ASUCD Perestroika

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The ASUCD Perestroika was a period from Fall 2004 - Spring 2005, in which ASUCD underwent rapid change.

During this era of ASUCD History, there was a period of unprecedented interest in ASUCD reforms. Persons without official positions within ASUCD are enthusiastically participating in the writing of bills to change perceived injustice in ASUCD to a degree markedly higher than any time in known ASUCD history. Some have declared this renaissance "the ASUCD [wikipedia]Perestroika." Those "some" are named Kris Fricke, but it's a good enough name that we can use it too.

Eras of ASUCD
Swords and Stadiums Era
1998 - Fall 2004
ASUCD Perestroika
Fall 2004 - Spring 2005
Harms Hegemony
Fall 2005 - Winter 2011

  1. Setting the Stage
  2. Perestroika
  3. Reforms
  4. Problems
  5. Legacy
  6. Documents
  7. Constitutional Amendment Proposals
    1. ASUCD Judicial Reform Act
    2. Countback
    3. Open Government
    4. Impeachment
  8. Proposed Changes to Other Bylaws
    1. Judicial Codes
      1. Legal Enfranchisement
      2. Legislative Enfranchisement
      3. Right to Counsel
      4. Judicial Accountability and Decisions on Elections (JADE) Act
    2. Elections Codes

Setting the Stage

At the beginning of the 2004 calendar year, everything looked pretty good for Student Focus — they were on top, and controlled the wheels of student government. Well, there was that pesky Choice Voting Amendment passed in 2003, which had allowed a couple of LEAD senators to get elected, but that was it.

But for Student Focus, the perfect storm was coming. L.E.A.D. Senator Caliph Assagai was well connected to real politicians through his parents. And a certain DCD member, James Schwab had proven himself an excellent organizer. The two them combined to plan an excellent campaign strategy for 2004. But the first true sign of problems was the Senator Ackerman Scandal, in which StuFo Senator James Ackerman resigned over having stolen books from the UCD Bookstore, which has like 10 million cameras.1

From a secret computer lab hidden on campus2, the Students for an Orwellian Society, a crazy group with too much time on their hands decided: "Well, if Orwellians are running the federal government, why aren't we running the student government?" They formed SOSSS, a joke slate with a few serious issues, told everyone how Big Brother wanted them to vote down to the correct order, and made some silly flyers. And they attacked Ackerman, who just happened to be the boyfriend of the sitting Elections Committee Chair, Christine Schacter. As the election came to a vote, this spawned the Election Statement Controversy from her Committee's editing of ballot statements.

Immediately after the election, Student Focus Senators-elect Sean Ruel and Nafeh Malik were discovered to have been campaigning in the dorms, leading to the aptly named Campaigning in Dorms Controversy. While solicitation is a clear violation of Student Housing policy, the implication that candidates were "helping people with their ballots" went beyond the pale. The ASUCD Court was literally powerless to do anything about either scandal. And though the dirty pair resigned, likely due to pressure from Student Judicial Affairs, the stage was now set for a revolution.

Perestroika

Due to the double resignation, eight seats were up for grabs in the Winter 2005 ASUCD Election, as well as the presidency, so a sea change was possible. LEAD developed an even better organizational network, and recruited six candidates to run.

The Orwellians were not the kind of people that you wanted to push around. Led by Chad van Shoelandt and Brent Laabs, they were incensed at their treatment — and the treatment of democracy. So they redoubled their efforts, and became determined to fix the problem. Recruiting local celebrity RobRoy to help and seeking the advice of Chief Justice Fricke, they had an eight-page elections reform bill introduced that drastically reduced the power of the Elections Committee. And they launched a brand new slate, Friends Urging Campus Kindness with the help of the brand-new Davis Wiki. The Friends, who for some reason didn't use their acryonym, originally planned on running 23 candidates in a "zerg rush" attack on the Senate. However, most of them backed out (or were ineligible for "being a grad student), so they ended up with seven. They endorsed Assagai, LEAD's presidential candidate, due to lack of hubris on their own part.

The results of the election were split: 2 LEAD, 2 Focus, 2 Friends, 2 Independents. But Rob Roy became the first candidate ever elected in the first round, and Caliph Assagai won election. The results were clear, and though they knew it not, the era of Student Focus' dominance had ended for good.

Reforms

Many reforms came to pass in the next few months. Most of the legislation was fairly long, but the bylaws had been somewhat neglected since the ASUCD Federal Era (around 1995). The ASUCD Supreme Court was granted authority over some elections cases (questions of law, but not questions of fact), since the Campus Judicial Board made it clear that they thought judging internal ASUCD cases really shouldn't be part of their jobs.

The power of the ASUCD Elections Commission was clearly defined, as were behavior around polling places. Penalties were more clearly defined. It of course could not prevent all scandals in ASUCD, but seriously dudes, the codes were a fucking mess before then.

And further, attempts at transparency were pushed to new levels. The ASUCD Website started to be used more, though it took years to finally get things updated regularly. Eventually, it would become a resource for insiders as well, which is good for transparency when everyone uses the same basis for discussion.

Problems

There was that one time where the Senate decided to resolve an elections dispute with an ex post facto law, just because they could. That, of course, led to a constitutional amendment banning ex post facto laws.

Legacy

Though the era was short lived, many of the key players were integrated into the government at some level. SOSSS's #1 candidate, Jonathon Leathers became Elections Committee Chair in a rare show of irony from the Senate.

The focus on transparency, fairness, and efficiency continued into the following Harms Hegemony era, as technocrats played a much greater role in ASUCD politics during that time.

Yet for the radicals who had sought to break the slate system, the end results were disappointing. The reforms they had pushed through made it easier for the incoming LEAD group to survive, and in fact, thrive. Still, Choice Voting endured, with LEAD's blessing, which allowed opposition Senators to endure. Meanwhile, LEAD became exceptionally good at choosing candidates to support their broad coalition, and in training successors; they generally prospered under Choice Voting.

Documents

The original purpose of this page was to add some [wikipedia]glasnost to the perestroika in hopes of garnering yet more public involvement. The idea was to make some of the current reform proposals available here for public perusal and contribution to the writing process. It worked for the most part, as a few more people than the "usual suspects" participated.

So without further ado, and in their full but unfinished glory, are various Senate bills to reform the ASUCD government:

Constitutional Amendment Proposals

ASUCD Judicial Reform Act

Current Status: Passed unanimously by Senate, will appear on Winter ballot
Contacts: Senator Darnell Holloway (djholloway@ucdavis.edu) or Justice Daniel Raff
Current Version: version posted here (v2) hella out of date — will post current (v5) when I can
Other Commentary: other election reform legislation also being currently worked on intends to render this change. As this necessitates a change to the [WWW]ASUCD Constitution, this separate constitutional amendment is necessary. It must be passed by the Senate in order to appear on the winter 2005 ballot, and passed by a majority of voters to take effect.

Authored by:
Co-Authored by:
Introduced by:

A bill to add this "ASUCD Judicial Reform Act," a constitutional amendment, to the Winter 2005 election ballot.

Background: In 2001, the elections process within ASUCD was taken entirely from the jurisdiction of the ASUCD Court. The Elections Committee was given direct jurisdiction over alleged campaign violations. Appeal of the Committee's decisions on these cases could be made to the Campus Judicial Board (Campus Judicial Board) of Student Judicial Affairs (Student Judicial Affairs), a non-ASUCD body.

In effect this has shielded the Elections Committee from judicial review within ASUCD. [wikipedia]Original jurisdiction over elections complaints fell upon a body that had not been assembled with an interest in judicial matters. The primary purpose of the Elections Committee is the administration of elections, and no members are hired for expertise or interest in jurisprudence. Furthermore the appeal process from the Elections Committee leads not to the Court but to SJA, a place far removed from ASUCD experience that most students are fortunate enough to know little about. And if the CJB of SJA were to actually issue a binding opinion involving orders upon the Elections Committee, we would have the ideologically repugnant situation of ASUCD operations being ordered by a non-ASUCD entity. CJB has avoided this however, refusing to issue binding orders pursuant to its [wikipedia]appellate jurisdiction over the Elections Committee, which creates the similarly alarming circumstance of no entity actually exercising authority over the Committee.

This maldesigned system has since 2001 led to increasing cynicism and distrust of the electoral process in ASUCD. By the 2004 Fall election this erupted into a major controversy, with at least five cases coming before SJA, numerous Aggie articles, and significant damage to ASUCD's reputation.

This bill seeks to rectify this situation by placing the ASUCD Court in the appellate role rather than SJA. The Elections Committee shall retain "original jurisdiction" over elections complaints, and its decisions may be appealed to the ASUCD Court regarding "matters of law." This means that it shall remain the Elections Committee's role to investigate allegations, and the Court shall not interfere with it's decisions as to the [wikipedia]preponderance of evidence. The Committee's interpretation of or adherence to the bylaws, however, may be challenged in an appeal before the ASUCD Court. In this manner the administration of elections and the interpretation of jurisprudence are placed with the entities most qualified in their respective areas, there is a check-and-balance upon the elections process, and ASUCD operations shall not be ordered by non-ASUCD bodies.

Article VII

Section 1 The judicial authority of the ASUCD shall be vested in one ASUCD Court (hereafter referred to as the ASUCD Court) and the Student Judicial Affairs / Campus Judicial Board.

[Sections 8 through 12 deleted] Section 8 The ASUCD Court shall have appellate jurisdiction over elections. The Elections Committee shall retain original jurisdiction over potential disqualifications or violations in elections, but specific questions of law may be appealed to the ASUCD Court.

Countback

Countback has its own page

Open Government

It has been proposed that a bill be written requiring that any legislation heard by the Senate be available online for at least three days before it is voted on by the Senate, to prevent stealthy questionable $33,000 allocations.

Status: The foundation to solve this problem was first created in Spring 2003 when Paul Amnuaypayoat wrote a bill to put government documents online in the first place. Unfortunately, compliance has been rather half hearted lately, and the bill Paul wrote did not address certain issues, such as the one above. This problem is currently being worked on by Jonathon Leathers. Check out his page for the actual text of the bill to solve this problem.

In the interests of an open and transparent election process, it has also been proposed that ASUCD post the underlying ballot data at the same time election results are announced. The city of San Francisco does this as a matter of course for its ranked voting elections. In the past, ASUCD has been either unwilling or reluctant to release its ballot data, even though this language is spelled out in the Constitution and further amplified in the Government Codes. Several attempts have been made to accomplish this, with some gains.

Impeachment

Currently ASUCD elected officials cannot be impeached, whereas in the so-called real world they almost invariably can be.

Status: not being worked on

Proposed Changes to Other Bylaws

Judicial Codes

Legal Enfranchisement

Current Status: Introduced, will go to Internal Affairs Commission at their meeting of Monday, 02/07/05, (5:30pm, one of the outdoor rooms on the second floor of the MU), and be discussed in Senate at the following meeting (02/10/05) Contacts: Senator Darnell Holloway (djholloway@ucdavis.edu) or Chief Justice Kris Fricke
Current Version: this is the first version
Other Commentary: none comes to mind

Authored by: Holloway Co-authored by: Introduced by: Holloway

Referred to: Internal Affairs Commission

A bill to amend the ASUCD Standing Rules to include the ASUCD judiciary in ASUCD legal matters.

BACKGROUND: A constant criticism of judicial authority in ASUCD is that it might come into conflict with legal circumstances related to the nature of ASUCD. Many of these mystical issues of potential litigation are barely understood by anyone in ASUCD, and from those issues that do arise, nothing is permitted to permeate down to the Court. If the ASUCD Court is party to these legal discussions the Senate and Executive Office participate in, they shall gain a crucial understanding of the legal circumstances of ASUCD. Whereas members of the Senate and the Executive Office are rarely involved in ASUCD leadership more than two years at most, the members of the Court can carry the experience gleamed from legal discussions through time, being in their positions for much longer.

Section 1. The Senate hereby amends ASUCD Rule Eight, Section 5.4.

Section 5.4.3

The Members of the ASUCD Court shall sit with the Senate as ex officio members during closed sessions on litigation matters. They shall take part in discussion but as long as there are more than one legal options, not advocate one legal course of action over another, and shall not vote. Members of the Court will be notified and invited as soon as the litigation matter is added to the agenda.

Section 5.4.4

The Chief Justice and Alternate Presiding Justice of the ASUCD Court shall be invited to participate whenever the ASUCD Executive Office discusses legal matters with legal council. They shall take part in discussion but as long as there are more than one legal options, not advocate one legal course of action over another. These members of the Court shall be notified and invited as soon as the meeting is scheduled with legal council.

Legislative Enfranchisement

Current Status: Introduced, will go to Internal Affairs Commission at their meeting of Monday, 02/07/05, (5:30pm, one of the outdoor rooms on the second floor of the MU), and be discussed in Senate at the following meeting (02/10/05)
Contacts: Senator Janine Fiel (jmfiel@ucdavis.edu) or Chief Justice Kris Fricke
Current Version: an earlier version of this was passed by over two-thirds of Senate, but vetoed by President Gallagher
Other Commentary: CJB may be substituted in place of Senate here. Also, part in italics isn't officially in the bill yet but will be added in IAC

BACKGROUND: The ASUCD Court is in need of various reforms to improve its functionality. Members of the ASUCD court have the most working knowledge of the Court, yet they have limited ability to speak on their behalf when the Senate is reviewing legislation related to court operations. Currently, members of the Court are forced to go through a third party to author legislation, who in turn writes almost exactly what the members tell them to. If ASUCD adopts the amendment in Section 1, Court members will be able to speak during authors comments and field questions when the Senate is reviewing legislation pertaining to court operations.

Section 1. The Senate hereby amends ASUCD Judicial Code Six, Section 605.

Section 605

Members of the ASUCD Court may author, or co-author, legislation to amend the Judicial Codes and/or article VII of the ASUCD Constitution.

a) Any challenges to the constitutionality of legislation written by the Court, or of official actions of the Court, shall be considered by the Senate, except in the circumstance described in subsection c

b) The Senate shall hold a special hearing in accordance with Judicial Code Seven, with the Senators acting as justices and the Senate president pro tempore acting as Chief Justice.

c) If the ASUCD Court never discussed the legislation as a body, or a quorum of Court members can be gathered who abstained when the Court considered the legislation, were not present, or were not on the Court at the time, those Court members shall consider challenges to the legislation.

Right to Counsel

Current Status: Could be introduced as early as next Thursday (03/10/05), will be discussed by the ASUCD Judiciary this evening (Monday the 7th) at 8:30pm in the ASUCD Conf. Rm., 3rd Floor MU.
Contacts: KrisFricke, Chief Justice
Current Version: Second draft
Other Commentary: the idea of having persons in ASUCD whose job it is to represent parties in the ASUCD judicial system was first highlighted as a necessity when last year the Court faced several named defendants who had no studen head to defend themselves (SGAO & Creative Media). Having someone who would defend the ASUCD gov't at large would have been highly useful. Also the Court cannot call out potential cases it sees but the proposed "Plaintiff Advocate" could. I should have a full "background" for this legislation written out later this week.

Legislation can be found [WWW]HERE because I'm not about to try to type all that out again.

Judicial Accountability and Decisions on Elections (JADE) Act

This proposal has two aspects to it: (1) update the codes to match Constitutional Amendment #6 and (2) allow the ASUCD Court to serve as the court of first resort in cases where ASUCD is breaking state or federal law. This bill is intended to help avoid things like the Election Statement Controversy and prevent future Lamargate-type incidents.

Current version (1.0) is available [WWW]here.

Elections Codes

See ASUCD Elections Reform

Comments:

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2005-01-22 08:07:53   Somehow the phrase "Campus Judicial Board of Student Judicial Affairs" was used... and now it seems to have stuck. The name is incorrect, and implies that CJB is merely an arm of SJA — which is false. I wrote the Aggie about this (because their articles make the same mistake and I felt it was potentially misleading to their readers) and they apologized, but did not publish my letter. They also continue to make the same mistake. *shrug* —ElvinLee

2005-02-04 18:25:00   If anyone can get a copy of my passed bill from 2003, that would be a really good first step in solving the open government problem. I am willing to help if someone can go into the SGAO during its open hours to get this important legislation for me. —Paul


2005-02-05 20:21:11   "Legislative Enfranchisement" is probably a bad idea. I don't think the Senate should decide the constitutionality of anything, so if you're not conforatable with the court deciding the constitutionality of a bill it authored then you shouldn't let them author bills. The US Congress doesn't let the US Supreme court author legislation after all. (Actually, that last sentence may not be right. I think anyone in the US can author legislation, but the limits are on who can introduce it - and nothing prevents the US Supreme court from deciding the constitutionality of anything. —KenBloom


2005-02-05 21:14:14   Yeah, Ken, I'm pretty sure anyone can write anything, but it has to be introduced by a member of the House or Senate. There's nothing in the Constitution, anyway, which prohibits the executive or judiciary from writing laws. The reason the Supreme Court never writes laws is due in part to judicial activism. But the main reason is that they can just have one of their 3,652 lawyer friends write it for them. In regards to this issue, I don't see a problem with the court reviewing the constitutionality of a bill that some members wrote. Some members might want to recuse themselves for the sake of personal integrity. —BrentLaabs


2005-02-07 01:31:13   Incidently, in the United States the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) HAS been directly responsible for writing legislation, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure come directly to mind. In fact, anything authored by the SCOTUS is assumed to be constitutional by its very nature, how bout THEM apples? Anyway, the fact is that our ASUCD Senate seems reluctant to allow members of the Court the same writes of authorship everyone else enjoys without some kind of compromise — I'm leaning more towards sending things to CJB now rather than the Senate. Thanks for your interest though and please contact me if you want to discuss it further (and or continue discussion here) —KrisFricke

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