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Nap Time!!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Not enough adjectives!

I miss my adjective-heavy Prop 209 bitchfests. These new folks just don't have the adjectival affluence that folks like Felarca and Cruz showed.
Furthermore, people will often point to the large Asian student population at UC Berkeley as though it were a sign that problems of underrepresentation (of other communities) are due to cultural differences rather than structural barriers. This vein of argument implies that some students are immune to such barriers.

The truth is that all students of color are subject to structural barriers, whether this be across academic disciplines or at the graduate and professional level. Thus, to focus only on undergraduate rates is to look too narrowly at the problem of under representation of all communities of color across all the sectors of California.
You'll find a lot of Asians in graduate school, too. In fact, finding white folks in some disciplines is a challenge.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/31/2006 01:22:00 PM #
Comments (4)
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Sure, that makes sense

Let's see...:
Proponents [of Prop 87], including the Sierra Club, the American Lung Association and the League of Conservation Voters, say the creation of clean energy production in the state will create a more self-sufficient California, less vulnerable to oil price changes.
It certainly seems odd to seek self-sufficience by making it more costly to extract resources locally.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/31/2006 01:16:00 PM #
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Check that caption

I think this picture is miscaptioned. It should probably read:
Sharon Ma tries to frighten local elementary school trick-or-treaters in Beverly Cleary Hall's haunted house last Thursday as part of campus housing's annual Halloween festivities.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/31/2006 01:14:00 PM #
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When you're winning, be sure to make a fool of yourself.
Then [John Kerry] said: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
The uproarish response is that Kerry seems to be saying people who go into the military are teh st00pid. I'm guessing he was trying to make a jab at Bush, but it doesn't help to have worse grades than him when making this one. The response is the defensive "OMG RIGHTWINGERS!!!" type, rather than the "whoops, I misspoke" type.

By the way, the Chron article should probably have put this passage:
"This is the classic GOP playbook," Kerry said in a harshly worded statement. "I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did. I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium."
and this one:
A potential rival to Kerry in 2008 — Republican Sen. John McCain — said in a statement that Kerry "owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country's call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education."

Like Kerry, McCain is a decorated Vietnam veteran.
much closer to each other, just for the humor value.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/31/2006 01:05:00 PM #
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Monday, October 30, 2006
Huh. Imagine that

Scott Lucas apparently buys the "That's RACIST!!!" line about a recent anti-Harold Ford Jr. ad.
If America's most popular blowhard and recovering drug addict making a fool out of himself doesn't get you going, how about some good old-fashioned race-baiting? In the Tennessee Senate race, a shadowy group connected to the Republican National Committee ran an ad featuring a blond party-girl exhorting the Democratic candidate, Harold Ford to "call me." Ford is single and supposedly attended a party thrown by Playboy after the Superbowl in 2005.

You may be thinking that accusing a single man of liking women and attending cool parties is about the cleanest piece of dirt one could sling. That's true, except for one caveat: Ford is black. The ad plays on racist fears of miscegenation. Ford's opponent in the race, Republican Bob Corker, distanced himself from the ad, but the damage is done.
The Playboy party attendance isn't really a "supposedly" anymore. I think the straightforward way worked much better for him.
"I like football and I like girls. No apologies for that."
The supposedly race-baiting ad is here, and you can judge for yourself. I first saw the ad while looking for the race-baiting, and it took me a bit to figure out what everyone was so up-in-arms about. If you want a generic Playboy model, of course you're going to pick a blond bimbo. The fact that Democrats responded to seeing that with "OMG INTERRACIAL SEX!!!" does not reflect well on them. If I was looking for racial stereotypes and such, I would have been more affected by the first person in the ad, a black woman saying "Harold Ford looks nice, isn't that enough?" but even that's a stretch.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/30/2006 12:07:00 PM #
Comments (5)
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Friday, October 27, 2006
Speaking of information

The ASUC finally got around to putting up names and pictures of this year's senators. No profiles or contact info yet, as far as I can tell.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/27/2006 09:27:00 PM #
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To war!

Don't leave the ASUC Wiki page unattended. You never know when someone's going to gut all the links.

In their defense, if I was running the ASUC, I wouldn't want people to know what I've been doing either.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/27/2006 09:14:00 PM #
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. . .

The Daily Cal issued their wrap-up editorial. As we know, when The Daily Cal declares an issue over, it's over. This means Student Action can now proceed with any backup plans it might have to steal the money.
No one at UC Berkeley should be happy that any student is burdened with additional costs. But we would hope that ASUC officials can walk away from this whole affair with a greater respect for the precepts of responsible government, and that students are more aware of their own duties of political vigilance.

In an ideal world, future ASUC officers would take the reimbursement controversy as a warning not to confuse their own personal interests with those of the body or, by an even effort of delusion, those of the student body. The past few weeks should be a powerful reminder of what it means to serve in an independent student government.
The Daily Cal dances dangerously close to the issue, but probably should've spelled it out for folks: When you run for ASUC elected office, you agree to be bound by the ASUC's rules, including the one which puts interpretation of those rules in the hands of the Judicial Council, and if they seem unfair to you, or give you a result you don't like, that's too bad. You don't get to run to your lawyers. Remember when the GA and RSF referenda were allowed by the Judicial Council because the descriptions weren't completely inaccurate, but merely uninformatively vague? I didn't go running to my lawyers, or even appeal, despite the fact that, as a student being forced to pay fees to the ASUC, I probably had more of a legitimate external greivance than those who actually choose to run for office in the ASUC (at least for the RSF referendum). That's because I respect the ASUC's autonomy, and when it comes up with really bad ideas, I let the student body live with its stupidity.
Being elected to office is, or at least should be, a reflection of the voting public's confidence in the abilities and policies of the particular candidate, as that candidate has presented him or herself. It is not a license to carry out whatever actions the official sees fit. Imagine if the Student Action candidates had campaigned on a slogan of appropriating $20,000 for personal legal fees; would the majorities that swept them into office still have been there?
Oddly, enough, Senator Jen Avelino suggested that Student Action had the support of 5,000 students for their efforts to take the money. Maybe she was just sloppy in wording it, though.
In pointing this out, however, it is impossible to escape the fact that, en route to Student Action's electoral landslide, they faced no real opposition. CalSERVE and SQUELCH! senators, such Van Nguyen and David Wasserman, respectively, have done an admirable job in recent committee and senate meetings: They have asked the tough questions that every responsible politician should have been fighting to ask themself. But where were these efforts in April?

CalSERVE's decision not to run executive candidates and SQUELCH's insightful but ultimately unwinnable campaign are at the root of the current controversy. Student Action-affiliated candidates rode an electoral tidal wave into office, taking not just the four executive spots but also a solid majority of senate seats. If these parties really hope to counter Student Action electoral dominance, then they have to demonstrate it with their own political involvement.
This is an interesting point. I've said before that despite SQUELCH! having the most sensible platform, which does things such as push political activism and position-taking to individual student groups rather than trying to take credit for everything themselves, the campaign they run means that nobody can tell. People don't realize that many SQUELCH!ers are serious candidates with ideas that are far better than the drivel that comes from the major parties. And SQUELCH! doesn't do much to correct folks. I suppose Ben Narodick ran on the "I'm not funny" platform, but people probably just saw that as being ironic. (I'm not quite sure what The Daily Cal finds "insightful" about their campaign)

Unfortunately, The Daily Cal's view is, I think, simplistic. If SQUELCH! were to run Student Action quality campaigns, I feel like it would simply turn into Student Action. It's not like the campaigns are in some different universe than governing. Student Action's campaigns are so successful because they engage in cronyism once they get power and put their campaigners into positions or give them money. Otherwise, no one would work for them, because they don't really have grand ideals that mean anything. No one is going to sacrifice hours upon hours with finals approaching to support the great cause of "increasing campus unity," or whatever the vague, meaningless goal of the year is.

CalSERVE, on the other hand, has a party structure which is self-crippling. If they can get their communities to actually agree on stuff, they can run the high quality campaigns on Student Action's level, but this agreement usually only comes when they ditch their principles and say "We're going to win," which pretty much turns them into another Student Action.
And then there is the rest of us, students for whom terms like "Legal Defense Fund" may as well be a foreign language.
I dunno. That one actually seems readily accessible. Does the ASUC need to pay for some legal defense? I wonder if we have a fund for that. Really, it's because students didn't have confidence in the obvious that Student Action thought they could get away with spending from the Legal Defense Fund to cover the cost of attacking the ASUC in court. (Hint: Attacking is not the same as defending)
Even though Student Action was technically correct that they wouldn't be taking money away from student groups, they were unable to break the image of the greedy political party robbing the dance squad or the poetry review group.
Actually, they weren't technically correct. They were taking away money from student groups in the future. The image was perfectly appropriate. Frankly, if we're going to be voting to raise fees on students who haven't even entered high school yet, we probably owe them a full Legal Defense Fund so there's more money available for them.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/27/2006 02:29:00 AM #
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Thursday, October 26, 2006

If you want a rebuttal to Anjali Koppal's column's point that dumb people in power are scary, I noticed one a few days back on Instapunk.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/26/2006 04:45:00 PM #
Comments (2)
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Oh, yeah

I want to draw attention to Chris Page's discovery that ASUC External Affairs Vice President Jason Chu supports the best man for the position of District 7 City Councildude. He also supports the worst one, because he has endorsed both Kriss Worthington and George Beier.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/26/2006 01:37:00 AM #
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Here come the fees

Finally, GA President Josh Daniels explained that the folks in the Senate want us to raise our own fees by $100-$200 to pay for Lower Sproul stuff. The idea being that if we spend a bunch of money, we'll have more control over what happens. "We," of course, means the ASUC. Somehow, I don't trust their judgment. I think I'd rather hang on to the money.

But he also explained the strategy for raising those fees. It won't be "Hey, raise your fees by $100-$200 to do Lower Sproul redevelopment" like an honest proposition might read. No, they're going to be raising fees in increments to pay for the various stages of the process. This means that each year, we might see $20 or something, with a suggestion that we have to pass it since we've already sunk fee increases into it. And the student body will go along with it, because they're dumb. But hey, at least they admitted the strategy.

Jane Park wants a fee increase for a Green Initiative Fund, which will, of course, be controlled by the people who support such a fee increase. It's always great to get the voters to give you money, isn't it?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/26/2006 12:58:00 AM #
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Senate Report: Banerjee

I won't go into the details of Judicial Council Chair Sonya Banerjee's report (given with Marisa Cuevas), or the question-and-answer session, because if you've read this blog, you've seen it all before.

Many of the questions asked were arguments from the briefs, which means they were already answered in the decisions. Sonya spent a fair bit of time actually reading from the decisions, and you could hear in her voice the "Just read the fucking decisions, you fucking retards. Fuck!" going through her mind.

Vivienne Nguyen made a complaint about the fact that the Judicial Council folks had brought hardcopies of the decisions and her report, thus killing a large number of trees, when the senators could just as easily have read the reports in the email she sent. While this would be a good argument if the Senators had shown some indication of actually having done so, since they did not, and had to have the decisions read to them like they were children, having a hard copy was probably necessary to make sure they looked at it. Taylor Allbright reiterated her disappointment that Senators spent so much time asking questions for which they had the answers sitting in front of them.

I wasn't all that impressed with the Judicial Council dudes' presentation, though. Sonya was overly detailed, explaining the important legal arguments, but falsely assuming that the Senators were intelligent enough to make the obvious connections as to what that meant for their interpretation. She should have explained things like she was explaining them to children, because that's what it takes to get something through these senatorial skulls, it seems.

Sammy Averbach started asking about the application of state/federal due process laws, and why they weren't applied in the Judicial Council cases. Sonya asked him to be specific about what due process rights were ignored. He repeated the question in general terms. Sonya again asked for some specific rights he was talking about. Averbach then withdrew. Whoops.

Dimitri Garcia expressed criticism of the system, since the Judicial Council was unchecked "even by the ASUC attorney." Because, apparently, some non-student should have veto power over all Judicial Council decisions.

Senator Jennifer Avelino was pissed about the PR damage Student Action was receiving. Apparently, since the Executives are students, they are entitled to student money. I'm going to try that trick, too.

Anyway, there wasn't much new at the interrogation, so there's not much to report.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/26/2006 12:43:00 AM #
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Senate Report: Himelstein

Mark Himelstein, ASUC Attorney, gave a speech. He asked for the session to be closed, but the vote to close failed without the support of the opponents of the original SB51, as well as senators Averbach, Asuncion, and Park. After hearing what he explained, there was no part of it which I could possibly see as being harmful to the Association for it to be disclosed. So whatever.

CORRECTION CORRECTION!!! I want to issue the following correction: Himelstein and Sonya Banerjee both deny that Himelstein advised the Judicial Council to reject my suit against EO#8. I had received this report from various sources, but apparently they were in error. I'm not entirely convinced that these denials are as complete as they should have been, especially considering this fairly damning claim:

Sonya has informed me that she was responding to a question from David Wasserman about Himelstein advising the Judicial Council to reject EO#8. This did not occur. However, she did confirm that Himelstein did ask her to uphold EO#8 and reject charges against it. That is, my original sources were correct. I'm not sure if Himelstein was answering the same question when he was issuing a denial. The question may have been a bit loaded in terms of asking the Judicial Council to deny the constitutional rights of the ASUC's members, though that still ends up as the punchline.

Himelstein told the Judicial Council, after they issued the decision in Ratto v. Vakil, that they were wrong and should reverse the decision. Once he determined that "they wouldn't reverse the decision," he said he had a conflict of interest and could not defend their actions. This is damning because "they wouldn't reverse the decision" in this context means "they wouldn't unilaterally change their ruling without going through the appeals process," since he recused himself before the appeal was heard. Apparently, what he wanted was for the Judicial Council to say "Hey, the ASUC attorney says we were wrong, so I guess our decision doesn't count, and screw the process!"

Oddly, he recused himself because the Judicial Council wouldn't follow his suggestions. However, he said he "strongly suggested a rehearing," and this was granted, so I'm not sure which suggestions they weren't following. If it was the "reverse your ruling without an appeal" suggestion, that's a pretty pathetic suggestion for someone supposedly defending the ASUC.

Himelstein made the claim that the rules require the Judicial Council to talk with an attorney advisor, and by not doing so, they violated their rules, but this doesn't seem to be the case. They are required to have a legal advisor, though this person doesn't seem to be required to be an attorney. Judging from the responsibilities of this advisor, her area of expertise needs to be ASUC rules, rather than state/federal law. I think the Judicial Council needs to publicize who this advisor is, since folks are supposed to be able to appeal to her when their appeals get denied. But there is no reason why the Judicial Council needs to be bound by this advisor (or even be required to consult with her), and it sounds like Himelstein took on the role anyway.

According to Himelstein, they brought in another attorney who met with the Judicial Council and confirmed that there was no way the ruling would be upheld in court. This is odd, though, because I don't know why Himelstein would know this. Was he privy to the conversations between the Judicial Council and their new attorney?

He doesn't like disqualifying candidates. He suggests that instead, parties be punished in future elections, such as being banned from running. While his comparison to the NCAA is interesting, it's also kind of silly. While a university can't suddenly change its name and location and pretend to be a new university which can participate despite an NCAA bowl ban (for instance), ASUC political parties can do that easily.

As far as the agreement to seek fees through the Senate, Oren's lawyers made the suggestion that the ASUC pay their fees, and Himelstein agreed to provide policy (and not legal) advice to the Senate that they should pay fees. This seems quite a bit beyond his role. He did chastise the Senate for picking an amount without seeing an itemized accounting of the costs to see if they were reasonable.

Himelstein opined that without the lawsuit, the Judicial Council wouldn't have reversed itself, but provided nothing to support that. Apparently, he thinks that the Senate should hand out tens of thousands of dollars based on his unsupported opinion.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/26/2006 12:17:00 AM #
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Senate Report

Jeremy Koo has again liveblogged the senate meeting. I'll be doing a more analytical report.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/26/2006 12:15:00 AM #
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

That's teh funnay. Oren Gabriel and co. say they're going to stop seeking funding and eat the costs of their lawyers.
ASUC executives said they will be paying out of pocket for their legal fees...
Note how which pocket is going to be payed out of is left as an exercise for the reader.
"This is quite a burden caused by the Judicial Council's inability to act within the guidelines of the ASUC constitution, bylaws and their own judicial rules of procedure, and I hope that we can make real change this year, so an incident like this never occurs again," Gabriel said in an e-mail.
Oh, it's the Judicial Council's failure to follow the rules, is it? I guess the clause in the constitution which puts rule interpretation in the hands of the president, his lawyers, the ASUC lawyers, or the Auxiliary must be written in invisible ink.
"Of course I wish that the (original) bill had passed but I am happy that the bill will be more focused on the larger issue at hand: The Judicial Council needs to be fixed, and the senators and myself are dedicated to making sure that this injustice never happens to students again," he said.
Well, there's the suggestion to gut the Judicial Council and deny students their rights.

It's a tough claim to square with his claim that the Judicial Council was breaking the rules, though. If the Judicial Council was breaking the rules, what difference would it make what those rules were?

Surprisingly, Student Action is being uncharacteristically consistent on this issue. I have unconfirmed reports that, instead of making the rules better, they are now going to impeach Judicial Council Chair Sonya Banerjee for following their crappy rules. I say they'd be doing her a favor, since she won't have to deal with these children any longer. I recommend that she simply resign and say "Fine, deal with this crap your own damn selves." It won't be good for the ASUC, but the ASUC isn't worth dealing with Student Action's temper tantrums.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/25/2006 09:27:00 AM #
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ASUC Bylaw Genius #1: Failing to Elect an Executive

This is the first of an N-part series where I'll be pointing out how years of careful review by dozens of responsible ASUC Senators have yielded a set of ASUC bylaws of unmistakable genius. This is why some guy skimming through them can find some... uh... oddities. Like today's: Failing to Elect an Executive.

The requirements of this scenario aren't too ridiculous. Essentially, for an executive race, all candidates have to fail to get a place on a majority of ballots (in any position). Recall that we have an Instant Runoff Voting-type thingie, where candidates can be ranked. This means that, even if nobody has majority support, somebody is probably going to appear somewhere on a majority of ballots. But this isn't all that certain, especially if we ever reach a three-party system, where all three parties hate each others' guts.

The relevant bylaws:
16.3 Majority Vote (The Alternative Vote)

1. The Alternative Vote shall be used for the election of Executive Officers.

2. In this method of election, a value of one (1) vote is assigned to the voter's first preference. A candidate is declared elected when his/her vote total is at least a majority of the valid votes. If a voter's preference is on a candidate with the lowest accrued vote total, and no one has been elected, his/her vote is transferred with full value to the next preferred candidate still in the running.

16.4 Tallying the Alternative Vote

1. Each voter's first preference candidate receives one (1) vote.

2. Quota of votes needed to win is


Where N is the number of valid first preference votes.

3. If, after all the votes have been transferred, a candidate achieves the quota, s/he is then elected to that office.

4. If, after all the votes have been transferred, no candidate achieves the quota, each candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, and s/he shall be ineligible to receive any additional votes.

5. Each vote that belonged to the eliminated candidate(s) transferred to the voter's next preference at full value.

6. If this candidate is one who was previously eliminated, Step 5 is repeated.

7. If the voter has not listed an additional preference or was unable to do so, his/her new vote is exhausted.

8. Steps 3 through 7 are repeated until a candidate achieves quota and is elected.
That last one is a killer, because there's no guarantee that any candidate will achieve quota. If, for instance, three candidates are running, and nobody marks a preference beyond the first, and their vote counts out of 6000 are 2500, 2000, and 1500, no one will reach quota. So the third dude would be eliminated, and no votes transferred. Then the second dude. And then the first dude, because she still hasn't reached quota (3000.5). (A similar thing will occur in the case of a first place tie, but that's pretty unlikely)

And then, since no candidate has achieved quota and been elected, the Elections Council needs to continue these steps, despite there not being any candidates left. This should continue until, I guess, the Earth is destroyed or something.

Now, I don't have a huge problem with having no victor at all if no one can even find a place on a majority of ballots. I guess the Senate can appoint someone as if there's a vacancy. My problem is that the bylaws give no advice whatsoever as to how to proceed. Here's what would happen if Dude 1 was the last candidate eliminated in the previous example.

After Dude 2 is eliminated, Tommaso Sciortino's vote-counting program will report "The election is complete," I believe, because it doesn't distinguish the Senate race from Executive races in the code, beyond the number of offices. Dude 1 and her party will start celebrating. The Elections Council Chair and Attorney General, not quite on top of the bylaws and making the foolish assumption that they made sense, don't catch the fact that Dude 1 didn't achieve quota and wasn't elected, according to the bylaws. Maybe they're distracted because the League of Women Voters representative is throwing out a presidential candidate for drinking, despite there being no real rules against it.

Meanwhile, someone who actually cares about the rules (and therefore, isn't appointed to any rule-keeping position in the ASUC) notices this discrepancy and files a case in front of the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council reads the bylaws, sees they don't appoint a winner, and voids the election results. Dude 1 and her party, realizing that the Judicial Council spends its afternoons plotting on how to take down Dude 1, sue the ASUC. The ASUC Auxiliary and ASUC Attorney, realizing they have a duty to the ASUC, promptly forget that and do everything in their power to get Dude 1 into office.

Dude 1 explains that the Judicial Council was acting illegally because it was upholding the official bylaws, rather than the ones Dude 1 thinks should be the bylaws. By the way, Dude 1 was a senator the previous year, but didn't take any action to correct this bylaw, despite it being pointed out by a local blogger the previous October.

The case drags on until the next semester starts without an official election winner. This is not to say that Dude 1 isn't pretending to be the election winner, because she is, with the support of the Auxiliary. The Senate finally convenes, and tries to find the fastest way to give in, talking to the ASUC Attorney, who checks his legal toolbox, which consists of a white flag and a checkbook. The case is quickly settled, with Dude 1 appointed into office, all the while bitching about how terrible the Judicial Council is, rather than noting the problem with the bylaws.

The next year, nobody fixes this bylaw. Repeat.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/25/2006 01:32:00 AM #
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006
By the way

I've been kind of busy lately, and haven't been doing my usual Daily Cal critiques, but I think I'll point out this one. Isn't Gore a supporter of Prop 87?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/24/2006 11:18:00 PM #
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Constructive criticism?

Now, if you want my ideas on what actually could be done, I'll do something rare and provide one, besides just pointing out why all other ideas suck. I should note, though, that I don't think the system failed at all this summer. I think it worked exactly as it was supposed to, and preserving the same fundamental structure would be fine with me. I also want to say that this idea also sucks in various ways, but it sucks somewhat less than the "iron fist of justice (as defined by us)" approach favored by Student Action.

Have a different body than the Judicial Council hear elections violation cases

There isn't a fundamental democratic reason why the Judicial Council needs to be the panel hearing elections violations. The Judicial Council is primarily formed to make sure government officials follow the rules they are bound by. This is an internal process, and I think it's significantly different than the external process of determining whether candidates have followed a set of rules.

Thus, a potential approach would be to name a different panel to hear election violation cases. This panel would not be responsible for making sure that any such convictions are consistent with the Constitution, but only to determine whether candidates have violated the bylaws. Then, if candidates feel like their rights have been violated somehow, they can appeal to the Judicial Council, which is responsible for making sure that this new panel followed the rules that it was bound by (i.e. an internal process), as well as checking to make sure those rules were consistent with the Constitution.

The biggest advantage here is that people are no longer appealing to the same panel which DQed them. This makes it hard to speculate about vast Judicial Council conspiracies demanding the introduction of immensely expensive lawyers.

The secondary, and more subtle, advantage is that the Judicial Council, which would no longer take on cases in which individual students are defendants, would no longer need to try to stick to a plaintiff-defendant structure where the defendant has special rights, since the defendant would always be a government official acting in some official capacity. For example, no longer could a government official violate the rules and then refuse to talk about it, citing a right to avoid self-incrimination, since the defendant is not the individual student, but the government authority she is exercising. This would make the Judicial Council a tool for students to protect their rights on an individual level from government abuse, and completely separate it from serving as a tool with which students can attack each other. (This advantage can be gained even without creating a new panel, by simply having a different set of rules for the Judicial Council to operate with for internal cases and elections cases.)

The biggest disadvantage, of course, is the political circus that would entail appointing such a panel. I don't really mind this too much, though, if it displaces the political circus surrounding Judicial Council appointments, since no one ever gets disqualified, so it hardly matters who is in charge of disqualifications. If, as a consquence of this, the Judicial Council becomes a less political body in terms of holding the ASUC to its own rules, I think this is a feature, not a bug.

The other disadvantage is finding people to do the job. Who would want it? I'm sure the Judicial Council would probably be happy to be able to avoid the job of hearing elections violations and dealing with the accompanying lawsuits, but finding Judicial Council members is hard enough as it is. Finding volunteers to serve as pincushions on this new panel might be pretty tough.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/24/2006 10:43:00 PM #
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"I hate democracy"

While the principles of "handing out money to people who sue us and lose" made for interesting conversation, I actually think that, in terms of the long-term health of the ASUC, the remaining clause of SB51 and its followups are actually more important. I believe the current status of that clause is:
"NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the ASUC Senate, Executives, and Judicial Council work together to amend the ASUC By-laws and Constitution to improve future ASUC elections."
If at first glance you think it appears to be completely meaningless, you're pretty much right. It's essentially a resolution saying "You know, the ASUC should probably have rules that don't suck." Bravo, dudes. Now, if only you could actually get around to writing rules that don't suck, maybe we'd be more impressed. Just to pull a random example from a hat, under the current election bylaws, counting votes for the ASUC Executive Elections does not almost surely find a winner. In fact, it's possible that the Elections Council has to count the votes for eternity.

There are some problems with this resolved clause, even if it doesn't do anything. The most obvious is the violation of separation of powers, in that the Senate can't tell the other branches of government what to do, as this bill seems to. A better phrasing might have been "The ASUC Senate consult with the Executives and Judicial Council" or some such.

The next obvious problem is that the ASUC Senate, Executives, and Judicial Council can't amend the Constitution, and, while they can propose amendments for vote, can't officially support them, as this bill does. While passing a bill that calls for better elections but simultaneously violates one of the most fundamental principles of democratic elections (that the government can't take a side) has about the appropriate level of incompetence-induced irony you'd expect from an ASUC bill, there's still time to head it off.

Those are the two major Constitutional problems that could easily land this bill in front of the Judicial Council, which, while funny, is probably not a great result for the ASUC.

More problematic, though, are the potential changes that the supporters of this bill actually want to change. One of the most dangerous I've heard is a stronger check on the Judicial Council. If the Senate can override the Judicial Council (and I don't know what other check they may be considering), then what little rights individual students who don't have connections to senators had would be gone. The Judicial Council needs this independent power of judicial remedy if we want to have a system where individual rights are protected.

Another idea I've heard floated is to have the Judicial Council chair appointed by the Senate. The idea, of course, would be for the Senate to find a friendly impotent Judicial Council member and appoint her as chair, in hopes that the Judicial Council becomes flabby and useless. This idea isn't as horrendously bad as removing the Judicial Council's power to protect individual student rights over the objections of the Senate/Executives, though.

An idea I haven't heard floated but I have heard hinted at is to have the Judicial Council be bound by the opinions of other people as to what is and is not a violation of the rules. Which, of course, would eliminate the whole point of having a Judicial Council.

Last week's minutes contain some cryptic transcriptions from the ConReview report (p. 23-26) of Vishal Gupta's comments:
Maintain a system of checks during the summer when President and Senate are gone; how to check the Judicial Council. Reference Constitution, By-laws, JRPs.
This is sort of silly, since there wouldn't really have been any option besides appealing to the Judicial Council even if the Senate and Executives were in session. I suppose impeachment was an option, but that wouldn't be retroactive, and using the government powers to impeach folks during an election among parties which already have power in the government is pretty frightening for democracy.
Senate should take more authority over Judicial Council (not decisions or closed sessions). Should be stipulations in Constitution or By-laws that there is a provision to deal with the situation to deal with the Judicial Council full authority.
This is something I would like to see translated into English by someone who was at the committee meeting.
Look at Judicial Council By-laws and consider inputting restrictions to ensure they remain involved with the ASUC throughout the year – hold them responsible for working with the Senate to work towards consistency.

Major changes to the Constitution should be seriously considered in this Committee before being presented to the students.
And so on. I realize it must be excrutiating to these people that they don't have total control, but again, I remind folks, sometimes, in a democracy, you don't get what you want.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/24/2006 10:08:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Monday, October 23, 2006
More embarrassing news

In more humiliating news for the ASUC, apparently the nomination for Solicitor General, which occurred today, has to stand for a week before approval, which means the ASUC Senate will not be able to do business this Wednesday, either. I don't know, at this point, whether Mark Himelstein will still be speaking.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/23/2006 11:27:00 PM #
Comments (9)
. . .
Big news!

Senator Rizzo announced that SB51 has been amended to remove the funding aspect from the bill. Currently, the only "resolved" clause says something about fixing the bylaws. While having bylaws that don't suck may be important, I would hope it would happen without a bill anyway. (By the way, I don't share the opinion that the system failed over the summer. I actually think the system worked the way it was supposed to)

The punchline of this is that, as it stands, SB51 will not provide any money to the Executives. Donald Rizzo explained that while he supported the old bill, he believed it wasn't able to pass in the Senate, and thus amended it to something he thought would pass.

In response to a question from Senator Lisa Ang about future action to reimburse the Executives, Rizzo said that it was his "understanding" that this was "the end of it." He also suggested that the Executives might try to reopen the case, but thought it was very unlikely.

That said, I have a hard enough time taking these Senators at their word, much less at their "understanding." I don't believe it's safe to assume this is over.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/23/2006 11:17:00 PM #
Comments (4)
. . .
Dimitri Reponds

Dimitri responded to yesterday's post, and I'll post the response here. I'll note that he doesn't really address most of the issues I raised, and suggests that the structure of the ASUC itself is flawed. Again, I recommend that if that structure is flawed, the ASUC must correct itself through the internal procedures that exist for that purpose. We cannot simply ignore rules delegating authority to the Judicial Council whenever we feel that they aren't getting us the right result. If you don't feel the Judicial Council should have the power to disqualify candidates, then you need to act to change the Senate-written rules that give them that power, rather than complain about the Judicial Council whenever it tries to follow those rules.
Dear Beetle Aurora Drake,
Thanks for all the trouble of going through my email. [non-argumentative information removed for privacy reasons] I would really like to address one main thing you wrote:
"The alternative precedent, if the ASUC stands up and fights this, might be that those who run for the ASUC office agree to work within the ASUC's constitutional structure, which puts these decisions in the hands of specific ASUC officials."
Who in the ASUC should stand up and fight for the elimination of the democratic process and the failure of the Judicial Council to uphold democracy? Fighting this bill SB 51 amounts to this. Furthermore, these decisions should not be "in the hands of specific ASUC officials," as you suggest, they should be in the hands of the students. The students had made the decision to elect these four individuals. This was the principle of democracy the Judicial Council was not respecting: the candidates had already been elected and the rules had all been followed, and all censures had been declared; the candidates had been democratically elected. My question is, why did the Judicial Council think it could get away with putting a wrench in the works by making a ludicruous decision, and then rescinding it? If we simply say that we do not know if the lawsuit had any effect, that it is speculation, then this could mean that it did or it didn't. I stand by my support for SB 51. We the students should never be unwilling to pay the price for democracy.

P.S. Ben Narodick. I am sorry that I offended you. I did not mean to suggest that you were the mastermind behind the evil plot on behalf of Squelch! and the JC. I kind of meant to say you were on the same planet during the time. More than anything, I admire your hard work and know-how. See you in the funny pages.
I think he mistook "Punch My Ballot" for Ben Narodick. I find it odd that "this could mean that it did or it didn't" leads to the conclusion that the right thing to do is spend $22,679 on that speculation.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/23/2006 01:13:00 PM #
Comments (8)
. . .
Sunday, October 22, 2006
And another one

Dimitri Garcia responded to a constituent's concerns, as well, which were forwarded to me. I will present them here, because I believe that these discussions should be held in public, rather than through personal discussions between ASUC Senators and those who happen to know them.
Thank you for taking the time to understand this issue in the ASUC. $22,679 is a lot of money. First, I would like to refer you to Phia Xiong's letter to the Daily Cal http://www.dailycal.org/sharticle.php?id=21913. She is a current UCBerkeley student who was at the last ASUC meeting at which all 4 Student Action executives spoke about the legal fees; and she has changed her mind on the matter.

Second, although it seems that you are well convinced that Oren Gabriel, Joyce Liou, Jason Chu, and Vishal Gupta should each pay $5,669.75 for legal fees ($22,679 divided by 4 as revealed at the senate meeting), allow me to divulge the matter so far.

A) You refer to the fees as only pertaining to Oren Gabriel, but they are also Vishal Gupta's, Joyce Liou's, and Jason Chu's. They were all disqualified by the Judicial Council. Moreover, it was revealed at the last senate meeting that they all made an agreement during the Summer, in case they lost the lawsuit, to each pay their equal share. This amounts to $5,669.75 each. If they pay this out of their own pockets it will set a precedent that only students willing to pay can run for office; furthermore, these fees can be demanded in a court of law, but the executives are choosing not to do so because this would only increase the amount.
The alternative precedent, if the ASUC stands up and fights this, might be that those who run for the ASUC office agree to work within the ASUC's constitutional structure, which puts these decisions in the hands of specific ASUC officials. This approach protects the ASUC's autonomy. The alternative approach, which is to give in to every lawsuit and then pay fees, means the ASUC will agree to cower under a rock anytime a rich student with a lawyer has a problem.

If you have a problem with the structural properties of the ASUC, then you need to try to change them using the internal processes of the ASUC. In a democratic system, this is how we deal with problems. Sometimes, you don't get what you want. If students can go and find a lawyer and sue to get what they want, then we don't have a democratic system at all.

Finally, using the DAAP case as an example, it is actually fairly unlikely that the ASUC would have been on the hook for the fees, since Student Action got everything they wanted using the internal processes of the ASUC. The DAAP case was initially dismissed for this reason, and there doesn't seem to be any grounds for a free speech challenge for Student Action, which is why they would never get the money like DAAP did.
B) As to the legal action being unnecessary, as demonstrated by the case being "thrown out"—this is simply untrue. The case was not "thrown out." Please refer to the Daily Cal article http://www.dailycal.org/sharticle.php?id=20895. The judge did not throw out the case. The judge sent the dispute back to the Judicial Council for the time being. If the Judicial Council had continued to uphold its disqualification decision, the case would definitely have proceeded in the court. Let me make this clear: if the Judical Council had kept their unruly decision of disqualifyng the four executives, the case was still open in the courts; the judge was waiting for the decision of the Judicial Council. The subsequent hearing had already been scheduled for some time in September, well after the start of the semester.
While Dimitri is correct about the wording of the question being wrong, the judge did not "send" the dispute anywhere. The Judicial Council hearing was already scheduled, and the judge said "we're going to wait."
C) As to this case going to higher courts maybe having an effect— this did not "maybe" have an effect, it was the effect. This is not speculation. Moreover, all throughout the ordeal, the ASUC lawyer unceasingly told the Judicial Council NOT to disqualify because it was unconstitutional. The fact that the Judicial Council DID finally uphold democracy means that the the legal fees could have been settled in superior court at the time. However, the question of the legal fees was not decided in the courts, although they could have been, the case has since been closed. The question of fees now rests with the ASUC senate.
While Dimitri asserts that the lawsuit had an effect, and that it isn't speculation, he doesn't present any reason to believe that. The fact that things happened in a particular chronological order does not establish cause and effect. Had the Judicial Council been planning to fairly treat the case and reverse the disqualification, the fact that Himelstein had been giving them advice wouldn't matter, and the case going to court wouldn't have mattered, so those things happening are not evidence of their impact. The legal fees need not have been settled after the Judicial Council reversed its decision, as the DAAP case was dismissed in much the same way.
D) As to the technicality that the executives were not part of the ASUC—they were. The Judicial Council had appointed them as temporary executives pending the decision, please refer to the Daily Cal article above.
Not true at all. The Judicial Council let stand the appointment of Oren Gabriel as temporary president, but rejected the other three appointments. Yes, refer to the article:
Although the fate of the Student Action candidates remains in limbo, the council agreed this weekend to let Gabriel serve as acting president until election results are certified. The decision upholds part of an executive order issued by outgoing president Manny Buenrostro that placed the Student Action executive candidates into office until the senate can meet in the fall.

The council's ruling, however, puts only Gabriel into temporary office and limits his executive power to signing checks for the ASUC Auxiliary. The three other candidates will not be allowed to temporarily take office.
The fact that a senator would tell a constituent to refer to an article that directly proves him wrong is somewhat disturbing, and raises serious questions about how accurately the senators are actually keeping track of this information.
These are the facts. Now let me tell you what I think:

Over the summer, the four elected executives were contending with a kangaroo court run amok.
By agreeing to run for office in the ASUC, they agreed to deal with this "kangaroo court."
Everyone had followed the rules up until Andrew Ratto, with help from his Squelch! Party associates, first and foremost including Ben Narodick (the runner up for Executive Vice President) filed an appeal AFTER the results were in. This was an appeal to his original lawsuit.
Andy filed this suit against the advice of Ben. It was not an appeal. And the original lawsuit was not "his," it was Attorney General Nathan Royer's. This lie has been repeated over and over. The Judicial Council overturned its decision in part because it was not an appeal. I suggest you ask your Judicial Council members about this, or just read the decision:
However, because the seven-day grace period, wherein appeals to elections violations cases can be filed, had already passed, ASUC v. SAES was a closed case at the time of Ratto v. Vakil. And, because Ratto v. Vakil was not such an appeal hearing, the Judicial Council was unable to issue a replacement punishment (the second punishment) for the ASUC v. SAES case (the "same offense") without committing double jeopardy.
Moving on...
The allegation was that Suken Vakil had committed perjury (etc., please refer to the email by Senator Jane Park, attached below for more details). This is the one detail that made it possible to disqualify them; this is the one detail that the Judicial Council itself declared to be double jeopardy only after they were sued. However, it was not as simple as that. The kangaroo court had grossly disregarded its own rules.
Of course the Judicial Council overturned it after they were sued. Oren+ didn't wait for the hearing. That doesn't meant that the suit caused that result. And it seems odd to say that the court disregarded its own rules after proceeding according to the rules with an appeal that found the result that Oren+ agree with.
They were not even a complete body; several of them had already gone away on vacation. Unfortunately, those who were left had unrestrained control over who was going to be elected; and they were on the verge of inaugurating the Squelch! candidates.
This is a power put in the hands of the Judicial Council by the Senate in its bylaws. Much like the Senate has "unrestrained control over spending." And it's not like the Senate always had all of its members when it's doing work.
We as the student body should never be unwilling to pay any price for democracy. Unfortunately, if we do not take care of these kangaroo courts this term, the dignity of the ASUC may be further tainted than it already has been throughout this fiasco.
There is a procedure for "taking care of these kangaroo courts." And giving money to Oren+ is not part of that procedure, nor does it held "take care" of them.
In response to your belief that the executives were breaking the by-laws, they had already received censures for chalking, but it was the Judicial Council that continued to break the rules (the ASUC lawyer Mark Himelstein would not even defend them in the actual lawsuit because he kept telling them they were wrong. This proves the Judicial Council was not simply thinking it was following the rules; they knew they were breaking the rules; they were trying to inaugurate the Squelch! party candidates).
The Judicial Council is not a court of law. It cannot hold the ASUC to state and federal law because it isn't qualified to do so. It's job is to hold the ASUC to its own rules, and even if Himelstein was telling them that their actions were in violation of state/federal law, he is not qualified to tell them whether they are following ASUC law. If following the ASUC's rules puts the ASUC in conflict with state/federal law, then the fault lies with the Senate for creating those rules.

Further, the particular piece of advice Dimitri is talking about actually advised them not to grant the constitutional right of petition to a student in the ASUC. The petition was to stop the Student Action executives from being placed into office, and would not have put SQUELCH! into power. Denying that right in order to make Himelstein's case easier would be selling out the ASUC's democracy.
In addition, I hope that all students will learn the truth of the matter. I am certain that my support of this bill will promote the democracy of the ASUC.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/22/2006 03:01:00 PM #
Comments (2)
. . .
More responses from supporters

I've been receiving a few responses from ASUC officials defending their actions on SB51. I'll start with Manuel Buenrostro's e-mail to some senators (I haven't yet confirmed which ones it was sent to). I'll be quoting it in full, with corrections as necessary (and boy, are they necessary). While reading this, consider the kind of behavior we've come to expect from Manny.
Dear Senators

As I've been sitting in the classroom, I've stumbled upon news of SB 51 (I read the daily cal during my conference period). Please allow me to give you my honest opinion on this matter.
Even if he was allowed to do so, he didn't take advantage of that opportunity, apparently.
Over the summer, it became clear that the elected ASUC executives needed to hire outside legal counsel if they were to be effective in defending themselves against the illegal actions of the judicial council. This point has been proven by comments made by the asuc lawyer Mark Himmelstein.
I certainly have not heard any comments from Himelstein (or even Himmelstein) proving this point. And Himelstein wouldn't be able to prove such things, because he is not the Judicial Council.
And I myself know strongly that without the legal counsel, members of the Judicial Council would have maintained their original position.
Well, I myself know strongly that the Judicial Council would've reversed their original position even without legal counsel. Of course, neither of us were actually in deliberations and don't know jack. But I actually have experience from the hearing, as well as a comparison between the decision and the brief which provide actual evidence to suggest that the Judicial Council would have reversed itself even without legal pressure. What's Manny's evidence?
And it makes sense that they would since they would be certain that no repercussions would come of that. With the legal counsel, it was made clear to them that they had a losing case in real court (which would have cost the asuc a lot more money and time).
Let's play a game. What are the repercussions of Manny, Oren, and Himelstein lying to accomplish this payment? If you can't think of any, you can only assume that they're doing it just out of sheer greed, rather than any belief in the rightness of their actions, according to BuenrostroLogic. Having the slightest assumption that an ASUC official takes her job seriously and will try to act in accordance with it, even in the absence of lawsuits, is disallowed.
For me, SB 51 is more an issue of equity than anything else. If this bill fails, what precedent would be set? Well for one, if a student is illegally persecuted by the Judicial Council, they would have no way of defending themselves unless they had the means to pay for it out of their own pockets.
The ASUC Constitution recognizes the Judicial Council as the arbiter of the rules. One does not get "illegally persecuted by the Judicial Council." The real message that needs to be sent is that the ASUC had rules, and has a body to interpret them, and if you don't like it, well, that's too bad, democracy works in ways that you might not like, on occasion.
This would send the clear message that obtaining an ASUC Executive position is really only attainable by well-off students.
After all, it's not like it takes a huge amount of time and money, as well as a large campaign machine, to win executive office.
This issue is close to my heart because I myself depended on financial aid to get through college and I myself don't know what I would be doing if I were in Oren's shoes (do you do what is right and fight for the will of the students or do you give in to the Judicial Council because you cannot afford to).
Actually, you appeal to the Judicial Council, and if you lose, then you give in to the ASUC Constitution, which you agreed to run under.
I will grant that this situation is not ideal for the ASUC but it is what it is. Once again the Judicial Council has made an egregious mistake and once again the ASUC must do what is right and fix it. It is important for the asuc to remain accountable even when it makes mistakes.
The ASUC did what was right and fixed it. That's what appeals are for. The fact that Oren+ went lawyer-happy isn't the ASUC's problem. The situation is indeed not ideal for the ASUC, but it is what it is: The ASUC doesn't owe Oren+ jack. That's the situation.
If you believe in equity support this bill and please fix the bylaws to make sure that we don't waste any more money in unnecessary legal battles.


posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/22/2006 02:42:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Friday, October 20, 2006

Stepping back from Oren's constant lies and such, I decided to try to summarize the three major issues that the Senate needs to consider before forking over money to Oren Gabriel and co.

Was legal counsel necessary?

Would the ASUC lose the case?

Do the rules of the ASUC apply?

Mark Himelstein will apparently be speaking at the Senate meeting from 8-8:30 next Wednesday. Himelstein has long since taken a side in this case, siding with Oren Gabriel and Student Action. I do not believe he has the best interests of the ASUC at heart, and would encourage the Senate to view his comments with a skeptical eye, especially since he apparently made an agreement with Oren's lawyers that they would drop the case in exchange for him pushing this payment. Such an agreement is not made with the authority of the ASUC, and thus Himelstein's pushing of it may have less to do with the ASUC's legal rights and obligations than with his own position. I am not a senator, and won't have a chance to ask him questions, but I hope that some senators may ask critical questions such as:

The DAAP case in 2004 was dismissed by a judge after DAAP got everything it demanded through the internal processes of the ASUC. Since Himelstein has been insisting that the ASUC would have to pay the fees if Oren's lawyers hadn't dropped the case, why does he believe this situation is any different?

Why was Himelstein representing the ASUC in coming up with an agreement for legal fees while he had recused himself from defending the ASUC in the Judicial Council's execution of its Constitutional obligations? (that is, Himelstein told the Judicial Council to reject a suit brought by me because it would make his case harder to argue, but the Judicial Council has an obligation to provide that right to petition for all members of the association.)

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/20/2006 12:40:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Issue #3: Do the rules of the ASUC apply?

The last major issue I want to bring up is whether or not the ASUC believes in its own rules, and as a consequence, its own autonomy. While Oren Gabriel has been quite happy to declare that the Judicial Council violated the bylaws and JRPs, this is simply his opinion, and not shared universally. I, for instance, believe the Judicial Council followed the bylaws and JRPs in that first decision. Why should Oren's opinion mean more?

The ASUC has a system in place to resolve these disputes, and that system is the Judicial Council. Thus, the Judicial Council speaks with the authority of the ASUC when it issues the decisions. As a result, it is the ASUC's official position that the disqualification decision was in line with the bylaws and JRPs, but violated the spirit of the ASUC Constitutional protection against double jeopardy, and thus was invalid.

All ASUC officials agree to run under the ASUC Constitution, which puts these interpretations in the hands of the Judicial Council. Having a personal opinion that differs does not mean that you have suffered an injustice. If ASUC officials actually believe in the ASUC, they have to accept that, in a democratic system, sometimes the ASUC will take positions they aren't fans of. This does not mean they have any right to attack the ASUC until they get their way.

Thus, even if Oren thinks that the JRPs and Bylaws were violated, it should be meaningless to the ASUC and its senators in making their decision in this case, because the official position of the ASUC is what matters. In particular, Oren's baseless claims that the Judicial Council was out to get him or some such, so they had to hire lawyers pre-emptively, is not an argument that should be swaying the Senate.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/20/2006 12:25:00 PM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Issue #2: Would the ASUC lose the case?

Oren Gabriel+ has insisted that, if the case wasn't dropped, the ASUC would have had to pay a settlement to their lawyers. Mark Himelstein is expected to say the same. The justification here seems to be that the Judicial Council's disqualification wouldn't hold up in court.

But this is critical: The Judicial Council's disqualification didn't even hold up in the Judicial Council. Whether or not the decision would hold up in court is irrelevant because it was never applied, since internal processes handled the issue. The real question is, after internal processes were sufficient to provide Gabriel+ their demands, would the ASUC still be liable?

Remember that in the DAAP case, because DAAP got all they wanted through the internal processes of the association, their case was dismissed by the judge. It seems likely that the same thing would occur here, and thus the ASUC would not be required to pay fees. The reason DAAP ended up getting money is because they amended and refiled to charge free speech violations for the two censures they received, and that case dragged on until the ASUC felt its autonomy threatened and decided to settle. But there is no evidence that a similar case could be made by Student Action, since the result of the appeal was that no punishment was assessed.

Thus, I don't believe that the ASUC was ever in danger of becoming responsible for Gabriel+'s fees. And anything Himelstein says is suspect as he has been working for the Student Action executives this whole time, and recused himself from defending the ASUC's Judicial Council.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/20/2006 12:14:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Issue #1: Was Legal Counsel Necessary

The first major issue to consider before generously handing over $22,679 to Oren Gabriel+ for his lawyers is whether they were necessary at all. If they weren't necessary, then they wasted a shitload of money and are asking us to cover the cost of their mistake, which seems beyond the responsibility of the ASUC's service to students. There are dozens of student groups who didn't screw up who would like money, too, and that money would go towards serving students.

I went into great detail on this issue, pointing out that a comparison between the lawyer-written Judicial Council brief and the Judicial Council decision shows no evidence that the lawyers helped make a case.

The other aspect is the idea that the lawyers brought pressure or validity or something else to the Judicial Council appeal hearing that helped change the Judicial Council's mind. Since deliberations are secret, this is nothing but wild speculation. Is this speculation sufficient to justify spending $22,679?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/20/2006 12:06:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Oh, hey

J Koo already did the Daily Cal letter sprint.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/20/2006 11:41:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Letter sprint?

Senator Donald Rizzo is going to pay $22,679 of your money because he feels bad. And, sadly, he's not the only one.
Katlyn Carter's Thursday article on the ASUC meeting ("Executives Address Legal Bill Concerns," Oct. 19) did not mention an important visual: Watching four people talk about how they are each more than $5,000 in debt because the ASUC messed up. And in response, people saying, "Well, that’s politics!"
No, they're more than $5,000 in debt (ha!, yeah right, Gabriels) because they hired lawyers when they didn't need to. The error there belongs to the executives.
People are calling this a partisan issue. What sounds more political to you: reimbursing the executives for the expenses incurred while trying to regain their democratically elected positions, or refusing to do so even though our own ASUC Attorney Mark Himelstein strongly recommends doing so on both legal and historical grounds?
When those costs were unnecessary, and that attorney has been working for the direct recipients of this money to the exclusion of the rest of the ASUC, I think I come to a different conclusion than Donald does.
Of the six lawyers that reviewed the case, not one thought that disqualifying the candidates was legally justified.
Nor, for that matter, did the ASUC Judicial Council.
If the ASUC Executives had not dropped the case in Alameda County Superior Court, the ASUC would have been forced to settle the litigation.
Is this even true? The DAAP case was dismissed after DAAP got its position back through the Judicial Council. The case was refiled to charge free speech violations, and that case dragged on until the ASUC finally agreed to a settlement. But Student Action has made no indication they will refile.
This settlement, by reasonable estimates, would have incurred costs much higher than the $23,000 sought by Student Action candidates, and would have come out of the Legal Defense Fund.
Strong words, coming from someone who approved paying the money out of the Legal Defense Fund in the first place. Now Rizzo wants to paint himself as a champion acting to protect the Legal Defense Fund?
The ASUC Judicial Council committed a disservice to Oren Gabriel, the other executives, and all of the students on our campus.
They were acting on the rules that the Senate gave them. But sure, blame the Judicial Council, that's easier than taking responsibility.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/20/2006 11:26:00 AM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Meanwhile, over at Davis

As I've probably mentioned before, UC Davis is withdrawing from the UCSA after refusing to pay increased fees. Apparently, Davis thinks they can find better things to do with their money then ship it off to an insular and unresponsive association. Which means that, at least as far as student governments are concerned, Davis is smarter than Berkeley.

Yesterday, at the Senate meeting, Jason Chu said that he and Andy Kelley are going to go down to Davis and try to convince Davis to stick around. I guess they're worried about the UCSA not actually speaking for UC students. While this was the case even when Davis was sticking around, now that Davis is leaving, they can't even pretend anymore.

Given certain unconfirmed reports about how Jason Chu has been treating Davis folks at the UCSA, I don't expect his words to hold much weight.

Interestingly, from the same entry, the ASUCD Supreme Court took a look at ASUC v. SAES, where the Student Action Executives were found guilty of campaign violations for chalking.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 01:42:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
In an unrelated topic

Also from the Senate meeting, the Chancellor's representative, whose name and position I didn't catch, had three interesting things to say.

The first is that the Lower Sproul Redevelopment Plan is probably going to come with a hefty fee increase. Yay.

The second was that folks should consider whether they want "justice or vengeance" in using their leadership roles. He left the implications and blank-filling to the listeners.

The third was in response to a question from Dimitri Garcia about folks getting arrested at the protest over wages or some such. He explained what I've tried to explain for years: Civil disobedience doesn't mean you can break the law when sending a message without consequence. It means "I'm going to break the law, I'm going to go to jail, and I'm going to suffer that because I believe in my cause that much."

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 02:22:00 AM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Senate Meeting Summary

Here's a summary of posts about the Senate meeting today, or yesterday, or whatever.

ASUC Senators seek to run a PR offensive so they control the information, with their usual unexplained or blatantly false explanations.

Politics halts all business, as a Solicitor General isn't appointed.

Mark Himelstein, Oren Gabriel, and their lawyers make a deal without official ASUC approval. The Executives agree to take questions from senators.

Oren lies that the Judicial Council said they did nothing wrong. Judicial Council judgment shows the lie.

Student Action is suddenly a supporter of DAAP, in a total reversal from two years ago. Oren lies about the DAAP case.

The Executives say their lawyer helped them win the Judicial Council appeal, but a comparison of their lawyer-assembled brief and the Judicial Council decision suggests otherwise.

The Executives pretty much admit they're only in it to win and don't give a crap about autonomy or principle.

Lawyer stuff.

A description of where the money is going to come from.

In summary, let me leave you with this claim: According to the Executives, their due process rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 02:03:00 AM #
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Where the money is coming from

Though student pressure has successfully forced the ASUC to stop considering providing money to Oren and co. from the Legal Defense Fund, it seems fairly likely that they'll still get the money. The plan is for the ASUC Auxiliary to pay the proceeds from some of its CD accounts (that weren't established by the Senate) to the Executives. Technically, the way it will work, according to Ned Permaul, will be that the money will be made available to the Executives, who will make it available to the Senate, which will vote to allocate it. Yes, essentially the Executives will be authorizing personal payments to themselves.

I guess it's better than using student funds directly, but it still hurts the ASUC Auxiliary, and thus the ASUC indirectly. And the fact that the ASUC apparently has control over these funds suggests that they could be put to a better, student benefit use.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 01:59:00 AM #
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The lawyer situation

How much do you think the ASUC spent defending the Judicial Council from $22,679 worth of lawyer? If you guessed "about 10% of that," you'd be right.

One has to wonder why, if Mark Himelstein recused himself from the case because he couldn't in good conscience defend the Judicial Council, was he providing advice and agreements about paying Oren's lawyer fees?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 01:56:00 AM #
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The second evasion

An issue came up at the Senate meeting about how the Executives didn't seem to believe in the autonomy of the institution, and that anyone could just sue the ASUC to get their way. Two things came out of this line of questioning.

The first was that the Executives justified their lawsuit by saying that it was best for the ASUC. It's worth remembering that in most democratic systems, an individual's opinion of what is best does not have the power to dominate all other processes required by the rules and regulations.

The second is that, when David Wasserman asked them that if they were disqualified because of the original chalking violation, as they would have been two years ago under the bylaws back then, would they have sued the ASUC anyway, especially before the appeal. That is, if they were disqualified under the rules they don't dispute, would they still have kicked and clawed and bit until they won? The Executives absolutely refused to answer the question. It was astounding. After their big speech about what's best for the ASUC, when it comes to following the rules and suffering the consequences if you don't, "Hey, I don't think that's relevant," "we don't really need to answer that" "I'd hate to speculate about a situation I'm not in" etc. (these aren't direct quotes, but they are the arguments they used to avoid answering) Yeah, we aren't fooled. I think we know which is more important between "winning" and "preserving the integrity of the ASUC" to these folks.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 01:49:00 AM #
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The second lie

The ASUC Executives insisted that their hiring of a lawyer was necessary, because they wouldn't have won their Judicial Council case otherwise. Ali asked the obvious question: Are they saying their lawyers intimidated the Judicial Council into seeing things their way? The Executives said no, the lawyers helped write the brief which would succeed.

Two things. The first is that the respondents did not have professional legal help in writing the brief. I can confirm that this is true because I was one of the folks writing it. If the Executives were too incompetent and unfamliar with the ASUC's rules to write a brief on the same level, it says something very sad about the state of our ASUC leaders.

The second thing is that the brief, which was written in part by Oren's lawyers, did not sway the council. Again, I'm not going to ask you to "trust me" like supporters are asking, I'm going to go through each argument title (and summarize it in parenthesis) and point to the passage in the decision that rejects it (in blockquote). (I have the brief in .doc form, but I don't have a way to post it online. If someone wants to, let me know and I'll send it.)

I realize that most people won't bother to read this, but I recommend you do, and I want a record sitting around so I can wave the "I told you so" finger should it come up. Note that I'm not trying to convince people of the rightness of the Judicial Council's arguments, only that they rejected the lawyer-assembled brief, i.e. the lawyers weren't necessary.

A. The Judicial Council's Violation of Its Own Rules of Procedure Violated Mr. Vakil's Due Process Rights
1) Insufficient Evidence (The Daily Cal article used as evidence was insufficient)
It was uncontested at this hearing that Suken Vakil made this statement about the lifetime of chalk. Although the appellants claim that the DailyCal article and the witness testimony from the hearing Ratto v. Vakil do not accurately reflect Vakil's statement from the ASUC v. SAES hearing, no evidence to the contrary is presented and so the Council must rely on the factual conclusion from Ratto v. Vakil.
2) Violation of Procedural Due Process (A transcript was not kept, as required by the JRPs)
Therefore, the Judicial Council finds that it did not violate the JRP by not creating official transcripts of hearings and that no due process rights were violated while establishing Vakil's statement without such a transcript.
B. The Judicial Council Violated Mr. Vakil's Right Not to Be Compelled to be a Witness Against Himself (The Judicial Council did not suppress Vakil's affidavit until after the hearing)
Therefore, the Council must agree that no rights were violated by the initial failure to suppress Vakil's affidavit.
C. Mr. Vakil's Alleged Violation is Not One Imputable to the Four Executives (because the case was brought against Suken Vakil, not the executives)
Therefore, as a result of Title IV Article 13 Section 8 and JRP, and due to the fact that the appellants were aware of their involvement in the charges prior to the hearing, the Judicial Council has determined that the four SAES candidates are liable for a violation of the rules for truthfulness, committed by their designated representative, as outlined in the Judicial Rules of Procedure.
D. The Remedy Provided By the Judicial Council Is Not the One Charged (because he didn't seek contempt charges, and Vakil couldn't defend himself)
After the facts regarding the alleged perjury were established, the Judicial Council decided to issue the contempt of Council ruling and disregard the additional campaign violation charges that had become moot. Therefore, Mr. Vakil's right to defend himself against known charges was not violated.
E. Mr. Vakil Was an Advocate, not a Witness (and thus couldn't have perjured himself. Also, he was found in contempt as a witness, but punished as a litigant)
As a result, we believe that we acted appropriately in following through with the remedies listed within the Judicial Rules of Procedure for a participant in a hearing who is declared in contempt of Council.
II. The Judicial Council Had No Power to Disqualify the Four Executive Candidates
A. Disqualification As a Remedy Violates the Command that All Election Remedies Be Clearly Delineated in the ASUC By-Laws (because contempt isn't in the list of campaign violations)
And, in this case, the Judicial Rules of Procedure and ASUC By-Laws do not conflict.

B. The Judicial Council Has No Power to Overrule Its Final and Unappealable Decision Via a Collateral Attack in a Later Case

This is the point upon which they won, but it is important to note that the consitutional double jeopardy aspect is not raised in the brief, ('commonly accepted legal principles' is the justification used for this section) and the Judicial Council had to draw the connection after it was raised in oral arguments (i.e. not by Oren's lawyers, but by Oren and Vishal themselves).

C. Due to Their Delay In Certifying the Election After the Start of the Executives' Terms, the Executives Are Already Properly In Office
The matter of Ratto v. Vakil has not yet been resolved, the Student Action executive candidates have not yet been properly elected, and the incoming executive seats remain unconfirmed until certification occurs.
D. The Judicial Council's Role in Certifying Elections Is Entirely Perfunctory
As it is a responsibility mandated by such a law, it is our responsibility to fulfill it, and the role of the Council is then not perfunctory – that is, it is not a cursory function, but one important to the elections process as outlined by ASUC law.
E. The Judicial Council Did Not Have Quorum to Hear Ratto v. Vakil (because Carmel Levitan couldn't rule on it, and resignations were improper)
Therefore, Justice Levitan only had to be present for the hearing of Ratto v. Vakil to participate in its judgment, and the Judicial Council did meet the quorum requirement of four out of seven members.
F. The Judicial Council Has No Power to Disqualify the Student Action Executives Because They Were Not Named Parties in Ratto v. Vakil
The argument about the Student Action Executive Slate not being party to the charges is revisited in Appellant Brief Subsection II.F. The earlier parts of this decision address this due process complaint in its entirety.
III. Mr. Ratto Acted in Bad Faith
Therefore, the Council finds that Ratto did not file charges in bad faith.
IV. The Decision Provides the Wrong Remedy
A. The Remedy is Inequitable
While we have determined that issuing a default judgment in Ratto v. Vakil was erroneous, had this case been an appeal, the Judicial Council already established in Ratto v. Vakil the severity of the offense for warranting such a punishment, and no evidence has been proffered in this appeal hearing to convince the Council that such a conclusion would have been inequitable or even that another legal alternative would have been available.
B. The Decision Violates the Standard for a Default Judgment
1) Fair Hearing (The Judicial Council only speculated that Vakil's lies made the hearing unfair, as required by a certain default judgment definition)
The fact that the defendant potentially influenced the decision by misleading the Council shows that it affected the trial's fairness for the plaintiff.
2) Consideration of Less Harsh Remedies (required by the same definition)
Even if the Judicial Council was bound to consider all other judicial remedies, it is discussed above that the appellants did not provide any legal alternatives for the Council to consider, and the content of the Council's closed deliberations is privy information.
If you read this far, congratulations!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 12:53:00 AM #
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The first evasion

It took the same question three times from David Wasserman before the Executives would actually justify their comparison to the DAAP case. Finally, they admitted that there really wasn't a precedent in terms of paying out the money, since the DAAP case ended in a settlement, while this is just a handout that, supposedly, would be just.

While Yvette Felarca praised Oren and co. for standing up for student rights and student votes by fighting the same fight they did, a few senators decided to point out an odd fact about Student Action's praise for DAAP's fight: In 2004-5, Student Action was adamantly opposed to giving DAAP a dime. (Felarca lied that this was not the case. In the end, the bill to pay the settlement passed unanimously, but not because Student Action believed it was the right thing to do) If you want to learn more about the DAAP case, check out then-Judicial Chair Mike Davis's account in the Patriot. Here are the punchlines:

The Judicial Council never admitted wrongdoing in disqualifying DAAP, as Oren claimed. However, they felt they were bound by the bylaws written by the Senate to disqualify DAAP. This is a common theme. The bylaws are written by the Senate and Executives so that the Judicial Council has no choice but to act in unpopular and potentially unjust ways, and then everyone blames the Judicial Council for following the rules that other people wrote. This year, for instance, the Judicial Council followed the bylaws too closely, without recognizing that the incomptetence behind them made such an effort unconstitutional in spirit. On appeal, they recognized this and reversed the ruling. (Oren's assertion that the Judicial Council violated the JRPs and bylaws has no basis in any established decision, and the appeal affirmed that they were followed)

In the DAAP case, there was no unconstitutionality, so the Judicial Council and President worked together to change the poorly-written rules to allow the Judicial Council the flexibility it needed to not disqualify DAAP. Once again, the responsibility for the result belonged to Senate and Executives in writing the bylaws.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 12:37:00 AM #
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The first lie

Oren Gabriel: "The Judicial Council eventually agreed that we did nothing wrong over the summer."

Well, I won't lie to you. And I won't tell you to trust me. Instead, let's go to the Judicial Council decision, and let you judge for yourself. In particular:
In conclusion, the evidence has shown that the four Student Action Executive candidates were fully aware that they could be held responsible for the actions taken by a designated representative on their behalf. And, because all four candidates were present at the ASUC v. SAES hearing, they were all witnesses to Vakil’s misleading statements to the Council. After that hearing, prior to the Ratto hearing, during the Ratto hearing, and after the Ratto hearing, not one of the four Student Action Executive candidates tried to disassociate themselves from their designated representative, Vakil. They have maintained, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Vakil did not provide the Council with misleading information in ASUC v. SAES and instead have argued that Vakil was not lying, but simply providing argumentation that need not be based on fact, and that if Vakil was lying he did not do so for their benefit. The four Student Action Executive candidates have not demonstrated, at any time, a belief that committing perjury during a judicial hearing is a serious offense. And in the case at hand, it seems that Student Action members engaged in the most serious violation of the rules for truthfulness within the Judicial Rules of Procedure, because while it has not been proven that the candidates directly colluded with Vakil to present misleading testimony during ASUC v. SAES, the decision of Ratto v. Vakil describes the unacceptable behavior of Student Action members at the Ratto hearing:
...witnesses Emilie Saleh, Joyce Liou, Jason Dixson, and Bret Manley repeatedly gave evasive answers, often verbatim repeats of answers that the previously questioned witness had given, to the plaintiff and the Council when asked questions about Vakil. Student Action members also attempted to interfere with witness testimony by whispering to each other when directed to answer controversial questions; the witnesses had not requested legal counsel.
All of this compounded with the fact that the appellants made an abrupt attempt to withdraw from this appeals process after claiming a lack of Council jurisdiction, and the fact that they tried to submit evidence that had been directly tampered with, which leads us to question the originality and veracity of other evidence submitted by the appellants, points to an effort by the Student Action Executive candidates to subvert the judicial process. We believe this to be a very serious offense, but given the circumstances these candidates cannot be punished. However, Mr. Vakil is still held in contempt of Council, and as a result of his deceitful actions during ASUC v. SAES, he can never again appear before the Council per JRP We condemn Vakil's actions and, as the evidence shows to be the case, the Student Action Executive candidates' knowing acceptance of Vakil's dishonesty. We maintain that had the evidence brought forth in Ratto v. Vakil about party chalking tactics been presented in ASUC v. SAES, it is likely that the Judicial Council would have arrived at a more severe judgment. Regardless, we hereby re-instate Oren Gabriel, Vishal Gupta, Joyce Liou, and Jason Chu into the 2006 ASUC Elections. The Council will soon meet to consider certification of these election results and to administer the executive oaths of office.
Hmm... that doesn't sound like an admission that Student Action did nothing wrong to me. It sounds like, because of technicalities, they couldn't be punished.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 12:28:00 AM #
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Thankfully, and quite impressively, the ASUC Executives decided to take questions from senators about their attempt to get the ASUC to give them a shitload of money. Let me preface this by saying that they will succeed, but opponents have successfully forced the ASUC to defer the costs to the ASUC Auxiliary. While it still hurts the ASUC for no reason, and is still a sign of the severe corruption of the ASUC, it's a better result than directly raiding the ASUC for money.

The answers they gave, though, were nothing new.

First, though, they did reveal what I had heard unconfirmed reports about, but apparently wasn't even a secret. Oren Gabriel's lawyers and the ASUC's lawyer, Mark Himelstein, came to an agreement over the summer that instead of pursuing the case and getting a settlement, Oren's firm would drop the charges, while Himelstein would try to convince the Senate to give them money. Oren's argument that this would reduce the total amount of fees to be paid is a valid one. But what the hell is Himelstein doing making these deals? Now that the ASUC has no legal obligation to pay Oren's fees, why is Himelstein trying to convince the ASUC to hand out money? If what was described was a legal agreement in order to reduce costs, what authority did they have to make it over the summer without Senate authorization?

Anyway, instead of doing a gigantic post on what the Executives said, I'm going to break up the different aspects of the questioning into parts, each with its own post.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 12:19:00 AM #
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Soliciting a Solicitor General

Sorry about the newspaper-quality headline.

Joe Rothberg, former SQUELCH!er and friend of senator David Wasserman was rejected as Solicitor General because he was a former SQUELCH!er and a friend of senator David Wasserman. I think he shares the same frat, too. As for whether he could do the job of solicitor general fairly... well, who cares.

As a result, the ASUC was unable to pass any bills or conduct business. Ali Ansary called on all senators to find a candidate for the position by Friday. David Wasserman reminded folks that, given their reasoning for rejecting Rothberg, they couldn't pick anyone they knew, or from the same frat, or from the same party. Heh. We'll see how long Student Action sings that tune.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 12:12:00 AM #
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Wow, what a Senate meeting. SB51 will be brought up next week. Mark Himelstein will talk about it from 8 to 8:30.

Ali Ansary closed the session by telling senators to go on a PR offensive to stop their constituents from learning about the facts from the Daily Cal and blogs, and instead inform them themselves. And given the next paragraph, it's easy to see why.

We finally got a response correcting Beetle Beat for being wrong. As you know, I've made a few claims about the wrongness of the words coming from the supporters of the "Pay Oren's Legal Fees" bill, but finally, we get the definitive rejection of my claims, from an anonymous commenter:
you have no idea what you are talking about
Wow. With a well-thought-out and supported response like that, it's no wonder Ali wants to discourage folks from learning about the facts from here.

Meanwhile, let me say that if any senator wants to give an actual response, I will happily publish it in full, without any of the censorship or quote-cutting that the Daily Cal does that Sammy Averbach began the meeting by complaining about. As usual, Averbach said that The Daily Cal isn't accurately portraying things to us but failed to provide any evidence of actual inaccuracy. Apparently, the Daily Cal resorts to sensationalism to sell its (free) papers.

For those of you who suffer attacks from senators moved by Ali's demand that they try to control the information flow, remember that I actually back up my points, and will happily go into great, gruesome, and excrutiating detail if so requested. I won't evade and say "Hey, you just don't know everything, trust me!"

There were a lot of interesting things to blog about at the Senate meeting, but I'll probably wait a bit, because I'm kind of tired.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/19/2006 12:01:00 AM #
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I guess I'll just have to go rob someone else

Oren Gabriel is looking for someone else to rob.
He said the bill should be amended to draw from ASUC Auxiliary certificates of deposit, which he said would not be made up of student fee money.
Okay, if it's ASUC Auxiliary money, why does the Senate have any say over it? It's really quite simple: Either the Senate has a say over the money, in which case it's student money, or it doesn't, in which case some idiot is handing over money to Oren Gabriel for no reason.

Ben points out that the part that the Senate has control over is student fee money.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/18/2006 12:00:00 PM #
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006
ASUC Lawyer Doesn't Like Money

Or so I can only assume. The Daily Cal is reporting what most of us already suspected, which is that the bill to give Oren legal fees was written by Oren Gabriel and Mark Himelstein, the ASUC's attorney. One has to wonder why Oren isn't listed as an author. The rest of the "authors" were contacted about slapping their name on the bill. Himelstein pushed the bill in a closed session, despite there being no litigation to justify closing that session. An anonymous senator reports:
"He said the legal costs were necessary in order to intimidate the Judicial Council so they would change their minds," the official said.
That's fairly impressive. What I want to know is, how does Himelstein know this? Is it because he heard from the Judicial Council about their deliberations? If so, his mole needs to be impeached. Why aren't the senators pushing for an investigation into the disclosure of deliberations, since they seem to know what went on during them? My guess is that they're full of shit. Some other interesting issues:
Gabriel said the lawyer, who billed at a 50 percent discount, was selected at the recommendation of his father's colleague.
Wait a second. Oren managed to spend $45,358 of lawyer time on this case? I want to note that, as of yet, we have no explanation of where the number came from. We don't have the bills. Maybe the ASUC should get ahold of them and check them a bit more closely before supporting this.

Overall, though, this is the punchline: The ASUC's attorney, Mark Himelstein, is supporting the payment of $22,679 to an external legal firm, despite there being no obligation or litigation to justify it. Who is he working for?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/17/2006 10:37:00 AM #
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Oren lies? Shock!

In a fairly unsurprising development, the Daily Cal publishes an opinion piece from Oren Gabriel that is filled with half-truths, wild speculation, and outright lies. I believe that the Daily Cal has a responsibility to check the factual assertions of the piece before publishing it, but apparently the Daily Cal does not.
In the past seven years, the Judicial Council has tried to disqualify the winning candidates in the ASUC executive elections three times. On all three occasions, the involved candidates have gone to court and the Judicial Council has been forced to admit they were wrong in each case.
Lie 1: The Judicial Council admitted they were wrong in these three cases. This is not true. In the first case, the election of 2001, the Judicial Council was severely compromised. Pressure was put on a justice to change a vote, and Student Action had a mole on the council reporting the supposedly secret deliberations to them.

In the second case, the election of 2004, the Judicial Council never even considered the idea that it was wrong. The bylaws were written in a way that, as a result of DAAP's actions, they had not choice but to disqualify DAAP. The situation was resolved by the president issuing an executive order to change the bylaws so that the Judicial Council didn't have to disqualify DAAP.
In the middle of the summer, well after the election results had been tabulated and released, and well after most students had left campus, four of the nine members of the Judicial Council decided to illegally rehear an appeal of a previously resolved elections case.
Lie 2: Ratto v. Vakil was a rehearing of an appeal. It was not. It was a separate case.

Lie 3: Ratto v. Vakil was an illegal hearing. There is no indication that the hearing itself was illegal, either. The Judicial Council ruled that the hearing was legal, and that the finding of contempt for Suken Vakil was valid. That finding was upheld in the appeal.

Lie 4: There were nine members of the Judicial Council. There were seven, at the time.
In an unprecedented opinion, one that violated the ASUC Constitution, Bylaws, Judicial Council rules and the spirit of democracy, these few members of the council decided to disqualify the winning candidates on the basis of campaigning infractions stemming from the already-resolved case.
Lie 5: The Ratto v. Vakil ruling violated the bylaws and the JRPs. The Judicial Council found that Ratto v. Vakil was in keeping with the bylaws and the JRPs, but that the spirit of the Constitutional requirement against double jeopardy prevented the Council from punishing Student Action in the way required by the bylaws and the JRPs. That is, the Judicial Council violated the Constitution because it followed the bylaws and JRPs.
The outside counsel that was hired over the summer proved instrumental in convincing the Judicial Council to accept our appeal and clearly articulated the multiple reasons why the Judicial Council decision was both procedurally and substantively incorrect.
Rampant Speculation 1: Hiring the lawyers convinced the Judicial Council to accept the appeal. Unless Oren has a mole on the Judicial Council illegally informing him of its deliberations, he has no way of knowing this to be true. It's worth noting that the appeal was accepted weeks before charges were filed in county court.

Probable Lie: Hiring the lawyers articulated the reasons why the Judicial Council was wrong to the Judicial Council. If this occurred, it did not occur in public. According to Oren and Vishal in the appeal hearing, the brief submitted by the appellants in the appeal for Ratto v. Vakil was written in part by Oren's lawyers. This brief was rejected. Every argument brought up in the brief was individually rejected by the decision. I can provide the decision and the appellant brief to let you cross-check, if you want. The Judicial Council ruled in favor of the appellants on double jeopardy, which was not raised in the brief.

The reason I've called this only a "probable" lie is because it's conceivably possible that Oren's lawyers had discussions with the Judicial Council privately that articulated this reason. However, if the Judicial Council is subject to such pressures, then it says something very sad about the state of the Judicial Council, that it will accept and consider arguments from the litigants outside of the hearing, meaning that the equality that we are supposed to have in front of it is not present.
Fortunately, after multiple attorneys had made it clear that the decision was illogical, illegal, and just plain wrong, the Judicial Council realized that it had to reinstate our slate.
Rampant Speculation 2: The lawyers convinced the Judicial Council that it needed to overturn its ruling. As with the previous rampant speculation, this is not something Oren would know unless he had a mole.
While the money used to fund this bill will not take money from the budget of any student group, publication, or activity, it is sad that the money appropriated by this bill has to be spent in the manner proscribed.
Obfuscation: Paying money won't hurt student groups, etc. The Legal Defense Fund is a fund that the ASUC puts money into every year until it reaches a certain size, at which point the money can be used for other purposes, including on student groups. Any time money is drawn from the Legal Defense Fund, it has the impact of making less money available in the future for student groups and the like, as more time and money must be spent to get the fund up to the required size.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 10/17/2006 10:01:00 AM #
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