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Nap Time!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
How to "fix" elections

So you don't like the way the drop process works? Fix it. Some approaches (for the pedantic folks out there, I'm not counting meaningless drops that don't affect tabulation as drops here):

1. Don't let people drop after the Point of No Return. Sort of a "duh" suggestion, and used pretty widely.

2. Don't let people drop once voting has started (or long enough before voting starts for the ballot to be changed).

For those who pretend to be concerned about denying the will of voters by dropping, despite how stupid that argument is, either of these should not only be adequate, but worth striving for. Unfortunately, this prevents parties from running candidates for name recognition alone, so don't expect their fake principles to hold up against real impacts.

It's important to remember that an actual cutoff needs to be set. This can be either of the cutoffs set above, or the end of the election process. Setting it to end at the preliminary tabulation is possible, but relies on the secrecy of the votes, which there's good reason not to rely on. There's no reason to let drops drag on after voting starts, anyway.

The dumbest of all ideas, though, is allowing drops after preliminary tabulations without provoking a recount, which is naturally what the ASUC seems prepared to codify. Why? Because there are many things which can provoke a recount, and the meaning of dropping in that limbo space after the preliminary tabulation should not have the impact of incentivizing those things.

Retabulations aren't provoked just by disqualifications, despite what Oscar Mairena and the Judicial Council claimed, and reading that section of the By-Laws as an "if and only if" statement was historically ignorant. Both the 2007 and 2008 elections had retabulations due to problems with the vote file. If we are to take the Judicial Council seriously, even if it is discovered that the vote file was corrupted either by inappropriate changes (2008) or broken syntax (2007), the results of the preliminary tabulation would still hold, despite it being publicly known and accepted that those results don't reflect the vote.

The alternative is to allow such retabulations, but does the ASUC really want to allow drops that only matter if something goes wrong? Aren't they at all worried about the possibility of things going wrong deliberately? The only sensible choices, as far as I can tell, are a fully-informed dropping process or a pre-election cutoff.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/28/2009 05:46:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Changes

It's the last week of proposing bills!

CalSERVE wants to boot blood drives off of ASUC property since they don't allow men who've had gay sex to donate.

Here is Oscar Mairena's absurd effort to "fix" the elections process:
If a candidate withdraws after preliminary tabulations have been completed, their withdrawal will not entail a retabulation of results and will not affect the election. If a candidate is a winning candidate, then the seat is to be given to the alternate.
How do disqualifications get handled, then, if people also drop? Do you include the dropped candidate in the retabulation, even though they've withdrawn? More on this in the next post.

CalSERVE wants to create a "Third World College," insisting that the University allow its name be used with a college they have no control over.

They also want to "oppose" Prop 209. Why they think they have the legitimacy to express a "student opinion" when they can't even get a third of campus to vote at all in ASUC elections remains a mystery.

There's also some meaningless nonsense about "twinning" with universities in Gaza.

Student Action's meaningless nonsense involves commemoration of dead cops.

And, of course, we've got the usual assortment of blank bills.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/28/2009 05:34:00 PM #
Comments (5)
. . .
Monday, April 27, 2009
Results

The Judicial Council has accepted that dropping candidates does not provoke retabulation, which means Student Action loses their case. I think the Judicial Council should have given a much better reason for directly contradicting their previous advisory opinion than "that's what the rules say." After all, the rules said the same thing last year, and Student Action can make a legitimate case that they were acting as they understood the rules to be when deciding not to drop candidates before tabulation, according to the interpretational authority of the ASUC. What point is there in asking for an advisory opinion if the ruling can't be used as a basis for action? For the future, I guess asking for interpretive hearings would be wiser, but it's not even clear if the Judicial Council would accept such hearings for issues that haven't arisen. Besides, if the Judicial Council doesn't rule on precedent, does that even matter?

Anyway, next year, I imagine that there will be a designated rule-breaker who will make sure she gets disqualified after the tabulation. That would really help illustrate the ridiculousness of an ignorance-based electoral system.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/27/2009 02:35:00 PM #
Comments (12)
. . .
Friday, April 24, 2009
Ernn

The Daily Cal stands up for accuracy and issues a correction:
An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that CalSERVE dropped four candidates before tabulation this year. In fact, they dropped five candidates.
Somehow, the fact that they overcounted the number of Senate seats that would be gained by dropping Shirazi (hint: 2>1) remains untouched by their fact-checkers.

Since they also refer to "electing Shirazi," I think that they really do believe that Shirazi won a seat in the initial tabulation. They should try reading a newspaper sometime.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/24/2009 05:47:00 PM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Oh....kay

While folks are up in arms about doing stuff that folks think is bad... or good... or something... this story tells us that Jonathan Gaurano got an exception to run for office using a process that nobody can remember.
After the opinion was issued, ASUC Auxiliary Director Nadesan Permaul helped Gaurano draft a letter requesting special status, which he sent to Elections Council Chair Emily Liedblad.

Liedblad said she collaborated with ASUC Attorney General Michael Sinanian to decide to grant Gaurano special status, although neither could recall the exact grounds Gaurano had for requesting an exception.

"He communicated to Nad in more detail than he did to me and the J-Council what his extenuating circumstances were," Sinanian said.

But Permaul also said he did not remember the circumstances.

"I don't recall," Permaul said. "I just remember thinking they were reasonable grounds to make that request."

Liedblad declined to comment on her reasoning and did not provide a copy of the letter.
Instead of complaining about the transparency of the drop which was not done secretly, how about some concerns here, Daily Cal? There is no "special status" category in the ASUC's rules. Essentially, what happened was Liedblad decided that Gaurano should run based on mysterious arguments nobody can remember, rather than on the nonbinding advisory opinion from the Judicial Council.

I'm not too troubled by it, since I thought the Judicial Council's opinion was wrong, but eyebrows really need to be raised about Auxiliary involvement and Elections Council transparency.

Update: A commenter reminds me that there is a "special status" category for students working to remove a university-imposed registration block. The story suggested that Gaurano chose to take a semester off for his own reasons, not because the university blocked him, so it's not clear how it was applied. A clarification notes that The Daily Cal did eventually get the letter, but can't be bothered to tell us what was in it.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/24/2009 12:32:00 PM #
Comments (7)
. . .
Oh, noes, a Daily Cal opinion!

Well. You probably know how I feel about Daily Cal editorials in general.
That Student Action can gain two more senate seats by dropping one senator may seem illogical.
Well, yeah. It's also not true. I'm pretty sure the idea is that they'll drop one losing Senate candidate to get one more Senate seat.
CalSERVE dropped four candidates before tabulation this year, and ran candidates who had no intention of becoming senators clearly for the purpose of amassing more party votes. Moreover, this issue could and should have been addressed by the ASUC Senate, of which Mairena has been a member for the past year. Claims of ethical superiority do not hold water if you utilize a system when it's politically expedient, yet cry foul when it fails to work in your favor.
I feel like I've heard that before somewhere.
Dropping candidates in this manner disregards voters who may have elected Shirazi (or any other candidate) on the basis of his ideas or qualifying attributes, rather than the fact that he ran with Student Action.
You see, before the drop, Shirazi didn't win, and his votes were redistributed. But now that he's being dropped, he won't win, and his votes will be redistributed. This disregards voters who voted for him to a greater extent for some reason.

Could it be that The Daily Cal just didn't know that Shirazi wasn't one of the winners? It would explain both statements.
In pursuit of that aim, the incoming senate should take up the issue of altering the drop system to prevent common abuses like the ones we're now witnessing. Since the system must remain in some form, the public tabulation of the election results should be set as the deadline for candidates to drop.
First of all, there's no reason the drop system needs to remain in some form. Second, setting the deadline as tabulation is a horrible idea that invites actual corruption.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/24/2009 03:57:00 AM #
Comments (9)
. . .
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Technical notes on dropping

Now, for some thoughts on whether the system we have is a good vote-counting system. Perhaps you wonder how it is that dropping a losing candidate can get you another Senator, and understanding this may change how you view this "manipulation."

Dropping a candidate before counting starts has two impacts. The first is that quota is decreased. The second is that the votes for that candidate get redistributed earlier than they would otherwise.

The quota concept is a bit weird, which is why when votes get redistributed matters. After a candidate's votes are redistributed, the voting algorithm checks if any candidates are over quota. If they are, those people who have voted for that candidate have a portion of their votes (the portion not needed for quota) redistributed to their next choices. Any future votes that would be redistributed to that candidate are instead redistributed to the next candidate in line on that ballot.

What makes this weird is that this means that those only those whose vote was associated with the candidate when she reached quota are counted towards that quota and partially redistributed. Any future votes that would be associated are not counted towards that quota and fully redistributed. This means you'd rather have those voters who only support one of your popular candidates associated with that candidate early, and those voters who support one of your popular candidates and a bunch of your other ones associated late, so that their full vote redistributes.

Dropping a candidate reduces quota and lets other candidates reach quota earlier. Depending on the order of votes, this can make the distinction between partially redistributed votes and fully redistributed votes work in your favor, and it will typically benefit the party which has more total votes, because they have more votes to rearrange.

A fair case can be made that the partial/full redistribution distinction is silly. An alternative, for instance, could hold that additional voters associated with a candidate who reached quota will only be partially redistributed, and the redistribution of the previous votes associated with that candidate would be slightly further redistributed. This system has its own drawbacks, one if which may well be that the result can be changed by rounding errors. But it's something to think about. It won't necessarily make it impossible to change results by dropping candidates, but may prevent some of it.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/23/2009 03:31:00 PM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Eyedrops

The empty anonymous whining continues, so let me just provide a brief summary of why it's empty.

The point of a Single Transferable Vote system is to combine the benefits of Instant Runoff Voting with the need to elect multiple candidates to a position. Arrow's Impossibility Theorem tells us we will never have a "perfect" voting system with this many choices and voters. (This differs from my complaints about the fee increase voting process, where a "no" vote can pass the fee. Creating a system which satisfies the stated conditions is entirely possible, but the university chooses not to do so) As a result, candidates/parties can "manipulate" the process by dropping candidates.

There seems to be no objection so far to this kind of manipulation. The only distinction that supposedly has everyone's panties in a twist is that this manipulation is supposed to be done from behind a veil of ignorance. (I say "supposedly" because I suspect that every external observer is working under the assumption that positions taken in this dispute depend entirely on whose ox is being gored. This discussion is simply a meaningless rhetorical game) I know of no voting system which places value on acting from ignorance, so I feel like this objection needs more grounding than "because I say so."

There are, however, very good reasons not to make the acceptability of decisions based on ignorance. How does one preserve this veil of ignorance? How does one ensure that it isn't pierced? How does one know when it is? Since the ASUC abandoned accountability in their voting system with online voting, (the parties no longer have the ability to keep track of the votes at all times, and have no way of knowing whether they have been changed or even seen) the "ignorance" requirement can't even be assured in any meaningful way. Sure, you have the word of one or two people that it's all good, and no one knows, but how can you be sure? Imagine if the power to control the election process becomes dependent on each party's ability to induce and take advantage of corruption. Is that really where we want to take the incentive structure? Right now, there's no real advantage to finding out election results early, so on one is going to put in much of an effort. How much do you trust Student Action and/or CalSERVE?

So no, all the whining about "manipulation" doesn't change the fact that no one's vote goes to someone they didn't vote for. It doesn't change the fact that each candidate has control of their own presence in the race. It doesn't change the fact that every candidate is on equal footing. If you want to find something unfair here, you really need to try harder.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/23/2009 03:07:00 PM #
Comments (0)
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Stuff for the future

Roxanne Winston wants to boost the Election Council Chair's stipend to $2500 on account of there being multiple elections. While I don't disagree with the concept, it does seem to be a pretty direct violation of the finance By-Laws.

Yishi Zuo has proposed a bunch of bills to eliminate stipends for various positions to cut costs. I doubt he'll have much success (most folks support cutting costs in general, but oppose cutting anything), but it's nice to see someone making the effort. He also wants to prohibit the Senate from funding registration fees anywhere.

He also wants to "increase" graduate student involvement by clarifying that rules against residence hall campaigning should not apply to graduate student housing. If there's anything that will help boost graduate student turnout, it's going to where they live and harassing them, apparently.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/22/2009 03:04:00 PM #
Comments (3)
. . .
More drop-shaped fun

Oscar Mariena has filed suit against the Elections Council in the Judicial Council in order to prevent them from retabulating votes after Student Action drops Arya Shirazi. As you might suspect, this would take the seat away from CalSERVE's Viola Tang and give it to Matt Samuels.

There's an advisory opinion (PDF) exactly on point that rejects his claims, and CalSERVE did nothing about the By-Laws in the year since that advisory opinion was issued. Now, however, it's suddenly very important that the By-Laws be interpreted in a different way that just happens to give them another seat in the Senate, even though they couldn't be bothered to actually change the By-Laws to reflect the "correct" interpretation. Good show, CalSERVE. Next time, you might have more luck getting Senate seats by getting more votes, rather than pulling arguments out of your ass for why the procedure should be retroactively changed. Student Action beat CalSERVE by well over 1000 votes in Senate races, and deserves that extra seat.

(This is, by the way, an excellent benefit of Alex Kozak filing that advisory opinion before the election results. He got a decision separate from a particular instance of political conflict so folks couldn't figure out which side they should be on)

The first argument is that only disqualification triggers retabulation.
ASUC By-Laws, Title 4, Article 15, articulate a detailed procedure for the tallying of votes. They clearly outline the disqualification of a candidate as the only reason for which a retabulation of votes may occur.

"If any candidates should be disqualified following the preliminary tabulation, a second and final ballot tabulation will commence following all decisions and settlements of lawsuits regarding elections by the Judicial Council." (ยง4.15.2).

This clause establishes the disqualification of a candidate following preliminary tabulation as the necessary condition for triggering subsequent tabulations. In other words, votes may be retabulated if and only if a candidate is disqualified from his/her position.
Besides telling me that Oscar doesn't know the difference between implication and equivalence, this statement has no informational content. The most casual reading of that By-Law shows that it provides a sufficient condition, not a necessary one. While he goes on to say:
No reading of the By-Laws or Constitution provides for a retabulation of votes in any other case.
one could just as easily note that no reading of the By-Laws or Constitution prohibits a retabulation of votes in any other case, either. (This is the difference between something being necessary and being sufficient) In any case, at least one reading allows retabulation for another case, and that's the reading the Judicial Council used last year in their Advisory Opinion. The AO is nonbinding, but all parties acted under the understanding that it existed, which means that Student Action had good reason to believe that they could wait until after tabulation to do their drops. To change the rules retroactively would be far more unfair.

(Interestingly, though Mairena quotes this advisory opinion on the topic of when candidates can drop, he doesn't mention that it directly contradicts his argument about retabulations. This means he doesn't give the Judicial Council a reason to reverse its opinion on that topic)

Mairena also takes the position that drops in the middle of executing the algorithm are allowed, despite the complete absence of any indication that such a process is allowed in the By-Law description of the algorithm. His refusal to read the By-Laws as allowing things not mentioned in the retabulation section apparently doesn't preclude him from reading the By-Laws as allowing things not mentioned in the algorithm.
When a losing candidate withdraws after results have already been tabulated, it can only be done with the intention of manipulating votes in order to alter the results of the election. Council should not allow the will of the voters to be subverted by a withdrawal tendered in bad faith.
What makes this bad faith? CalSERVE dropped candidates, too. Are they manipulating votes? Doesn't the fact that they run candidates that they have no intention of seeing in office mean they are manipulating the votes in order to alter the results of the election, too? How much difference does the fact that they drop while ignorant make?

I see no reason why dropping candidates to change the result is somehow wrong. The votes are there, and no one's vote is going to someone they don't vote for. In fact, I expect voters would prefer that candidates drop in order to allow their transferred votes to affect the election.

In fact, this whole case is post-hoc political manipulation. Oscar was a Senator for a whole year while the advisory opinion explained the drop mechanism. He made no effort to change the By-Laws to fix any problems he perceived. He now is acting in bad faith to a much greater extent than Student Action is.

Even if he wins this case, won't Shirazi just break some campaign rules, get sued by Student Action, settle for disqualification, and trigger the retabulation anyway?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/22/2009 10:24:00 AM #
Comments (29)
. . .
Monday, April 20, 2009
Fun with drops

After trying a few permutations on the drop scheme, if drops are going to be allowed this year as they were last year, I believe that Matt Samuels, of APPLE, is going to get into the Senate. If Jonathan Gaurano is removed from the ballot, it will be his seat. If not, it will come from Viola Tang, of CalSERVE. Some scrabbling over who will be the next alternate may also be in order.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/20/2009 01:03:00 PM #
Comments (9)
. . .
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Stuff more like results

As far as I can tell, if Jonathan Gaurano is removed from the vote, his seat will go to APPLE's Matt Samuels. But more folks may drop, too, if they think it will get more seats.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/19/2009 07:42:00 PM #
Comments (4)
. . .
Stuff like results

Election results, now with numbers!

President (9567 votes)

1st place votes:
Will Smelko - 4431
Oscar Mairena - 3549
Andy Morris - 690
Ronald Cruz - 575
Bev Elithorp - 227
J Hug - 95

Between SA/CS:
Will Smelko - 4815
Oscar Mairena - 4159


Executive Vice President (9513 votes)

1st place votes:
Tu Tran - 4797
Kifah Shah - 3207
Chad Kunert - 914
James Lingo - 462
J Hug - 133

Between SA/CS:
Tu Tran - 5262
Kifah Shah - 3635


Academic Affairs Vice President (9283 votes)

1st place votes:
John Tran - 4295
Isaac Miller - 3653
David Hollingsworth - 753
Talya Hezi - 469
J Hug - 113

Between SA/CS:
John Tran - 4609
Isaac Miller - 4080


External Affairs Vice President (9121 votes)

1st place votes:
Dani Haber - 4339
Joan Jones - 3464
Brett Hallahan - 707
Issamar Almaraz - 449
J Hug - 162

Between SA/CS:
Dani Haber - 4612
Joan Jones - 3926


Student Advocate Office (6750 votes)

1st place votes:
Hassan Khan - 2771
Marlysa Thomas - 1813
Sarah Jeong - 1735
J Hug - 431

Between Serious/SQUELCH!:
Hassan Khan - 3445
Sarah Jeong - 2073

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/19/2009 07:23:00 PM #
Comments (4)
. . .
Oh, yeah

I had completely forgotten about this (PDF) advisory opinion, finding that Jonathan Gaurano was not eligible to run for election. It was an advisory opinion, and thus nonbinding, but maybe someone will raise a stink (probably whichever party would get his seat).

By the by, I don't yet have the voter file to see who that would be. Is it being released yet? If so, send it my way.

(By the way, I said before I thought it was wrongfully decided, so Gaurano may be able to field a defense in an actual hearing)

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/19/2009 12:50:00 PM #
Comments (9)
. . .
Saturday, April 18, 2009
On class

Student Action was just as classless in their victory as CalSERVE was last year at the tabulation meeting. I'll admit enjoying seeing the CalSERVErs all sad and disappointed over their failure, because they deserved it after their behavior last year. But that doesn't mean that bringing out a fucking broom was classy.

My opinion hasn't changed. Having a tabulation meeting because it's dramatic is not a good reason. There is no justification for counting the votes much slower than necessary for the sake of suspense. In fact, there's no reason to even hide the results until the tabulation meeting. It's an automated program that takes a text file as input. What possible explanation can the ASUC give for hiding information from the student body for dramatic effect? Last year, CalSERVE signatory Shawn Jain took the unbelievable position that deliberately withholding information from the student body improved transparency. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, could an effort to eliminate hiding the votes from the public succeed, or will Student Action block it this year?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/18/2009 12:56:00 AM #
Comments (20)
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Friday, April 17, 2009
Yay!

For the first time in a very long time, The Daily Cal has actually listed out all the Senate winners in a story, so check there for winners.

The SA sweep, of course, we already knew. Not noted in that story is that all the constitutional amendments passed, though abstain votes were often almost as high as yes votes.

There are 8 Student Action and 7 CalSERVE. Christina Oatfield may as well count as CalSERVE. I'm not as familiar with the three independent winners or how they should be counted, so if you know, leave a note. I suppose Huda Adem is the MSA candidate, and I think Jonathan Gaurano tends CalSERVE, though I'm not sure.

SQUELCH! squeaked in a candidate, but they really need to shape up if they intend to keep winning in the future.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/17/2009 07:50:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Drip, drip, drip

I could tell you an amusing story about war, love, and the conflict between dedication and friendship, but the punchline is that election results have been leaked, and Student Action has turned things around with an executive sweep.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/17/2009 11:03:00 AM #
Comments (15)
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Thursday, April 16, 2009
Oooookay

Last year, I was criticized for criticizing The Daily Cal for awarding themselves the Best of Berkeley award for blogs, because "hey, the students vote on it." I look forward to hearing what kind of excuse The Daily Cal will offer for choosing its own blog as the Editor's Pick for Best of Berkeley. Do they have a "Best Newspaper" category? Who would win it?

Update: We have a response:
Oh, and Beetle is jealous or something.
Wait, that's not a response, that's an attempt to change the subject.

To a certain extent it's true, I wish I could teach ethics or something, and how it interacts with credibility, and so I'm jealous I don't get the job. Do they really not understand the problem that is associated with declaring yourself the best in what is supposedly an attempt to be informative? Even on Beetle Beat, which is hardly a paragon of journalistic integrity, I largely ignored my ASUC campaigns because it would cheapen the actual information I try to communicate.

It's one thing to write a fluff piece about how your newspaper won some awards at some journalistic recognition ceremony. It's quite another to publish editorial judgments about yourself being superior in a competitive sense to others.

(Those who are familiar with me personally know how little I encourage folks to read the blog or seek to boost traffic or recognition for it. Those who only know me through the blog may not understand this and think of this as bitterness. My criticism is very specific to The Daily Cal's decisionmaking and how it hurts their ability to be a powerful source of information on this campus. It's no different than any of the rest of my criticism, even if you could conceivably take the silly view that I was seeking recognition from The Daily Cal.)

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/16/2009 02:04:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Wrong and wrong

No:
There is typically a one-week filing period after the polls open for students to file elections violations against candidates. After tabulation, only the ASUC Attorney General may file violations.
There's nothing under the sun that says anything of the sort. The Judicial Council sets a good faith filing deadline (4 pm on Tuesday after the election), which doesn't distinguish between the Attorney General or other students. The By-Laws instruct that preliminary tabulation does not prohibit the Attorney General or Elections Council chair from filing further charges. But the By-Laws don't define the good faith filing deadline, and would have no authority to instruct the Judicial Council to reject cases from other students even if they did. This is yet another of those myths (like "campaigning can't begin until the week before the election" or "campaign signs can't touch the ground") that no one bothers to actually check for accuracy.

Also, no:
But during a Constitutional and Procedure Review Committee meeting this week, the motion failed by a 3-3 vote. Removing Sinanian required a two-thirds vote from the committee and the senate.
Removing Sinanian doesn't require anything from the committee. It doesn't even need to go to committee, and I can't imagine any reason why the Senate can't pick up a failed action in committee just like it does with bills.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/16/2009 12:18:00 PM #
Comments (0)
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Turnout

According to reports at the Senate meeting, turnout was 11,016, which is fairly high.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/15/2009 10:18:00 PM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Whoopsies

The Elections Council apparently had a "whoopsies" moment and misscheduled the tabulation for this Friday. They wrote a temporary rule and got it approved by the Judicial Council to go ahead as planned for Friday tabulation. It apparently was scheduled for 4:30.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/15/2009 03:39:00 PM #
Comments (2)
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Revenue sharing if you've got revenue

So that revenue sharing bill is up next week. As before, the revenue sharing bill and the expense sharing bill are separate for reasons unclear. Everything I've already said is still true, in that this is a transfer of funds away from the elected portion of the ASUC to the Graduate Assembly. The same sarcasm is present in the bill:
WHEREAS, an agreement to share commercial activities revenue would make it worthwhile for the GA to promote graduate student patronage of the Lower Sproul businesses.
The GA cannot promote graduate student patronage of anything. I don't know any other way to say this besides the fact that few graduate students give a crap what the GA has to say.
WHEREAS, it would bring about fiscal equity and financial responsibility for commercial activities revenue to be shared as equally and as fairly as student fees currently are;
Yes, still funny. And clearly the goal here is not fiscal equity and financial responsibility, because fees are shared by proportion of students, while under this agreement, revenue will be shared only when the GA has money to gain.
WHEREAS, the proposed sharing agreement seeks to enlarge revenue rather than divide up an already small residual, given the $274,000 minimum sharing threshold;
Another way to read that is "the proposed sharing agreement seeks to only share revenues and obligations when there's money to be had. When no money is available, the GA doesn't care about sharing obligations."

I'll be interested to see which Senator wins the "dumb comment in favor of approving a one-sided agreement to benefit the GA in the name of 'fairness'" award next week.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/14/2009 08:58:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
It was totally me

Michael Sinanian plays defense:
Earlier this year, I was the one who brought to light the failure of the senate committee delegated to select someone to run the annual elections. Realizing the violations, I worked closely with the senate, the committee members and the Judicial Council to select an elections council chair and prevent the loss any valuable time.
This is an odd interpretation. Sinanian was the one who did not inform the ASUC of the problem ahead of time, leading to paralysis of the Senate. When someone else brought up an attempt at a workaround, he wasn't around, which led to one of the dumbest efforts to ignore the By-Laws in recent memory, when, under Sinanian's interpretation, the Senate passed an "informal verbal main motion" the same meeting it was proposed, which totally met public notice requirements because the "action" (actually conducting business) would happen the next week. (Apparently, public notice is not to let students voice input on what the ASUC does, but to ensure that the ASUC sits around for a while after deciding what to do) Eventually, the Senate was allowed to make the appointment, after an advisory opinion was filed contradicting claims that the Senate couldn't even do that business. Who asked for the advisory opinion? No, not Sinanian. That was me. In fact, I can't think of a single thing Sinanian did to move the Senate towards doing business again, aside from writing that idiotic statement about what the Senate did (which, by the way, was what provoked me into filing the charge sheet against the Senate in the first place, and was the most effective piece of evidence for proving my case).

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/14/2009 08:25:00 AM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Oh, right, the blog

I forgot.

Anyone have some background on this?
Although voting is over, results of the election will not be tabulated until a week from today, said Elections Council Chair Emily Liedblad.
The By-Laws say tabulation needs to start by Wednesday at 4 pm, and last year it was Tuesday night.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/11/2009 01:53:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Endorseful

These are definitely some of the most endorseful nonendorsements I've ever seen. It seems like The Daily Cal wanted to declare itself "above the fray" somehow, and sought out reasons not to endorse candidates, regardless of their preferences. A general "we don't endorse" policy is solid, but this just looks cowardly. In fact, there are three "this candidate would be best, but we don't know enough details!" nonendorsements, for which they have their own endorsement forum format to blame.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/07/2009 08:50:00 PM #
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Monday, April 06, 2009
Squee

SQUELCH! videos can be found here. You may or may not find them funny. You may or may not be compelled to vote SQUELCH!. You may or may not find definitive answers here.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/06/2009 02:54:00 AM #
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Results!

The Judicial Council has accepted a settlement in that recall case. Since John Moghtader wouldn't provide copies of the video, Michael Sinanian's case collapsed, doubly so when his description was considered inadmissible hearsay. In other words, there was no evidence to show that Dina Omar lied.

Sinanian kept at it, though, until strongly encouraged to seek a settlement, which he eventually did. In it, Sinanian drops charges about intentional falsification, but apparently required other aspects in order to save face. So the defense did not contest that Omar was a proponent, and Sinanian blamed his inability to prove his case on Moghtader. I guess Moghtader was the gatekeeper after all.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/06/2009 01:53:00 AM #
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Sunday, April 05, 2009
Herm

From the defense brief for today's hearing:
Finally, in connection with this case, the plaintiff appears to have ambitions in mind greater than those expressly assigned to him by the ASUC Constitution. Plaintiff has publicly threatened Ms. Omar with "a torrent of shame and disgrace" claiming that he is "the gatekeeper" standing between aforementioned "torrents" and the defendant. Attorney General Faces Impeachment Charges, The Daily Californian. In fact, the ASUC Constitution and By-Laws make no reference to the task of "gatekeeper" in outlining the role of the Attorney General, nor do they provide for "torrents of shame and disgrace" as acceptable remedies for violations of ASUC By-Laws.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/05/2009 04:18:00 PM #
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Friday, April 03, 2009
Reeggg

Sinanian v. Omar is scheduled for Sunday at 9:15 pm.

The Judicial Council rejected Darin Ranahan's charge sheet, essentially saying that it wasn't the obligation of the Attorney General or Senate to put election results into effect without Judicial Council certification.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/03/2009 09:23:00 PM #
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Oh, yeah

The Daily Cal endorsement forum is tonight at 5 in 20 Barrows or some such. I probably should have mentioned it earlier.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/03/2009 03:47:00 PM #
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Stuff, part x

Spending lots of money you don't have only works if you have the Chinese to buy your debt and you can print more. The ASUC, not so much.
Student Action Senator Tu Tran, an ASUC executive vice presidential candidate, has spent more than all active senators, sponsoring 34 bills totaling $15,488. The next highest spender is CalSERVE Senator Mary June Flores, who has sponsored 14 bills worth $9,890.
I'm not sure how much sense this counting system makes. The Senate spent the money, and bills are routinely filled with people who become sponsors just because.
In light of the senate's financial situation, Flores said she intends to urge groups to seek more outside funding.

"I've started taking things more seriously," she said.
Well, awesome. You've started towards the end of your term.

Meanwhile, shit be goin' down in terms of Attorney General Sinanian. Some folks apparently want to "impeach" him, whatever that means. I hope they don't try to use "Senate Impeachment Procedures," which would require them to find him guilty of violating the obligations of the Judicial Council... which he isn't on.

They apparently want to remove him for delaying the results of the recall election, which he doesn't have the power to do. The Judicial Council, which does have that power, is responsible for that. I would suggest firing him for incompetence, since he has a really good record of being wrong, but firing him for asking the Judicial Council to make rulings is simple scapegoating. (The perjury charge makes more sense)

But listen to Sinanian:
"These reckless agitators know that their time is limited," he said in an e-mail. "They know that the truth will soon be revealed, and that I am the gatekeeper of that torrent of shame and disgrace that will fall upon them in the time of judgment."
Jesus Christ, dude. Please tell me that's an April Fool's joke taken too seriously. "The heavens will part, and a great fist of light shall shine upon the unworthy, as God's infinite grace burns the evil from the ASUC in a blinding flash of divine brilliance!"

I would normally doubt they have the votes to boot him, but I think he's succeeded in pissing everyone off at least once, so who knows. If he is removed, I don't think they'll bother replacing him.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/03/2009 12:53:00 AM #
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009
And the other stuff

The Judicial Council issued a Default Judgment against Michael Sinanian in his case against Nathan Shaffer, since Sinanian was unable to produce the video.

In other, stranger, news, the Judicial Council has decided that a "severance of party" means that the severed party must appear in a separate hearing, even if the reason Dina Omar was severed was that she wasn't a proponent. I suppose this is fine, since Sinanian never got a chance to argue the case that Omar was a proponent, and she was simply severed in pre-oral motions, rather than found through a judgment to not be a proponent.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/01/2009 12:29:00 PM #
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Er... Breaking?

The Judicial Council has ruled to revoke IAC's ASUC sponsorship. There is no discussion of whether the punishment is appropriate to the violation, though, so I hope they jump on the appeal.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/01/2009 12:28:00 PM #
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Huh?

Read this story about changing the admissions policy to get rid of the SAT II (Subject Tests). This line leaps out at me:
Mark Rashid, professor at UC Davis and former chair of the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, oversaw the changes before they were passed.

"The subject test scores are pretty close to useless in predicting who will do well when they come to the University of California," he said.
This is, of course, exactly the opposite of what has been argued in the past in the attempt to revamp the SAT I, when the affirmative action folks insisted that the SAT I was useless when we had the SAT II. Though the SAT I was revamped, that didn't make whole lot of difference, though the new research apparently insisted that even the subject tests were useless, except when they weren't.

You can see some discussion from the Rashid faction in response to a paper by Saul Geiser if you want more information. See who is more believable. While I understand the "taking the SAT II itself is the barrier" argument, it isn't what Rashid is saying in the Daily Cal article.
"I think it levels the playing field more because if you didn't go to a school that didn't cover a subject in great detail, you're at a disadvantage," said freshman Jillian Tessier.
If you went to a school which didn't cover math or English or science or whatnot, you're probably not all that prepared for college anyway. I don't recall the SAT IIs requiring having "covered a subject in great detail." I thought any course which covered the relevant topic would provide sufficient detail, but I guess it's been a long time since I've taken SAT IIs. Perhaps schools should start teaching subjects again.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/01/2009 12:21:00 AM #
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Clusterfuck Ho!

That certainly wasn't unexpected. Michael Sinanian's case against Nathan Shaffer is certainly broken, though it was broken at the charge sheet, video or no.

Now Sinanian wants to charge Dina Omar as a proponent, which means he's still going to have to prove she's a proponent, which was exactly what he couldn't do in the hearing, which is why she was severed from the case.

Some Darin Ranahan demands that the recall election be certified immediately, because somebody's due process are being violated somehow. I don't see it, as usual, since Ranahan isn't losing anything.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 4/01/2009 12:14:00 AM #
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