Saturday, May 12, 2007

Legends of SG: Nick Capezza

TheRadiKal: When did you arrive at UF & what are some of the first organizations you got involved with?

Nick Capezza: I arrived in the summer of 1999 and got involved with the Gary Slossberg/Jeremy Kaplan Vision Party that fall. I would get involved with the BOCC later that year for the first time as well.

The RadiKal: Did you ever rush an IFC fraternity and/or show any interest in joining Savant or Florida Blue Key? If so or not, why? Do you believe that during your time at UF, that FBK ran Student Government either covertly or overtly?

Nick Capezza Never rushed a fraternity and never had an interest in FBK or Savant. I was at Florida doing my thing, did not feel the need to receive recognition from an elitist organization. And I am not in particular a fan of the Greek system.

The RadiKal: What thoughts did you have (or still have) when mention of the campaign/election between Marc Adler & Gil Sanchez comes to mind? Any memorable experiences from this time, any issues or grief you might have had? Do you think any foul play took place? Did Gil have a solid case in your opinion?

Nick Capezza: I remember being pulled in multiple directions during that election and manipulated by different people, whether or not they had the best of intentions I cannot say. At one point I was aligned with people who were going to leave Gil's campaign and support Adler but that never came to fruition and I am positive it made me look bad in the eyes of some people. My role was financial, as it always was since the Ian Lane campaign, and the funniest thing I can remember was being asked to get some money together so we could get a boot removed from Gil's car because of parking tickets.

There is always foul play, especially in this election where you had FBK members on both sides, loyalties tested, a lot at stake. Did Gil have a solid case? From my perspective, which was on the front lines, absolutely. Votes were not counted that should've been counted and other shenanigans went on. I can say that because I know that without question.

The RadiKal: What was it like working with James Argento and Ken Kerns in the Voice Party? Did they pull the party leadership back and forth at the highest levels or did the party pretty much have the luxury of a unified [executive] front? Please elaborate.

Nick Capezza: I would say the Voice Party was as unified a front as you will get in any political organization. Ken and James are different in their views and approaches to leadership but they are both very good leaders, as I believe I am. I had known Ken a long time, since he helped with the Fall 1999 senate campaign with Vision and knew James well enough by that point too. I knew we could work well together and I could trust them.

The RadiKal: What was the central purpose of your version of the Voice Party? Did the Party succeed or fail in its endeavors? Last, but not least, what was it like working with the Argento brothers?

Nick Capezza: Our Voice Party became the only alternative to the "system" in the Fall 2001 elections. After the Ian Lane and Gil Sanchez splits, the band was back together, which created the chance for new independent leaders and people like Gainesville mayoral candidate Adam Guillette to get involved. The Argento Brothers are good guys. James and I may have had some personality clashes but he is a good person and not afraid to jump in head first if the situation demands it. Joe Argento was a very good friend of mine and we had a private falling out but he was a very big help on the campaign and a good person in general.

The RadiKal:There's an article where you quoted as saying “If they slap us in the face, we can’t just sit still." Not many student leaders speak this way when referring to the Gainesville City Commission, very Radikal of you in fact. Tell us about that comment and what was going on at the time?

Nick Capezza: I believe I was talking about the Commission's "rave ordinance" plans, to close bars early despite an obvious sentiment from the student population against this move. I feel that way today still about the way the local government has treated UF students and as someone who attended law school in another college town (Bloomington, Indiana) I know that the tension between students and the local authorities does not have to exist.

The RadiKal: Word Association, please share a few words to a sentence of your first thoughts when you read over a name:

Marc Adler: I was programmed to consider him the enemy but I am sure he isn't any different than the people I associated with. I regret being put in a situation where he was misled about my interest in assisting his campaign

James Argento: Intelligent and dedicated, someone we should all watch out for in politics in the years to come

Jamal Sowell: Didn't know him personally but he was able to achieve something very special, I respect that

Tim Stevens: Very glad to have worked with him, brought home our one Senate seat

Charles Grapski: Revolutionary, hard-working, someone that cast a very wide shadow even today

Jason Weare I agree that SG could and should do more for students living on campus, if Ian Lane had been elected in 2000 I might have been able to do something about that then

Ken Kerns: A good friend, more of a prime minister than a president type, great policy person even at the SG level

Tony Domenech: No real opinions

Christian Duque: Continuing to fight the good fight, a very noble effort indeed

Jon Curran: Didn't do the job he was appointed to do in my view, wanted to impose his own will on the electoral process

Gil Sanchez: A good guy, would have had a great SBP administration given the people involved

Joel Howell: A great friend, great leader, someone that my Voice Party helped advance

Nikki Fried: Always treated me with respect, trustworthy, came through on what she said she would

The RadiKal: Tell us about your time as a Student Senator. Were you elected or approved? Highlights? Low points? Bills? Votes?

Nick Capezza: I was appointed and cast the deciding vote for the new Senate leadership. After that, not much really happened before I left for law school at Indiana. I used my position and the public forum most of the time to rail on the ridiculousness that the Alligator spewed forth.

The RadiKal: What student, if any, do you think should have run for SB President with the independents (that never did) and why do you think they would have been so good?

Nick Capezza: Ken Kerns. I was ready to financially back him against Adler and Gil. He would have been a good President and given the right people around him, I include myself in that, he could have done alot of good for the student body

The RadiKal:Tell us about Fat Man After Dark, how can we access it, and more about where you're currently living, what you're up to, and anything else.

Nick Capezza: Fat Man After Dark is an internet radio talk and music show I started last year that has recently moved to a new station, WGMU Radio. We talk alot of politics, sports, current events, and we play alot of great music that isn't usually heard on the radio including from independent bands and musicians. We have guests ranging from artists to political commentators to athletes to elected officials. The show is on from 9pm to 11pm Monday and Wednesday nights, exclusively at WGMU Radio, You can also get more info at our website,

After leaving UF, I went to Indiana University law school and served two years on the Student Body Supreme Court. I currently live inside Washington, DC and work as a legal consultant for law firms on different projects. I also, briefly, ran a small political action committee, Young Americans Now. I would like to get into legislation/public policy work but I enjoy my current responsibilities. Not married, no children, continue to support political causes.

Thanks for the interview.


Anonymous said...

Holy shit! He got tired of no one reading his blog!

Anonymous said...

Marc is an asshole who needs to keep it in his pants.

Anonymous said...

Best interview yet. I thought Capezza was more honest than Argento. Plus I didn't know there are two argentos, I just knew about James. Also you should interview Ken Kerns. I would like to get his thoughts.

Christian Duque said...

Ken has my email. I'd love nothing more. On JA, I think James is a bit more guarded about the past than Nick, then again I do have to concur with NC in that James will probably be political in the future -- hence I don't think he wants to burn bridges where he doesn't have to.

On Adler, I'd love to do a Q&A with him, this is well known. I have people that tell me he reads TR often, or at least did up until Jan. 2007, so you never know.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hey Kim, forgot you were logged in?

Anonymous said...

Duque when are you doing a report card on the most incompetent administration ever? Swamp sucked so bad. How bad do you have to suck that an entire campaign is run on the premise that SG sucks?

Anonymous said...

Running a campaign on "SG sucks" while it may seem like was a reaction to an incompetent incumbant party; however, it was in fact run because the Pants party leadership was incompetent and chose this brilliant idea.

Anonymous said...

Lol you honestly thing swamp is to blame for pants running on on shitty campaign?

bruce said...

if you think we were targeting swamp specifically when we said SG Sucks, you're wrong. System politics, be they here, in Tallahassee, or in Washington, do not serve the best interests of their electorates. It's all special interests (organizations).

You could throw out any party that's won at UF and I would contend that they sucked, Access included.

And us running a bad campaign? Well, we ran the type we wanted to and made no deals. I have no regrets. :)


Christian Duque said...

Some interesting points. Bruce makes mention of Access (Boo Hoo! ), but he's correct. We had a great apparatus (AA/GDI Union), with great political planners. Argento graduating served as a major disservice to the faction under him, Frances would eventually be cast aside with Eric Gordon moving into position.

Eric was radiKal and hard-working, but lacked the needed-resistance and resilience to bullshit that Frances had. Eric would eventually 'burn-out' and resign all posts in SG -- a good man, but sad to say, not FH. With Eric/Frances fading and Argento out, Access became Andre's and b/c Mr. Ngin (a perfect Pres. candidate up until Fall '04) chose to stand down, we effectively allowed the Party to be sold on the auction block to Greek/FBK interests. So Bruce is right, for Fall/Spring 2004-2005 Access did suck and did sell-out, BUT, for Spring/Summer (3months) Access defied the rule and became the exception.

II. System Parties

I agree with Bruce, but won't comment on Swamp until the Report Card is released. I will say I was bitter to have given my endorsement pending only in that Lydia was the Veep candidate, only to see Lydia gone less than a semester into it.

I agree with NINA in that picking Arturo was simply FBK/John's way of picking a "place-holder" to quote Ms. DeJong. No disrespect to Mr. Armand, but his selection was a peculiar one.

However, as to the case Bruce is making, Arturo's selection fits in perfectly with the assessment that System politics serve special interests as opposed to the electorate.

Anyway, this Report Card will surely bring some lively debate.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Swamp served the interests of the electorate in the selection of Armand, as can be seen in his resounding victory in a four way competition for votes of the... who? Oh, that would be the electorate. They picked who they wanted and believed in. And don't bring up all those students who don't vote and their interests because they obviously don't have an interest as seen by the lack of taking the two minutes it takes to cast a ballot. Therefore, their interest is in whoever the people who actually care elect since by not voting, they abdicate their interest. Also, don't argue that on-line voting would "fix" this problem of apathy. Point first to a place, not ridden with scandal and where student politics have not become a joke (read Pirate Party) and maybe we can discuss on-line voting.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with student politics being a joke if the students want them to be? Just because you don't think its right, doesn't mean that's not what the electorate wants.

In the same post you say the electorate has spoken and should be trusted.... just subject to your approval of every decision. I'm wondering who made you dictator of what public opinion is acceptable.

bruce said...

People don't vote because they think it makes no difference, either because whoever wins won't care about them, or because they believe everything is too corrupt.

Don't make leaps of logic to assert that by not voting, they are actually heartily endorsing whoever wins. Go ask 10 random students in Turlington if they care about what's going on with SG...

And... "Also, don't argue that on-line voting would "fix" this problem of apathy."

What are you talking about? Who argued that in here?

Pedro said...

People generally do not vote because it does not make a difference to them, or because they are unable to make the connection between their vote and how something might have changed in their favor. In other words, in their minds, what happened or failed to happen that benefit them is not clearly connected to those individuals whom they could put into office.

Take for example, the weekly blurb on Senate meetings published by the alligator on Wednesdays. I never bothered to read it until after a couple of months in Senate, specifically when the controversy of R&A voting to break Lola Bovell's tenure and deny her re-entry into the Budget Committee. I began following the Senate blurbs weekly, even though I knew what they would write about, since I was there to witness it, and because I love seeing my name in print, if I made the paper.

I think Chairwoman Asher is doing great with I&C to make people more aware of the Senate and its business, but there is something inherently insular about the third floor. Not very many people know that there is a third floor in the Reitz (probably it's the hotel) and even few care that SG's offices are upstairs. So Senate President Boyles had a great idea when he moved the Senate around, although it only resulted in the famous Law School Senate meeting 11-08-2005 with the fight over the honorarium cap amendment to the Special Events budget. Anyways, moving that was a great idea to at least engage more people in the business of the senate.

Even though I initially opposed the idea of district constituency requirements, I think it has great potential to make a difference, as the lobby coordinator now has more man-power to get its work done. There should probably be a permanent Senate committee to work with the Lobby director's office on off-campus issues, with members selected by R&A and all the whole nine yards.

Here in Puerto Rico, politics are ultimately fanatical more than logical. And we have around 85% voter turnout on an island of a voting population of 2.5 million people. But there is very little to fanaticize the public about in SG that would lead to such turnout figures. But in retrospect, I wouldn't expect these thing to change, since what can SG do? Where does SG's jurisdiction begin and end? After all, many senators question the Senate's jurisdiction to address any subject that might seep out of the tight sieve of the University. (like the Cingular bill or Looby's resolution on gas prices).

Anyways I disgress, but it's been fun!


Christian Duque said...

Pedro, is the PIP popular anywhere in Puerto Rico? Does it win any local races or have any clout? Just curious -- I am a big fan.

Also Pedro makes some strong points and I really liked his mention of the Senate meeting at the Law School. I'm not a big Boyles supporter, but kudos to him on that one.

I think the Joint Meetings (Leg./Exec.) are great, but so seldom that they fail to really unite the branches, professionally speaking. Holding an open air meets townhall senate meeting right dead center of Turlington would also be a very powerful, but rather radiKal, maybe too radiKal for the current System administration.

Anyway, good post.

Pedro said...

Wow I love this topic! ;-)

The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) is nowhere close to popular. It receives a measly 3 to 5% at the polls every election cycle, barely enough for it to keep its party franchise (5% req'd by PR Electoral Law).

The PIP lost its electoral franchise after the 2004 elections (a very interesting topic) because about 28,000 PIP voters had to make a Salomonic decision for the good of the island, which cost the party
their franchise, albeit briefly.

There are several pro-independence factions in Puerto Rico, but they are too busy in-fighting with each other, so only the PIP assumes the electoral role, while others engage in other outlets of participation in civil society.

But there is hefty public financing that all registered political parties receive, like around 40 million, to be divided among 3 parties, every four years.

The PIP is no GDI party. There is a Law of Minorities crafted into the PR Constitution stating that no party may control 2/3 or more of any house of the Legislative Assembly, so if one party obtains this massive turnout, additional seats are added to the house(s) until that party has less than 2/3. And under PR Electoral Law, the minority parties get other quirks which keeps them as active members of the System, one of them being the public financing of the parties, which pay the salaries of the same employees over and over again, and the same people who are hugely fat from their government salaries.

And now a new fringe "GDI" party has assembled, the Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico (PPR) and it will have its own share of the electoral funds. This is a true GDI party, and hopefully it can amass some support between now and fall of 08 elections. At least with the Law of Minorities, it will probably seek to get its foot in the door and then maybe run some serious candidates in 2012. But it may engage other sectors of civil society into the political process outside of the fanatism which is caused by the choice between statehood, "free-associated state", and independence, which is at the quagmire and crux of Puerto Rican political organization and thought.


Christian, I think your idea of having Senate at Turlington Plaza is GREAT!!! When my cousins become UF students I'll pull all my amazing clout ;-) to make one of them Senate President. And then we can have Senate at the Set!!

But we don't need to be that big, I think Senate Exec could meet at the Set, or SG Exec. It even has a great catchy sound.

Come .. to meet your Exec at the Set!

Of course, RU 282 is a pretty warm room with the collective BTU's of the entire Senate membership plus guests. Stoney's committee was the best, I wish it would have been a real one.

But with the love for attire and fashion in SG; if Senate is held on even the north lawn, I am sure those dry-cleaning bills will go up extensively and the sales for Stain-Remover will also soar!

But senators might have to bring their own towels to senate and they might keep reusing dirty towels, and that might just be... uggghh... GROSS!!!
(That was an awesome piece of debate too, thanks Joe G for the laughs!!)

Don't take yourselves too seriously! Stop and smell the bull-crap but laugh at it too, and stepping on dog poo is supposedly a good omen for you to go buy a winning lottery ticket and retire at age 30.


Anonymous said...

Boyles was copying something fmr senate presidents as far back as Adler when he "moved" senate. Please people. Boyles' administration was corrupt and incompetent. Kinda like another administration in power...

Anonymous said...

ive left bigger legends in my toilet