Thursday, December 28, 2006

Duque's Thoughts on '06

Well 2006 was interesting from a blog point of view. I finally got to interview my SG mentor, I got to learn so much more about FBK & SG, and I was able (albeit not expected, not wanted) to outlast all the other blogs. I got plenty of heat from the haters, those that tried to tell me to get over SG even though I was merely updating a blog for historical purposes if anything, though not meddling in any way, shape, or form with the current members of, or the institution of SG. Ten thousand hits later, people are still coming to visit TR and I'm planning on moving on to the county and state arena (believe me, this has always been the plan). Working TR has allowed me to work with others (Ryan nelson, Gavin Baker, Chris Carmody, Charlie Grapski, JCB, Jordan Loh, Thomas Jardon, etc). I attribute the success of this blog as well as my better-formulated view of SG, FBK, and politics in Florida to these fine individuals and I thank them for that.

I suspect '07 will be the year TR changes direction, no longer a current events SG blog but still SG. I'm hoping to get into more intense blogging, get my teaching certificate, and continue hoping for law school. I'll make it, I was Access after all. :)

I will never stop blogging, I can't. I'm hoping for big things with Nina's interview and if the JA interview had me nervous you should see what I've scribbled for the CC interview. That Q&A has got to be perfect, for a multitude of reasons, so I'm actively working on that.


SOE Aungst informed me that 'paper and secured site are okay while internet [voting] is unconstituional.' I am always pressed by the anons to allow for open debate. So, any reactions to the court ruling?

Moseley v. _____ ? Who will Moseley face off for the highest post of Student Leadership? Any rumors as far as whom Action/Unite/Impact (the Who Cares [for lack of a better term] Party) will run?

Will Indies pick an Indie?

Did Rodriguez really give JA crap over doing my Q&A?
If so, '"Rich" you're a homo. :)'

Saturday, December 16, 2006

James Argento Speaks!

TR: Anyone's that's ever visited my blog knows the name James Argento. Though somewhat generic of a question, where, when, why did you get involved in leadership roles at UF?

James Argento: Thanks Christian for interviewing me, this is a great study break. Although I think your blog is the only place where anyone at UF would still see my name. I am old news.

Onto the question, I came to UF in Fall of 2000, I first got involved in student politics when I became vice-president, and later president, of the Springs Area Residential Council (SPARC). Through SPARC and IRHA, I got involved in SG. I tried the system party (called Fusion). I didn't know about the system v. nonsystem feud.

I just thought it was funny there were a lot of greek kids in the Fusion Party, and I wasn't greek. In fact I was a dorm geek. Back then, IRHA members were backing the system so I was just going along with IRHA. As the months went on, I realized I was more of a non-system guy and not too crazy about how some of the FBK kids were messing around in student politics. I just wanted to get stuff done for the student body and thought all the FBK stuff and deal cutting was a big waste of time and energy. Many FBK kids are not involved in SG politics and don't care about UF SG, especially law students who get tapped for being editor of the law review or something else. And not all FBK kids in SG are bad, however there were a few bad apples who did rotten things to influence student politics and gave their organization a bad name, and that just turned me off. I liked being an independent doing my own thing.

I don't want to give the impression that I hated FBK. Most of the kids I have known who are in FBK are good people and I am friends with them. I just think some take their organization a little bit too seriously. I mean its just a club, it isn't going to get you a political office to run the state and guarantee you millions of dollars. Most of the kids who come into the club and get all that stuff already have inside connections by virtue of who their families are.

In a side story, a friend of mine now in Tallahassee who had joined FBK and thought it was going to open all these doors for him. He went to an FBK meeting in Tallahassee and afterwards comes to me sad and goes "James, it was only a few 70 year olds and a few young people at the FBK meeting." It just doesn't have the stroke it used to have statewide, even though you see a few keys still holding office, like Bill McCollum, and Dean Cannon (I think Ron Laface told me that Marco Rubio is an honorary key). Sooner or later, if the independents ever get their act back together at UF, I would not be surprised to see a non Blue Key become president again at UF (I am not expecting it, but I wouldn't be surprised). In fact, I thought Dennis Ngin would do it when he ran.

To finish up my biography, I graduated from UF in spring 2004 and I am at FSU College of Law and loving every moment in Tallahassee. To the UF undergrads interested in law school who are reading this blog, I say Florida State law school is the place to be, especially if you want to try to get a foothold in state politics. That is not a dig at UF Law students, I just think there are a lot more opportunities in Tallahassee to be involved in the action than Gainesville.

TR: To give students & alums a sense of history, could you catalog what parties were present prior to the well known victory of the Spring 2004 Access Party, what their main ideologies were, and why (or why didn't they) succeed?

James Argento: The Access Party was a once in a 15-year stroke of luck that happens for the independents, in that the nonsystem party somehow beats the greek party at UF. We got really lucky in that the perfect storm formed. Jamal, who was in FBK and Kappa Alpha Psi, and was the sitting student body treasurer, wanted to run for president. However most of FBK politicos and most of the system, including his Presidential and Vice-presidential running mates from the campaign before, did not want him to run. In fact, there are stories of people in the system trying to recruit the BSU president to run for president instead of Jamal, because if they had to have a black president, they didn't want it to be Jamal. They just didn't think he was too bright and could handle being the candidate for President. A few other people were afraid of his skin color, that a black man or woman was not going to be able to hold the system party together.

However there were some prominent members of FBK and the system who were very supportive of Jamal and thought Jamal had paid his dues in the system and should have been the system nominee. Some supported us in both the general election and the runoff.

When Jamal approached me about a presidential run back in the Summer of 2003, I in my mind was finished with SG politics. I had tried my hand in student politics and had my head handed to me. Every party I had been involved in had lost. However Jamal wanted me to be apart of his team. I had known Jamal since 2001 when he had been a candidate for the SUN Party senate slate. At this point he thought he was going to be the system candidate. I told him that he was crazy, and that if we were going to do this campaign, we were going to do it greekless. Sure enough Jamal calls me in late November of 2003 and goes "James your right we are doing this greekless."

At this point Jamal had a good deal of the Black Caucus behind him and we had to figure out away to get other people on board with us. Andre Samuels, the campaign manager and Jamal's fraternity brother, wanted Dennis Ngin as the treasurer candidate. We picked Dennis, and helped get us Asian American support. The Student Alliance (which had been the opposition party) in January decided to support us, so that helped with adding volunteers and senate candidates to our group. We also got Andrew Hoffman and CLASSC on board, which helped us big time in the LS school. Then after we could find no one else who was willing to be our running mate, we had originally lined up a tri delt to be Jamal's running mate for VEEP, but she was pressured out of running by a couple of her sisters. We tried contacting other people, but they were scared to run with us. So with no one else lined up, Jamal then wanted to put Jennifer Puckett on the ticket, he picked her and that got us IRHA support.

The system party was called the Innovate Party, and they were running the sitting Senate President who just did not have as much experience as Jamal. We did some real innovative campaign techniques, no pun intended. We fliered outside of testprep centers and the Russell Simmons event. We had online chats. We also used step shows and break dancers to get campus attention through campus politics. We used the endorsements of prominent Gainesville political figures.

The most important factor in this election was that the Alligator decided to throw its weight behind us to see the greeks lose. They ran a bunch of editorials and stories favoring us. The lynch pin was Andy Marlette, who was the nephew of a prominent cartoonist who drew cartoons for the FSView back in the 60's during the protests at FSU. Andy Marlette drew cartoons for the Alligator showing Access as the good standing up against the evil, and Jamal as David going up against Goliath the greeks. I never got to meet Andy, but i really wanted to thank him for all he did for us. Although at some points during the campaign, I thought Marlette's cartoons were going to create a backlash against us from the Greeks.

Well we won, and that in a nutshell was the Access Party. It was a great moment for me, I felt my four years involved in student politics had been vindicated. I was sorry to see the Access Party fade out of existence, but all good things must come to an end. However I will say this to everyone, I had a lot of fun with Access, but that was college. SG politics is only a temporary part of your life. Have fun and do your best, but remember there are much important things out there.

That race was also interesting in that I got to see Jamal really grow as a leader. He was really gracious in dealing with some comments made by some ignorant individuals about his race and he took it all in stride. On a side note, I still have Jamal's marine picture from this summer while he was in boot camp up on my lamp stand.

TR: James, once and for all. Did you create or help found the Student Alliance Party? While you have told me you were a key 'man behind the scenes,' some of the SA leaders I served with (e.g. Gordon, Offenther) do not place you as an original SAP leader at the time I asked them.

James Argento: I was not the key man, and I was not officially apart of the Student Alliance Party.

Back in the Fall of 2002, myself and a few others were plotting a presidential campaign. I hadn't run a Fall 2002 campaign because I was busy doing real political stuff. The name we were going to use was the Alliance Party. However our candidate backed out in Spring of 2003 so the party dissolved. Right then I decided that my time was up in SG politics. So one day I get a call from a friend of mine who I watch pro wrestling with, named Craig Feola. He and his buddy Ryan Belanger wanted to start a party to combat the Ignite Party, which was the system party. They were going to call it the Extinguish party (get it). I gave them some advice as to how I would run the campaign. Then all of a sudden I read in the Alligator how these two other kids named Jared Allison and Rick Fabiani were forming their own SG party called F***-it, the Rebel Alliance (ala Star Wars). Rick was the cousin of former Bill Clinton and Al Gore lawyer Mark Fabiani and he wanted to try his hand in student politics. I knew that Ryan and Craig wanted to do what Rick and Jared were doing, so I called up Rick Fabiani and told him to contact these two guys, Ryan and Craig. Well the two sides met up and they formed a partnership, they decided to merge their two parties take the Alliance part of the name of F-it the Rebel Alliance and made it into the Student Alliance, which was coincidental to what we were going to call our party. I occasionally gave advice to Craig, Ryan, and Jared but that's all I did. Those guys were great. While hanging around the Student Alliance kids I got to meet Frances and Eric Gordon and all the other great youngsters, like Erica, Dan, Eric W., Brian O, and Jessica Goodwin (who is up in law school with us). It was a thrill to have them all involved in prominent roles with the Access Party. I will never forget the first night after the general election for Access being at the Student Alliance house with Craig, Erica, Jessica, Brian, Frances, Andre, Alicia, and Diane. It felt great!!!!!!!

On another side note, Jared Allison's fiance is in med school up here at FSU, and I got to see him for the first time in years at a med school/law school social a few weeks ago. It is good to see old friends.

TR: Going back in time, please shed some light on the feud between yourself and Ken Kerns. How did it start, was it through the BOCC, Voice Party, etc?

James Argento: Hah. I am friends with Ken Kerns to this day and keep up with him on aim. I don't think he will mind me telling the story. Ken and I became friends through the Board of College Councils. At one point in November 2001, we got into a dispute at a BOCC meeting. When I got home, I wrote Ken an angry email. Ken responded. I then responded in kind. At one point in the email exchange, he called me a slob (In college I was twenty pounds overweight, wore oversized t-shirts, I dragged my shoes, and I had a crew cut) and I told Ken he had BO. Ken and I later made up. The only reason I tell this story is because political people get into fights just like regular students, and sometimes they can be so silly and result in mean things being said.


Well besides the little dispute between Ken and I, there was a big dispute involving BOCC and SG. BOCC funded the academic organizations of the all the schools, the College Councils. BOCC got its own money from the A&S Fee committee and did not go through the student senate budgeting process. However for years BOCC was not the most strict organization in terms of watching its money, although it was better than many other nonacademic organizations on campus. As a result, some members of the SG office wanted to reign the BOCC in. The senate passed a bill back in Fall 2000 to move BOCC underneath the SG, as to where senate budget committee then would do the budgeting for the College Councils .

This measure was backed by some individuals in the SG as a way to weaken the BOCC politically, because these individuals saw BOCC as the breeding ground for independents, and they wanted to kill the BOCC. Most of the people who backed the change just thought the SG would do a better job budgeting. Well the BOCC people fought back. They tried to filibuster the senate. They then ran as the SUN party in Fall 2000, and did really well. Then the BOCC issue was big in Spring of 2001. Ultimately, after a tremendous showing by SUN in the spring 2001 election, and a realization that it was too much work on the SG budget committee people to budget all the organizations under the BOCC, a compromise was worked out by Summer 2001, in which BOCC would report to SG and the budget committee, but BOCC would do its own budgeting with the college councils. I came into BOCC as this compromise was being worked out.

It was a really interesting time to follow student politics at UF, a lot of people took the debate very personal. My advice to all the kids involved in SG at UF is not to take anything personal and to be friends.

TR: What was it like running your version of the Voice Party, what key players were involved, what were you all trying to accomplish? What major points of engagement and/or highlights would you like to share with my readers from that era?

James Argento: When I decided that I was an independent back in 2001, and did not want to be apart of the Greek Party, I started hanging out with all the independent "losers." Well my group of friends included Nick Capezza, and Ken Kerns from the BOCC. Well one day Nick, Ken, my brother Joe, and myself were sitting at my apartment watching a video of Wrestlemania VI (the event where Hulk Hogan lost to the Ultimate Warrior), and Nick says we should form are own party. At that point the Sun Party, the opposition party, was not going to run again and we decided to form the Voice Party. I used the name as a tribute to one of my mentors, Marna Weston, who was the first minority elected student body treasurer back in 1991. He ran as a member of the Voice Party. We got our butts kicked by the Fusion Party, and lost 39 seats to 1. The bottom line I learned is that in politics, you are going to lose sometimes, and lose big. The key to succeeding is getting off the ground and dusting yourself off. I was glad we did the Voice Party because that is after September 11th happened, and I thought having a student body election would be a little step in bringing back some normalcy to the campus.

TR: Since the triumph (S2004) countless individuals have emerged taking varying degrees of credit and/or staking claims of their work in the Access Party. If possible, please tell us what role and/or capacities the following individuals had in Access, some names are familiar, others not so much.

James Argento:

Andre Samuels: He was the campaign manager and he was Jamal's fraternity brother. Andre is one of the best I had ever seen. This guy had never run a major campaign before, in fact on our team, only Frances and I had run student body wide campaigns. But Andre learned and excelled. I try to keep with Andre this day when I can.

Frances Harrell: The best. Frances is the queen of Access and the unsung hero of our party. She originally got her start as a senate candidate for the student alliance and then was in charge of the Student Alliance party. Without her, Access would have sunk. She really whipped our senate candidates into order. I hope she is doing well.

James Argento: Just a guy helping out in his last hurrah. Mike Reynolds on his blog, the Gatorman, said James Argento was not that important to Access (Mike Reynolds was one of Jennifer Puckett's IRHA people who was on the campaign team), and he's right. Mike at one point was trying to hide who he was but I figured it out. I agree with him though, that it wasn't me that made the party, but all the other people on board.

Arturo Armand: Arturo, who had been HSA president was a senior with me when Access came about. Arty came up with the platform for Access and tried to help us get Hispanics on board. I like Arty. He was supposed to come to FSU Law School with me, but I guess he wanted to keep doing student politics with UF. And that's cool cause now he is Vice President.

Lowell Wong: Lowell, who was a Lambda Chi transfer from USF and involved in the College Republicans, got involved with us and helped out. He was a guy who I bounced a lot of ideas off of, and he made a lot of good suggestions to me. I liked Lowell a lot, he was a good guy. He tried really hard to get his bros on board for us.

Please note there are people not on this list who did great things for the Access Party. I loved and appreciated everyone of them, especially our senate candidates, who worked so hard. And we had some really committed volunteers too. Access was bigger than Jamal, it was all of those guys and girls who made it possible. 2004 was such a special year.

TR: Were you a part of the secret dialogue between Access & Joe Goldberg leading into the Summer '04? At the time, I know Access favored Joe thinking he would be more of a moderate than Bryson Ridgway (ironically that proved to be the direct opposite). Your views?

James Argento: I ran into Joe during the runoff of Spring 2004 campaign and he told me he wanted to be Senate President and that he wanted our backing, even though he was backing the Innovate Party. He saw Innovate was going down and wanted to get our support so he was in a better position to deal with the individuals controlling the senate (Access did not win a majority of senate seats in the general election and was not going to control the senate, however we were going to have some sway with those in charge of the student senate).

I felt bad for Joe, he had been humiliated by some SG politicos, to the point where I had heard a story of how someone important in SG circles apparently slapped him at the Swamp just to make him look bad. I mean that is not nice, whatever you think of Joe. I took Joe's message back to our people. I gave my input that we should probably support Joe, however I was graduating from UF and going to FSU so it was not my call. I was not the only person in the Access campaign he talked to. I was not involved in any deal making. In fact, at one point Joe called me up to find up what was going on my side, I had just gotten back from a spring break mission trip and had no idea what was going on. On recollection, I like Bryson Ridgeway, and he probably would have been a better pick. The thing about Bryson though was that there were a lot of sore feelings with his fraternity and the African American community because, Bryson's frat brother, who had been student body president and Jamal's running mate the year before, did not back Jamal for student body president. So there was a lot of resentment.

Bottom line, I never really was into secret political deals at UF. I think political deals in student politics are silly and some people just deal for the sake of dealing. Some SG kids would not just try to cut secret deal with other students, but with community and business leaders also. To the people who are into student politics and are going crazy, take it easy and remember it is just student government!

(From Nick Capezza) James, if you were looking to run a non-system campaign at Florida, what three former campus leaders would you want running the campaign and why?

James Argento: UF today is a lot different then when I was there, and when a lot of former campaign leaders were. So I don't know if old-timers are good picks to run campaigns today. However I would want three people to run a campaign. Nikki Fried, Nari Heshmanti, and Andre Samuels. Nikki won her campaign for honor court chancellor when she was running insurgent, Nari was one of the premier leaders in Vision and SUN. I never got a chance to work with either. I would have loved the chance.

And I got to see Andre up close and personal and can vouch for what he did. So I would pick those 3. And I would throw in my old friends Nick Capezza and Kennita Johnson into the mix of a campaign, both were really fun. We would have so much fun on that campaign the six of us. Now some of the people on my list would not totally get along, but that is what makes a party great, having rivals competing with each other to outdo each other. I don't know if the kids today appreciate how fun campaigns can be.

(From Tommy Jardon) What did Access do to win that has yet to be replicated by any subsequent Indie party (other than Black Caucus support)?

James Argento: It was a lot of networking, a lot of phone calls. Jamal and I (along with Galen wood) used our influences in the Christian Communities. I used my influence in the "real" political communities (the student's who are involved with College Democrats and Republicans), along with the pull I still had in the College Council system. Allison Andrews, who was Jamal's high school friend, had ties to the GLBTQ community. That meant going to a lot of meetings to get people interested.

Bottom line to win, you gotta work hard. Also you gotta be lucky, if the student body isn't in the mood for change, their is no point.

(From Fmr. Sen. Ryan Nelson): 1) If you had to choose 1 or the other: in Spring '04, did Access win...or did Innovate lose?

James Argento: Access won. However we won because got very lucky. Innovate ran a really good campaign, I don't care what anybody says, just the student body wanted a change and actually voted. Chiam Mandlebaum and I ran the numbers after the general election and realized Innovate pulled the regular numbers of greek voters, and they did those numbers without African American voters. Plus in the runoff, Innovate increased their turn out. We just got more votes. The people who ran the Innovate campaign had nothing to be ashamed about, even if some people in the system were unhappy they lost.

(From Chris Carmody) James, we all know that you are a wrestling fan. I applaud such open affirmation of sports entertainment. Give us a breakdown of who in SG from your days best emulate the following personalities and why:

James Argento:

Macho Man Randy Savage: Jeremy Kaplan. Jeremy was one of the independent leaders, just like Savage was a leader in the WWF. However unlike Savage, Jeremy was the first openly gay candidate for student body office. Very charismatic guy, just like Savage. The Macho Man was a really unstable character in real life. You couldn't tell where he was going. Jeremy was very spastic also, but I enjoyed hanging out with him. In fact out of all the characters in SG, Jeremy was my brother's Joe's favorite character, just like Savage. There were times that I got that the feeling Jeremy didn't like me or trusted me, kind of like fans would perceive the Macho Man.

Hulk Hogan: Marc Adler. Now Marc is not popular like Hulk Hogan, in fact in many respects Marc was seen as more of a heel (bad guy), while Hogan was usually the face (good guy). But whether you like him or you didn't, Marc was the biggest star in SG, and still is from what I read on the internet. Hulk Hogan is still the biggest name in Pro Wrestling, and will be until he dies.

The Iron Sheik Tony from the Voice Party. This was a kid who would act just like the Iron Sheik, he had the same mannerisms. I really liked Tony and hoped he was doing well. I haven't seen him since 2001.

The Giant (modern, not Andre): SuperBowl Champion Max Starks of the Steelers. That guy was huge!

The Undertaker Thadeus Bullard. Former football player, he scared me and he was so big. Just like the Undertaker.

Brother Love: John Pughe. A religious guy from the South who told everybody how he loved them. I really liked John spirit, he is a fellow Christian, but he did come off as Brother Love.

Mick Foley: James Argento. Now I was not the most handsome guy in college, I like to think as I got older I aged really well. But I really was the guy who started off that nobody cared about and counted out. That was Mick Foley in a nutshell. He bounced from gimmick to gimick, from Cactus Jack to Mankind, till he just became himself. Then in the end everybody fell in love with Mick after winning the WWE Championship. I like to think of myself as Mick Foley, who was also from a Blue Collared family.

Miss Elizabeth Nikki Fried. Classy woman, just like Miss Liz. I enjoyed my time being around Nikki. However unlike Miss Liz, Nikki was a champion in her own right. (RIP Miss Liz)

The Rock: Jamal Sowell. He was the big superstar and marquee name. And like the Rock who's dad was in the WWF, Jamal's dad went to UF also. My favorite!

Stone Cold Austin: George Kramer. George was not bald and he did not have a beard, but he did like his beer and was from the South. Plus you wouldn't want to mess with George. Kramer, a former student body president, actually knows about pro wrestling, so I had to figure out a way to put him in this list. George Kramer is a great guy, and when we won in Access, he was the first person to send me a congratulatory email.

Jimmy Snuka: Peter Zimek. He was crazy like the Superfly, and I say crazy in a good way. Superfly did some great things, just like Pete. While Snuka was from FIJI, Pete was from Louisiana, and I hope Pete's family was alright from Katrina. Pete is a great guy.

The Ultimate Warrior: Robert Strait. He was with the Voice Party in 2001, and he was just as crazy as the Ultimate Warrior, and when I say crazy in a good way. He had a lot of energy though and a magnetic presence, just like the Warrior. I lost touch with him, but I hope he is doing well also.

TR: Word Association, What Comes To Mind?

James Argento:

John Boyles: Senate Candidate. I really never got to know John well, as he was running for the fine arts school, so I never got to interact with him much. I didn't know his dad is one of the big attorneys at Gray Robinson. I was sad to read he was one of the people who left Dennis for Joe, but he wanted to move up and he wasn't the only one. I am not really following UF today, other than glimpsing at the Alligator, so I don't know how his time as SG president has been.

Michael Rollo: He had big shoes to fill. When he was acting Vice-President of Student Affairs, he held the position following the death of Jim Scott, the previous Vice-President of Student Affairs. I really missed Jim Scott, he was a legend. I was at his funeral. I could just feel God's presence at his funeral, that's how spiritual it was. While I think Rollo did an ok job, I think this new VPSA is doing an even better job. She isn't afraid to stand up to anybody. I got to meet her up at Gator Day in the Capitol this spring, and I really liked her. I wish Mike Rollo the best in his new position though, I am sure he will do a great job, and I think it helps him being away from UF gives him a different perspective. Also Mike Rollo was really nice to my mom and dad at graduation and I really appreciated that.

Nikki Fried: The sharpest woman I have ever seen in UF SG. I mean she just whipped poor Chris in that election, and don't forget Doug Meyers either for honor court. She held the top position in all branches of SG. I first met her in 2001, while she was running for the Honor Court. During the Access runoff, the first question I asked was if Nikki helping the Innovate people. If she was, I had a lot of fears. Bottom line thing I learned is don't mess with Nikki Fried. It was good to see both her and Jared last spring.

Diane Kassim: Good girl. I liked Diane, we did some great work together in Access. I heard she made history by becoming the first Black Senate President. I was sad to read that also defected to Joe. But that is how the game goes sometimes. I wonder how as a presidential candidate she would have been in her own right.

Louise Reardon: State Commiteewoman. I never met Louise, but I knew her sorority sister Anna Shea. She made history by getting a spot on the Exec Board of the Republican State Committee back in 2000. I still don't like how they got rid of her. But hey, that's politics.

Scott Kennelly: Good presidential candidate. Everybody knocked him. But I personally thought he was a better candidate than Jamal. When Jamal would debate him I cringed, even though the debates didn't matter. I think at the end Scott didn't like me, but I wanted to wish him the best and say none of this was ever personal.

Andrew "The Enforcer" Hoffman: Good kid. He was actually on our short list for Veep for Access. However we really wanted a woman to balance the ticket. Andrew was sort of a protege of mine, and he is the second highest vote getter in the history of the liberal arts and sciences college, the first being Becca Guerra, and the third being Christian Duque.*

Peter Gruskin: Bull horn. Him and that stinking bull horn almost got us into a lot of trouble during the Spring 2004. You see Pete would walk around Turlington with a bullhorn and tell everyone to Vote Access. That was against University rules. I disagree very strongly with his stance on Israel, I am very pro-Israel. I however enjoyed both my time with both Pete and Christian.

Joel Howell: Engineer. Joel was my guy. He was the bigshot from the Engineering College. Back in the Student Senate in 2002, there were only 3 Voice Party Senators. Ken Kerns, Joel Howell, and James Argento. He later became Vice-president with Nikki. Joel was the person who pushed for Jamal to be on the ticket with back in 2003, and it is because of Joel we have Jamal. I really wanted Joel to run for student body president and offered to run his campaign if he did. He wisely chose to move on from UF.

Crystal Spearman: I liked working with Crystal. I think she started at LSU law when I started at FSU law. Her grandfather was an ambassador for President Bush 41. Good woman!!

Charlie Grapski: Rebel with a cause. He is always fighting for something. When we won the General election in Access, the first call I made was to Charlie Grapski for some pointers. Jamal wanted nothing to do with Grapski, but I didn't care. A lot of anti-blue key people, and some Keys, privately loved it when he sued FBK. This is the only guy I know to be banned off the Democratic National Committee's blog. I didn't always agree with Charlie's stances, tactics, but he is someone who has made a big difference.

Marc Adler: The best in the game. Yeah we were rivals but you know what, Adler knew SG politics better than everybody I know. You can love him or hate him, and he knows a lot hate him, but wow he stayed in the game for a long time. A mutual friend of ours told me he is graduating from law school. I wish him the best.

Pedro Allende: DU. I have known Peter since I was a freshman, he was out of the Murphree Area. Then he got really involved in his frat, DU. I know he was the guy heading up the system since I left. I hope Peter recovered completely from his accident a few years ago.

Chris Carmody: My old mentor. We were both in IRHA together, and he schooled me in the ways of SG. We later parted company, he disagreed with the way I wanted to do things, I disagreed with the way he did things. We always stayed friends and someone I could talk to about SG. I am very excited for the impending marriage of Chris and Lauren Fackender. I wish him the best at Gray Robinson.

TR: T-R-I-V-I-A: Ballots, security, the lights went out, member of the deans office quits under cloud of suspicion, new SB President, democracy? What's the answer to the Keyword Trivia game: year, party, candidate, and outcome.

James Argento: I think you are referring to the 2001 Spring Election, although I don't know if a member of the dean's office quit because of any activity during that particular election. That was when Marc Adler (Fusion) won by 16 votes against Gil Sanchez (SUN). I think the power went out that night, or someone tripped over a cord, I forget what exactly happened. I know a lot of people had questions about that election, but people always have questions about any close election, especially in the state of Florida.

TR: As a senator, an independent one at that, you initially opposed the concept of intranet on-campus voting. What are your current views on the concept of internet voting at UF and/or FSU? Do you think that internet voting sacrifices the 'integrity of the ballot'?

James Argento: I don't agree with internet voting, or any form of electronic voting. It is too easy to tamper it. They have already proved that. I didn't agree with it at FSU or at UF. You need paper ballots that can be recounted. You can't recount electronic votes.

TR: How does SG at FSU compare to UF? Which block has more sway, the African American community of the IFC/PC Greeks? Also to what extent are the following blocs at FSU-SG mobilized?:

James Argento: I finally got to achieve one my dreams and be a student body officer. I did it at FSU though, as the Student Body Attorney General. At FSU Student Body Attorney General is the third ranking position in the executive branch of SGA, under the president at veep. However in my position I stayed nonpartisan and handled the "legal work" of the SGA.

My observations of FSU, are that the African American along with the Greeks control everything. Although it seems the African Americans are the dominant ones, especially the Alphas. FSU SGA is interesting, the elections are not as serious as UF elections, although there are parties, including the Voice and Insight parties.

Hispanics: A bit more influence than they have had UF. The former senate president was a member of this community.

Asian-Americans: Same amount of influence it seems.

LGBTQ: A bit more influence, the current senate protemp is a member of this community.

Indies: GDI: There are more nongreeks in the system here, I think FSU's system is more accepting of non-greeks. But hey there is now a nongreek prez of UF so what can I say.

Religious: There is a thriving Christian community at FSU, and Jewish and Islamic communities, however they are not involved in student politics at FSU. The other great story of Tally is not just FSU, but FAMU. They have an amazing SGA community. This kid Philip Agnew, who is student body president is one of the most amazing speakers I have seen, and Andrew Gillums little sister is the student body veep there is what Philip told me. They work really hard at FAMU SGA.

TR: Tell us about the work to bring Gator Christian Life to FSU, what has been done, what role you played, and any props you 'd like to send out to any and all at UF and FSU that helped out.

James Argento: Well I am apart of Firebrand Christian Fellowship, which is a church plant by GCL at Tallahassee. We seem to be doing well. I always want to send props out to all my friends, and people who may not be my friends, at both UF and FSU, if they read this blog. Life is too short to hold grudges.

TR: I don't think people realize how tense the Summer '04 was. I'm sure you were informed of the constant impeachment concerns? What were you up to that post-graduation-summer?

James Argento: I was in South Florida trying to lose weight before I started law school. I was not heavily involved. I did however talk to Jamal and Andre over that summer. Jamal called me up while I was in Chicago for a family reunion and told me they were thinking of impeaching him. He was really discouraged. I told Jamal to hang in there, and knew that the administration would not allow the kids who wanted to impeach him to do it. Sure enough nothing ever came of it.

TR: I know we had some discussions about this, but the readers are in the dark insofar as your thoughts on the matter go. What issues or concerns did you have with Rod Smith and/or his campaign efforts (once eliminated from the primaries) towards the Democratic candidate for governor, Jim Davis?

James Argento: I was concerned he was not visible enough and helping out enough. I kinda knew a few weeks after the primary Davis was going to lose to Crist, I had heard from one of my lobbyist friends in town who was calling around for money for him back in September that Jim wasn't going to have the money because there were more winnable Democratic governors races (Neither Rod or Jim had the name to attract national donors). If any national money came in, it would be in late October and it would be too late. But I thought whomever won the primary should have made more of an effort to help the campaign of the other. With that said I think Crist will do a good job. A few of my friends from FSU will be working for the Crist administration in positions of great influence, and I have a lot of faith in these friends of mine in helping Crist run the state. Also having a cabinet with a democrat on there is going to make for interesting times in Tallahassee. I am glad to be up here for at least a 8 more months.

TR: Having successfully taken on the CT-Democratic Party, one of the strongest political machines on the East Coast, do you think Joe Lieberman has become a stronger leader in his own right? Would be fare better as an Indie Presidential candidate than garnering 7-10% in DNC primaries? And, given his base of support would you agree with me, that if Joe ran, he would be the first 3rd party candidate (since Wallace & Byrd) to garner electoral votes?

James Argento: Well the CT Dem machine was not working against Lieberman, as Lamont did not mobilize the Democrats. A number of local democrat leaders were backing Lieberman, and a number of the leaders in the party, who endorsed Lamont publicly, were more for Joe than people thinking. The day for running for prez as an indy may come if you find a popular candidate. I don't know if Lieberman could do it, but he did win the national popular vote as apart of the ticket in 2000. I think Joe is happy to be in the Senate. It would be interesting if John McCain, as a Republican needed a running=mate, and he picked Lieberman, and Lieberman would be the first man on both tickets. But Joe is a Democrat in his registration still, so that is that.

TR: Any parting words James?

James Argento: It is a pleasure to have done this really extensive interview. I enjoy talking about my UF SG time, but I am glad that part of my life is over.

With that said, I hope nothing I said in this interview offended anyone. I tried to be as honest as I could be, but my recollection could be off since what I wrote is a few years old. God Bless!!!

Supervisor of Elections: Brian Aungst (Q&A)

TR: Most people know you as a senator, committee chairman, or party leader. What's it like currently holding high office in a non-partisan capacity?

Brian Aungst: It’s great to be serving as the Supervisor of Elections. One of the best aspects of the job was chairing the 700 Codes Revision Committee over the summer with a bi-partisan group of student leaders. We worked very hard to bring the codes up to date and heard a lot of great suggestions for ways to improve how we conduct elections. It is very gratifying to not have to worry about the partisan politics and be able to work with people across the political spectrum to ensure we have successful and accountable elections in SG.

My involvement in Senate was by far the most rewarding experience of my undergrad career. I was elected in my first semester on campus and went on to serve a full two years. I left Senate 2½ years ago to give some other students a chance to serve and to focus on my last year of undergrad.

After starting law school here last year I was open to getting involved again, but purely in a non-partisan public servant capacity. After serving as an Elections Commissioner in the spring I was asked to consider serving as Supervisor. I am by nature a political junkie and love elections so I jumped at the opportunity. I also was attracted by the challenges the job entails. It has been one of the most criticized positions in SG over the last few years, especially since the inception of secured-site voting. I wanted to take up the task of restoring students trust in their SG to be able to run its own elections. This fall was a great success and we are working hard to ensure another smooth election in the spring.

TR: Please tell us about elections staff, what roles they hold in the running of the election, and how many members of your Fall staff will be present for the upcoming Spring elections.

Brian Aungst: I was fortunate to have a tremendous group of students volunteer to serve as Assistant Supervisors in the fall. In all, 11 students stepped up and took on the massive responsibility of coordinating and executing one of the biggest student run elections in the country. Some of the Assistants had experience from the spring, but more than half were first semester freshman looking to get involved. The Assistants helped distribute and re-collect over 80 voting booths at 21 polling locations, worked three days in the qualifying room before the elections, helped replenish poll workers ballots and other supplies, and pretty much served as all around trouble shooters on election day. I hope all of them come back for the spring. Having said that I hope anyone interested in helping with the elections would fill out an application and join the team. There is no limit to how many Assistant Supervisors I have and I don't turn anyone away who wants to get involved and help out.

TR: In your opinion and citing from both the good & the bad, how did secured-online-voting fare in the past Fall-elections?

Brian Aungst: In my personal opinion as someone who was totally uninvolved with the process, secured-site voting was implemented by the Senate in an effort to compromise between paper ballots and true online voting. It has its upsides and downsides just like the two other systems, but I feel its record from fall 2005 and spring 2006 speaks for itself. It is very susceptible to technical errors. Apparently, a poll worker kicked one of the power cords and shutdown South West Rec for over 2 hours last year before anyone could figure out what was going wrong. I personally dislike the fact that many of the computers are not in insular voting booths. I felt very uncomfortable voting at the law school because there were many candidates running from that constituency and everyone could see the screen as I marked my ballot. I wholeheartedly believe in the right to an absolute, no questions asked secret ballot. It is the only way a true representation of who the electorate wants to serve them can be gauged. The IT staff in SG assures me that after the last two elections we could run a flawless secured-site election, but it is my decision and I like the privacy and accountability of paper ballots. After what has happened in the 13th congressional district in Sarasota I think my concerns have been validated. In case of a recount I would much prefer to have the individual ballots which can be hand counted and scrutinized than to simply have to rely on what a computer tells me the total was. Again, this is simply my opinion. It is very possible the next Supervisor will feel differently.

TR: You've made mention that you feel uneasy being the one to decide which voting method will be used for the upcoming elections. Why?

Brian Aungst: I am not uneasy with having to decide which system to use. It was a decision I took exceptionally seriously and spent a great deal of time researching and reflecting upon. Having said that, I don’t know any other government where the Supervisor of Elections has that much power. Think about it, Supervisors of Elections are elected in Florida and they still can’t decide which system to use. The County Commissioners decide which voting method to use and they have to either choose optical-scan paper ballots or touch-screen voting as proscribed by the Florida Department of State. When I was in Senate there were no choices for the Supervisor to make other than where to put the polling locations. The Senate adopted secured-site voting in the summer of '05 as a political maneuver and the students inserted true online voting in the spring election. The incongruence in the manner in which these additions were made to the Elections Code has left the un-elected Supervisor with more power and responsibility than the position was intended to entail. The Supervisor’s job is to ensure the secrecy, accuracy, and integrity of the elections. It is a position that should have very few discretionary choices, particularly ones that involve hot-button political issues.

TR: Why do you suppose the issue of internet-voting has become such a partisan issue? Hypothetically, what if anything (in your personal and realistic opinion) do you think would happen to what is known as the "Greek/FBK vote" and to the "Indie vote" if internet voting came to fruition?

Brian Aungst: As a non-partisan official who has been out of the political process for three years I have no opinion on its potential impact on campus politics. My only concern is how it would affect the fundamental rights of the students to have an equal chance to participate in the election and have their votes tabulated and weighted equally.

TR: Although you have made it clear that you are appointed-not-elected and that winning over students is not as important as doing your job correctly, did you have any reservations when choosing scan paper ballots over internet voting, being that this was mandated by the student body or again, were you solely concerned with executing your job as precisely as possible? Please expound.

Brian Aungst: One reason I agreed to take the position was because I knew I would devote a tremendous amount of time and energy weighing this decision. One of my friends asked me “why would you ever want that job?“ I wanted the decision on which voting system to utilize to be made with due consideration. Last year we used Secured-Site voting in the fall and spring without giving any thought to whether we should instead use paper ballots. Even after the so-called “Digital Disaster“ in the fall we just went right back to Secured-Site as if it was the only choice. After giving a lot of consideration to the opinions of SG officials and regular students I felt the only way I could accomplish my primary job of running efficient and accountable elections was to choose optical-scan paper ballots. There is absolutely no protocol or procedure for the Supervisor to choose a voting system in the SG Statutes or our Constitution. I relied on the appropriate SG law and determined in my opinion the only way we could implement online voting would be unconstitutionally violable of students Equal Protection rights under the 14th Amendment and also in violation of the State of Florida’s Fourth Amendment. If students really want online voting to be the only option they should pass a constitutional amendment instead of an initiative, or pass an initiative that eliminates any other options of right now, for better or worse, the choice is mine. I considered my options prudently and arrived at the decision I know was in the best interest of the students, regardless if everyone agrees with me.

TR: Will the decision of the courts have any impact on your office? Essentially you still decide which option to use, correct? And, what do you think was SBP Boyles' reasoning in even sending this to the courts? Escape-strategy, a symbolic gesture of good faith to the Opposition?

Brian Aungst: The decision of the Court still has not been handed down so I am not quite sure how it will affect the spring elections. No questions were raised by the Court in regards to paper ballots. As of right now my intention is to use optical scan paper ballots again, but to also utilize swipe card identification at the polls. Essentially it will be a combination of paper ballots and secured-site online voting. Voters will swipe their Gator One IDs to sign in at the polls and then be handed an optical-scan paper ballot. This eliminates any possibility of double voting. If the Court rules online or secured-site voting unconstitutional, then those voting systems would become unavailable for me and future Supervisors to utilize. My feeling is they will either rule that voting systems are a discretionary political decision of the Senate and the Supervisor and decline to find any unconstitutional, or they will find true internet online voting unconstitutional.

TR: If conditions drastically changed and you were ordered by SBP Boyles to permit internet voting, would you then still stand by your convictions and respectively stand by your decision? President Boyles remains an active player in a political world, whereas you are non-partisan.

To be more clear, does the SBP have any input in how you carry out your work in any way, shape, or form?

Brian Aungst: This is an interesting separation of powers question from a legal perspective, but it has little relevance to the real world. President Boyles appointed me after an extensive interview process. He appointed me because he wanted the Supervisor to chair a bi-partisan committee to re-write the 700 Codes. As a former Judiciary Committee Chairman, Elections Commissioner, and a law student, I think he felt I would approach this responsibility with the proper knowledge and leadership to achieve the best result for the students. When I met with him for the first time after my confirmation, he laid out his expectations of me very clearly. He told me he expected me to thoroughly research each voting system and come back with a well developed and logical reason why I arrived at my decision. I defended my choice in front of the Alligator editorial board, the Senate, and the Supreme Court in an hour long power-point presentation. The result was the highest voter turnout in a fall election, and an election with no legitimate problems. We had more polling locations than ever before to overcome the perceived loss of convenience of secured-site voting and we have every ballot that was cast in storage for anyone interested to inspect and verify the results. I am the first Supervisor to serve a full term since Ali Blye in 2004-2005 and I believe President Boyles is satisfied with my performance. He has offered me many criticisms and suggestions from the fall election and that is partially why we are switching to electronic sign-in for the spring. He is also very concerned about student’s convenient access to the polls.

TR: Any parting words, links, and/or files?

Brian Aungst: I would just like to thank you for the opportunity to publicly address everyone and ask anyone who is interested, to apply to be an Assistant Supervisor of Elections. I would also like to add a few links:

-We have the highest voter turnout in terms of percentage of students and raw number of voters than any other school in the SEC. Click Here

-Also of note, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (a 40,000 student institution) recently utilized online voting to a disastrous result. They had to cancel their online elections twice and then revert to the tried and true paper ballots. Also, most schools purporting to have online voting actually use a form of secured-site voting (like FSU) Link #1 , Link #2 , Link #3

Finally, there has been a mixed result in implementing online voting, most schools that do so do not see a verifiable increase in voter turnout. Link

Thank you all very much.
I appreciate the opportunity,
Brian Aungst
Supervisor of Elections

Email Supervisor Aungst

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Alligator Calls Swamp Out

"At half mark, Swamp falls short of goals"

Really it's not so outlandish for the student' paper to call out the ruling party mid way through the year. While the lede imparts an early bias against Swamp, let me stress that expecting a student political party to complete even a quarter of a 29-part-platform in one calendar year is ridiculous (a. if in fact parties promise 29 key issues, they're mad - & - if the Alligator expects a student party to deliver THAT much, they too are bonkers). Unless of course we're not speaking of key [tangible] issues (e.g. providing students with more covered bus stops as opposed to, "making SG more honest"...).

I must admit though, that I was I surprised Boyles & Co. did not use the resignation of SBVP Lydia Washington, the replacement process, and/or the disarray that Cabinet must have found itself in during this past summer as a plausible excuse to keep informed-voters in their hip pocket. On the other hand, the Alligator also made no mention of Swamp's complete control of both governing branches or of last semester's sweep at the polls. I loved the shameless Weiss-plug in the article, with over a dozen paragraph-like entities devouted to the SG Executive, a couple for Clouston (the Minority), and two for Weiss.

I love how in assessing the accomplishments of the Swamp Party in the Student Senate, Ms. DaSilva and the Alligator make reference only to Josh Weiss; I'm sure in "Today's Senate" the name Josh Weiss also includes JCB, Hardwick, Loh, Green, etc... Elections be damned, if the Alligator wants to level the presidential playing field that's fine, but they should have mentioned at least two more Swamp kids in Senate (3 in exec, 3 in legislative), this way it would have seemed as if it was equal between candidates and equal between branches. Putting Weiss as the lone Swamp star in senate is just a disservice to those members of the Party that have worked long hours so that the Party could at least boast of 1/4 of its platform by this point in the term.

***I sent out a special W.O.T.N invitation to key leaders of both parties, but I am told it's reading days/finals time, so I'll just post the two responses I received and be grateful for that:


From Sen. Jordan Loh:

Thank you for inviting me to participate.

"Swamp laid out an ambitious and attainable platform. Unfortunately, important initiatives, such as an SG sponsored book exchange, involved processes that may take more than one or two election cycles to realize, despite concerted effort. The Swamp Party, led by SBP John Boyles, has been an active and successful advocate for students in as varied arenas as student representation in city government to fighting attempts to raise towing rates. To judge the success of Swamp merely by what has been completely accomplished to date (and even that is quite a bit) would be deceptive- the executive branch and the entire Senate have been investing time and energy in programs and projects, such as improving busing transportation on campus, that will pay dividends in the future."

Concise (As Requested). To the point. Excellent. TY Sen. Loh.

From Sen. Gavin Baker:

1. The students' needs: 3 / 5
The Boyles/Swamp administration has done a decent job of attempting to address student needs.

As far as I know, all of SG's popular programs and services have been preserved. Some of the less effective programs have also been preserved, such as some of the under-utilized cabinets. On the other hand, some programs have had fat trimmed, such as the CPA ticket subsidy, and others have been strengthened, such as the readership programs, which finally found their way into the annual budget.

The early challenge of adjusting the AY 06-07 budget to deal with deficit was ably met. It didn't all turn out the way I'd have liked -- I wanted SG to cut more of its own fat, cut less from student groups, and find ways to put more expenses in the budget rather than paying from reserves -- but the basic criterion was satisfied, and on time.

The 07-08 budget was, I think, really quite good. Again, I'd have preferred a leaner SG internal budget, but it could have been a lot worse. We're directing extra funds to the Reitz Union because they need it -- and of everything SG does, probably nothing affects more students more directly than the Union. Similarly, the recently-passed special events budget directs more to the events that need it, such as Kaleidoscope month. I would have preferred a higher overall growth for our organizations, but there weren't a lot of options, and I hope that the Budget Committee will parcel it out in the most effective way.

In terms of student advocacy, I think the administration has been decently effective. I feel like the Lobby Coordinator is out on his own at times -- this important office should be given higher priority, more staff, and more funding. The administration took the right position on the Academic Enhancement Program and the minus grade proposal, even if we arrived there someone haltingly. The real test will be the spring legislative session in Tallahassee. We should have been more engaged, and more quickly, in the CLAS situation, but we did alright. On city matters, again, they haven't hit anything out of the park, but they haven't fumbled anything major either (to mix sports metaphors).

I can't give a ringing endorsement on any of the above (with the exception of the 07-08 budget, which I'm rather a fan of), but there's nothing horrible either.

The horrible part is the utter failure of Chomp the Vote. This is an extremely important program to students individually as well as for our goals as a Student Government (since more voters = more ability to get what we want), and I don't think it's a stretch to say it's important to the future of the country. I don't know who to blame here, but SG totally dropped the ball here. This should have been a hallmark of the administration, but instead, it may be one of its biggest failures.

2. Principles of leadership: 2 / 5
SG hasn't made more than baby steps toward better accountability, transparency, accessibility, and involvement.

I don't know that I've ever been outright lied to (with the exception of "we did not promise positions"*), but I don't feel like our leadership has been entirely honest with us, either. Some leadership figures have been very forthcoming, but others, less so.

The administration's relationship with the press is not entirely frosty, but it ought to be warmer.

Blue Key's influence is still too strong, there are still too few non-Greeks, and personal and/or partisan politics still rears its ugly head too often.

* I know some Swampie will want to tell me I'm wrong on the issue of patronage. Go ahead and spare us both. You're not gonna change anyone's mind.

3. Swamp's own goals: 3 / 5

Well, the article speaks for itself. They've only accomplished a few, they've started on some, and -- if my math works here -- there's some issues they haven't even really started on, halfway through their term.

Aside from the Alligator piece, President Boyles delivered his sort of "state of the SG" report on Tuesday. Many of the subjects he claimed, in fact, had little if anything to do with SG's efforts on that front.

Many will probably not be accomplished within the term, and some will probably never be accomplished. Of course, that alone is not a reason not to try -- but it's not entirely honest to say that plans are being discussed for a 24-hour study location on campus, to paraphrase one statement made, when those plans were already being discussed, and no particular involvement on SG's part has been cited.

Some goals have been inverted entirely. In Spring, the promise was more courtesy(yellow) and emergency (blue) phones. Then, when we needed to save money, SG began an attempt to find "wasteful spending" in nonfunctional, underutilized, or redundant yellow phones -- and rather than increasing the number, it actually decreased. It can be argued that this is actually the best thing to do, since it's the most effective use of resources, but we should not disregard that it is nonetheless a reversal of platform.

The promises to increase diversity in SG and reform SG to better represent students are failures. It's not that nothing was attempted,but rather, it was too little, too late.

The platforms really promised the stars, and that makes it hard to deliver. This is a bit of a structural problem: to stay competitive, parties feel pressured to promise a lot, when in reality, SG's capabilities are quite limited (particularly vis-a-vis faculty, the administration, the city, the state, etc.) I don't think Swamp was, on the whole, that much worse (if any) than Unite or Action on this count, but they haven't made things any better, either.

There's still three months left for the Spring senators and five months left for the executives, so things could happen -- or they might not, and I might have to revise my score down in the final count.

A Book, not-at-all concise, but a good book. TY Sen. Baker

From Sen. Pedro Morales:

Thank you for the opportunity to include me in the list of student leaders and for soliciting my opinion! I don't know if I'll be able to meet the requirement to respond concisely. :)

I think Swamp is doing a decent job. As always there is room for improvement but there are important things that must be highlighted.

For one, I have to congratulate Swamp in successfully including a diverse slate of people in Senate and Cabinet. I am most proud of the new Hispanic, Asian American and African American, and LGBTQ members of the Senate and Cabinet. While Swamp retains its "system tendencies", I think it has made a good attempt, if not, at deflating the usual opposition. This Spring race will be most interesting, because the way, in my opinion, Swamp has managed to, no pun intended, "unite" the diverse opposition under their banners. I will be watching the Spring race most intently, for I predict and perhaps look forward to the campus being united under one moderate and hard-working presidential candidate. This Spring race definitely will be unique and I look forward to it.

One thing that I am most happy is that the Mayors Council were able to come through Allocations for their international movie night, given that they had the budget shortfall, Allocations stepped up beautifully to help this organization. Last Thursday, President Machen announced at the Graduate Student Council his priorities for graduate students, namely, continuing funding for GatorGradCare through the FL Legislature, raising graduate assistant stipends across the board, and building a new graduate housing village.

Reapportionment was a bit disappointing, in the sense that I was hoping for an eighth graduate seat. I acknowledge that I cannot complain about it, because I take the blame for it. The resolution recommending no reapportionment passed in the Senate by one vote, which was mine. I favored it because I thought Sen. Ryan Nelson had good points in his debate, but I saw little willingness from the Senate Judiciary Committee to draft a different proposal. So since the current apportionment is now unconstitutional, due to my interpretation, and the folding Architecture and BCP, I voted in favor of the resolution, so it could move out of the Senate's hands and into the SG Supreme Court. Had I voted against it, I would have forced Judiciary to redraft a new reapportionment bill, so in that respect, I failed to watch out for my constituents.

Another interesting book, LOL. TY for your response, nice touch.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Just In: Special Court Coverage

Supervisor of Elections Brian Aungst confirms TR special Q&A Appearance.

In the upcoming days I will try to cover the court case as best as possible. The JA interview is almost ready, but this blog must address the current issue facing the UF Supreme Court properly before calling it a year and posting the Headliner-Q&A-of-2006 (I wonder if James is gigglin right now - or - flexing in front of the PC, pretending to rip his shirt off, and mumbling "HULKAMANIA, BROTHER! WATCHA GONNA DO WHEN HULKMANIA RUNS WILD ON YOU BROTHER!") LOL.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

News/Commentary Digest

Back to the old TR format. The FBK/Gossip Hour is over.
The Argento interview is ok, but I can do much better.
New release: 12/9/06
Please no more FBK-related emails.
TR is for SG & Campus News, period.

Quit whining about 'minus' grades, UF

I encourage my students to be articulate, but this is just too much. This letter reminds me of the verbage used by Katie Holmes on Dawson's Creek (which btw used to annoy the hell out of me). Anyone that uses the word "mar" during self-talk should have been on the Dawson's Creek cast, or, on My So Called Life (MTV) but I doubt anyone besides Argento, Carmody, and Capezza even know what that show is.

While I understand her concept that the minus grades would significantly raise the bar, make grades more competitive, there should still be limits. The arguement that most schools have +/- doesn't hold water and I'll tell you why. For starters the professors that Ms. Holland is citing are wrong, UF grades are not presently inflated...they are no more inflated that at Ivy League schools where Grade Forgiveness is permitted! During 2004 when Sen. Heather Cumminngs (Innovate) wrote legislation for this very issue, many of us that supported her found multiple schools higher up than UF that allowed for this. The rebuttal was simple, "those schools aren't UF," so if that arguement worked for an issue that clearly would benefit the students, then that arguement should also hold for an issue that could very well be detrimental to them as well.

As a blogger, I am opposed to the +/= implementation and I think this school is already being force-fed this competition bullshit. Because of the competitiveness spouted by Machen and students like Holland, students will have to foot $1,000 increases in tuition and now sacrifice their GPA's. When they tell you to walk around barefoot on campus because it will make you more competitive, will you do that too? C'mon people, they're bullshittting you, wake up!

That's my opinion however. We each have one. Opposing views like those held by IRHA PResident E.J. Walicki and Student Senator Pedro Morales are good ones and strong on their own merits as well, but Ms. Holland's letter seems to be a little much. She has been contacted (as will anyone on whose work I comment, should wish to write a rebuttal to my opinion).

Slightly Older Stories Below

Ben & Jerry's makes transition to cage-free Hens

This is excellent news! As some of you may know, I've maintained a vegetarian diet since 1994 and have been an animal rights activist since then as well. Buying eggs from cage-free farms is not only more humane, but the chickens have less stress, and the quality is generally far-superior. Some factory animals are born, live their lives, and die all in a cage. Factory farming is cruel and often fails to meet FDA/USDA health regulations. I am so happy Ben & Jerry's is taking the initiative here, kudos to the Vermont Creameries on this one!

And yes...good job Stephanie Garry for publishing this. Great Work!

Grapski: Champion of the Masses

You know, for a blog that receives hits from so many kids in interested in law, in law school, and in the legal field, I was sure that we'd have some interesting debate goin in here. While Charlie could have been much more concise, there is defitnitely cause for alarm in the city of Alachua.

Think about this. There ia city government that has harassed, arrested, banned, and through the State Attorney's Office, has sought to file criminal charges against one man. Charles Grapski is the best friend democracy in America has, he may sue those he disagrees with, but guess what, that's our God-given right as Americans. In some countries you gun down your enemies or they gun you down, in other countries you put a spell on them (LOL), here in the USA we have the courts and God Blees 'em. Charlie, like myself and the vast majority of Americans has put his faith firmly in the letter of the law. And so far the State has offered him deals, which he's slapped away, and the courts through the state's case out.

Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, if you're an American, Charlie's cause should be your cause as well.

Student debates on Fox

This article called my attention some days ago and I wanted to rant about it a little. I for one am for the most part a liberal, though I have some issues with abortion (still making me Pro-Choice for gov't, though Pro-Life personally) and with religion. I believe religion has no place in government, but this article raised other concerns.

For starters Cross City is not a major metropolis, but should that matter? I'm thinking out loud here, I encourage y'all do the same in the comments area. So yeah, should Cross City be less-deserving of my secularist vision that say a small city like Gainesville or a large one like Miami? No. Still, in a place like Cross City it could be more feasible to make the case that the vast majority want the statue present, but then again....all it takes is for a handful to want it gone and then what?

I'm a firm believer in the division between Church & State, in fact, I'm also very skeptical of religion within the confines of the public school system and folks..organized religion has seeped into the system through the cracks. Some public schools are hardly as secularized as many of you might take for granted.

Although I want to agree with the dissenter on Fox, I think one bias I have towards the type of organization that this particular student is a member of goes back to my 40-Org Tour while campaigning for Access in the Spring 2004. I remember visiting the Atheist & Agnostic Student Association and sitting in for an entire meeting of theirs. I never arrived at org-meetings towards the end (even if the exec's allowed it), mainly beacuse if you as a speaker can't sit through their presentation why would on Earth should they sit through yours?

What I found odd about the group was that it seemed to be a clearing-house of all concepts anti-religion, as opposed to an association of like-minded people talking about their own faith, or lack there-of. To be an atheist simply means not to believe in a supernatural Being and to be an agnostic means to not be closed to the possibility of a supernatural Being. If they want to read Dickens and talk about how long it will take for their bodies to decmpose post-mortem then fine, but they mostly whine about the people with faith, they tend to be vicious and quite insensitive and it's almost like they have a great time making it crappy for those of us that believe in God. At least that's how it was when I was there and I felt very uncomfortable.

I don't care how far science goes, I will always believe in and worship Jesus & honor Mary (worship is not honor, get that fact right about Catholicism). I'm Roman Catholic and that's that. I believe in the division of Church & State and agree with the student on Fox, but I am more-than-slightly concerned with what his true motives were. Comments?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Hello There! It's James Argento."

I have to say that yesterday's game was off the chain. Granted I didn't watch most of it because I was hanging out with some very old friends (my Access partner-in-crime and my Voice-partner-in-crime...two people I care very much about). I had my first beer in 8months, sadly it was a 16oz of Natty light, had three, then went to Leonardo's By The Slice.

Yes Leonardo's one of the last self-respecting GDI eateries in all of Gainesville. But's true...they are no longer just known for their black attire, almost rude indifference to customers, and the angst of celebrating early 80's punk/goth culture in the depths of mainstream post-grunge-what-does-it-all-mean-2006 -- they inserted a lcd television in that mofo and it was tuned to the Gator game. The jocks penetrated GDI country, but it was cool watching the football game and speaking with my old Access-mate whom told me about his travels in eastern Cuba and Yucatan (Mexico). When asked, he told me the people in Cuba lived much better. Socialism & pizza folks and gator football, what a night.

The James Argento interview is coming up soon. It will be out December 5th and please if you receive an email to check it out and you don't want to receive them, please let me know like Sen. Sharpless did. Good on ya mate...

I promise this interview will rock your socks off. I have also done my best to get key people to ask James some really great questions including NicK Capezza, Chris Carmody, Ryan Nelson, & Tommy Jardon.

Q&A coming soon guys, be patient.