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Nap Time!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Due to an accident of fate around 7 years ago, I ended up on the Israeli Action Committee mailing list. I'm still there, so I still receive e-mails such as this one:
[Iaclist] URGENT! We need your help!‏

Dear IAC Members,

This Monday and Tuesday, there will be a recall election to kick pro-Israel senator John Moghtader out of the ASUC Senate. The slanderous and vague accusations made against him are a baseless and pathetic attempt by anti-Israel groups to silence the strongest pro-Israel senator. Protect our voice in the senate and remember:

VOTE NO this Monday or Tuesday at


Thank you so much, and remember to do the right thing and VOTE NO,

Melissa Solin
Israel Action Committee Co-chair
It does look like IAC might be hovering near the "Endorse, fund, or otherwise take action positively or negatively on campaigns for propositions in ASUC elections" prohibition for ASUC-sponsored groups. Whether or not it's a technical violation of their obligations, I think it's ethically quite tacky to use resources derived from their existence as an ASUC group to take sides in an ASUC election. I wouldn't be enormously surprised to find this kind of thing going on in many ASUC-sponsored groups on both sides.

I forwarded it to the Attorney General, who did not feel it warranted action.

Update: Berkeley Hillel is claiming the Jewish Student Union has also taken an official position against the recall. As is disturbingly common, the statement references approaches for removing a Senator, none of which actually exist:
If students believe that recent events have affected Senator Moghtader's ability to serve appropriately in his elected position, then a proper method of addressing those concerns is through processes stipulated in the constitution for this specific purpose, such as impeachment or a "vote of no confidence."
They even say "stipulated in the constitution" about procedures which are unambiguously not stipulated in the constitution. I don't entirely understand why everyone keeps referring to such nonexistent procedures. (Dalia Marina's op-ed references the invisible "impeachment" procedure as well) Where do these people get their information? And given the availability of the primary source (DOC), why don't they use it?

In any case, I can't confirm the JSU resolution independently from the Hillel newsletter, so I suppose it's possible they're misinterpreting something.

Update 2: Tommy Owens has used the Berkeley College Republicans mailing list to call for a no vote as well. It's probably a lot closer to legal on the BCR side of things, though it has always seemed to me that it should count as "Using ASUC authority, facilities, funds, or resources, including Eshleman Hall, for campaign purposes, including for long term or bulk storage of campaign materials," a campaign violation. In the past, though, I think such mass e-mailings have been allowed, though I don't recall if those involved ASUC student groups.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 2/22/2009 08:29:00 PM #
Comments (5)
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From Hillel:

Justice, justice you shall pursue! (Deuteronomy 16:20)

The active pursuit of justice is a central Jewish value. Berkeley Hillel urges students in the Cal community to exercise their right to vote in Monday's and Tuesday's recall election of ASUC Senator John Moghtader. Berkeley Hillel will be offering a space for student discussion about the recall on Monday morning, February 23, and we encourage you to come and ask questions so you can vote with knowledge.

John Moghtader is an active member of the UC Berkeley Jewish community and a valued voice in our Berkeley Hillel family. In that spirit, we share with you two statements opposing the recall: 1) a resolution passed by the Jewish Student Union on Thursday night, February 19, 2009; and 2) an editorial by the Bay Area Jewish Newspaper, the J Weekly. (Both are at the bottom of this e-mail).

When the JSU met at Hillel this week, many different opinions were aired. While there is not unanimity in the Jewish student community, there was consensus support of the JSU statement against the recall.

We respect the diverse viewpoints and values within our student community and the hope that each student will recognize the importance of voting in this recall election."

The resolution:

To the students of the University of California, Berkeley,

On Monday, February 23rd, 2009 there is scheduled to begin an election to recall ASUC Senator John Moghtader, and this two-day campaign is anticipated to cost the ASUC $25,000. The Jewish Student Union, a 30-year ASUC sponsored student group and active member of the campus community, is opposed to this recall on the grounds that it is an imprudent use of student funds.

The basis of the campaign for this recall election is criminal wrongdoing on the part of Senator Moghtader. Because there has been no evidence to either support or to refute this claim by the police, the ASUC, or any student, a decisive stance on the criminality of his actions cannot be reasonably assumed. The arguments presented by the plaintiffs are unfalsifiable; they cannot be proven or disproven, and therefore it is not a sufficient reason to call for his removal from office.

If students believe that recent events have affected Senator Moghtader's ability to serve appropriately in his elected position, then a proper method of addressing those concerns is through processes stipulated in the constitution for this specific purpose, such as impeachment or a "vote of no confidence."

Holding a recall election with such a burdensome financial cost in order to censure a senator at such a time of economic downturn is a wasteful and inappropriate use of the money we pay in student fees to the ASUC.
it might be relevant to note that Tara Raffi (a student action senator) is also the current president of the JSU, so i would guess she probably knew what the ASUC constitution stipulated when she presided over writing their resolution against the recall...
That wouldn't do her much good, since the ASUC Constitution doesn't stipulate anything on the topic.

The idea that being a Senator means you know the rules of the ASUC is demonstrably false.
Actually, the ASUC constitution does allow for both impeachment and for a "vote of no confidence."

1. Impeachment:
Title XXIV
ASUC Senate Impeachment Procedures

"The ASUC Senate Impeachment Procedures shall govern and designate the processes, roles, and guidelines during impeachment hearings for ASUC elected officials and Judicial Council members."

Note: "ASUC elected officials"
Although the current details of this title are in curious contradiction to this initial stated explanation, it is still stated in the bylaws that it is possible to impeach an ASUC senator.

2. vote of no confidence:

The ASUC constitution and bylaws specifically indicates that parliamentary procedure is to be used in senate meetings, except in the case of violation of the Constitution or Bylaws. Since parliamentary procedure details the procedure for a motion to be made to hold a vote, and because a vote could conceivably be held to indicate that the senate as a whole has "no confidence" in one of its members, a "vote of no confidence" is a possible method to reprimand a senator. This is an accepted action by precedence in other bodies governed by parliamentary procedure and there is no reason why it would not be applicable in the ASUC.

Thus, these both can qualify as "a proper method of addressing those concerns," and both impeachment and parliamentary procedure are "stipulated in the constitution."
Just so my response is here as well, the term "stipulated in the Constitution," to me, suggests that you could go to the Constitution and find such procedures, which isn't the case.

I also want to note that though the impeachment procedures say they are for elected officials as well as Judicial Council members, one can't be found guilty unless she is violating the rules specified for Judicial Council members.

Whether a statement by the Senate "addresses concerns" is probably arguable.
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