Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Jamal Sowell: A Look Back
The Radikal has inspired other blogs to interview, a time-honored tradition that goes beyond what the blogger him-/herself has to say. Today I'd like to start the first "A Look Back" and I hope to hear from Argento, Gruskin, Aungst, Carmody, Kane, Morales, Bracco, my regulars, and even a handful of the internet trolls out there too. I'd like to know what you thought of Jamal Sowell's presidency, not Access, but the man who's stroke of the pen ran the SG battleship from 2004 - 2005.
I think Jamal Sowell was one of the best potential candidates the System had going into the Fall 2003. At this time I was just getting my feet wet with Ignite and very early on I found myself committed to breaking away and joining the Student Alliance the coming Spring. The fact that Kyle Jones wanted no part with a Sowell run made me think even more into his candidacy and my support for him -- this mind is long before I knew James Argento -- though James would undeniably become my political mentor and in time, according to some, he would be both Peter's and my own political go-to-person or chief. I for one did not obey Andre and I suspect this was the case with Peter as well.
One thing is for sure, Peter and I weren't part of the initial groundwork, where you had James, Andre, and rumor has it my fraternity brother Justin Rees , amongst others. However we joined literally the first day of school of Spring '04 and Access still hadn't even registered officially. From this point throughout the day Jamal took office, Access was a troika. You had Andre at the lead, with Frances & James in secondary capacities. From January to May 2004 I would say Jamal was the fourth most involved. I remember one time at senate Jamal whispered in my ear to try and table a bill being sponsored by Innovate-scum, excuse, by members of the Innovate Party, LOL. I was all for it, but when I took a better seat to inform Andre that I would in fact not con the bill that I had decided w/ Jamal to take a different route, Andre said "no, we're not doing that." I normally didn't bow to Andre, but this was maybe five minutes after I had publicly thanked him for his service to the Party, it was one of two times in the year I was in office that I ever thought Andre tolerated me, so I didn't say anything. I just looked back at Jamal and he looked at me and then stared at the floor, I also noticed the look Andre was giving him upon turning around -- TRUE STORY.
However, upon getting into office, we felt Jamal come more into his own. It wouldn't be until late February of 2005! that he would gain momentum and speak confidently in chambers; he was always very nervous and at the height of it, I remember JG smirking and almost laughing at Jamal's stuttering and lack of organization at the podium. It was also very unnerving to see Scott Kenelly (and even Travis Marsh) totally pulverize Jamal in the debates (the Law School one being the worse). I, for one, would cringe in my seat hoping Jamal would be brief. "But ummmm...." -- shut up Pete, LOL.
As far as appointments go, Jamal should have watched Jennifer Puckett more closely. The soon-to-be-Key-herself, gave far too many key posts to enemies of the Party and let me stress the term enemies. All throughout the Summer 2004, there were several plots from clever to downright hateful and conniving to impeach Jamal and these were the people that Jennifer was awarding and assigning to key posts. Had we won clean the first time, I think SA and the Indie core of Access would have not put up with JP's hiring practices, however, for the Run-Off yes we did get more votes, "hip hip hoorah!," but we also took a slice of FBK and that slice tainted the Yellow & Blue revolution, though it wouldn't take effect until the Fall 2004 when Andre (w/ Frances & James gone) would sell the Party to the System.
The summer proved chaotic with Jamal standing down on the Will Sexton appointment, upholding legacies in the Big 8, JP's (imo) reconciliatory appointments, & the flimsy support of Joe Goldberg for Senate President. Still, we were able to rejoin FSA, though we couldn't lose the private lobbyists (kudos to you G/FBK's) and we split Access in 3-ways (Access, SA, & Keg) to gain a false control of the R&A Committee -- I actually had to switch to the Keg Party where I'd stay until late Fall. Interestingly, Ricky Caplin was made Keg Leader, a nice guy but an odd pic....though a great Allocations Chair. I believe I was the only senator at that time in contact with Travis Marsh and I remember emailing him a few times, b/c I felt uneasy being under his Party and not contacting its leadership, so I made sure to do so.
Then we move to Spring, where Jamal (like Andre) initially support Dennis, but with Progress & Voice splitting, they get lost for the bulk of the election. I can't speak for Progress, though I think MM's whole motive for splitting was a desire to capitalize on moderate support in Access and to garner Greek support that a certain buddy of his had been telling him was his for the claiming. The average Progress supporters lived in the halls and were Indie at heart, but not to the core. They were middle of the road, sold a clean SG, and got along with both major parties, they were also very kind to the underdog Naderites -- Voice. They were so middle of the road, that I believe Ignite Whip Meredith Pelton was feeding Progress information, by this point it's been rumored she hated Goldberg and was furious that the System passed on re-slating her. There was also friction from a showdown between her, MP, & EB at one of the last Summer '04 meetings, where they all stormed out when Joe would no longer cross their t's and dot their i's, but Joe wasn't a revolutionary, he was a business man, just like John Boyles.
I knew Dennis was lost when I met with him and Andre at the Orange & Brew. At first Andre awnted to meet in the basement floor and that was a no-go. Goldberg had met with our people, we had a broad understanding with Progress, but nothing with Impact. Voice was running a campaign of attrition, our first and primary objective was to weaken the hold of Andre Inc on the core of the GDI's. We aimed to sell ourselves as the tiniest, poorest, and most hardcore of the parties. We had spoken with Brian Offenther and Eric Gordon, they sympathized with us and no one else. We knew if we just could take the GDI's we could force Impact to the table, just like we forced Access Fall 2004. Andre spoke, Dennis said little. The fact Dennis was so quiet, the fact it took him so long to announce, and the fact he seemed to have so much faith in Andre (something we [Peter and I found worrisome]) led us to disengage w/Impact and reassess our campaign. Another key blow was that no one could concretely tell us where Jamal stood, who he'd support, only at the very end did he come out, almost simultaneous to Andre's public return and failed attempt to takeover Impact from the new generation of Indie masters-to-be.
Jamal was a good president, but I think Andre ruled through him to a great extent and that was a problem. Overall, he was a great SBP and overall we were able to work around him to accomplish many of our goals. Still, it was great to be able to enter the office of a SBP I elected, sit on the couch, and lay my head back and listen to him on the phone and motion for me not to go if I grew impatient. It was good to have a leader at the top of the heap that cared about you and what you had to say. Many of today's GDI's with Boyles and now Moseley have no way of relating to what I'm talking about, but those were the days.
What do you think of Student Body President Jamal Sowell?