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Nap Time!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009
Fight! Fight! Fight!

The ASUC Senate had one of their usual funding fights. I will note that I was impressed by Senator Sakaue for making the very reasonable suggestion that, when filling blanks on monetary bills, 14 votes should be required to approve any value, since that's how many votes it takes to approve the bill itself. The Senate took the position that they could not suspend the rules on this issue, but suspended them anyway, somehow. In any case, I think the By-Law requiring filling the blank should be changed to reflect this change, and I've certainly suggested it before, too.

The discussion was about whether to fund people going to some conference somewhere on some topic. The budget for the event included registration fees for the conference and travel costs. Since the ASUC can't fund travel outside the Bay Area without a waiver (which hadn't been received), those in favor of a lower value argued that they could only pay for the registration fees. Those in favor of the higher value initially took the odd position that, since travel was so expensive, the Senate should allocate more money than was necessary for the fees, despite the fact that there was nothing in the budget to spend that money on. They eventually backed down to the position that more money should be made available in case more people wanted to go.

A side discussion arose in which those in favor of spending more asked about how the Senate planned to spend money to travel to their retreat, which would also be prohibited by the spending rules. The apparent position of the Senate, though, is that spending restrictions don't apply to the Senate Only fund, despite the fact that neither the By-Laws nor the Constitution indicate any such exception. The basis for this claim is that Jan Crowder of the ASUC Auxiliary said so. Anyone familiar with how the Auxiliary works knows that their statements are more grounded in their desire to see things work a certain way than in any deference to the rules the ASUC sets for itself. I also admit to being a bit disturbed that the Senate wants to spend money to essentially have a party for themselves at the same time they complain about how there isn't enough money to go around.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 1/29/2009 12:41:00 AM #
Comments (11)
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The "14 votes for a blank" rule has been proposed in the past, I think in 2004 & 2005 & 2006, and was always killed by Student Action because they had such a decisive majority in the Senate.
I was physically present when Vishal Gupta proposed it and got approval for it when SA had 12 Senators, so I think you may be oversimplifying.
I'm pretty sure he proposed the rule and implemented it as chair of the senate, but the SA senators balked at amending the by-laws to make it official.

I'm also kinda remembering SA people not being too happy with Vishal for that policy shift.
is this group of 20 the most dysfunctional senate ever? there have been so many scandals and mess-ups with them this year. this will probably lead to CalServe not doing well in the next election, seeing as the did a terrible job leading this senate.
Why would Student Action senators, or anybody, be opposed to this policy shift if it takes 14 senators to pass the bill in the end anyway? Thats the whole reason Senator Sakaue suggested it in the first place, just to prevent the senate from pointlessly passing a blank if the entire bill (which requires 14) isnt going to pass.

And you cant just propose a rule and "implement" it as the chair of the senate. There has to be a vote to adopt standing rules.
Oh and actually there were many senators that said they did not want a senate retreat if it was using ASUC funds unconstitutionally and asked Chair Pasco why she would plan such a trip.

And why would the senate need to spend money to have a party for themselves? They have wild parties every Wednesday night. Now that is overindulgence.
Since you "know" what Sakaue is thinking, here's a lesson for an insider: When Student Action continuously had 10-13 senators, they had no incentive (beyond shorter and more efficient meetings, which is not always a shared value of ASUC Senators) to formally change the rules since they could manipulate the process to their power advantage. So you'll have to excuse me from doubting their sincerity.
Those Senators who don't want to spend funds unconstitutionally have nothing to take pride in if they don't actually challenge the consitutionality of things that are plainly in violation of the rules the Senate has set for spending. "Jan Crowder said so" is not the statement of a person who considers herself a responsible leader.

And constitutionality aside, money is money, and the Senate spending money on itself is spending money that will no longer be available to student groups (in this case, through Carry Forward). Again, the Senate is the final authority on spending, and they can take action if they want to. If they don't take action, criticizing it via anonymous comment is nothing special.
since you're wrong, here's a lesson for an outsider: It doesn't matter which party has the majority of votes because any financial bill needs a 2/3 vote of the entire senate to pass.

There is no "manipulation" involved. The whole point of drawing a blank is to vote on a new number to amend the original allocation of the bill to. Once a specific value has passed (by a majority), the entire bill comes before the senate (and fails if it doesnt get 2/3).

Thus, if you understand this correctly, you will realize that there is nothing possibly to be gained by a party with a majority; there is no incentive for Student Action benefit from, it needs at least 14 votes to pass at some point in the process.

And I "know" what Senator Sakaue was thinking because he said it.
and beetle, I agree with you.

I think that the Senate is (or could formally make itself) a student group in its own right, and thus is deserving of a portion of the allocation for its own group activities.

hopefully the next EVP, the senators the EVP works most closely with, and the ASUC in general will take this opportunity to reevaluate its methods of policing itself.

Or you could just sue them and make it easier.
If the Senate is a student group, the issue involves an even more unambiguous By-Law violation on the part of the Senate. The current view of the Senate is that the restrictions on spending they apply to student groups don't apply to the Senate, but the By-Laws in question don't indicate that distinction.

The allocation is from a line item called "Senate Only," which it allocates to itself (or rather, the next Senate) each year. But a $15,000 allocation to a group of 20 students is enormous, even if we weren't considering the Senate's leadership responsibility.

As far as your description of how the 2/3 majority requirement works goes, the procedural reality is as you describe, but the political reality involves a game of chicken, as it requires the holdouts to vote against a bill they'd be willing to fund at a lower level. It's an act of theater aimed at portraying those holdouts as enemies of the group in question. Given the "merry-go-round," as Sakaue described, anyone who puts some thought into it will realize it doesn't really make a difference either way, but few people become familiar or interested enough to put that thought into it
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