. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Nap Time!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It seems that Nad Permaul's ominous declarations of "zero tolerance" policies when it comes to chalking did not actually stop folks from chalking. Chalk, which only lasts one day, blankets the sidewalks around campus, and tells us that CalSERVE likes turtles and arrows. (Note that CalSERVE's committment to diversity doesn't include downward arrows. Fucking directionists) Student Action doesn't appear to have any such thematic coherence, though I'm not sure whether that's a bad or good thing.

On Monday, I did notice some chalk seemed erased.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/31/2009 09:07:00 PM #
Comments (2)
. . .
WTF, part 2

Last night, the law students who came to argue apparently forgot the memo that they wouldn't be arguing in a court of law. So they broadly asserted that all the protections granted to criminal defendants should be granted to them, especially those that prevent the Judicial Council from seeing the video until it is proved authentic. Otherwise, their due process rights under the U.S. and California constitutions would be violated. See the Gabriel case in the summer of 2006.

We could start with the point that it's not a criminal case. This isn't just the glib response that Sinanian pitched. Shaffer is not facing criminal charges, or consequences of any kind. The worst that can happen to him is that he loses the case and Moghtader isn't recalled, but that doesn't actually happen to him. In other words, the worst that can happen to him is nothing. Criminal defendants have rights because the country isn't keen on sending innocent folk to prison without due process. How much process is due when there is no risk of anything negative happening? The Judicial Council also doesn't use a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Does this mean their due process rights are violated? Of course not. Not even the U.S. court system takes the view that criminal court protections are always due in any judicial proceeding. A bit of caselaw might have been helpful here to make their point.

We could follow up with the point that there's no jury. It's a bench trial, so hiding the evidence from the judges so they aren't unduly influenced by the evidence until the judges rule on whether or not the evidence is authentic is... nonsense. If the defense found proof that the video was tampered with, how would they plan to show the Judicial Council without showing the tampered-with video?

Finally, we could raise the point that the Oren Gabriel case of the summer of 2006 had only one real lesson in terms of how the law relates: the Alameda court wanted the ASUC to resolve the issue using internal procedures before asking the state government to intervene. After the Judicial Council reversed on appeal (using the ASUC's constitution), the court case was dropped. It's also probably worth noting that Gabriel and company claimed damages (loss of stipend, etc.), which Shaffer would have difficulty with. Couldn't they at least have mentioned the DAAP case from 2004? It seems like they'd have more luck with that.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/31/2009 05:25:00 PM #
Comments (2)
. . .
WTF, part 1

The first in today's WTF series: Nathan Shaffer accuses Michael Sinanian of perjury. Oh noes! You see, Sinanian has been whining about that libel lawsuit that John Moghtader was totally going to file against Dina Omar... eventually. He used that as his explanation for why he couldn't release the video. I'll admit being a bit mystified by this explanation, when he could have just said "I don't have control of it, so I can only release it on terms Moghtader approves," not to mention that such a lawsuit wouldn't prevent release of the video, but whatever. Let's talk about this charge sheet.

The remedy for perjury is a finding of contempt of court in the Judicial Council. I suppose he could argue he deserves a default judgment on account of it, but since Sinanian is a representative of the ASUC as a whole, it's not clear that the Judicial Council can really do so. What are they going to do? Bar him from Judicial Council proceedings? That would probably be unconstitutional, since that's essentially barring him from doing the job the Constitution assigns him to.
The charge sheet asks the Judicial Council to issue a restraining order against Sinanian preventing him from pursuing "further abusive litigation" against recall proponents.
Okay. Can he pursue nonabusive litigation? Is Shaffer expecting a ruling on whether a particular case is abusive?

More broadly, Shaffer is accusing Sinanian of providing false information to manipulate the ASUC's processes to achieve some goal. For those of you keeping score, Sinanian has accused Shaffer of the same thing. I hope the defenses are exactly the same, and Shaffer is forced to come up with some proof that Sinanian knew what he was saying was false.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/31/2009 05:16:00 PM #
Comments (2)
. . .
Recall case news

The hearing did not make it to oral arguments, and has been postponed for at least 3 days.

It's very clear that not only will Michael Sinanian be unable to prove that Nathan Shaffer intentionally falsified information, he had no intention of doing so. His case is based on the fact that the recall was based on false information, and so the Judicial Council needs to exact justice. He may have had better luck just arguing that directly than trying to fit it into proving intentional falsification on the part of Shaffer. His current argument is that, because the original petition didn't reference the fight, while the Voters Guide did, something must have been going on, proving intentionality.

Dina Omar was found to not be a proponent (or rather, Sinanian failed to prove she was a proponent) in pre-oral arguments rather than in the case, so the severance motion succeeded. Sinanian should have tried to keep it from happening on the grounds that it was part of his argument, but he didn't really have evidence. He may still be able to argue that Omar was a proponent, even if she's not a party to the case, and may instead have had better luck in agreeing to the severance without a reason.

Shaffer had three (and then two) other spokespeople, who did nothing to help his case at all. Indeed, one of them piped up at the least opportune times, apparently just to piss people off. The Judicial Council was in the middle of ripping Sinanian to shreds over how he had no way of proving intentionality, and one of the representatives interrupted with a definition of intentionality that contributed nothing to the discussion and just relieved the pressure from Sinanian. They interrupted with many other arguments which just sounded obstructionist, as well as inapplicable arguments using their own understanding of law, rather than the JRPs.

The defense prevented the video from being shown at the hearing, because they wanted someone "qualified" to authenticate it before it was shown, so they knew it wasn't tampered with. So they wanted a hard copy to do their own authentication. John Moghtader wanted to delay handing it over to do his own "security measures," but I'm pretty sure he was trying to stall just to piss folks off. It was pretty silly, considering the stakes. Claiming the same rights they'd have in a criminal trial when they had something to lose was just over the top.

Speaking of over the top, they made the 14th amendment argument we were all waiting for, and referred to the Oren Gabriel case as precedent. That's right, if the Judicial Council doesn't follow its procedures carefully, they'll be violating the U.S. and California constitutions!!! I hope the Judicial Council isn't dumb enough to fall for it. What kind of deprivation would Shaffer even be able to claim if he loses this case?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/31/2009 12:17:00 AM #
Comments (2)
. . .
Monday, March 30, 2009

The hearing is tonight at 9pm in the Senate Lounge. Knowing how these kinds of hearings go, I wouldn't be surprised if it runs into tomorrow.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/30/2009 05:16:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Recall case update

Just a few things I've picked up from various communications about that recall case.

As far as I know, it's still scheduled for tonight at 9pm, though I still haven't heard where. It seems that neither Sinanian or the Judicial Council was actually reading their rules when it came to giving evidence to the other side, and I believe the defense still hasn't seen the video. I think the Judicial Council will try to have them see it right before or during the hearing.

I've certainly had hearings where evidence wasn't available until the hearing (in fact, even the evidence/witness list wasn't available until the hearings), but that was because the hearings were on an extremely rushed schedule. I don't see that excuse here.

I really hope the hearing does take place, and that the video is not the focus of the hearing. I'm far more interested to see how the Judicial Council will face a situation where they have to go up against the rules they're supposed to follow, and wish the hearing would focus more on that then the video nonsense. But that's just my own personal desire, and probably doesn't reflect the interests of the parties of the case.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/30/2009 12:22:00 AM #
Comments (2)
. . .
Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm hearing that Michael Sinanian missed the evidence deadline and has not shown the defense the video yet. My guess would be the Judicial Council will be more inclined to push back the hearing than issue a default judgment or suppress the video.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/28/2009 05:33:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Judicial Council has rejected the motions to dismiss the recall case. The hearing is currently scheduled for 9pm on Monday.

The severance of parties motion was denied because Dina Omar contributed to the petition website, which makes her a circulator and hence a proponent. I don't find the argument compelling. (as far as I know, none of her statements were on the site until after the petitions were done circulating, so I don't see how she's a "person who circulates or attempts to circulate an Initiative Petition.")

The motion for default judgment (which should have been a motion to dismiss) because the case was wrongfully accepted was rejected because the Judicial Council already ruled on those issues when it accepted the case. They accepted the case after the deadline because the deadline was "non-restrictive" in the JRPs. Interestingly, this essentially means that there is no appeal process for the Judicial Council's acceptance of a case, unless they'll allow folks to challenge its acceptance in appealing the judgment.

The idiotically nonsensical estoppel argument was rejected because it was idiotically nonsensical.

The Judicial Council won't suppress the video because it "may be a substantial factor in helping the Council evaluate the intention behind the statements furnished by Ms. Dina Omar for the Voters' Guide."

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/25/2009 02:20:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm hearing that Meghana Dhar (Student Action) wants the Elections Council to change the number for Kortney McBride (CalSERVE), because it's 69. Haha, I guess. I don't think the Elections Council should take orders from current Senators when avoidable, and in this case, one would suspect that Dhar figures that McBride could get more votes on account of the number.

I'm sorry, but 69 is a legitimate number, and there's no "sex position" exception in mathematics. ("No, 74 - 5 doesn't equal anything. I don't know where you heard that it did.") Giving 69 such a special role is also very uncreative, and this is Berkeley.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/21/2009 12:24:00 AM #
Comments (9)
. . .

The stuff in this post is taken right from the excel file, so I don't know how it will translate to the ballot itself. For instance, DAAP is given its full name in the Senate list, but not in the executive spots, and UNITE and APPLE are labeled with Student Action, too. Will BCR be abbreviated on the ballot?

I have never heard of D.A.N.C.E., so I can't tell you anything about them.

Joshua Hug is back for another run-for-everything year. I don't like the idea of doing it more than once, but meh, whatever. I only hope that The Daily Cal doesn't chicken out again and not cover every executive candidate on his account.

UNITE Grssk and APPLE Engineering are one candidate smaller than usual, while Student action is two larger. They also seem to be labeled as Student Action. Is Student Action phasing its affiliate parties out, or is it just a coincidence?

The serious SQUELCH! candidates are Emily Carlton and Shivom Sinha, the candidates on the ends, as always.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/21/2009 12:10:00 AM #
Comments (13)
. . .
Friday, March 20, 2009

If some excel file I picked up off the ground is to believed, here is the 2009 ASUC election ballot for candidates.

31 - Ronald Cruz (DAAP)
32 - J "HJU" HUJ7 "G" HUG (Independent)
35 - BEV "GetMo with BevMo" ELITHORP (D.A.N.C.E.)

Academic Affairs Vice President
37 - J "HJU" HUJ7 "G" HUG (Independent)
40 - Talya Hezi (DAAP)

Executive Vice President
41 - James Lingo (DAAP)
45 - J "HJU" HUJ7 "G" HUG (Independent)

External Affairs Vice President
46 - J "HJU" HUJ7 "G" HUG (Independent)
48 - Issamar Almaraz (DAAP)
49 - Brett "Evil Overlord" Hallahan (SQUELCH!)

Student Advocate
51 - J "HJU" HUJ7 "G" HUG (Independent)
52 - Sarah "Frivolous Lawsuit" Jeong (SQUELCH!)
53 - Hassan "Endorsed by CS & SA" Khan (Independent)
54 - Marlysa Thomas (DAAP)


55 - Charles Dhong
56 - Farz "Fizzy" Hemmati
57 - Will "Lower Fees" Tong
58 - Chris "FRO" FRANCO
59 - Edward "Eddie" Samaniego
61 - Huda Adem
62 - Harry "Slumdog" Gill


65 - Rahul "hip hop" Patel
66 - Amani Jadallah
67 - Romina "Aromalicious" Keshishyan
68 - Alex "Grande" Ghenis
69 - Kortney "So Fly" McBride
70 - Carlo "Vote CalSERVE" De La Cruz
71 - Chaney "SAY WHAT?!" Saephan
73 - Tracy "hella fly" Nguyen
75 - Hector "The Squeeze" Gutierrez
76 - Cynthia "can't stop, won't stop" Nava
77 - Lyell "Vote CalSERVE" Sakaue
80 - Lean "on me" Deleon
83 - Eunice Kwon

Defend Affirmative Action Party (DAAP)
84 - Ronald Cruz
85 - Issamar Almaraz
86 - Christopher Ndubuizu
87 - Shika Das
88 - Gabriela Galicia
89 - Areg Grigorian
90 - Sharyn Hall
91 - Zaira Hernandez
92 - Joanne Luna
93 - Geoff "El Jefe" Lyle
94 - Jessica Madrigal
95 - Joanna Martinez
96 - April S. McGrath
97 - Gabriela Monico
98 - Alicia Olivarez
99 - Japhinma Power
100 - Melissa Rivas
101 - Andrew Sanchez
102 - Rachel Spiegel
103 - Gregory L. Williams

104 - BEV "GetMo with BevMo" ELITHORP
106 - Adam "For Us" Burstein
107 - Ray-Ray Hobbs

108 - Noah Stern
109 - Lisa Chan
110 - Christine Deakers
111 - Serge Sarkissian
112 - Simone Anne Lang
113 - J.P. Shami
114 - David Rocha III
115 - Nick Salem
116 - Arya Shirazi
117 - Parth Bhatt
118 - Charlie Huang
119 - Brian Lu
120 - Irene Jang
121 - Minji Kim

134 - Kyle "Conjoined" Moreland

136 - Sandra Cohen
137 - Matt Samuels
138 - Sam Lee

139 - Travis Lambirth
140 - NhuNhu Nguyen
141 - Anish AJ Gala

Cooperative Movement
142 - Xander Lenc
143 - Christina Oatfield

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/20/2009 11:46:00 PM #
Comments (2)
. . .
Thursday, March 19, 2009

I have Michael Sinanian's response to Nathan Shaffer's motions.

On severence of parties, he makes the argument that Dina Omar is not actually a defendant, since the case is against "Proponents of the Recall." This is pretty silly, since his charge sheet also identified Omar as one of the people who should be contacted as a defendant in the case. If his argument is that every proponent should be seen as a defendant, he has a much longer list of names he needs to add to his contact list.

He then argues that she's a proponent because she contributed to the website which was essentially the petition. This makes her a petition circulator, and thus a proponent. Both sides have interesting arguments on the question of whether or not Omar is a proponent, but I still think it isn't relevant to the question of whether she's a defendant in this case.

He also reprises my sorrow in the RSF fee increase case:
Ms. Omar could have just as easily filed the petition and launched the No2Hate website herself, but this did not occur. Instead, another party was brought in (Mr. Shaffer), to apparently act as a 'buffer' between Ms. Omar and the recall effort. It would seem apparent to any reasonable observer that the proponents of the recall were engaged in an effort to deliberately conceal the identity of the person who actually initiated the recall. There is a deliberate attempt to conceal the fact that the progenitors of the recall were not one or two people, or simply Mr. Shaffer and his colleagues from the UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law, or the individuals on the balcony on the evening of November 13, 2008 (hereinafter "the Incident"); rather, it was all of these parties acting in concert. It would be a dire mistake to assume there is somehow no "face" to the recall. There certainly is a face; there certainly is representation on the part of the proponents, and that is Mr. Shaffer along with Ms. Omar. Thankfully, the by-laws provide clear definitions unpacked above that expose said "face."
There are a lot of factual claims about who did what, some of which are implausible, some of which I know are not true. It nevertheless reminds me of when the ASUC couldn't hold the RSF responsible for its campaigning because they were working independently of the ASUC officials who proposed the fee on the RSF's say-so. It will be a bit frustrating if the Judicial Council decides that this time, this argument works.

On the idea that there is no evidence that Shaffer intentionally falsified information, Sinanian argues that Shaffer didn't show enough skepticism. It also includes the argument that the reason the petition text didn't include the fight was because Shaffer doubted the "integrity" of the accounts, which is one (and only one) possibility. It's hardly conclusive, as there are other explanations. The less specific the petition was, the more people could project their own greivances onto it, and it could succeed Obama-style. Only when they had to compete for votes did the fight need to become central.

Let's put two passages side-by-side:
The primary proponent of the recall (especially being a law student) should have approached the situation with a far greater degree of skepticism. The allegations made by the Palestinian students were quite serious, and given that the statements made by others at the event contradicted them, it would have prompted any reasonable person to rigorously examine and investigate the claims made. Based on the video evidence, not even the most haphazard investigation seems to have been conducted.


Additionally, the proponents' statement in the Voter's Guide was verified and unchallenged by the plaintiff (as Attorney General) because he was operating under the premise that Ms. Omar's statements were not falsified.
Well shit, Mr. Attorney General, shouldn't the seriousness of the accusations have prompted you to rigorously examine and investigate the claims made? I guess you didn't even make a haphazard investigation. Given that the plaintiff didn't have any more luck discovering "The Truth" than the defendant, it seems like it'll be tough for him to argue that Shaffer intentionally falsified things.

He then argues that, because the Judicial Council can issue the "corresponding sanction," it can issue the sanction he asks for. Why his request is what corresponds isn't really mentioned.

He also argues that, since the case was already accepted, challenging its acceptance is moot because the Judicial Council already ruled on those issues. This probably correct in practice, but I would think due process (and the right to appeal) should give the defendant an opportunity to argue against acceptance at some point, and there's no opportunity to do so before the charge sheet is accepted.

Sinanian kicks the nonsensical claim preclusion argument to the curb, not that he even had to try in order to do so.

On the suppression topic, Sinanian argues that the case is about the disparity between the Voters Guide statement and the original petition. I guess his argument is that the disparity is illegal (though what that has to do with this charge is unknown), but that the fight was the impetus for the petition and so the video is relevant. Given that falsifying the Voters Guide is a violation on its own, it's not clear why this disparity needs to be considered, though I suppose he may be trying to convince the Judicial Council that overstepping the By-Laws is warranted. In a way, he's still fighting the specificity case. I suppose the argument is that, since the recall was motivated by the fight, then Shaffer's claim that the Voters Guide statement was only meant to give people information, not tell them what happened, is incorrect. While we all know Shaffer put the accusation in because he wanted people to think it was true, I wonder if it can be proven.

Apparently, Moghtader is going to allow the defense to see the video, which eliminates that suppression argument, but doesn't want it released publicly.
He is taking such measures with the video evidence because he is under the strictest compulsion not to release the video from higher authorities such as his attorneys, who are trying to build libel cases using the video as the seminal piece of evidence.
In Soviet Russia, lawyer hires you! I guess I don't see legal advice from your lawyer as "the strictest compulsion."

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/19/2009 10:38:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In what has to be a record, the Judicial Council finished their IAC hearing in less than 30 minutes. Sinanian did his best to argue that IAC screwed up without arguing that they should be defunded. The IAC dude said she was acting on her own, and not as IAC.

There were four justices, which means they'd need three to support defunding for it to happen, and I'm pretty confident there won't be three votes for it.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/17/2009 09:14:00 PM #
Comments (4)
. . .

I got a copy of Judicial Council motions from Nathan Shaffer in the recall suit, and I'm impressed by the poor judgment they reflect.

First, the motions are filled with legal arguments from American court systems, few of which have any basis for why they might apply to the Judicial Council. Since the Judicial Council is going to be looking for excuses to give a victory to the plaintiff, pissing them off by asserting that he knows the law better than they do ("Hey, I'm a law student, you should totally defer to me") seems like a poor idea. Reading the JRPs might have helped, too, as he might not have gotten the motions for dismissal and default judgment exactly backwards. Very few of his motions, defined in the JRPs, actually refer to those definitions, as he seems to be applying the rules of an American court of law. Indeed, there is very little evidence that he got the memo that the ASUC Judicial Council is not a court of law, and the rules that his law school training prepared him for don't generally apply.

The first motion is a motion to sever Dina Omar from the suit, though he makes it without actually referring to the section of the JRPs that actually explains the reasons why severance can be granted. While this one may succeed, I can't imagine why it would be made. Just because she's severed from the suit doesn't mean Shaffer can't be held responsible for her actions if she was a proponent, and proving she wasn't a proponent can be done even if she's a defendant. There isn't much danger associated with being named a defendant in a suit, anyway. The only difference I can see is that if she is severed, then she can't refuse to be a witness by invoking her right against self-incrimination, which is beneficial to the plaintiff only.

The next motion is for a default judgment because the charge sheet fails to meet the requirements for accepting the case. This is defined very specifically as a motion to dismiss in the JRPs, so the title isn't a good start.

The first part of the motion argues that the factual allegations don't constitute a violation. As an example of the gratuitous use of irrelevant law, consider this passage:
The Plaintiff's charge sheet relies on a violation of Title IV, Article XII § 3.2 of the ASUC Bylaws. This provision states that it is a violation of the Bylaws to “intentionally” falsify information in the Voters' Guide for an ASUC Election. ASUC Bylaws, Title IV, Article XII § 3.2.

To establish liability for a violation of a rule, statute, or other code, there is often the requirement that a particular state of mind on the part of the violator be proven to exist. These mind states range from a low standard of strict liability, where the actor is liable regardless of their mindset, to purpose, where the actor's conscious object is a violation of the rule at issue. Intent is generally equated to purpose, or at the very least knowledge. Model Penal Code §§ 1.13(11)-(12), 2.02(2)(a) (available at http://tinyurl.com/d8cbl9). The knowledge standard requires the actor to know that the probable result of their actions is a violation of the rule.
That's a very long and involved argument, quoting authorities whose authority here is unclear, in order to say that "intentionally" means "intentionally." And, given that the ASUC By-Laws themselves have a definition of "intentional" (albeit a not-particularly-useful one), if I were a Judicial Council member, I would only read this as an attempt to impress or intimidate me. Since I doubt Shaffer has a lot of good will on the Judicial Council right now, I don't see this approach as being all that effective.

He then goes into length about how the charge sheet didn't prove intentionality. Fascinating, except I was under the impression that proving things is what hearings are for. Determining whether to accept the case typically takes the form of the Judicial Council considering what it would do, assuming every factual allegation is true. He has a sound argument for the hearing when it occurs, but at this point, making it is just tipping his hand.

The next parts of the motion for default judgment make more sense, arguing that Sinanian can't demand more censures than the By-Laws state, and that the suit was filed late. (Actually, they only make sense if read as a motion to dismiss. Read as a motion for default judgment, he's actually demanding a default judgment against the Judicial Council for accepting the case, whatever that means) The "late filing" argument demonstrates that Shaffer doesn't know the difference between the By-Laws and JRPs, which again isn't going to endear him to the Judicial Council.

He then makes motions to dismiss which don't resemble any motions to dismiss in the JRPs, but could be considered motions for default judgment. Apparently, since Sinanian didn't intervene in a previous suit about the specificity of the recall, he can't act now because of "the doctrine of claim preclusion," which has no basis in ASUC caselaw because the ASUC doesn't have caselaw. The argument here is that Moghtader should have shown the video in that suit, which makes even less sense than anything else in the motion set. The issue was that the petition, which doesn't mention the fight, isn't specific enough. Why would the video be relevant to that discussion? Apparently, it's because Sinanian said the accusations were too vague back then, and now they're too specific. But Moghtader actually argued in that hearing that the accusations were specific, they just didn't appear in the recall petition. The evidence he attempted to provide on this fact was suppressed as irrelevant.

There is a motion to suppress the video, which plays off Sinanian's own ignorance of what the term means when he asked for the video to be suppressed himself. The claim is the correct one that if the defense can't see the video, it can't be used as evidence. But it seems this would have to wait until after the deadline for providing evidence to the opposite party.

He also argues that the video doesn't prove the Voters Guide statement false (which makes no factual claims about the fight, under Shaffer's construction), and so it's irrelevant. The argument is plausible, but relies on facts that haven't been proven yet (that Omar wasn't acting in concert with Shaffer), and so it seems more appropriate for the hearing. In any case, I really doubt the Judicial Council would suppress the video as irrelevant after accepting the case which uses it as the entire basis.

If he succeeds in suppressing the video, he wants a summary judgment as there is no basis for the case. But again, this is bad judgment, because Sinanian can easily just use the Daily Cal description of the video once he knows the video will be suppressed. Having attempted to provide the video, he may be able to get around the hearsay objection. I don't necessarily think he should win that argument, but if the Judicial Council is looking for an excuse to give him a victory, he will.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/17/2009 07:36:00 PM #
Comments (10)
. . .

Whatever Judicial Council e-mail list I'm on, it's apparently not the one which announces when hearings are, as I'm hearing that the IAC e-mail hearing is tonight at 8:30. If anyone knows if the recall hearing has been scheduled, let us know.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/17/2009 07:31:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .

There are three interesting bills in the bill packet. One establishes a committee to discuss revenue/expense sharing between the ASUC and the GA. I suppose this means that the original bill proposed won't be adopted immediately.

Another orders that the President reserve her campus-wide e-mail in April for announcing elections. I'm not entirely sure the Senate has the authority to issue this order, though if Winston agrees, the point is moot. Then again, if she agreed, they probably wouldn't have needed to propose a bill for it. Does anyone want to make wild, baseless accusations about why this is being proposed as a bill?

Finally, Lyell Sakaue's bill banning chalking makes an appearance.
WHEREAS, chalking is an incredibly labor-intensive process which favors major-party candidates with significant campaign infrastructure, making it harder for small parties and independent candidates to compete;
I suppose that's one way to phrase it. Another is "WHEREAS, parties that have more support are more likely to win elections," which doesn't bother me all that much.

The new campaign violation is:
Using chalk, hairspray, any combination thereof, or any other material, to publicize any ASUC candidate or political party within the limits of the City of Berkeley on sidewalks or streets.
Heh. Hairspray. Are there any private streets or sidewalks in Berkeley? If so, chalk is banned there, too, which seems like an overreach, and if I were opposed to this, I would consider making a free speech case to the Judicial Council. At first glance, it would make more sense to prohibit chalking on sidewalks/streets without the permission of the owners.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/17/2009 02:31:00 PM #
Comments (4)
. . .

Well, I may as well give some endorsements now, since no one cares, least of all me. I think these are going to be some of the most backhanded endorsements I've ever given.

First, let's establish that I don't view ASUC office as a reward. (If anything, it's a punishment) So I don't really worry about who "deserves" it, and I won't endorse some folks to punish others for wrongdoing. While I won't hesitate to say that this year, I think Student Action was superior in a moral sense to CalSERVE, I also won't hesitate to ignore that opinion when choosing who to vote for. (e.g. if a presidential candidate tells you how much he opposes the nonsensical opinion resolutions about, say, foreign affairs, remember that he won't be in the Senate anymore, so it doesn't really matter unless he's willing to commit to vetoing such resolutions)

I'll also gloss over the fact that I almost always vote SQUELCH! first, because they can't actually win. Your votes for third parties in executive races are statements of opinion, while your choice between the two major party candidates can be an attempt to get a victor you prefer, which is how I intend to make my endorsements.

The basic idea is this: When you have a task to accomplish, you need a tool. When you have an opponent who needs to be stopped, you need an asshole. With that in mind...

For President and Executive Vice President, I'm going to endorse the CalSERVE candidates, Oscar Mairena and Kifah Shah. Since they'll be working closely with the administration as they attempt to impose hundreds of dollars in fees for Lower Sproul, I recommend the assholes who'll fight them, rather than the tools who'll get along with them.

For Academic Affairs Vice President and External Affairs Vice President, I'm recommending the Student Action folks, John Tran and Dani Haber. Since the people they talk to don't actually have to listen to students, accomplishing things in these offices requires tools who can network and get along, and no one does it better than Student Action.

I assume that the Student Advocate person is running unopposed, as always. Assuming SQUELCH! has purged its Tikvah component, they remain the best place to toss your Senate vote to challenge the absurdity of both major parties.

If everyone made decisions this way, we could skip the entire campaign season. I'm doing my part. Are you?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/17/2009 12:38:00 AM #
Comments (4)
. . .

No news so far about the recall-tossing attempt. (For that matter, I haven't even heard anything about IAC's situation. Another Judicial Council strategy suddenly occurs to me: Just sit on the case long enough for Moghtader to finish the session, and dismiss it as moot) Former Judicial Council Chair Mike Davis has interesting commentary in the comments thread below. I disagree with him, but I believe that reflects differences in our concepts of right and wrong, and I imagine Mike's view is closer to the mainstream.

As I noted before, CalSERVE bought the recall election when they pushed it, and The Daily Cal's revelation of that fact has established the narrative that the recall was a CalSERVE creation. This means that any fallout from the recall would fall solidly in their lap.

Well, now the recall has blown up in their face, since the basis has been "shown" to be a lie. I say "shown" because, even though few people have actually seen the video and it doesn't exactly exonerate Moghtader, the narrative has again been set. I haven't heard much from CalSERVE, so if they're trying to establish a counternarrative, they aren't having much luck doing so publicly.

The parallel narrative that Moghtader is really to blame for the recall, since he sat on the tape, doesn't really free CalSERVE from anything, it only makes folks feel less bad about voting to recall Moghtader. It may still work as a distraction, allowing the troops to line up on the same sides without really investigating their own affiliations, but I'm not sure how effective this approach is.

If you've got any ASUC folks on your friends list, as I do, then your Facebook feed has been swamped by the news that campaigns have kicked into gear. Are you going to (Senate Candidate)'s campaign kickoff party? I've never actually been to one of these. Can a person enjoy nonstop parties for a week if she wants to pretend she cares about different folks' campaigns?

I mention campaign parties because the real manipulative power comes from having absolute control of the message. When no one's around to call you on your bullshit, you can tell the people around you any fact, blame any problem on any opponent, or otherwise construct a worldview in a less-informed audience that has no choice but to believe you. It's how different people can argue with dramatically different stories as if they're completely obvious and common knowledge. The Summer of 2006 and its echoes throughout the following semester had this property, and it was always amusing to see someone shout the truth in one forum or another when you know they're full of shit because they weren't there and you were. But that confidence can only be built in the echo chambers of friends who don't call each other on their bullshit, seeking only the comfort of reaffirmation.

So strike a blow for truth: when someone of your own party says something untrue or completely unsupported, say so! Even if you get kicked out of the campaign party, there's probably another one a block away.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/17/2009 12:08:00 AM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Friday, March 13, 2009

The Daily Cal spreads plenty of blame around, and makes the interesting accusation that Moghtader withheld the video for the purpose of allowing the SJP folks to spread their libel in order to enable a lawsuit. It's a speculative accusation, though, and appears to be unfounded in anything but guesswork.

They publish a story where they ask last year's Attorney General, Alex Kozak, about it (he agrees with me that the Judicial Council has no authority to overturn the recall). Former Judicial Council Chair Bobby Gregg is a bit more realistic, recognizing that, strictly speaking, the Judicial Council can do whatever the hell it wants.

By the way, despite my strong belief that the Judicial Council would be vastly overstepping their bounds to overturn the recall based on Sinanian's charge sheet, I expect them to do so.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/13/2009 01:49:00 AM #
Comments (16)
. . .
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Teh lies

As I've said, while The Daily Cal description doesn't really prove that John Moghtader didn't hit anyone, it does portray the SJP folks as deeply dishonest. If The Daily Cal is to be believed, it seems that all their screaming about Moghtader attacking them actually was "some people attacked us. Moghtader was nearby." I want to remind folks that a description can be technically accurate but deliberately misleading, and to give it is no less dishonest than an outright lie.

I'm taking a look at the statements Sinanian claims are lies based on the video. Not having seen the video, it's difficult to assess his arguments. I suppose one could try to compare The Daily Cal's description if you believe them. I'll go through the statements as best I can.

Dalia Marina's Feb. 20 Op-Ed doesn't make many factual claims about what happened, aside from the fact that he entered Eshleman hall to confront her, which seems unchallenged by the video. Sinanian calls this piece blatantly and intentionally false, but does not explain how.

Dina Omar's Feb. 6 Op-Ed is more fact-filled, and thus more important for these purposes.
Immediately, two of the men attempted to push Dalia and I to get us away from the balcony railing, where we were holding the flags.
According to the description of the video, these two unnamed men were, of course, the two who weren't Moghtader, a fact which strikes me as relevant and probably worth mentioning.
Once Husam took out his phone, Weiner rammed him against the balcony rail. At that point, all three men were rushing to get to Husam and I was in the way. I got socked very hard in the back of my shoulder, and Moghtader pushed me.
The Daily Cal challenges this account as well, though they indicate that Moghtader pushing her could conceivable have happened.
After witnessing what happened to Dalia and I, and after being hit himself, Husam began to defend himself by swinging his arms.
The Daily Cal says the order is incorrect, and Zacharia was already fighting by the time Moghtader went over. I guess "what happened to Dalia and I" could refer to the attempt to get the flag, but the way she writes it strongly implies that it was in response to her getting punched/pushed.
It was shortly after this point that people inside the building opened the balcony doors, and the three attackers ran away.
Another statement clearly challenged by The Daily Cal, which indicated that Moghtader was the last to leave the balcony.

Omar also writes an open letter to Moghtader.
The issue is very simple: You hit me, you are a student senator who represents students like me, and after you hit me you lied about it and didn't even apologize.
The Op-Ed said Moghtader shoved her. Here she says he hit her. The Daily Cal says neither appeared on the video.
Immediately, you, Gabe Weiner and Yehuda De Sa attempted to push, shove and manhandle Dalia and me so as to get our bodies away from the railing on the balcony, where we were holding the flags.
Here, Moghtader is included in the "immediately" that only included two people in the op-ed, and again, The Daily Cal argues that he was not.

Other claims are similar to those in the op-ed.

A campaign flier states:
...he and two other males forced their way into Eshleman hall shouting anti-Arab slurs and battered 3 Palestinian students...
My main problem here is that there would have been no need to "force" their way into Eshleman hall, but I suppose you could argue that the point is that Moghtader wasn't battering the students.

Also included are a bunch of statements from the police report he says are false, which includes most of the same statements from Omar, though she came back to UCPD later to clarify that the person she claims punched her was Moghtader, as was the person who "who yelled 'I will kill/kick your Arab ass' as he was running out..." Again, The Daily Cal claims Moghtader was the last to leave the balcony.

Dalia Marina also came back the next day to clarify that Moghtader was the one running out and screaming. Zacharia came back two days later to say everyone was running out and screaming.

I should note that the claims above have nothing whatsoever to do with Sinanian's case, though that didn't stop him from including them. He seems to be pointing to these statements to assert that this is such a big deal that they should assign extra punishment to the one thing he is claiming was a violation on the part of the proponents: The Voters' Guide statement. This adds yet another By-Law to the list of By-Laws he's asking the Judicial Council to ignore, which is that campaigners can't be punished for violations that are not listed as violations in the By-Laws.

Finally, the all-important Voters' Guide statement has the special property that it makes no factual claims on its own, only repeating what other people have said (Omar and the UCPD). So even if Omar was lying, this means that Sinanian is going to have to prove that a proponent was lying in this context. Either the Primary Proponent who approved the Voters' Guide statement (Nathan Shaffer, I assume) would have to have known Omar was lying, or one could potentially argue that if Omar knew her statement was going to be used in the Voters' Guide, she was acting as a proponent. Given that the statement supposedly occurred the day after the attacks, it would be tough to prove she was giving it for the purpose of putting it into the Voters' Guide of a proposition that didn't exist yet.

I want to repeat the distinction between the rules and the right thing. My claims that Sinanian should not be bringing these charges and shouldn't win are independent of my feelings that the SJP folks are liars. Just because an injustice occurs doesn't mean that it would be just for the ASUC to do something about it, if doing so involved violating its own obligations.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/12/2009 01:37:00 PM #
Comments (6)
. . .

I've picked up a copy of the Constitutional amendment bill which is at least amended in committee and perhaps represents the result after last night's debate, which I understand lasted over 6 hours.

Some changes since the original:

The typo-correction amendment has been separated into two different typo correction amendments.

An additional amendment seeks to give more flexibility in terms of the location of polling places, though I believe it still requires them. So, as far as I can tell, we still won't be allowing the possibility of online voting, even in a recall.

The recall petition number has been changed to the maximum of 2000 or 25% of the previous year's voters.

The initiative/amendment petition number has been changed to 10% of the student body.

The total number of amendments appears to be 6, now.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/12/2009 11:58:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .

As I sort of expected but think is mistaken, the Judicial Council has accepted the case. But the charge sheet has some interesting aspects.

In it, Sinanian admits that the By-Laws permit a maximum of three censures for falsifying information in the Voters Guide, short of the five needed for disqualification. And then he comes up with an astonishing paragraph:
Therefore, to abide by the tedium of the censure system outlined in the "Punishment" section would be to award the aforementioned violations with a maximum of only three censures, which is not enough to disqualify the proposition. At this point, it must go without saying that disqualifying the proposition would be the most effective way that the Judicial Council may serve the greatest justice by addressing the serious ethical breaches, validating the ASUC's commitment to fairness, and providing an equitable remedy for such transgressions.
Tedium? We'd better not have the Judicial Council abide by the tedium of the By-Laws.

Essentially, his argument boils down to "This was so serious that the By-Laws that say you can't throw out the election should be ignored." The rhetoric is flowery to the point of inducing vomit, but lacks any real basis besides "this is big, dudes!" Here's the next paragraph, but keep one of those motion sickness bags nearby:
If that alone does not comfort the Judicial Council, then perhaps they may consider the following from Clause 5 of Title IV, Article XII, Section 10, which states, "In addition to the authority granted the Judicial Council herein, it shall have equitable power to assure that the punishment levied fits the violation found to occur so as to assure a fair and just result." While this may alone give the Judicial Council unequivocal discretion to disqualify the entire proposition, it is followed by another line which may seek to moderate said discretion that reads, "Such a punishment shall be limited to the issuance of censures to the offending party to a minimum of one to the maximum amount specified in Title IV, Article XII of the ASUC By-Laws for the respective act or acts committed." To this end, let the Judicial Council consider that the case of this petition is unique in that it does not feature the same sort of transgressions that these by-laws seek to punish. It does not feature candidates making minor breaches here and there. Rather, it features an entire campaign, an entire recall election, predicated on completely falsified information, on lies. A few censures would be the equivalent of a metaphorical band-aid over a wound too great to be covered and healed by such dainty stitchery. If the Judicial Council wishes to be a true surgeon of justice, they are best inclined to employ a much more effective procedure: one that disqualifies the entirety of the proposition by either one stroke of the pen or the issuance of the maximum number of censures needed to achieve the same effect (5).
A few other interesting aspects. The charge sheet claims that Moghtader is actually trying to bring student conduct charges against the SJP members.
The videotaped evidence is available upon request from Senator Moghtader for the viewing of the Judicial Council justices only. Senator Moghtader wishes the evidence to be suppressed so that no one outside the Judicial Council may see it without authorization.
I'm not sure that's what "suppressed" means. I would also be quite impressed if the Judicial Council actually agrees to prevent even the defendants from seeing the video used to make the case against them.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/12/2009 01:07:00 AM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The big news from the Senate so far: Both the university campus and the city are indicating a ZERO TOLERANCE policy towards chalking during the campaign season. My experience with zero tolerance policies is that they tend to be at least four or five tolerance in practice. I'm not sure this is actually any different than previous years.

In response, Lyell Sakaue proposed a bill to add to the agenda packet (illegally, if you ask me, but the Senate seems to be allowing anything) to ban chalking in the ASUC campaign rules. It does seem like the non-dick thing to do, though it won't take effect until next election. If the recess-arguing is any indication, Sakaue and Christina Oatfield like the idea, and Tara Raffi does not. I dunno whether this indicates how CalSERVE and Student Action feel more generally.

Speaking of campaign violations, the Attorney General takes the position that the reason he can file charges after the good faith filing deadline is the By-Law which reads:
Preliminary ballot tabulation shall commence within 24 hours following the good faith filing deadline for elections violations. This section does not prohibit the filing of new charges by the Election Council or Attorney General for Campaign Violations occurring after the commencement of ballot tabulation.
There are, however, other sections in the universe, so it's an odd basis for the claim. For instance, the Judicial Rules of Procedure say:
Election violation cases are considered filed in good faith if they are originally filed before 4 p.m. on the Tuesday following the close of polls.
There's no exception for the Attorney General, and it's not in "this section" as the By-Law states. Now, the Judicial Council has the authority to say that the case is in good faith anyway, but that authority applies no matter who files, even if it's not the Attorney General.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/11/2009 09:27:00 PM #
Comments (6)
. . .

The Daily Cal has seen the video. The description doesn't make it entirely clear what happened, or if he was involved. It does paint a different picture in attitude, however, of the image that Moghtader rushed up there and started hitting folks.

By the way, who is giving Moghtader legal advice? There's no real reason given not to release the tape. And holding onto it this long means he actually contributed to any damage he suffered by not refuting charges that he could have refuted.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/11/2009 05:56:00 PM #
Comments (5)
. . .

There's what may be a big deal surrounding a video. The Daily Cal reports that Michael Sinanian is charging that a video exists exonerating John Moghtader of what he was accused of. I was familiar with the existence of such a video, but I have not seen it, and probably won't. You can see a more detailed description of the video on the news blog.

First, let me say that my stance on this hasn't changed: Not having seen the video, I'm not going to believe what anyone says about it. The details of the fight are still, as far as I'm concerned, unknown. This doesn't mean Sinanian is lying, it just means I have no basis for believing him, so I'm withholding judgment.

If Sinanian is correct, and the video clearly shows that Moghtader did not fight anyone, then the SJP conspiracy is blown. Dina Omar, Dalia Marina, and Husam Zakharia are liars in an extremely pathetic way, as are all witnesses who confirmed the story. Every person who believed them is also somewhat responsible and should probably feel some shame.

But even with the deep moral implications, I don't see the legal case Sinanian is bringing. Yes, folks who wrote false accusations are probably guilty of defamation, and the damage done to Moghtader's reputation is quite tangible. But that's an issue for real court. What authority is Sinanian saying the Judicial Council has?

John sat on this until after the end of the good faith filing period. As I noted before, the Attorney General has never been found to have any greater ability to file charges after the good faith filing period than anyone else. If the charge is a campaign violation, one that Moghtader knew of well before the election, I believe the Judicial Council has to rule that the charge is in bad faith, even if Sinanian is the one technically filing the charge sheet.

In any case, falsifying information in the voters' guide is not normally a disqualifying offense. To count it as five censures, the Judicial Council would have to exercise its discretion in a way it is strongly discouraged from doing in the By-Laws.

(Update: After looking over the By-Laws, I don't think the Judicial Council has this discretion. The violation is punishable by "a maximum of two to three censures")

I haven't seen the charge sheet, so I don't know what else the charge includes. Saying that voters' believed the wrong thing when they voted doesn't strike me as something the Judicial Council can do to overturn the election.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/11/2009 11:50:00 AM #
Comments (6)
. . .
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Well, I saw the first of the Student Action campaign fliers today, claiming that Student Action will take away your emotional autonomy (or "will not allow you to feel unsafe" or some such mind control). Yay.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/10/2009 05:19:00 PM #
Comments (6)
. . .

About those amendments.

I don't know the current form of the bill, and we won't find out until at least next week, since the Senate refuses to do the Senate summaries they require themselves to do, not to mention its failure to include committee reports in the agenda packet. (Shocker. Is it really too much to ask that the Senate announce the bills it passes and what they say?)

The original version I saw had four different amendments, and I think I heard that there were five, now. One corrects (sigh) typos in the ASUC Constitution. Another rephrases "specific statement of the reasons" to "statement of specific reasons" for recall petitions. Despite what The Daily Cal article says, I believe this is a separate amendment.

The two more substantial ones I saw change the petition requirements (currently 1000 students) to percentages. To recall an officer would require 35% of the number of students who voted in the previous year's election. I've heard that some people made the strange claim that the bar for recalling Senators should somehow be lower than the bar for recalling executives. This reflects a very odd way of looking at representation.

To review, executives represent the entire student body. They don't compete with each other, and the winner of the election gets the single office. Recalling such a person should be as simple as the student body saying they want a better representative for the entire student body.

Senators, on the other hand, are elected in a proportional representation system, which means they typically represent the will of a small minority of voters (~5%). For the majority of campus to deny a minority of voters the voice they rightfully deserve should be a much more severe undertaking than to replace a representative of the entire student body.

The last amendment requires 25% of the student body to sign a petition to put an initiative or Constitutional amendment on the ballot. This is largely irrelevant, since no one attempts initiatives, nor does anyone try to get Constitutional amendments through the petition process, since the Senate can do it far easier, and they typically refuse to exercise their discretion to shoot down bad referenda or amendments.

I don't know what these amendments currently look like, or if there are any other ones.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/10/2009 03:01:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .

Hurm indeed. I suppose the most interesting part of this op-ed is:
After the attack, several men who were not students rushed onto the second floor and began to yell anti-Arab slurs.
Which, I suppose, means the ones shouting the slurs didn't include John Moghtader. This is interesting, and a bit at odds with Dina Omar's voter guide claim:
"I am one of the three Palestinian students assaulted by John Moghtader.... two females [were] hit, shoved, and manhandled by three men. I have bruises that I did not feel at the time but have shown on my skin and I also cannot walk on my right foot.... the mob of men who assaulted us yelled 'I will kick your Arab ass,' and 'Arab pigs.'"
It's also at odds with a lot of other claims. Take Isaac Miller:
UCPD recommended that you, along with Gabe Weiner, be charged with a hate crime for the battery of two women and one man, while using racial slurs.
The police report seems to take a similar view. Wasn't Winston one of the witnesses they talked to?

By the way, Miller joins in the idiots' parade of nonsensical recommendations:
I completely agree that its stupid to spend $25,000 on a recall election, but that is the system that is currently in place. Don't like it? You had the opportunity to change it. You are a senator after all.
I said much the same thing, but the later statement:
Maybe you could have used that bill to amend the by-laws to make recall elections on-line only, an approach that is entirely feasible and fair given that we are firmly in the 21st century, where college students live large portions of our lives online, and which would erase virtually the entire cost of holding the election


...you could have changed the by-laws to eliminate the cost of the election.
suggests that Miller is yet another ignorant CalSERVEr, and actually wanted Moghtader to eliminate the cost of this recall election by moving it entirely online. This is well outside of his power as a Senator, as polling places are required in the Constitution, which Moghtader can't change without a Constitutional amendment (one which, I should note, no one suggested this year, despite all the bitching and moaning).

But back to Winston's op-ed.
However, I do want to apologize for making the mistake of not being upfront about my personal beliefs on the recall. As your ASUC President, I understand that I should be held to a higher standard of transparency, and I take this responsibility very seriously. That's why we've taken steps this year to increase transparency in the ASUC, such as holding community forums, working to make the grants process online and webcasting Senate meetings. Also, executive office budgets are now available on the ASUC website.
Way to desperately try to change the subject. The rest of the piece is about "transparency," which is in quotes because she apparently thinks webcasting Senate meetings without audio adds transparency. Her "Apolog-Look Over There!" is pretty much an admission she fucked up, as she doesn't provide a defense and wants you thinking about something else.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/10/2009 02:58:00 AM #
Comments (11)
. . .
Sunday, March 08, 2009
The Secret Truth: Revealed!

If you want to get overly literal, I suppose you can't really reveal secret truths. You can reveal truths that used to be secret, but by the time anyone sees your revelation, it isn't a secret anymore.

With that caveat, I found out the true origin of THOSE E-MAILS!!!! You know the ones I mean. The ones that showed, without a doubt, that CalSERVE wanted John Moghtader recalled. That was more of a "The Obvious Truth: Now with the Proof Everyone Knew Existed!" moment than any kind of secret truth revelation, but it sparked a second controversy which did include an unrevealed secret truth (again, redundant, I know). How did The Daily Cal get THOSE E-MAILS!!!!?

But after careful investigation using my spiderweb network of informants, I am now in a position to reveal to you the origin and journey of THOSE E-MAILS!!!! To understand the story, we must first talk about background.

A little over two decades ago, a boy was born in Palestine. To protect his family, I've assigned him a common Palestinian name: Frank. As folks know, Palestinian children are taught from a very young age about the evils of Israel, using child-targeted characters like Farfour the Mouse, Nahoul the Bee, and Joe the Camel. But Frank was never one of the cool kids. While his friends were off blowing themselves up to fight the occupation, he stayed home with his good buddy (let's call him Sean), who always played with his teddy bear.

One day, however, when Sean was out playing as usual with Frank nearby, the Israelis launched a helicopter raid to kill Sean, and the pilot took him out with a child-seeking Hellfire missile. The image was burned into Frank's mind, and was eventually used in fliers advertising SJP's Israeli Apartheid Week here at Cal.

(While not crucial to the story, it's worth noting that the Israeli pilot who decided that killing a single child would require an enormously expensive missile rather than using the much cheaper cannon was never disciplined, as American support renders the military resources of Israel effectively infinite)

But how did Frank's image become tied to SJP? In the April of 1999, the Learned Elders of Zion held a secret conference with the Leader of All Palestine, Allah. They came to an agreement that, while the conflict would appear to continue on the surface, the true fate of Israel and Palestine would be determined by a game of skill, as there was no other way to bring a convincing peace to the region. The original plan was to have the situation resolved by a soccer match, but Allah rejected this as unfair, as Israeli soccer players have superhuman abilities, achieved through years of drinking the blood of children. Instead, it was decreed:
In ten years time, in the city of Berkeley, the fate of Israel and Palestine shall be determined by a resolution passed by the Associated Students of the University of California. This resolution will be binding on all the peoples of Israel and Palestine.
Palestine quickly dispatched teams of activists to Cal, while Israel began using its magical Jewish powers to manipulate world events and their press coverage. The Jewish Lobby convinced the United States to fake a massive terrorist attack on September 11 in the hopes that Berkeley students would unite to face a common enemy, but the Palestinians had already infiltrated all levels of Cal's student body, which was condemning America before the day was out, to thunderous applause.

SJP rocketed to prominence, their fame eventually culminating in the 2002 Wheeler occupation. The aftermath lasted months. At the behest of the Jewish Lobby, the university bungled the disciplinary hearings, leaving SJP with no martyrs and a reputation for being assholes who don't care about anyone else. A third of the way to the deadline, the Palestinians had to regroup so that, when it mattered, they could count on the campus's support. Though they had control of the CalSERVE party, they made little progress until 2006, when Frank came from Palestine to take over the Cal operation.

Frank changed his name to Yaman Salahi to provide cover, and quickly took control of all elements of everything related to SJP and CalSERVE. He ordered a risky gambit which payed off: CalSERVE suicide bombed themselves into barely showing up for elections, making Student Action so overconfident they overstepped and attempted to pay themselves their legal fees after suing the ASUC, with the tacit agreement of Israeli agents posing as lawyers.

This misstep led to a dramatic resurgence of CalSERVE, and Israel scrambled to take more direct countermeasures by creating the public relations front, Tikvah. The deadline was approaching, and after the failure of Gabe Weiner's test bill, they were getting desperate. He quickly sought out a Judicial Council opinion that the resolution held until the veto, which seemed nonsensical at the time. In context, though, it meant that the resolution could be binding without the ASUC president's approval, obviating the need to win that position.

This brings us to the current Senatorial landscape. Student Action, BCR, and SQUELCH!, solidly in the hands of the Jewish Lobby, could be counted on for their votes. Ten votes was all they needed, as the Mossad had a plan to distract Christina Oatfield with an organically grown Caterpillar bulldozer on her way to the Senate meeting. Needing a break, Salahi ordered a last-ditch effort to disrupt the mind-control rays being emitted by a Jewish band brought to campus by Tikvah. The SJP agents succeeded as planned, using the spiritual power imbued in the Palestinian flag to warp the mind-control rays, driving John Moghtader and two others into a rage, which compelled them to rush to and destroy the Palestinian flag. The perfectly-laid trap gave SJP the excuse they needed to push the recall they'd planned for months, tilting the balance of power in the Senate. Without Moghtader in the Senate, the Jewish control over Student Action could be broken, giving CalSERVE free reign to force whatever resolution they want.

(For those of you curious about the method, CalSERVE keeps a crazy lady in a stable somewhere, and her handler, Claudia Rodriguez, occasionally brings her out to Senate meetings to ramble nonsensically. Since the Jewish Lobby never actually told Student Action their real motives, they won't recognize the significance of the resolution and will give in just so they don't have to deal with the crazy lady CalSERVE will threaten them with)

With the imminent success of the recall looming, Israel had no choice but to come up with something, and fast. THOSE E-MAILS!!!! were not leaked to The Daily Cal by a CalSERVE member. They turned up when the Mossad hacked into the accounts of all CalSERVE-affiliated individuals, which then ordered The Daily Cal, controlled by the Jews as all newspapers are, to try to make a scandal out of them.

At first glance, it's not clear how they intend to turn this scandal into victory. Do they hope that it will solidify Student Action's resolve to the point where they'll face down the CalSERVE crazy lady? Will they expect CalSERVE to get so distracted by the scandal they forget to carry out the Palestinians' will? Is there some other nefarious plot that no one can predict? The real truth may forever be shrouded in darkness.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/08/2009 12:40:00 PM #
Comments (13)
. . .
Saturday, March 07, 2009

There's a survey for Lower Sproul out there. The questions are clearly designed to elicit a "Yay Lower Sproul spending" response, and discount those who don't want to see it. The all-important fee increase question, for instance, reads:
Would you consider raising the existing MLK fee (now $6 per semester) for a Sproul Student Center that met your needs, and that would include funding from the university and donor support?
If you just arbitrarily talk about raising a $6 fee, what amount do you think it will be raised to? 9$? $12? Tripled to $18?

In reality, the proposal is $100-$200. There's no way anyone not on top of this story will recognize that the question is asking whether you want to raise that fee to triple digits.

My favorite question, though, is:
Did you vote in the last ASUC elections?
Translation: Should we care what you have to say?

One question asks what you want to see added to Lower Sproul, and people are required to list at least something, regardless of whether or not they want to see any kind of Lower Sproul redevelopment. I imagine these answers will be used to say "People want these things!" even if the survey takers made it clear that they didn't.

So take the survey, and instead of being honest, make sure you give the answers that you think are most likely to get the results you want. Keep in mind the surveyors are dead-set on this project and really want to raise your fees for it. If you aren't happy about that, do your best to make the survey less useful to them.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/07/2009 01:35:00 AM #
Comments (7)
. . .
Friday, March 06, 2009
More stuff!

Unfortunately, I haven't been paying enough attention, so I haven't pointed folks to The Daily Cal's news blog, where you can find out more detailed information about things. For the ASUC folks, for instance, you can read more about those e-mails, some Constitutional amendments, and a wet T-shirt fight (not really).

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/06/2009 05:41:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .

The Daily Cal takes the surprising view that:
Women should not have to stop wearing skirts because of this criminal, but this ideal cannot come at the cost of safety. Until the predator is caught, women should avoid wearing skirts when walking on the Southside at night.
I'm glad they recognize that "should" statements aren't really solutions. But really, it's not wearing the skirts that's the big deal. It's the fact that this dude has managed (probably more than) 20 attacks without receiving a serious enough response from any of his targets to stop him. I don't mean to sound survivalist or anything, but at a certain point, you have to walk away from the idea that relying solely on authority figures to protect you actually does so and take matters into your own hands. How many roaming vigilante groups were formed at this skirt rally? How many people signed up to learn how to deliver a well-deserved beat-down? Asking other people to do things is not a solution, it's just hope.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/06/2009 02:38:00 AM #
Comments (1)
. . .
It's important!

The Daily Cal continues to push the view that this story is huge, though I would argue their editorial hardly makes a strong case.
Still worse, in a "heinous" move, the senators pressured the ASUC attorney general multiple times to help set an earlier election date.
Heinous is in quotes, which means someone said it, and is being quoted. A little help?
Winston insists that she sent the e-mails from her personal account, as did Shah. In terms of the bylaws, this technicality may give them a free pass from punishment. But in the real world of right and wrong, this technicality means nothing.
Really? Nothing? They weren't using ASUC authority, and had opinions. If they weren't the types of folks who had opinions about things going on on campus, they wouldn't have ran for Senate in the first place. Elected officials have never been shy about expressing their opinions or attempting to organize action, nor should they be.
The officials' disingenuous manner exacerbates the extent of their wrongdoing; they put on a public facade of neutrality, yet were coordinating the recall behind closed doors. We hope the Judicial Council reprimands them, but regardless, students should hold them accountable when election time comes around.
I suppose you could hope that the Judicial Council reprimands them, but since they did nothing illegal, I dunno what one could possibly hope for.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/06/2009 02:32:00 AM #
Comments (2)
. . .
Oh, lordy

Geez. Don't listen to this guy, he really has no idea what he's talking about:
The good-faith filing deadline to enter Judicial Council suits regarding elections violations has already passed. As a result, only Michael Sinanian, ASUC attorney general, may file suits alleging election bylaw violations.
Sinanian is no more capable of filing those suits than anyone else. Those of you who remember the summer of 2006 know full well that this isn't the slightest bit accurate. Everyone has the same ability to file suits now, and the Attorney General has no special power to do so. If folks violate elections By-Laws after the good faith filing deadline, their opposition is not required to get the Attorney General to approve their suits. Doing so would be a pretty clear violation of the rights of the student body.
"I'm planning on filing a few cases of my own in the next few days," he said. "If John Moghtader is looking to overturn this ruling, he will have to do so outside the ASUC at a higher court."
Yes, tell the Judicial Council what their authority is. They don't have any obligation to listen to you, but if you tell them what they can and can't do, I'm sure your suits will go well.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/06/2009 02:22:00 AM #
Comments (3)
. . .
Judicial Council stuff

The Judicial Council accepted the settlement for the JSU case, which means no real punishment for them. They rejected a charge sheet filed by Moghtader that the proponents falsified information on the voters' guide, because it was late.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/06/2009 02:10:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Thursday, March 05, 2009

Community activists united in their search for justice for the murder of Oscar Grant by an increasingly authoritarian police force less effective than stray opossum.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 06:48:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .

This is a very funny webpage, if you're me. I tend to find things funnier than anyone else does, though.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 06:36:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .

On the far-more-interesting story, it was pointed out to me that some important questions are:

Who provided the e-mails to The Daily Cal?

Who provided the e-mails to the answer to the first question?

They aren't necessarily the same person. I suppose we would speculate that a Student Action person informed The Daily Cal but someone would have had to leak the e-mails to that person. Baseless speculation: Go!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 04:01:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Take that, distraction

The long-since-uninteresting story of the recall comes to a close:

Yes: 2689 (72.48%)
No: 1021 (26.52%)
Abstain: 76

Yes, 76 people showed up to vote, only to determine they had no opinion on the only question on the ballot. The Elections Council decided that abstentions wouldn't count, but it wouldn't have mattered either way. I also hear that the number of AirBears votes was something like 170, which wouldn't swing the election.

The technical guy, "Calvin," created a program to display the counting process so it would be more interesting. It seemed sort of extraneous to me.

Anyway, the recall succeeds under these results. It's not clear when the Judicial Council plans on certifying them, which I think would have to happen before John Moghtader is actually removed from office.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 03:56:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Should you care?

So, what does it mean?

To a much greater extent than before, CalSERVE now "owns" the recall election. Those who thought the recall election was a waste of money can blame it on CalSERVE. Those who thought it was vital to the peace of campus or whatever can give credit to CalSERVE, though those folks probably aren't learning anything.

The results for the recall are supposed to come out today, and if it fails, CalSERVE is probably going to suffer even more. ("You spent all that money and didn't even accomplish anything?")

CalSERVE now has a reason to hate The Daily Cal. Not that they didn't before, of course, but traditionally, The Daily Cal has been seen as hostile towards Student Action, which may change this year. Is it CalSERVE's turn to boycott the Daily Cal forum?

Kifah Shah's view that Student Action would throw Moghtader to the wolves since they'd get a replacement from their party may cause some SAers to stiffen up and take the election a bit more personally. There are also excellent opportunities for bullshit psychoanalysis of her e-mail to draw conclusions about the CalSERVE mentality.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 03:10:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .

The election website says:
Voting Tabulation for the Recall Election will take place on Thursday March 5th at 3pm in the Senate Chambers.
There's a possibility that I'll be there, which means I won't be reporting it until later. I expect a lot of cursing on Facebook, so just find out which set of friends is cursing, and they're probably the losers.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 03:05:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Opinions differ!

"Events Reflect Varied Views on Middle East." Thanks for that. Did opinions differ? How about viewpoints?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 02:30:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Oh, ouch

I bitch a lot about how The Daily Cal sucks because it isn't willing to investigate or challenge people, so I now owe Zach Williams a drink for this story. (He knows how to reach me. I also just realized The Daily Cal has two different Zach Williamses writing for it at the moment.) It's the kind of thing we need to see more of from The Daily Cal.

The story doesn't say anything people are going to find surprising. CalSERVE promoted the recall. That's not really news. But publishing the sausage-making is something that isn't done very often. We normally hear the view of officials on their own terms, prepared for public consumption. Seeing the behind-the-scenes e-mails has a significant emotional impact on people, even if they intellectually knew they were being sent.

The piece connects the obvious views of CalSERVE with their public statements of neutrality. It creates a sense of deception. It makes people ask "Why didn't Roxanne Winston come out and say her position on this? Was she ashamed? Was she afraid? Was she hiding something?"
"I wanted to put you all in contact with each other to ensure that the process is moving along," Winston wrote, referencing the recall, in a Nov. 17 e-mail sent to senators and a Students for Justice in Palestine official. "I will lend my support as best I can."
That's not going to be too disturbing to anyone who was paying attention, but it sounds weird combined with her statement:
Winston was also reluctant to take sides publicly, telling the Daily Cal she would refrain from commenting on the recall except on its general implications for the senate.

"I think it could cause division," she said on Dec. 3. "But I think what's most important is that students have a say in who represents them."
Here I'm going to point out again that using the recall process subverts proportional representation, so I don't even buy her fluffy rhetoric. But more generally, her suggestion that she has the power to cause division, but chose not to, is going to sound ridiculous when placed next to her support for the recall election, which was one of the most divisive things we've seen on campus for a while. (Not between proponents and opponents so much as between regular students and officialdom)
CalSERVE Senator Kifah Shah suggested reaching out to Student Action senators to support the recall in an e-mail sent to CalSERVE officials and independent senator Saira Hussain on Dec. 4.

"We could tell SA (Student Action) senators how this really has nothing to do about party politics, but accountability and prove it by how an SA senator would take a seat if the election succeeded," Shah wrote. "SA is not that closely attached to John, probably think of him as dispensable."
This is the sausage-making e-mail that is jarring, despite it being totally consistent with what we already know. I'm not even sure I can explain what makes it so jarring (I write e-mails like this all the time) except that it doesn't sound like something an elected official should be saying.
ASUC Attorney General Michael Sinanian said CalSERVE officials including Shah and Senator Mary June Flores had approached him shortly after Shah's e-mail, pressuring him to expedite the process so that the recall could be held during the fall semester.

"They would repeatedly mention to me 'why can't this be done sooner,'" Sinanian said. "For them to want a recall at the end of the fall-during finals-was completely heinous, and in addition it more than implicates them if there is a question whether they supported the recall or not."
As usual, I have no idea what Sinanian is trying to say. How shortly after the Nov. 17 e-mail could they have approached him? He had no process to expedite until he saw the petition Dec. 3, and by the end of that day's Senate meeting, it was clear that the election couldn't be set until Dec. 10. The only part of the process of setting the election date he had any control over was determining when the petition was presented to the Senate in order to define when the "next" meeting would be. That's not an issue of practicality, it's a question of interpretation.

Anyway, I'm hoping to see some interesting fallout from this story, even in the absence of anything particularly new.

Update: A quick look at Facebook suggests that some Student Action senators are pointing to this story without comment. I would assume that means they think there's something here that will appeal to their people, and will advance the Student Action campaign.

I should reremind folks that, as far as I can tell, the article doesn't expose any wrongdoing on the part of CalSERVE folks. But someone reading it could really come away with that impression. In fact, if people continually point to it as if there's something important revealed, it will come to be seen as revealing something important.

To elaborate a bit on my journalism views, I think the article was unfair to CalSERVE. It implies a negativity to things, and doesn't provide any opportunity for CalSERVE to defend/justify itself. So I think the writing was somewhat problematic. Nevertheless, it indicates a willingness to threaten the comfort zone of ASUC Senators publicly, and I hope that in moving forward, The Daily Cal improves its writing rather than making the easy choice and turning away from this kind of journalism in response to hostility.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/05/2009 01:51:00 AM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Good work, guys

According to the bill packet I just saw, there will be no propositions on the ballot for this year. That means none of those critical constitutional changes, which everyone has been bitching about due to the recall, will actually happen.

The good news: No fee increases. Although now that I've mentioned it, they may scramble to write some up to add to the list without telling anyone. Or, I suppose, they can just postpone the deadline like they did two years ago.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/03/2009 02:08:00 PM #
Comments (7)
. . .
Service Disruption Challenge

Some folks are planning to disrupt BART service to protest shooting people in BART stations. I don't understand the logic, but I never do, so that's no surprise.

In any case, the question is whether they'll succeed as well as wayward opossums. If not, they may as well commit ritual suicide.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/03/2009 01:28:00 PM #
Comments (1)
. . .
Monday, March 02, 2009
Oh hey, that guy

The Daily Cal decides to take a look at that other guy.

It looks like the Elections Council is going ahead with their meaningless delay to Thursday, which has the potential consequence of giving Moghtader an extra week in the Senate even if he is recalled. It's almost certainly against the By-Laws, which call for tabulation to commence by Wednesday at 4 pm. Even if they want to treat figuring out how many votes were from AirBears as part of the tabulation process, it has to be open to observers from both sides of the recall. Then again, the openness requirement has been completely ignored for so long, I doubt anyone even bothered to consider it.

There's still no good reason to hang on to the results. The preliminary results are called "preliminary" for a reason. They don't have to be right. And there's no way the Judicial Council will approve throwing out the AirBears votes, so the quest to figure out how many were cast is pointless. If someone wants to challenge the results, let them do the hard work.

If the Judicial Council waits a week before certifying the results, as they typically do, that means that Moghtader would have at least two more Senate meetings regardless of the vote. I don't think that's a written rule, however, and they may act faster.

On a totally unrelated topic, while I don't expect enough abstentions for it to matter, the phrasing of the rule in the Constitution may be read to mean that the recall would need 2/3 of the vote including abstentions, rather than just the yes/no votes.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/02/2009 11:23:00 PM #
Comments (0)
. . .
Sunday, March 01, 2009

By the way, so far, we've had no coverage of the biggest ASUC story of the year (yes, bigger than the Moghtader story) in The Daily Cal. To a certain extent, this is good, because knowing The Daily Cal, they'd report is as if it's some uncontroversial fairness issue, where every person they ask has the same position in favor of it. An editorial will come out insisting that "for too long the GA has been excluded from commercial revenues" or some such.

When you look at it in a vacuum, you may come to the conclusion that the GA should share in revenue/expenses. But you should also come to the conclusion they should do that sharing regardless of whether or not there's money to be had. And when you look at things more broadly, it boils down to this:

The GA wants to be a partner to the ASUC only when the GA can gain money from it, and there's one exception: On student fees (a revenue), they want to be a maximal partner regardless.

Unless you think graduate students have some mystical power to boost revenue from ASUC commercial properties that they've been holding back all these years, waiting for a commercial revenue sharing agreement that almost no graduate students will hear about in an ASUC that almost every graduate student knows absolutely nothing of, this is a simple handover of money from elected undergraduate representatives to unelected graduate students, even though grad students already have double voting rights (or would, if the GA held actual elections). I hope the exotic foods they brag about bringing to their meetings on our dime ("free," they say) are good enough to justify it.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/01/2009 03:24:00 AM #
Comments (0)
. . .

. . .