Friday, April 28, 2006
Well, not quite
While I agree with The Daily Cal that the Judicial Council made a bad call, I don't think the editorial is entirely fair. The reason I think the Council made a bad call is because they argued that because the language of the RSF referendum is merely ambiguous rather than false, it is not inaccurate (or rather, not completely inaccurate). I should note that the defense did not argue this. The defense argued that the Attorney General has the authority to determine what is and is not inaccurate. But this isn't the first time the Judicial Council ruled based on its own ideas, rather than those of the defense.
Two of the suits certainly had valid points: One argued the three-line ballot question for the RSF referendum violated the two-sentence maximum. The other presented a more worrisome point: the question's misleading language.
These were actually both in the same suit.
In spite of both objections, the Judicial Council let the referendum pass unscathed. Their justification? For the first issue, they said since the senate "intended" the question to read as two sentences, it was acceptable. Apparently, since the senate didn't mean to break the rules, it's okay.
This isn't quite accurate. Apparently, the Senate voted to pass the language that eventually appeared on the ballot, but due to a typo in the minutes, the semicolon was replaced with a period. The Judicial Council ruled that even though the minutes were approved, the original passed language was the correct one, reasoning that since Senate actions are valid before their minutes are approved, they are also valid after the approval of the minutes, even if the minutes disagree with the Senate's actions. I'm not sure I buy the argument, but that's what it was. The end result, though, was for the semi-coloned version (supposedly two sentences) to appear on the ballot. The Judicial Council did not rule that, because the Senate wanted a two-sentence version, the three-sentence version was okay.
Perhaps we should cut the council a little slack. After all, they didn't get out of session until 5 a.m. Tuesday, hours before polls opened. But why did they start deliberations at 11 p.m.? Council members may be busy people. But they need to dedicate time during the day to council matters because part of their faulty logic must have been due to sleep deprivation.
The charge sheets were filed Sunday morning. The cases were accepted Sunday evening. The hearing was set for Monday evening, starting at 6. Since there were three of them, they ran until 11, at which point the Judicial Council began deliberating all three of them, as well as DAAP's appeal for something else, finishing around 5, I guess. Because of the upcoming election on Tuesday, starting at 9, it's not clear that there was a better schedule. Jason Dixon was literally typing up the brief for the last case right up to the time it began.
. . .
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Another suit against the elections
Bears United candidate for... uh... everything Andy Ratto has filed a charge sheet with the Judicial Council requesting an emergency preliminary injunction to stop voting. As some of you know, the Elections Council is handing out coupons for gelato to voters at the sites. Andy has talked about this before, and I agree with him that bribing students to vote is bad democracy. It also helps the proponent side for all fee referenda, because of the requirement that 20% of the students vote for the vote to be valid. Andy also claims that, because bringing the Naia lounge on campus is such an integral part of Student Actions platform this year, providing the coupons is supporting one candidate or group over another. From the charge sheet:
My second objection is that the gelato coupon is directly tied to a key plank of Student Action’s campaign. I have seen numerous posters around campus advertising what Student Action has “DONE” this year and one of the few things mentioned is the Naia lounge on campus. I will be subpoenaing a copy of this flyer for the hearing. I believe it is one of only three things that are part of the DONE platform they are running on. Student Action is making sure that voters know that we have access to Gelato on campus because of their efforts.
Chair Wren, by giving out gelato coupons is indirectly aiding Student Action. Any student who plans to go vote for a gelato coupon (as the coupons have been advertised to a ton of students through a variety of forms) will realize, either consciously, or subconsciously that they have access to a gelato lounge on campus because of Student Action. There was no gelato lounge on campus prior to Student Action’s effort, so the very existence of this coupon which can be redeemed on campus was only possible because of Student Action’s efforts. This is made especially direct because the coupon says it can only be redeemed at the “Naia Lounge” and not the Shattuck location.
This link is made even more direct and clear because the gelato coupon is a nearly identical bright orange color as the bright orange used by Student Action in their flyers. I have no information as to why Chair Wren decided to give out gelato coupons this year, but I am seeking to subpoena her to testify as to who suggested she do so, in case it was someone from Student Action.
Even if Chair Wren decided to hand out these coupons on her own, the direct link to Student Action’s campaign is clearly biased in their favor and a violation of her duty to remain neutral in the election and guarantee equal protection of all canddiates..
The logical extreme of this would be if a candidate ran on a platform that they helped extend the hours of the Northside Top Dog from 10-12, an extra two hours each night. If an Election Chair gave out a coupon to every voter that could be redeemed for a free Top Dog only from the Northside location and only from 10-12 at night, that would be a clear and obvious violation of the bylaws, because the election chair would be favoring one candidate and not providing equal protection. Although the connection is not as direct, I think the evidence is overwhelming that there are voters making that link (and I will provide witnesses who will testify that they knew that Student Action was claiming they got a gelato lounge on campus and that they would receive a gelato coupon on campus).
Because of the irreversible damage done by tainting every voter that receives a coupon, Andy is requesting that the Judicial Council issue an emergency preliminary injunction stopping the election until the coupons are removed and this can be confrimed as done.
. . .
"Botched Breakfast Forces Evacuation." The actual story is about how the folks in Barrows hall can't figure out how to toast bread without causing an evacuation (and, apparently, make their breakfast after noon), but I think the headline demands a more interesting story.
Since Barrows is humanities-heavy, the excitement of a breakfast monster created by a freak accident in the biological lab wouldn't fit. Come up with your own ideas! I'm thinking of something relating to a waffle iron that also serves as a switch to trigger a bomb hidden somewhere in the building. Unfortunately, the waffle iron is behind a locked door, along with a really hungry person. Sure, she doesn't want to blow up the building, but the waffles are sooooo good. Meanwhile, the bomb squad has to sweep through the building, searching for the bomb based on the vague clue left by an anonymous tipster that the bomb is "right next to the communist literature," barely narrowing the search area at all.
. . .
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Hey, that's pretty mean
In short, Narodick is a no-brainer. Vote for him for executive vice president.
I would've structured that slightly differently...
. . .
Hey, put out your pants
The GA-MOU proponents have an editorial. It's full of mostly lies. I should mention that Jay Stagi, who was at the hearing, found it absolutely impossible to fathom why a graduate student would be interested in the failure of the GA-MOU referendum. Apparently, the idea that a graduate student would not be a whore, and would rather have some sense of justice and fairness that he would seek to advance, even if there was some minor cost to himself, is beyond him.
The assembly is currently afforded second-class rights as a student government, with ASUC being the fiscal parent and having the right to speak for all students on the campus. ASUC currently has oversight on assembly expenditures and can veto decisions made by the assembly on issues concerning graduate students.
The assembly is not a person. It doesn't have the right to have equal status. Graduate students must have equal rights, but they do, at least as far as the ASUC is concerned. They can vote, they can run for office, and they can beg for money just like undergraduates can. Of course the ASUC has oversight over the assembly, because graduate students vote for the ASUC, and it represents all students. The fact that graduate students also get a bonus government in the GA, and don't have to pay anything to the Senate, makes the argument that it is actually undergraduates who are second-class members of the ASUC. This referendum seeks to make this even worse.
Secondly, the memorandum clarifies the structure of elections costs. This has always been controversial, as there is no formal structure in place and graduate students felt doubly taxed because they support another student government in the assembly.
This is a blatant lie. There is no controversy. There is formal structure. The existing MOU holds the GA responsible for a share of election costs equal to the proportion of graduate students on campus. Check it out for yourself. Graduate students are not doubly taxed. We pay the same amount as undergraduates, it just happens that our money goes to the GA. We can't bitch about supporting the ASUC, because we are part of the ASUC and have voting power in it. Of course we have to support it. It's our government.
Opponents of the memorandum assert that graduate students will not be paying their fair share in ASUC general elections. This is certainly not the case. The ASUC executive office, senate, and members of the Graduate Assembly have all agreed on the fairness of having the assembly pay an amount equivalent to the fraction of the graduate students that voted, or 12 percent, whichever is higher. It creates incentives participation by graduate students and is not a fixed amount.
Incentives? The incentive is that if more graduate students vote, the GA gets less money. How is that an incentive? That's an incentive to not vote. There's nothing fair about rewarding the apathy of graduate students with a discount.
This also creates a structure that spells out the exact amount owed by the assembly to ASUC. It is a compromise that provides guaranteed income for ASUC, while not depleting the funds of the assembly.
Such a structure was already in place. The fact that the GA refused to follow it doesn't mean that it wasn't in place.
The other argument against the referendum is that graduate students are simply not looking to participate in student government. This cannot be further from the truth.
Instead of seeking absolute autonomy, we are trying to encourage participation in ASUC by creating a collaborative relationship through increased graduate student participation in the Elections and Judicial councils.
If some graduate students are too lazy to get off their ass and vote, that's their problem. It's not a justification to fuck up the balance of power and give the GA special benefits.
And to think I went through the effort of making an honest op-ed. What was I thinking? I should've claimed that passage would require all undergraduate students to cut off their left hand and donate it to the GA.
. . .
Endorsement? Or No?
The Daily Cal has this endorsement for the GA-MOU referendum. While titled "No Endorsement," the piece ends with "Vote NO on the Graduate Assembly referendum," which I guess makes it a "'NO' endorsement." Or something. I dunno. The RSF endorsement isn't a "Yes Endorsement," though. The endorsement of the RSF referendum is pretty poorly thought-out. It essentially says "helps people, therefore we should fund it," without any consideration of what the role of mandatory student fees should be. The other argument is "everyone else is doing it." Whoopdie fucking do. Everyone else is idiotic. We aren't discussing what everyone else should do, we're discussing what Cal should do.
The comparison to Class Pass is fairly apt, but one could argue that it's tough to engage in academic study when you can't get to campus at all. The same could be argued for many other services. Tutoring services relate pretty closely with the academic mission of campus, for example. The RSF, however, does not. A lack of RSF access will not kill campus academics.
. . .
I voted *sticker*
Apparently, voting was not up and running on time, according to Donald. I believe the system is up now, since I saw folks voting at the polling stations, and I just voted from the comfort of my own home. (Update: See comment for details)
The wording of the RSF Referendum on the ballot was as follows:
A mandatory student fee of $40, (beginning Fall Semester 2006 and increasing in increments over the next ten years, up to $55; see the ASUC Voter's Guide) has been proposed that will allow RSF fees to be incorporated into student financial aid need assessments. This will result in RSF membership fees to now be $10 and is in addition to a $28.50 current mandatory student fee per semester towards the original construction of the RSF; Do you approve of this additional fee?
Note the semicolon-capitalization combo. The Judicial Council ruled that the Senate's intent was to put the question as above on the ballot. The above question really pushes the "two sentence" concept. It's still three sentences, it just has a punctuation error.
In any case, after voting and looking over my ballot, I realized that almost every one of my candidate votes was a protest vote. I was even voting for Andy Ratto. I guess I'm just disgruntled.
. . .
As you all know, when I take a position, I am invariably on the losing side. Today is almost no exception. I lost both cases seeking to have the referenda questions removed from the ballot, so they will both appear. Be sure to go out and vote NO to these bad ideas (RSF Fee increase and Graduate Assembly Referendum). As a bonus, according to what I heard from the hearing, voting NO on the GA-MOU referendum will lead to true autonomy next year. I'm not sure how reliable the information is, but if you want the GA to have autonomy, you should also vote NO.
I did, surprisingly, win the case against Manny's EO. It won't have an elections impact, but it's good to know that the Judicial Council recognizes the boundaries of executive power.
. . .
Monday, April 24, 2006
Holy fucking hell
So, I just got back from four and a half hours of Judicial Council hearings. My vision is kind of blurry, and I want to crawl into bed real quick, but I just want to salute the Judicial Council members for volunteering for one of the shittiest jobs evar. Here I am complaining about 4.5 hours, while they're still deliberating, and may be for another five god damned hours tonight in order to make elections. I'm so sorry!!!
. . .
Sunday, April 23, 2006
RSF Referendum Summary
And here's a summary of the RSF fee increase referendum and why it's also a really bad idea.
Currently, we can pay $65 a semester for membership at the RSF. We don't have to. If this referendum passes, everyone must pay $40 (increasing to $55) a semester, regardless of whether they use the RSF or not. Those that want to use the RSF must pay an additional $10 for membership.
Let me make something clear: The RSF is a luxury. Sure, it's cool, and has fancy equipment and stuff, but it's all stuff a student can do without. Staying healthy is not difficult even if you don't have a gym membership. You can stroll through campus, ride a bike around aimlessly if you have one, do jumping jacks at home, whatever. The RSF is also not academic. It's really a place for folks who like having courts and weight rooms and so on in order to carry out their sporting hobbies. Sporting hobbies are great and all, but they shouldn't be funded by mandatory student fees.
Keep in mind the implication here is that in order to take classes on campus, you'll have to fund the sporting hobbies of a group of students. If you don't want to pay $40 so Bob and Jim can play basketball, you would not be able to register as a student. This is completely ridiculous.
Supposedly, this is supposed to help those on financial aid, but it doesn't really. It only helps those who have full rides. Those who are taking out loans will have to take out additional loans to pay for this. If the big deal was the fact that Pell Grants no longer cover RSF membership, then proponents might have given us a different referendum which solved this problem by subsidizing only the Pell Grant students. But they didn't. They gave us this scattershot approach, which means the fee is far, far higher than it needs to be.
And remember that when we lobby Sacramento to avoid fee increases, our argument is that, as students, we just can't afford them. Fee increases put college out of reach for some students. How much credibility does the argument that we cannot afford fee increases to pay for professors and classrooms have if we voluntarily choose to approve a fee increase to pay for a gym?
If we want to protect student choice and keep fees down, we have to reject this proposition.
. . .
Saturday, April 22, 2006
GA Referendum Summary
Here's a summary of the GA referendum and why it's a really bad idea.
First, the way things work now:
Currently, undergraduates and graduate students have equal rights in the ASUC. We vote equally, we can run for office equally, we can join student groups equally, and we can beg for funds from the Senate equally. The ASUC makes no distinction between undergraduates and graduate students. However, all student fees paid by graduate students go towards the Graduate Assembly, so we essentially can vote and participate, but don't have to pay. It seems kind of screwed up, but there's really nothing to be done, because neither the old Memorandum or the new one deals with this issue.
If the referendum passes, the ASUC Constitution will be modified to allow the GA to nominate 3 out of the 9 Judicial Council members. The remaining 6 are nominated by the ASUC president. This is a change from the current situation, where all are nominated by the president. Note, however, that graduate students vote for the president. If we pretend that the GA represents graduate students (they don't, they only represent members of the GA, but whatever), then this means that graduate students have a say in the nomination of all 9 members, but undergraduates only have a say in 6 of them. This is pretty silly.
But even more importantly, the referendum reduces the amount the GA pays for elections costs. Currently, the GA pays for a share of ASUC elections costs equal to the proportion of students on campus who are grad students. This way, since all gradute students have equal voting rights as undergrads, and their student fees go to the GA, all students pay an equal share for the facilitation of their voting rights. The new referendum, however, changes this, and says that the GA only needs to pay a portion of elections costs equal to 12% or the proportion of actual voters who are graduate students, whichever is higher. This basically rewards graduate students for their apathy by not requiring them to pay for their voting rights if they don't bother to execute them.
Keep in mind that, in past years, the GA hasn't even followed its old Memorandum. The ASUC holds elections, and bills the GA for its share. The GA, then, absolutely refuses to pay it. If this referendum passes, then the GA will be rewarded for this refusal by reducing its share of the elections cost.
The juxtaposition of these two, 33% of the Judicial Council and 12% of the election costs, couldn't make it more clear. This is a blatant power grab attempt by the GA. They want more power, and they want less responsibility and costs.
Remember, student groups go to the ASUC for funds. Every penny that the GA gets out of paying the ASUC is a penny that isn't available for student groups which already have a hard time getting reasonable funding. To excuse the GA from paying for the voting rights of graduate students is not only blatantly unfair, but also costly to student groups on campus.
Every year the GA comes to us with a childish power grab. "Waah, we want power, but not responsibility!" Every year we have to knock it down. Hopefully, if we keep knocking down these pathetic referenda, the GA will eventually come to us with a fair one which defines the role of the GA in a manner that doesn't give it free power. Until then, though, we have to keep voting no on these referenda.
. . .
Friday, April 21, 2006
One objection I had with the way the forum went was that the rules for the referenda debates were changed at the beginning. Originally, we thought it was going to be 4 minute speeches each, and then questions. Instead there were 4 minute speeches, and then 1 minute rebuttals. In retrospect, I probably should've protested, but my assumption is that they just didn't have questions. Still, we didn't know we were supposed to prepare for a rebuttal until we got there, and that's kind of fucked up, especially for someone like Alex who takes public speaking seriously enough to prepare.
. . .
Elections Forum Report/Endorsements
Well, it looks like I barely needed my form. Student Action did not show up. Apparently, Student Action sued because the Elections Council, which was co-sponsoring, was too partisan or something. The Elections Council withdrew from sponsorship, then, to settle the suit, but Student Action already wasn't showing up. Approximately. I didn't quite understand all the details from Adeel Iqbal (Daily Cal EIC). But, as SAO candidate Simon Gunz said: "What a bunch of pussies."
Still, the consequence is that we had all third parties, since CalSERVE isn't running a slate. Andy Ratto isn't campaigning, so he wasn't there, either. I saw Alex scribbling notes like mad, so I'm sure he'll be saying something about the more substantive stuff. I'll attest that it's somewhat fun, because of the SQUELCH!ers. The jokes can't really be described, so I guess you just missed out on them if you weren't there. Or, if you were there, but just left after your speech, as many people did, you also missed out. Note, however, that Ben Narodick and Lauren Karasek, candidates for Executive Vice President and President, are serious candidates, despite being part of SQUELCH! Anyway, on to the office-by-office review:
The only serious candidate here is Andrew Garvin, who didn't show up, and instead sent a placeholder, whose name I didn't catch. Not that it matters, of course, since he's running unopposed. Sure, vote for him, what do I care?
Academic Affairs VP:
SQUELCH!er John O'Conner was the only speaker. He wants us to cash in on tobacco money like we did with Coke. He was joking, I guess, but I actually think it's a good idea. Still, since he's not really a serious candidate, the winner here is going to be Joyce Liou. In protest, however, I will still endorse John O'Conner for the position.
External Affairs VP:
Alejandra Cruz was represented by Yvette Felarca. One of the questions asked was "How many City Council/Regents meetings have you gone to," and Felarca started bragging about all the ones she had attended. Then a thought struck her. "Oh, Ali!" She suddenly realized she was a delegate, and quickly mentioned something about Cruz going to some meetings. I guess old habits die hard.
Igor had a lot of goals. I don't know how successful he could be. Still, since SA chickened out, and Igor actually has real goals, Igor Tregub has my endorsement.
Ben Narodick may be a SQUELCH!er, but as he says, two years of the ASUC has sucked the funny right out of him, so he is a serious candidate. He is undeniably the best candidate for the position. He is very clear that he wants the executive offices to stop putting on programming, and instead providing that money to student groups to do the programming instead. This is an actual goal, which blows Vishal Gupta out of the water. There is no doubt that Ben Narodick is the best candidate.
Lauren Karasek is running SQUELCH! because, as she puts it, her party will never slate a woman for president. Still, she's a serious candidate, and shares many of the same goals as Ben, particularly reducing executive programming and instead increasing funds for student groups. Who knows what Oren Gabriel thinks. So, again, the endorsement goes to Lauren Karasek.
SQUELCH! is running serious candidates for President and Executive Vice President this year, and they have a serious goal: To reduce executive programming, where executives put on programs so that their party can take credit for them. This will free up more money for student groups by limiting executive budgets. This is a real goal, which has concrete and feasible implementation. Please, vote for Ben Narodick and Lauren Karasek for Executive Vice President and President.
. . .
Woo! I'm reporting!
I'm all geared up for the Elections Forum, where I'll hear what will surely be highly informative and detailed explanations from the candidates on why I should vote for them. You can see my note-taking template here.
. . .
Hold on a second...
Apparently, UCB Livejournal is the Best Blog of Berkeley for the Daily Cal. (The Patriot blog was runner up) I suppose I should be a little troubled that blogs now need to compete with all online forums. What next? Message boards?
I suppose it won because most people who voted didn't find a spot for the community so they stuck it in "blog." The non-online equivalent of this would be "Best Student Publication: Bulletin Board Covered In Fliers." I suggest, then, for next year, we all vote for something in a category it doesn't belong. Like, "Best Mexican Food: Arctic Circle."
Update: After further review, I think I need a better non-online analog. A bulletin board won't beat out a real publication. Instead, the better analogy would be "Best Student Publication: Bathroom Stall Art."
. . .
My dictionary is longer than yours
Bob Collins nails George Bush:
President Bush declared, "I am the decider. I decide what is best." Obviously, not so far! Additionally, "decider" is not a word -- although his particular brand of syntax makes it difficult to explain his absurd interpretation of our language.
Someone had better notify Dictionary.com. Apparently the Chron has no trouble printing facts that are demonstrably incorrect in its letters. For a more thorough discussion of the use or misuse of the word "decider," check The Volokh Conspiracy. Interestingly, some of the commenters complain about how Bush talks to the press like they were 10-year-olds as a criticism of Bush. Sadly, it's actually a criticism of the press, because the press understands things people say at about that level.
Will Taylor can be laughed out of your head at sentence one:
The president's recent advocation of a nuclear assault on Iran is outrageous and should be fought every step of the way.
The president has not recently advocated a nuclear assault on Iran. Again, it was the press that advocated it, and did the damage to our image in the Middle East.
. . .
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
I thought I should draw attention to CalSERVE's slogan/motto/thingie this year, which appears on their campaign fliers:
i am somebody & wont be stopped by nobody
i've got my fist in the air & the movement in my feet.
i got love for my people & it starts with me!
Capitalization and punctuation (or lack thereof) in the original. The tabs were different for each line, by the way, but I'm not going to try to implement that here. I guess it speaks for itself.
. . .
Many people feel that celebrations can become quite... distant from their origin. For instance, when 'celebrating' a hundred years since an earthquake, I feel like I can't quite grasp the connection to, say, this. I feel much more understanding towards NorCal Waste Disposal's drill team on parade. And check out the product placement.
. . .
I'll probably be cutting back on the laugh-at-the-elections-folk this year. Alex and The Patriot look to be on the case, anyway. Since I may be at the candidate's forum on Friday, I think I'll even skip the BUEs (Beetle's Uninformed Endorsements, for you newcomers) and do an unprecedented set of BIEs. But with that, let me get in the requisite shots:
Sapna Mehta and Anu Joshi explain why there is no CalSERVE executive slate this year: CalSERVErs are incompetent. I dunno why you'd make this point in an op-ed for your own party, but they did.
It is unfortunate that Ben Narodick is a SQUELCH! guy, because people will take him less seriously than they should. Ben is one of the few folks involved in the ASUC who takes the idea of the ASUC seriously. He isn't the one who'll be putting aside student groups because something "feels right for the ASUC to do." Anyway, what I wanted to draw attention to in this op-ed, though, was the sub-header:
Student Government Offers No Deep Impact by Thrusting Itself Into Multiple Roles
. . .
Chemistry College Receives Funding
I'll leave the implications of this headline to the reader.
. . .
Monday, April 17, 2006
Gosh pooper. In order to get around the stupidity of the ASUC Senate, the RSF is going to offer the $10 memberships for the summer. I don't see how this deals with the "too many sentences" problem, but apparently all parties have decided to simply not enforce that rule. I would suggest that the ASUC attach the following disclaimer to every copy of their by-laws or constitution:
Not Applicable When Inconvenient
Interestingly, the solution presented here suggests a new approach: Why don't we vote for a fee increase after we leave, in exchange for a reduction now? For instance, change it so that we pay no fees to the ASUC for the next four years, and then make students pay triple the fees we pay now to pay off loans and interest and stuff? I mean, while we're in the process of raising fees that we won't have to pay, why not go the whole nine yards?
. . .
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Todd Plummer, and some other folks, are angry because Bush is threatening to use nuclear weapons. Nevermind that Bush is not threatening to use nuclear weapons. Nevermind that the folks threatening are those in the press. No, the important thing is to bitch about Bush.
. . .
Friday, April 14, 2006
Comical errors in brief
First up is Ryan McDonald's story on broken windows, where he can't decide when 'now' is:
A window in a Southside clothing store was damaged Wednesday night or yesterday morning under mysterious circumstances.
Employees of Sway, above Futura and Bear Basics on Telegraph and Durant avenues, arrived at the store this morning to find that a second-floor window had a large hole near its center, with parts of the window cracked or shattered, store employees said.
This morning, under normal convention, would be Friday morning. Which means that, for the above to work, no employees noticed the broken windows during all of Thursday, while employees had to arrive early enough on Friday morning to make press time.
Next up is Katlyn Carter on the ASUC Auxiliary director search:
After reviewing over 50 applicants, campus officials are entering the next phase of the search to replace former director Tom Cordi, who announced his resignation after serving an eight-year term in January.
And eight-year term in January? That takes some serious time-compression.
. . .
Go go gadget technicality!
Ooooooh! ASUC incompetence strikes again, and this time, it may save us from a fee increase. I rather doubt it, though. I expect the Judicial Council to side with the executive.
Anyway, here are some bothersome points:
The change to by-laws that would allow the entire referendum to be available on the ballot was voted down. WTF? Why? Is having people informed problematic? The entire referendum isn't even available to the general public yet. We've had nothing but Daily Cal articles to guess what's in them. Is the goal of the ASUC to make the language of these referenda as difficult to find as possible? Instead, we'll have the extremely biased and uninformative two-sentence summaries.
Actually, in this case, we'll have a three-sentence summary, because the ASUC senate apparently cannot count to two. That's right. The ASUC was trying to come up with a two-sentence summary, and came up with a three-sentence summary. Good job! (As a hint to the mathematically challenged in our student government, three is larger than two.)
Let's go to the absurd "Well, sure, we didn't follow the laws, but we're the voice of the people, so we shouldn't have to" defense:
However, [ASUC Attorney General Nathan Royer's] decision and authority to remove the referendum from the ballot are being challenged in a Judicial Council suit filed last night by ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Jason Dixson.
"This language is not biased and the language was passed by the senate and it should go to the vote of the students," said Dixson, one of the authors of the referendum.
Is "not biased" your call to make? If not, shut up. Is "passing by the senate" the requirement? If not, also shut up. The rules are in place for a reason.
The ballot language was not intended to imply that the referendum would go into effect immediately if passed, Dixson said.
Oh, well, hey, if it wasn't intended, it's fine, right? I mean, clearly when folks read the ballot they'll be able to divine the intention of the people who wrote it using that telepathy that the ASUC expects its members to use to follow their government.
"There's a lot of work and negotiation that ASUC officials have done that is potentially being thrown out the window over a small technicality," said ASUC President Manny Buenrostro.
Well, that hurts. 3>2 is a small technicality. Next time, do some of that work and negotiation while paying attention to the rules you approved for yourself, 'kay?
. . .
Hey, who wants to be famous?
If you are interested in opposing either of the two upcoming referenda, please contact me. In a break from tradition, I'm actually taking action to 'fight' them, and need some help. The referenda are:
1) A new Memorandum of Understanding between the GA and the ASUC Senate. The new MoU gives the GA more power in the ASUC (giving them a third of the Judicial Council, and possibly a half on issues relating to the GA, though this isn't confirmed) while essentially keeping them from being responsible for the actions of the ASUC. It also allows them to pay only 12% of elections costs, which seems at odds with their representation on the Judicial Council.
2) A fee increase. The RSF wants us to add a mandatory fee of $40 per semester (increasing to $55 later, of course) in exchange for having only a miniscule membership fee of $10 more. That is, people who use the RSF will pay $50, and those who don't will pay $40 per semester. These will increase by $5 every three years for 10 years. If we vote no, we keep the current system where students who use the center pay the membership fee (currently $65, on the way up, I guess). The problem, of course, is that the RSF is a luxury. We're essentially asking folks to subsidize the hobbies of the folks who like sports and weights. We're also raising our own fees like idiots, which makes it harder to argue against fee increases from the state.
Anyway, if you oppose either of these and might be willing to help (for instance, by helping write the opposing statement, or even simply signing your name to it), let me know. I'm also looking for the debater types who might want to speak to the Daily Cal folks at the forum thingie. Send me an e-mail or AIM me (contact info on the top of the right sidebar).
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Thursday, April 13, 2006
Beetle's Best of Berkeley
In order to not bias the results, I decided to save my Best of Berkeley picks 'till the last second. I know that, had I posted them earlier, the loyal masses would mindlessly go to the website and pick the same picks.
Best Campus Eccentric: One wonders what is meant by "best." One also wonders whether the Daily Cal will find the dude and give him a BoB plaque. Or maybe I'm misreading what "Best Campus Eccentric" is supposed to be. Anyway, I have no pick.
Best Place to Study: Suspended by ropes above a lava pit with poisonous snakes on the walls that jump out to bite you as you're slowly lowered into the pit by a bald naked man with a strange accent.
Best View: Straight up, somewhere that you can't see any of Berkeley above you. (Added bonus: No Space Weapons)
Best Place to Sleep: In bed.
Best Place to Make Out: See Best Place to Study, above.
Best A Capella Group: Any murdered one.
Dishes To be honest, I rarely examine the plates when I eat. Still, I'll do what I can.
Best French Fries: None. Best Freedom Fries, on the other hand...
Best Frozen Dessert (Ice Cream, Yogurt or Gelato): That seems rather limited. The petrified souls of those who failed to get into Cal but wanted to so much they tried to appeal, encased in the ice of cold bureaucracy which rejected their appeal on a technicality (margins too narrow), is the best frozen dessert around here. But it's not Ice Cream, Yogurt, or Gelato.
Entertainment Oddly enough, I've never actually been entertained at any of these venues. I think I'll skip it and head to...
Restaurants This differs from "dishes," I guess, because we inspect the silverware, I think. Are there really this many countries/regions which have food representation here?
Best African: That Tiger Woods guy is one of the good ones. Oh, restaurants. My bad.
Best Music Store: Man on street.
Best Video Store: Teh internets.
Best Newsstand: Cold, heartless box with newspapers in it.
Best Used Clothing: My closet.
Tech Wow. What a lame category.
Best Wireless Hotspot: Like I would tell you if I knew.
Best Berkeley Blog: Gee, I dunno. This Beetle Beat one really speaks to me. Sadly, its biggest fans this year have their own blog to vote for.
Campus Newspaper with Best Online Reliability: ... The Berkeleyan?
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This editorial concludes:
But President Bush should take one option off the table. He should make it clear that this nation will never use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike against anyone.
Challenge: Find something in the editorial which actually suggests this conclusion.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006
So, I've been more or less trying to avoid the illegal immigrant thingie. I have a real hard time caring about the plight of the people who broke the law to get here and now find their life slightly more inconvenient than their life would've been had they followed the law. I feel a certain annoyance that these folks who broke the law to get here because their home country sucked so much would show pride in their home country. I feel another kind of annoyance that these folks who broke the law to get here now want political power to control the way the law impacts others, considering how little concern they had for it themselves. I feel a huge amount of annoyance at those who continually try to hide the issue by conflating legal and illegal immigrants, talking about "hard work," and so on.
I also feel annoyance at the way newspapers treat these protests. Those demanding California be returned to the country that these folks broke the law to escape somehow manage to avoid media mention. So do those calling for the expulsion of white people.
This story, for instance, is headlined "Hundreds Demonstrate for Human Rights." That seems like a pretty severe judgement call, and probably doesn't belong in a headline. After all, folks involved in this protest do, among other things, call for the expulsion of a race from America, call for the expulsion of Jews from Israel, and, in some cases, claim murder is an appropriate way to achieve political goals. I think a comment like "human rights" belongs in quotes.
One caption reads:
Rally participants marched around Berkeley on Monday afternoon in support of global civil rights, waving flags from Mexico, Palestine and the U.S. in a show of solidarity.
According to the Patriot folks, there was only one flag from the U.S. (Actually, it was probably from China or somewhere else in Asia)
"You might be confused by the two demonstrations going on today, but both movements are protesting the dehumanization of people across the world," said lecturer Hatem Bazian, who cancelled his class Monday to speak at the protest. "There is a Palestine in every city."
Disciplinary hearings for Bazian for refusing to teach the class he was paid to teach promptly followed. Oh, wait, nevermind.
The Daily Cal is still unhappy about the timing. Nothing satisfies them.
It was also two weeks overdue.
Of course, the blame doesn't lie entirely with the groups that planned the event-one of those weeks was spring break, after all.
Rene Flores has more complaints.
In order for them to gain political rights (i.e. apply for citizenship), they would have to keep a clean record for 11 years, have a stable job and knowledge of English and civics. Thus, the long delay in obtaining full rights would legalize the state of vulnerability and political disempowerment that undocumented communities find themselves in.
Wow! A long process to become a citizen! How unfair for illegal immigrants. So, just as a reminder, how long is this process if you're a legal immigrant?
When this voice was expressed (in the historical demonstrations in Los Angeles), like it would be in a democratic system, it provoked the anger of many of those involved in the official debate, controlled by xenophobic militant groups (such as the border vigilantes), a timid liberal establishment, a sensationalist media that profits from shock and fear (led by Lou Dobbs), agribusinesses and hotel owners bent on maintaining access to a vast pool of low-wage, exploitable workers, and its Washington allies.
Xenophobic militant groups, such as the "Return to Mexico" types. Or... uh... well, we'd better not mention them. Let's also not mention that the anger provoked also occurs "like it would be in a democratic system."
Who does it benefit to keep entire communities of tax-paying, hard-working individuals disenfranchised from politics, in a state of permanent vulnerability?
Apparently everyone, because otherwise, folks wouldn't keep on coming. The letter has a bunch of complaints about how bad illegals have it, and how their voice doesn't matter or some such, but frankly, they keep coming, so they apparently don't care.
Ironically, undocumented immigrants not only subsidize a system where they have no political representation but one that vilifies them and creates entire government agencies designed to prosecute them (such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service). This goes beyond taxation without representation; it is taxation for one's own criminalization.
Yet it's still better than their alternative. By the way, the INS does a lot more than prosecute illegal immigrants. Or did. Does it still exist? I thought we blew it up or something.
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Monday, April 10, 2006
Oh, that reminds me
I had completely forgot, but The Daily Cal reminded me. No, not about the fact that CalSERVE isn't running an executive slate. I mean about the fact that The Daily Cal didn't cover this last week. It seems like one of those things worth mentioning.
As a sidenote, I'm not sure I can support Andy Ratto. I haven't heard reports of Andy threatening folks, or insisting that he doesn't really want to represent the students, or complaining about how the paperwork rules are too complicated, or generally acting batshit insane. I feel like he's failing to carry the BEARS-United torch.
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Friday, April 07, 2006
Stretch those mental wings
Hami Ramani has a curious imagination, in that it is both narrow-sighted and extremely fantastic.
The complaint has to do with some death penalty debate that didn't have a good turnout. Ramani comes up with three reasons for why people didn't show, and dismisses them.
The first is Spring Break. But Ramani "could not fathom the prospect of such a large number of people catching their flight to Cancun or Maui as warranting such a desertion of campus." That's the extent of his argument. He lacks the imagination to figure out why people might be more interested in their immediate personal future than the fate of a bunch of murderers.
The second is a lack of publicity, and he includes the great line "the ASUC publicized this as if the campus is full of telepaths," which could be true of a lot of things. For instance, I'm still trying to find out the language of the referenda on the ballot, but this is impossible to make public whole weeks before an election. But Ramani says that since it went to a couple e-mail lists, it should've brought huge numbers of people. I guess.
The third is that it's not a topic of importance to us. Ramani says that, since some people had death penalty issues recently, it should've been a topic of importance to us. Just like Barry Bonds's steroid use is a topic of importance to everyone. Right? Right?
Yeah. Ramani concludes by saying that people need to be proactive to reclaim "the old ways" of being free thinkers or something. Apparently, by showing up to a debate on a death penalty that impacts almost no one, we can be proactive and revive that spirit.
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The real problem here is that our Judicial Council seems afraid. With election dates being tossed around left and right, it is the job of the Judicial Council to lay the law down. A Judicial Council that makes allowances in the law to make things "run smoother" is easily pushed around, and becomes irrelevant. The era of Mike Davis and Paul LaFata is over. No one cares anymore, so we get messes like the one we have now. Especially since the Senate showed itself last year to be willing to impeach justices for giving a decision that caused people to complain loudly, rather than for any kind of malfeasance.
The editorial on the topic comes up with the lamest explanation ever:
Since Wren can't know all their needs, candidates should work together to help her devise the most effective solution. And who knows? Such cooperation could be a good omen for the success of next year's student government.
Cooperation is not a good omen. Cooperation gave us last year's GA mess, and it gave us this year's GA mess. This year, due to "cooperation," the GA has put forth a ballot measure that gives them loads of stuff for free, and the ASUC senate went along with it. Cooperation is not a good sign in a democratic control structure, because it loses the very purpose of the structure (that bickering will prevent idiocy from taking place).
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Give us back our Band-Aid! That darn Prop 209. It's responsible for everything. Criminality in minority groups. A lack of qualified high school graduates. Global warming. We'd best get rid of it.
"I consider it to be a mirror of the civil rights movement. It will really start when students organize and mobilize," said Seema Patel, symposium coordinator and member of the Asian American Law Journal.
A mirror. So true. Where the civil rights movement fought to end discrimination, this movement seeks to create it.
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Stay in school, kids
Oooh. Water. Not booze.
Check out the sign: "<stupidfont>Are you working on your GPA or your BAC?</stupidfont>"
It's like elementary school all over again. As if these people would be studying if they didn't have booze around.
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No way! But send money
SF doesn't want to consider illegal immigration illegal. The city government will not enforce immigration laws if any of these bills floating around ever get passed. Sadly, the national government lacks the balls to defund everything in San Francisco, which they probably should do. And if they did do it, SF would complain to no end, probably, as evidenced by their "We would not allow military recruiters on campus, if only there weren't consequences" measure.
"National-origin discrimination is the civil rights issue of our time," said Rodel Rodis, a member of the City College board and an immigration attorney. "I could go to jail because of helping illegal immigrants."
Ah, yes, national-origin discrimination. That's why all immigrants, legal and illegal, are subject to these laws. Or would be, if Rodis wasn't full of shit.
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Thursday, April 06, 2006
I would've played the race card
Well, not quite:
The agreement lowers the percentage that the assembly must contribute to elections costs from near 33 percent to 12 percent and gives them representation on the ASUC Elections Council.
In addition, the memorandum will mandate that three Judicial Council members be nominated by the assembly president and that the council change its structure and rules in cases dealing with conflicts between the assembly and the ASUC.
Here's how I would've written it:
"The agreement lowers the percentage that the assembly must contribute to elections costs from near 33 percent to 12 percent and gives them representation on the ASUC Elections Council.
In addition, the memorandum raises the percentage of Judicial Council members who are nominated by the GA from 0 percent to 33 percent, and requires that the council change its structure to raise that number to 50 percent whenever the GA has a problem."
That way, the idiotic childishness of "We want everything, but at no cost" would be more clear.
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Today's magical right
On the sale of marijuana-flavored candy:
"People who smoke marijuana smoke for a reaction that they won't get in this candy," said Tony Van Pelt, owner of Chronic Candy, which also sells chocolates and cosmetics. "I think our First Amendment rights, our freedom of choice, are being attacked."
Ah, yes, the First Amendment freedom of choice right. . .
Not that I don't think people have a freedom of choice right, but people's tendency to try to find the particular right in the Bill of Rights (and failing) tends to set the precedent that if you can't find the particular right, then hey, brutal oppressive government intervention is okay, as long as you get your way.
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Tuesday, April 04, 2006
I had wondered how long until someone blamed rainy March on global warming (or "climate change") in a place that I'd notice. Becky O'Malley wins that honor.
I tend to get bored with the debate, which seems to center around time-travel-based prevention. Whether humans are the cause or not of climate change hardly matters. If we are, most work I've seen seems to conclude there's not much we can do about it. Even if we stopped emissions 100%, it would continue. If not... well, there's still not much we can do about it.
The interesting discussion is the one about adaptating to a changing global climate. You know. The one no one seems to be having.
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Got Talking Points?
The Daily Cal publishes an op-ed and two letters from animal rights nuts bitching about their cause. They're practically all clones, and none of them are from Berkeley. Yee haw.
The argument goes "Hey, everyone, we once thought blacks weren't people and treated them like shit, therefore, since we think animals aren't people and treat them like shit, it's wrong." I'm not sure how that constitutes an argument, but if we accept it, let me just remind folks that we once thought plants weren't people...
Oh, so animals feel pain? What about plants? Inanimate objects? Sure, they don't feel pain like we do, but that doesn't mean they don't feel pain. Or does it only count if it's the kind of pain we feel? Sorry, dudes, unless you're planning on starving to death, your argument doesn't quite pan out.
But while we're humanizing animals, let's consider the arguments made that it's our duty to stand up for animals. Shouldn't animals also stand up against injustice done to other animals? Shouldn't all animals become vegetarians? No? Why not? Because they're just dumb animals? But that's the same argument that was being made for why we should feel comfortable eating them. How can you stand for this?
Blah blah blah. God, these people are so stupid. We know that these types of folks are more interested in gaining attention and claiming some random moral position so that they can feel morally superior to the "unenlightened masses." Just say it clearly, we'll understand.
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Monday, April 03, 2006
I should probably say something today, but there's really nothing to say. We have another OMGILOVERAPMUSIC gush, more dead people, including one murdered by text messaging (as the current trend in parent panic goes), and more activist irony.
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Saturday, April 01, 2006
I sure hope I'm misreading this:
Students who wave a flag: SUSPENDED
Students who skip class: Not.
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