The Associated Students conducted official government turnovers at last night’s Legislative Council meeting, swearing in representatives for the five executive offices and 24 council positions amidst multiple resignations and charges against current representatives of supplying alcohol to minors.
Matters Related to Turnover of Elected A.S. Representatives
Six unelected representatives were sworn in to the 2011-2012 Associated Students Legislative Council at last night’s meeting to replace four newly elected representatives involved in an ongoing judicial council case in addition to two representative-elects who have officially resigned.
After pleading no contest to charges of grand theft, unauthorized alteration of a computer data system, felony burglary and receiving stolen property at his preliminary hearing yesterday, Representative-at-Large-elect Joe Lee formally stepped down from his position, citing “idiotic political pressure … roaming around A.S.” Lee, who was replaced by Democratic Process Party representative-at-large Sophia Armen, went on to accuse an unnamed fellow council member of extortion during the meeting’s public forum. Lee is scheduled to appear in court for his next hearing on June 22.
In addition, Open People’s Party On-Campus Representative-elect Pancho Occiano chose to defer his position on next year’s council to D.P.P. On-Campus Representative Christian Hernandez.
Four elected O.P.P. members — Representatives-at-Large Kelly Gandee and Chelsea Parrott and Off-Campus Representatives Lauren Begleiter and Alexa Cover — were charged with supplying alcohol to minors during Spring Elections by A.S. Elections Committee on May 6 and face either disqualification or forced resignation pending Judicial Council’s approval of the case. The four were replaced by D.P.P. Off-Campus Representatives Xenia Mendez and Marlene Moreno and D.P.P. Representatives-at-Large Danielle Stevens and Danielle Bermudez.
Four additional council members — O.P.P. Off-Campus Representatives Danielle Foster, Reena Fram and Drey Liautaud and O.P.P. Representative-at-Large Nathan Walter — were charged with the same infraction but given the option to either resign or serve their terms without receiving honoraria. All four were sworn in last night and plan to remain on the council. Former Legislative Council members Yeni Nguyen and Kellie Hartl were also implicated in the case but may not fall under the purview of Elections Committee as they are no longer student government representatives. O.P.P. Executive Board members President Harrison Weber, Internal Vice President Chloe Stryker, External Vice President of Local Affairs Tim Benson and External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Ahmed Mostafa were also charged and given the option to either resign or serve as planned and complete 45 hours of A.S.-related community service each during the 2011-2012 academic year. All four plan to remain in their newly appointed positions.
Judicial Council is slated to inform the individuals today of its decision to either approve Elections Committee’s recommendations or hear an appeal drafted by the Executive board members on behalf of all 14 implicated students.
According to Benson, Elections Committee — which holds closed meetings only — reached their decision in a manner not consistent with A.S. Legal Code.
“We’re definitely taking [the case] to Judicial Council because we feel that, based on the Legal Code and based on the rules that are in place for the elections committee, they followed them improperly and we were unjustly given pretty harsh punishments,” Benson said. “They never gave me any due process in any of this. I felt that it wasn’t really fair that I was given no chance to explain myself, no chance to explain any of my involvement in what was going on and I was given quite a hefty slap on the wrist.”
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In their final meeting, the 2010-2011 council approved a reallocation of $700 for a planned UC Haiti Initiative and set aside $55,000 — comprised of funding from the budgets of various BCCs — to fund the A.S. Annex, an Isla Vista community center that provide offices for A.S. entities, in the next fiscal year.
Former Off-Campus Representative Joe Lewis said while he supported the allocation, he is concerned the center’s location is not accessible to students in the community.
“I think this is a great bill but I drove by and checked out the building, and it seems a bit hidden,” Lewis said. “I’d eventually like to have a sign or notice on that street to attract some attention since I don’t think it’ll get a lot of foot traffic on its own.”
Former Internal Vice President Jake Elwood said the resolution provides that there will be such signs in the surrounding area of the center.
The council reallocated $200 instead of an originally requested $467 for Black Graduation to print graduation programs. Lewis said the funding did not seem necessary as it would benefit only a select number of students.
“I just don’t feel it represents the entire student body as student funds should,” Lewis said. “I feel it’s exclusive to the rest of the student body.”
Off-Campus Representative Tiffany Mayville authored a Green Bill mandating sustainable practices within A.S. buildings, including recycling, composting, avoiding paper and using green cleaning products. The bill was amended to include a mandate that A.S. funds given for group events or meetings may only purchase food that is at least 50 percent sustainable.
While Off-Campus Representative Jason Lopez said the request would be unrealistic for student groups and drive up event costs, Mayville said the bill is intended to set a precedent for the rest of the student body.
“I do recognize it is expensive, but I think a little less food or more costly food is worth it because it is socially and environmentally responsible, and A.S. needs to set an example,” Mayville said.
Internal Vice President Chloe Stryker said the bill’s specificity would make it difficult to enforce.
“Coming from a Finance board perspective, another really tough thing will be how to let groups know about all this,” Stryker said. “It’s going to be hard for groups to follow all of this. Make it more broad so student groups can feasibly follow and understand it.”
However, Off-Campus Representative Stanley Tzankov said the council has the duty to implement progressive policies and student groups have been asked to follow similar rules in the past.
“[Office of Student Life] groups learn so quickly about what our funding policies are,” Tzankov said. “I think it’s important that we do set the precedent and we don’t put this off, but approve it as it is.”
The council eventually passed the bill with an amendment making it applicable to only A.S. entities.
Additionally, the council deliberated over a bill to increase transparency within the group by posting audio recordings of its weekly meetings on the association’s website. However, the bill failed to pass due to expensive software and microphone costs. Tsankov said he recommended that the newly appointed council continue discussion on the measure.