The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA Senate Meeting XXVIII: Alpha Sig <3 <3 = BIZARRO Transparency

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 22 April 2009

Care BearsThe Senate ended its term this Wednesday (even though there is technically a meeting next Wednesday, at 8 AM, to settle the final consent agenda), marking an end to their careers. For the first fifteen minutes or so, the Senate held itself together to do actually legislative work; which is to say, capitulate entirely to the executive branch. At last week’s meeting, the Senate reduced the Treasurer’s stipend from the proposed $3,000 to $2,500 (the current amount is $2,000). Today, Elect Nagata came forth with his proposed bylaws, in an attempt to justify his proposed budget. The new bylaws, relating to the Treasurer, read as follows:

10. The ASUA Treasurer shall work in conjunction with the other executives (President, EVP and AVP)

11. The ASUA Treasurer shall establish business relationships with local business to secure sponsorships for ASUA programs and services.

12. The ASUA Treasurer shall network in the University and Tucson community to find fundraising opportunities and bring dollars into the ASUA budget.

13. The ASUA Treasurer shall assist any and all directors to help find financial support for their program or service.

14. The ASUA Treasurer shall record all business and university partnerships for the continued use for future ASUA Treasurers.

15. The ASUA Treasurer will make recommendations on all financial policies and procedures to implement the most sustainable financial system possible.

16. The ASUA Treasurer will seek out investment opportunities to grow the overall budget of ASUA.

17. The ASUA Treasurer shall advise all areas of ASUA on all financial matters.

18. The ASUA Treasurer will assist all other executives in the strategic planning, vision development and execution of such goals.

19. The ASUA Treasurer shall maintain office hours compared to their [sic] executive colleagues.

Essentially, the Treasurer is being Geithnerized; if 10, 15, 17, and 18 aren’t already happening, your author would be surprised. Elect Nagata offered a compromise at $2,750, 75 percent of his proposed stipend. Yet the long list was enough to cow the Senate, which approved Sen. Rubio’s amendment to raise the amount back to Nagata’s originally proposed $3,000; Sen. Jason Mighdoll was the sole dissenter. It is not extreme to say that the legislative branch has entirely given itself to the executive; which, incidentally, mirrors what has happened to legislatures nationwide.

The other eighty minutes or so were spent on Senate reports, an end of the meeting function that usually takes no more than ten minutes. Today, though, the reports went on for over an hour, allowing each Senator enough time to wax poetic on his or her memories of the rad time enjoyed with his or her fellow Senators. The reports resembled nothing more than a podcasting of a high school yearbook. Spectators were treated to the nicknames like ‘Jimmy Jim’ and ‘Ditzy Fritze;’ to allusions involving a capella versions of Lion King numbers, Chi-O date dashes, and rock-jumping; to vapid song lyrics and praises hinging on words like “spirit,” “family,” and “support.”

Curious, though, is how this contrasts with the discussion over the election code. While most elected officials prepare typed responses to serious issues (such as this wonderfully spineless statement from then Sen. Obama explaining his vote supporting warrantless wiretapping), none of the Senators did any such thing for the elections code, or the impeachment bylaws, or stipends – instead, we are assured that these issues were settled at outside Senate gatherings. Yet for these end-of-the-year paeans to a grand ol’ time, the Senate exerts all the effort it can muster, preparing typed-out reflections. Providing worthwhile praises to their colleagues, in other words, merits more work in the public sphere than ensuring basic election principles, or preserving the rights of the accused, or executive compensation, or fighting for freedom of speech. Meanwhile, $1.3 million have vanished into the Abyss.

We’re all glad that you had a great time – but you are also our elected representatives. So when Sen. Gabrielle Zicarelli smiles and proclaims that, “I am honored to have served as your ASUA senator,” one must wonder: “What do you mean ‘your’, kemosabe?” The room is entirely filled with ASUA officials, officials-elect, the Wildcat reporters, and your working boy. This, naturally, is the same crew to whom the Senate has been speaking this entire time. The echo chamber is deafening, so full of its own noise that one must work very hard to discern the original whisper that sparked it all.

By the end, we know far too much about the various nicknames of the Senate, and far too little about their decision-making mindset  – which is exactly what one should expect of a bizarro government. Save the lovefest for soliloquies at Frog & Firkin, and, like your legislative counterparts, use the public meetings for actual public debates. This site isn’t holding out hope; after all, as Sen. Rubio himself said, “Everything around here is just politics as usual.” Indeed.

President Bruce must be commended for largely averring from this legislative onanism (as opposed to his executive counterparts), but he must be condemned for simply stating that, “The Student Services Fee Board is a model for other boards across the country.” Here, we sure hope that democracy-subverting commisars posturing as representatives of student will are not the way of the future.


11 Responses

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  1. Emily Fritze said, on 22 April 2009 at 10:02 pm

    hahahaha this is hilarious. oh evan lighten up.

  2. Stephen Wallace said, on 22 April 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Quite humorous. So true though. Congrats on the blog competition as well Evan.

  3. Nick said, on 22 April 2009 at 10:12 pm

    You’re just super sad you don’t get to see our shining faces every Wednesday! 🙂

  4. Bergan said, on 22 April 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Well said, sir. If only ASUA had spent as much time and effort on issues that merited actual public debate in Senate meetings as they did on their high praises of each other, maybe they really would be *your* student government. There’s a reason the only audience members at any of the meetings are ASUA officials, you, and me—and it has less to do with interest and time and more to do with a campus that has lost faith and expectations in its student government.

    It’s sad, because the senators and executives are good people who actually try. But trying doesn’t necessarily yield results—I guess it depends on what the definition of “results” in this context would be.

  5. Laura Donovan said, on 22 April 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Yeah, public meetings shouldn’t revolve around end-of-senior-year warm fuzzie distribution, but at least we know the senators all liked each other haha.

  6. Andre Rubio said, on 22 April 2009 at 11:24 pm

    All of this criticism is astute and on-point. As a result, I hope that all of you reading apply for positions in the next year. Evan recommended it and I cannot agree more. See for yourself just how effective this government is by seeing how effective YOU are. Additionally, to make fun of us for praising each other and demonstrating our affection? I am sure that journalists on this campus also show the same respect and admiration of each other, and even to the point where the public has to put up with it. In fact, you seem to have an obvious fan club over at the Daily Wildcat Evan, considering the comments by their journalists on your blog and your picture appearing in the paper this week, among other things. You should tell them to step up their hustle, as not every opinions writer turned blogger can have a site that gains attention from its peers, the admiration of the journalism clique here on campus, and the egoists who love to see their name on a screen regardless of it being negative or positive.

  7. Emily said, on 22 April 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Well Mr.Bergan…

    If you are confused as to the “results” of ASUA, I would suggest that you keep in mind the lists that President Bruce, EVP Anderson and AVP Patel read out at the Senate meeting.

    Some of those things are definitely no small feat, and credit should be given where credit is due despite feelings on the institution as a whole.

  8. Bergan said, on 23 April 2009 at 12:26 am

    ASUA has done some impressive things both this year and over the past few years with Tommy and Jessica at the helm, for sure, and I look for much of the same with Chris. On the other hand, it’s hard to take an entity seriously that ignores transparency and lacks the ability (and will) to run a clean election.

    As an example of unnecessary non-transparency—you would think a student government would jump at the chance to stand up and say, “Yeah, we tried to get Chris Brown, and then when he beat up his girlfriend (allegedly), we decided we didn’t want a woman beater performing at the UA” instead of subscribing to the belief that they should keep everything in shadow as a general rule, unless forced by law to do otherwise.

    When you’re having to pull out public records requests every week that could’ve been satisfied by an ASUA official simply telling you the truth in the first place, it makes you lose a little faith in the people who are supposed to be your biggest allies and loudest voices.

  9. Emily said, on 23 April 2009 at 8:22 am

    Well I think it is one our goals that transparency be restored. I hope that next year we can work with Schane and others on this. Especially since the public records request are tedious.

  10. Laura Donovan said, on 23 April 2009 at 10:56 am

    To Andre- There is no need to criticize current Wildcat employees. Evan and Connor have done amazing work, and they wouldn’t tell Wildcat writers to “step up.”

  11. Stephen Bieda III said, on 5 May 2009 at 11:57 am

    All of ASUA’s accomplishments have simply been forgotten in the extreme amount of money lost in the recent Jay-Z concert. Comments above clearly show that ASUA feels they are in the right regardless of a very large risk taken for the concert at the time.

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