if charged." I dunno how convincing this is of Igor's "good character." It sounds a lot like "once I was caught, I immediately tried to settle." Igor takes the opportunity to complain some about how tough it is to campaign as an independent. I'm not sure why this particular charge wasn't settled beforehand, because Vakil asked for one censure in the charge sheet as well. My Prediction: One censure.

Flyers in the dorms: The fliers in the lobby of Ida Sproul were actually on the door of a ground floor room which had residents, who had approved the posting of the fliers. I don't live in Ida Sproul, so I dunno how accurate this description is (the door is labeled "Bear Tunnel" or some such). My Prediction: Assuming Igor's characterization of the door is correct, I think he'll win this one.

Endorsement without consent: Igor claims that, while he said a lot about how he worked with the senators Vakil accused Igor of claiming the endorsement of, Igor says he never actually claimed their endorsement. Anyone who thought that had screwed up in understanding. My prediction: I haven't seen the evidence, but I think Igor will win this one, too.

Campaigning within 100 ft of the polls: Igor claims that he wasn't paying attention that morning, because he hadn't been sleeping much. He claims his campaigning was accidental, and that he immediately notified the EC of his violation, and is seeking to settle for one censure. Vakil wants three censures. My prediction: Igor will not get three censures. I'm going to guess he gets one, though it's possible he'll get two.

So, in summary, I'm guessing no more than three censures. I should note, though, that I didn't receive the briefs or evidence lists by Vakil, so I don't know the extent of his cases, and I may be severely underestimating the censures Igor will get.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/08/2006 12:42:00 AM #
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Sunday, May 07, 2006
Oooh, nice

I have looked over the defense brief by SA for their campaign violation suit. I'll give them credit for its creativity, and I think they'll succeed at avoiding censures, which will doom us to another year of self-imposed fee increases and harmful projects.

As expected, they played the sabotage card. Boring. I hope that Nathan asks them point blank whether the chalking in question was done by sabotage or as part of their campaign, so that they're put in a position where they have to perjure themselves. It may not be provable, but disgruntled campaign workers may come forward later.

The creativity starts when the brief puts the responsibility for removing chalking within 100 feet of the polls on the Poll Coordinator on the Election Council, rather than the parties that chalked. This might be somewhat tenuous, as it would have to define "presence of chalk," rather than "chalking," as "conduct." One could conclude that, since its the responsibility of the Poll Coordinator, if a candidate were to campaign in person within 100 feet of the polls, it's the responsibility of the poll worker to physically remove the person. This is independent of whether the candidate is committing a violation, by the way. On the other hand, if poll workers prevent this campaigning merely by the threat of Judicial Council censures, they can maintain the polling location. If the Judicial Council sides with the defense on this argument, then poll workers lose that ability, and the violent approach is the only one left.

The brief also denies that the chalk counts as "active campaigning" when it's just sitting there. In the brief's own words:

However, after the chalk is placed (and especially several days after it is placed), the chalk on the ground no longer alters the state of the environment by force; there is no transfer of potential energy to kinetic energy occurring. Therefore, whatever action is occurring is happening independently of the chalk (i.e. a person could choose to look at it or not, the chalk does not actively draw attention to itself as does a person announcing his name, passing out flyers, holding a sign).

This, while creative, really pushes it when it comes to lameness. The "transfer of potential energy to kinetic energy" line sets a silly standard for what constitutes "active," and it should be noted that chalk does bring about that transfer just by sitting there. It would be a tough sell to say that throwing out auditory stimuli, like "announcing his name," constitutes active campaigning, but throwing out visual stimuli, like chalk on the ground, does not. A person could not choose to "not look at it" without knowing that it's there, and would have to simply avoid looking at the ground in general, putting herself in danger.

The general claim that the candidates lose their responsibility for their campaign literature once they put it in place is pretty prevalent, but also pretty silly. When you hand out a flier, you lose control of that flier, and you don't know where it will end up, so you could argue that you no longer have responsibility. But chalk on cement isn't going anywhere, and folks who put it in place know that it will remain in place and be visible for folks passing by (otherwise they wouldn't have bothered), essentially doing continuous campaigning.

The strongest argument made by the brief is that, since the polling locations weren't marked off until the location of the poll itself was set, the candidates aren't responsible for chalking before those markings are set, because the action would not be done "knowingly." While the general area of the polling locations are set in advance by the by-laws, (the suit falsely claims that the EC can decide whether to open the location or not) the exact location of the polling station is not, and the defense has a good case that, since the Elections Council has some discretion as to that exact location, the candidates cannot know in advance.

If the EC wanted to move a poll three feet in one direction they could clearly do so as long it was in the bounds of the bylaws. Those three feet could charge 8-15 more candidates with chalking violations. If the council rules that inanimate campaign literature placed before the polls were properly marked off is a violation of 13.3.8, the council is giving the power to easily disqualify any number of candidates to the EC, the poll coordinator, and anyone involved in determining where the poll is located.

This isn't a foolproof argument, though. Assuming that the Judicial Council rules that chalk on the ground is active campaigning after it's been placed, all the plaintiff needs to show is that no matter where the polls in the general area described by the by-laws ended up being placed (possibly using past elections as a guide, though this is questionable), the chalk would be within 100 feet of that location. This may be possible for some locations. This argument may, with luck, convince future Election Councils to mark off the polling locations well in advance of the actual placement of the polling stations. This requires advance planning though, which isn't a particularly strong suit of the ASUC when it comes to elections.

The brief also argues that despite EC Chair Jessica Chen's e-mailed warning to the candidates, their violation was not done "knowingly," because the chalking took place before then. 13.9 of the by-laws pretty much craps this out the window:

Candidates, parties, and all others cited shall be notified by the Attorney General, and are responsible for correcting all violations, if possible to correct, immediately upon notification.

Note that the candidates weren't notified by the Attorney General, as far as I know. The reason this craps their argument out the window, though, is that the correction of violations is expected of candidates even after the violation has occurred.

It's worth noting that the brief does not argue that, even if found guilty, they should only receive one violation's worth of censures.

Anyway, the official Beetle prediction is that the candidates will get no censures.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/07/2006 06:15:00 PM #
Comments (3)
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Be proud!

I just looked over the plaintiff brief for the chalking case against SA. Some interesting things:

A quote from the candidate's guide includes [sic]. The official document explaining the rules under which candidates can campaign contains petty grammatical errors, not to mention the detail that it does not agree with the by-laws, in general.

Andy's case is cited. If the Judicial Council was bound by precedent, the summary judgement in that case could've been used to undermine any defense by Student Action.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/07/2006 04:31:00 PM #
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Minor elections update

Andy Ratto has received three censures for chalking after asking for a summary judgement against himself. Despite his best efforts, however, he failed to secure a disqualification.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/07/2006 03:18:00 PM #
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Saturday, May 06, 2006
Eat at Joe's

Stop the "War on the press." These people just can't get enough of themselves.

But this is bigger and more ominous. The attempt by a U.S. attorney in Los Angeles to force Williams and Fainaru-Wada to reveal how they received federal grand-jury documents in the BALCO case is merely the latest in what appears to be a concerted effort to intimidate and reshape the news media away from its traditional role as a government watchdog.

The Chron could've picked some bigger hills to stand on. Government watchdog? More like government voyeur. The government was in the middle of doing its job. Nothing was being hidden. It would've come out when the trials and guilty pleas rolled around. No government malfeasance was present, to be unmasked. In this situation, apparently, we needed the brave government watchdogs to witness a crime being committed and then go absolutely silent when asked about it. Oh, and this crime, completely by coincidence, netted these witnesses book deals (money) and reporting awards. Wow. Amazing. Way to stand up for the public.

Indeed, this case is not just about the federal government vs. The Chronicle. It's about whether government has a right to determine what the public can know about its inner workings.

Yeah. Look, dudes, why don't you save this rhetoric for a situation when your reporters are actually reporting on the inner workings of the government, as opposed to, say, a bunch of MLB players who took steroids? It feels pretty out-of-place here.

Now, a newspaper with real balls might draw a connection to this story, where a witness was murdered, likely because of his grand jury testimony against gang dudes. It might remind folks that grand jury secrecy isn't a technicality that exists for no reason. The burden should really be on the Chron to explain why the rights of witnesses in a grand jury, testifying under an assumption of secrecy, should be ignored whenever a reporter wants a story/book deal.

Reporters bitch about how "hey, if we have to report our sources, no one will come to us." Does it just not occur to them that folks might think "hey, if grand jury testimony isn't secret after all, I'm not going to say anything in front of it"? If this happens, reporters still won't get their stories, but now the government isn't going to be able to get indictments, either. And reporters love reporting on indictments.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/06/2006 11:04:00 PM #
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Well, not much here

The story that appears today about how much more important allowing gossip to leak out of grand juries is than allowing grand juries to investigate the truth by allowing folks to testify in secret doesn't include any opinions from folks who disagree with the paper's position. And it's not like there's a shortage of those folks. The writer could've attributed it to "some," even. But hey, we don't want to see fair coverage from the Chronicle.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/06/2006 11:21:00 AM #
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Friday, May 05, 2006
Haha, you got subpoenaed

Update 2: It looks like I'm not the only one unimpressed by the Chronicle's "principles." From a BobLT:

The problem here is that this information was not disclosed for the purpose of a check and balance on the power of government or to help the public hold government accountable. No one suggests that the government was doing anything wrong in its criminal investigation of BALCO. Rather, the Chronice and its reporters sought to get information about athletes that, by government rule, which rule the Chronicle does not criticize, was supposed to be secret.

Update: The story has been updated to include a gratuitous comparison to the Valerie Wilson leak thingie. We've also got some ethics instructor ethically obfuscating the issue:

"It's a dangerous trend," said Aly Colon, an ethics instructor at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists. "The public at large and the legal community may rue it in the long term."

"Journalists need an independence to not be an instrument of government," he said. "When prosecutors can use journalists as an extension of the prosecutorial arm, it creates a great risk for journalists."

"If the government can't prove its case," he said, "it's the government's business, not the press's."


In this case, the government can prove its case. The means by which it does so is by having the people who know the details of the situation testify. This is the way governments prove cases. The fact that the press is now willfully obstructing the government in its efforts to prosecute someone who has clearly violated the law, and not for any particularly important reason, should not be seen as an act of heroism.


"Subpoenaed" is one ugly word. The SF Chronicle reporters who wrote those stories on steroids in baseball or some such boring topic, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, are getting subpoenaed, because they used grand jury testimony that was leaked. Leaking it is illegal, and so now they're asking the people who know who the leaker was to finger her. Seems reasonable. But hey, now it's time for REPORTERS SHOULDN'T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE SAME RULES AS NORMAL, INFERIOR BEINGS whining.

"The stories," they added, "would not have been possible without the help of many people -- people who are whistleblowers in the truest and best sense of the term. The government's actions raise significant First Amendment issues, and we are concerned at any attempt to stifle the public's right to know.

Normally, whistleblowers in the truest and best sense of the term are those who leak information that they can't state openly but which must be heard (maybe to save lives or something). I'm really having a hard time coming up with that kind of justification for sporting gossip. It's not like this information wouldn't ever have seen the light of day if it wasn't for the "courageous actions" of the leaker, after all.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/05/2006 06:13:00 PM #
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Tap tap tap

So, I'm patiently waiting for the OMG DAILY FRONT PAGE COVERAGE of the not-particularly-newsworthy story of some Kennedy crashing into something, maybe referring to a "culture of irresponsible driving" or some such, at the same level as the Dick Cheney hunting accident story. I think I'll be waiting a long time.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/05/2006 01:35:00 PM #
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WTF challenge

It's time for another Daily Cal cartoon WTF challenge. Check out the link, and try to answer the question: WTF?

The dude waving around the US Lock Inc. lock doesn't seem to realize a lock doesn't do much good if you wave it around. It has to actually hold something shut. This is actually a pretty decent representation of the way the federal government handles illegal immigration.

The dude right next to lock-waver appears to be mooning us.

Any other guesses?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/05/2006 01:16:00 PM #
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Whoops

LALALALALAICANTHEARYOULALA.

Anti-immigrant sentiment, particularly against Hispanics, has been building in the United States. It finally came to a head with HR 4437, the House bill that would make it a felony to be or to aid an illegal immigrant.

Anti-immigrant sentiment is pretty mild. Anti-illegal sentiment is strong. That's why the House bill deals with illegal immigrants, rather than immigrants in general. Americans love immigrants. It's a source of pride. "Haha! Our country rules! People want to come here because their home countries suck!" But Americans are usually not too friendly towards folks who break the rules, and then have the gumption to demand the protection of the law they ignored when inconvenient.

So keep trying to conflate the issues. No one is noticing.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/05/2006 01:13:00 PM #
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Holy crap

Ben Narodick is sane. Student Action needs some collective negative energy.

Student Action senators dedicated a large part of their allocations to ASUC executive offices, giving an additional $500 to each office, excluding the Office of the Student Advocate.

Oh, goodie, the executives. They're useful. Why, just this year they accomplished all kinds of stuff, like replacing the only video arcade for miles with yet another frozen crap stand, freely dumping ASUC power to an unelected Graduate Assembly, and, best of all, actively raising student fees. Twice. The one thing they really need is more money and power.

Narodick voted against the budget with what he called a "protest vote."

"I really can't vote for a budget that gives the government near 28 percent of the budget," Narodick told the senate, pointing to his belief that student groups can be more efficient with funds than can the government itself.


Yeah, but you can't write "gave money to people so they could do stuff" on your CV.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/05/2006 11:37:00 AM #
Comments (3)
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Bad news, PR dudes

Got a reputation problem?

Officials said they hope an emphasis on technology and entrepreneurial skills will promote a positive image of the continuation school.

"People make stereotypes about the program that students aren't learning and that the classes are easy," [Felton Owens] said. "We hope to change the school's image by making it more academically rigorous."


We're talking about Berkeley Alternative High School. I've got some bad news for those folks looking to change those stereotypes: Revamping the school isn't going to do much good when:

The academy will serve about 150 students whose needs are not met by mainstream education, including students involuntarily transferred for severe discipline or attendance problems as well as some seeking an alternative setting for personal or financial reasons, said Felton Owens, the district's director of student services.

Yes, the school is for folks who couldn't handle the rigorous standards of the public education system.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/03/2006 11:43:00 AM #
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Update on SA campaign violations

Attorney General Nathan Royer just explained that the reason he filed six charges against the SA execs is that the "Oren Vishal Joyce Jason" mantras you've seen chalked all over campus were within 100 feet of six different polling stations.

As a sidenote, what is mandatory cleanup day for? Shouldn't it involve... you know... cleaning up?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/03/2006 12:11:00 AM #
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Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Hey, look, more charges!

The Judicial Council has accepted six charges against Igor. That means six hearings. Back-to-back. Right after the AG v. SA Executive Slate case charging six campaign violations (but thankfully, only one hearing). The charges are:

Spam
Dorm Solicitation
Unattended Campaign Signs
Campaign Literature in Dorms
Endorsement Without Consent
Campaigning Within 100 Feet of a Polling Location

I'll take a look at the charge sheets once I find a way to read the file I got. Let me just say that the last hearing is scheduled for 1:00 am on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, technically). I know I said I was planning on going to the hearing, but I dunno if I can handle an 8-hour marathon. We'll see.

Update: I've looked over the charge sheets. As I had heard rumors of, Igor is being charged with calling the rooms in the Res Halls to campaign. Because of the way dorm phone numbers are numbered, this is fairly easy to do. He's also charged with going door-to-door.

The supposed spam e-mail has the following, somewhat interesting piece:

Thank you so much for your help in getting the vote out in your groups. I am sorry about the mass email; I promise you that this is the first and last time I'll ever do this, but this is way too important an issue for me to stay silent on. Please send me an email to confirm that you've received this.

Assuming the charges are based on actual events, and that no one is falsely pretending to be acting on Igor's behalf, things are looking pretty grim for Igor.

The charges were all filed by Suken Vakil, Student Action party chair. Just for fun, let's quote him on Igor's resignation:

"His decision is his own; it's something he felt he should do," Vakil said. "By no means is he leaving Student Action. He's still going to be a part of our family."

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/02/2006 11:22:00 PM #
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Minor note

I should mention something concerning these campaign violations. There are two different versions of the by-laws in circulation. I believe that the Candidate's Guide was based on an out-dated version, where the punishment for various campaign violation was stated along with the violation itself. The new version, I believe, seperates the violation list from the punishment list, and the punishments are both less severe and more flexible in some cases.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/02/2006 10:58:00 PM #
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More charges!

Not by me, though. Attorney General Nathan Royer has filed six counts of campaigning within 100 feet of the polls against the Student Action executive slate (specifically, six against each candidate). I think this has to do with chalking, but I'm not sure. If the Judicial Council rules in Royer's favor, and counts each violation separately, then all four will be disqualified, and we'll finally have some variety in our student government. Hopefully, this variety won't be pushing for fee increases.

If I can, I'll go to the hearing to report on it.

Update: The charges have been accepted, and the case has been joined into one. The hearing is tentatively set for next Tuesday. Even if a decision is reached instantaneously, leaving a week for appeals, I believe this means the earliest votes will be counted is May 16. They then need to be read into the Senate minutes to be official, which won't happen until May 17.

Now here's teh funnay: The Regents meeting is May 16-18. The RSF referendum, if passed, must go to the Regents at this meeting, if I recall correctly from the discussion over election dates.

I'm trying to get more info on this, and I'll keep you posted. As much as I think the RSF referendum was fucked up, the process was followed.

Update 2: Jessica Wren says the fee only needs to be approved by the Office of the President, and doesn't need to go to the Regents. So there we go.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/02/2006 05:47:00 PM #
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Civics!

Jeff Vieregg needs a basic civics lesson. I mean, very basic.

While the editorial made some excellent points—seriously, a meeting starting at 11 p.m.?—the argument that the referendum should have been removed due to an apparent typo is simply too difficult to accept. While the Judicial Council does have a duty to protect the ASUC bylaws, its primary duty, like that of all of ASUC, is to make sure students' interests are served.

No, the primary duty of the ASUC is to make sure students' interests are served. The manner in which this is done is by delegation of specific authority and instructions to specific bodies, which independently do not have that primary duty. Their primary duty is to follow the instructions of the ASUC, which as a whole has the duty of providing instructions to these bodies such that, when these instructions are followed, students' interests are served. This is how we avoid having dozens of competing dictators, all trying to "serve students' interests."

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/02/2006 12:44:00 PM #
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Incompetence wins again

As everyone pretty much expected, the Judicial Council ruled that the RSF was not a proponent of the RSF Fee Referendum that they sought to put on the ballot, and therefore there's nothing the Judicial Council can do. They're right, in some sense, because it's the job of the Senate and Executives to negotiate the role of the university in our elections. Of course, since the executives were the defense, in this case, they essentially saved themselves with their own incompetence.

Well, that's not quite fair. After all, because of the process by which a referendum reaches the ballot, the ASUC and the University will invariably be on the same side, so why would the ASUC try to negotiate any form of independence or autonomy in their elections? That would take standing up on principle.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/02/2006 09:12:00 AM #
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Confuzzled?

Wooo! Rights! No one doesn't like rights!

You see, illegal immigrants tend to come from countries that suck, like Mexico, and they want to go to countries that don't suck, like America. The main reason for this is that, under our beloved capitalist system, a bunch of dudes willing to work for not very much money will have little trouble finding that work. Therefore, it only makes sense that this rally is headed by ANSWER, waving pictures of Che, on May Day.

Some UC Berkeley faculty members canceled their classes in a show of support for the cause.

How thoughtful. They were fired, right? Right?

Tomiko Sharpnack, a graduate student at the Graduate School of Education, said she tried to use the opportunity to educate her preschool students about immigration.

I'm sure they totally understood.

Boycotting also took place. A lot of school was skipped.

Yesterday's events also caused absences throughout the Berkeley Unified School District that outnumbered those of any other event in recent memory, said district spokesperson Mark Coplan.

At Berkeley High School, between 200 and 300 students were absent yesterday, many in order to participate in the San Francisco and Berkeley protests, Coplan said.

An additional 25 Berkeley High School teachers called in sick for the day, almost a quarter of the full-time faculty at the school, he said.

Berkeley Alternative High School had only 28 of 120 students attend classes while a third of the teachers did not come to work, Coplan said.

...

At Willard Middle School, teachers integrated the protest into the curriculum by observing and participating in the San Francisco demonstrations, Coplan said.

But Berkeley's student absenteeism was limited compared to the Oakland Unified School District, where between 50 and 60 percent of students were absent from school, as were many teachers, Coplan said.


In a related story:

As recent statistics show American students performing at lower levels than their international peers in math and science subjects, local educators and policymakers are beginning to address the national trend.

Superintendent Michele Lawrence criticized the protests:

"If you take time out of the day to test you take time away from teaching," Lawrence said. "If you want to improve math and science you have to have time to teach it."

Wait, no, she's criticizing testing. It seems the same argument would apply for the protests, though. Somehow, oddly, The Daily Cal decided not to draw the connection.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/02/2006 08:50:00 AM #
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