Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Maverick GDI Speaks!

TheRaDiKaL: Who are you? When did you arrive at UF and what organizations/causes are you active with?

Sen. Eric Wolf: I'm a fourth-year Political Science and Geography student from Bradenton, Florida. I started at UF in Fall 2005 intending to study Political Science and Music. I've been involved in Model United Nations, several music organizations, and I was Treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honorary, which took up a lot of my time prior to entering Student Government.

After being elected to Senate, I was asked by Senate President Kellie Dale to serve as the Student Government Finance Liaison. I've been working with the finance office ever since to streamline the budget process for student organizations. I'm also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Budget and Appropriations Committee, and I'm co-chairing an ad hoc committee to overhaul the Student Government website.

TheRaDiKaL: What got you factor(s) got you involved in Student Government? And what's it like serving the most important College at the University (I too was a CLAS Senator)?

Sen. Eric Wolf: I had little interaction with UF's Student Government until this last semester; I have always been interested in politics generally, and much of my youth was spent learning about government and public administration at the local government level. Last summer, I interned as a business climate analyst at Manatee County's Economic Development Council, and worked at a law firm representing clients who had been ripped off by corrupt stock-brokers and investment banks. Helping people fight against massive corporations—and often winning those battles—was a great thrill for me, and really inspired me to consider going into public service.

Serving as a Senator representing the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is an incredible honor. Undoubtedly, what I love the most about CLAS is its remarkable diversity. CLAS includes people from every walk of life, studying an amazing range of disciplines, and I'm really humbled to be their voice in Student Government. It drives me to work as hard as I possibly can for them.

TheRaDiKaL: What can you tell us about the Orange & Blue Party's role in Senate? Are caucus meetings run collectively? To what extent do the Party senators listen to the Party's campaign-time Executive Board?

Sen. Eric Wolf: Since our party is vastly outnumbered in chambers—roughly, 10 Orange and Blue Senators to 80 Gator Party Senators—we have to pick and choose our battles wisely for maximum effectiveness. I think the majority party was surprised that they would have to adjust to our presence in chambers as much as they did. Perhaps this initial discomfort would be best represented by the fight over Sheldon Nagesh's residency in District E.

I would say that there is generally collective decision making within the party. I think one of the best things about Orange and Blue is that we have a great base of people who aren't in Senate—they're students who just truly care. Hearing their ideas and perspectives about watching Student Government from "outside the box" is really healthy.

Most of the Executive Board has input in these discussions, which I think is also healthy. I'm sorry to see that many of them are gone for the summer—it's been a different atmosphere without them.

TheRaDiKaL: Recently you made news when there was speculation that you had defected. In the end you remained loyal soley to preserve political diversity (a very noble cause), but was this really why you stayed? And if so, what pushed you to your initial decision?

Sen. Eric Wolf: The situation where I switched my party affiliation to Independent was sort of blown out of proportion. I mainly did it because I do consider myself an "Independent" in the Senate chambers, and I've been striving to place the best interests of the students in CLAS before any party label.

However, the way Senate rules work would have denied Orange and Blue a seat on the Replacement and Agenda committee, which certainly wasn't fair to all the people who voted for Orange and Blue and expected that party to be their voice in Senate. So, I quickly changed back my affiliation so that Orange and Blue could keep that seat on R&A.

TheRaDiKaL: Do you see yourself loyal to the O&B Party post-Fall 2008 elections, in which case they may have enough seats w/o you to be represented on the R&A Committee?

Sen. Eric Wolf: I can't really speculate on that. I'm loyal to the causes that Orange and Blue advanced in their Spring campaign—openness in government and making the Student Government work more effectively for all its constituents.

TheRaDiKaL: Again, back to your perception, do you feel as if you were somewhat of the Joe Lieberman of the Independent Party today? In other words, you are O&B on paper, but given your recent defection-scare, do you believe the Party considers you as close and friendly to its line as say those around elected with you last Spring?

Sen. Eric Wolf: I suppose this is a question that's better asked of the other Orange and Blue Party Senators. Something I respect about Orange and Blue is that there isn't such a premium on ideological purity. We have a great group of Senators with wide-ranging interests and areas of expertise, and I think we genuinely value each other's talents. I'm still continually impressed by the maturity and poise of Ben Cavataro, the intelligence and encyclopedic memory of Kyle Huey, the wit and charm of Liz Stinson, and the grit and tenacity of Mark McShera.

TheRaDiKaL: What was your overall take on the O&B Presidential ticket and to what extent would you as a Party Senator expect to be consulted in regards to next Fall's O&B Senate slate and next Spring's prospective Executive & Senate selections?

Sen. Eric Wolf: Well, I have the utmost respect for Tommy Jardon. I think he's a brilliant thinker and strategist, and I truly admire his commitment to "speaking truth to power." Tommy understands the structure and functions of Student Government far more than many give him credit for.

Frank Bracco is a good friend of mine, and I'm continually impressed by his depth of knowledge—especially for someone who has only had two years to learn the historical nuances of UF's Student Government. He works harder than just about anyone I know, and I'm very pleased to be serving in Senate with him currently. So far, as the Graham Senator, Frank's been a great addition to Senate, and I'm sure he has a bright future ahead of him.

I hardly know Shea Parrish, Orange and Blue's candidate for Treasurer. I only met her a few times, in fact, so I don't have much to say about her. She did seem knowledgeable and personable, and I'm sorry that I didn't get the chance to get to know her better.

I'm planning on graduating in December of 2008, so I don't expect to have much input in next year's ticket. I have confidence in the judgment of Ben Cavataro, Kyle Huey, and Mark McShera, and I'm looking forward to hearing about their accomplishments after I leave Gainesville.

TheRaDiKaL: Are you a member of, have you applied to, or do you plan on applying to Florida Blue Key? Why or why not?

Sen. Eric Wolf: I've never applied to Blue Key, and I haven't really considered to too seriously. I don't know how the application process works, so I suppose I'd want to know more about it before I thought about applying.

TheRaDiKaL: Are you a member of any social or academic Greek-letter organization? If so, of which?

Sen. Eric Wolf: As I said before, I was Treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa. I've met some of my favorite people at UF through ODK, and I encourage anyone interested to get involved and apply.

TheRaDiKaL: What is your take on the Turncoats (e.g. Kim Cruts, Ryan Day, Josh Simmons, Ben Grove)? Would you ever leave the side of the movement that represents 85% of the Gator Nation for "greener pastures?" Why or why not?

Sen. Eric Wolf: Ben Grove has been a classmate and good friend for a few years. We never really talked about Student Government politics, and I've hardly seen him since I was elected—last semester, he was away most of the time campaigning or doing work for the RNC. Ben and I have rather deep political differences, nationally-speaking, and we've always been able to respect each other for those beliefs. I'm pretty sure that we could handle not seeing eye-to-eye on Student Government politics, as well. Now that he and Kim have both moved off to DC, I don't think they're too eager to involve themselves further in the tussles of campus politics.

I really don't know Ryan, Kim, or Josh very well. I got to know Ryan somewhat during the first few months of my term; it seemed that he was a valuable asset to Ryan Moseley when he was President.

As far as "greener pastures" go, I'm perfectly content with the pastures I'm currently grazing. I'm not looking to represent 85% of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or The Gator Nation—I'm trying to represent every single student.

TheRaDiKaL: Tell us what's it like working with the Gator Party in senate. Also include your best bipartisan moment to date, your worst partisan-based horror story, and what major showdowns and/or collective efforts you expect for the summer session.

Sen. Eric Wolf: My time in Senate has been, hands down, the best practical experience I've gained at UF. Legislative politics is all about relationship building, give-and-take, forging alliances, and creating consensus, and all of those skills take practice. So far, I feel I've had a good working relationship with the Gator Party—many of their Senators don't care much for party politics, and are eager to find ways to transcend the partisanship and attain real results.

I would say that I'm most proud of the bipartisanship that we reached in the ad hoc committee on overhauling the SG website that I co-chaired. The committee consisted of four Orange and Blue Party members, including myself, and five Gator Party members, led by my co-chair, Senator Jason Hancock, and I&C Chairwoman Suzanne Hershman. We were given only two weeks to produce a report on what we would like to see in an ideal website—and I think our results were remarkable. Senators Cain Norris, Kyle Huey, and Joshua Horton, all Orange and Blue Senators, helped Senator Hancock build a mock-up website that we all felt would be an excellent way to get students involved in SG. Our committee is going to be working with the Executive Branch to implement the site for the fall semester.

I think the only real "horror story" would be the situation surrounding Sheldon Nagesh's residency.

I think many of my fellow Orange and Blue Senators would be surprised to hear how highly many of the Gator Party Senators think of them. If anything, Senate's not boring anymore for the majority party Senators.

TheRaDiKaL: Last, but most certainly not least, please tell us what you'd like to accomplish during your time at UF SG.

Sen. Eric Wolf: I'm really focused on getting a better website up, right now. That's my immediate goal; long term, I'd like to see some of our party's platform points move along in chambers, specifically the Webmail overhaul. It's a platform point that both parties are extremely eager to work on—and summer is the perfect time to do it.

Another project I'm very excited to be working on is a new "Budget 101" training manual that Budget Committee is creating. We're hoping that it's a user-friendly guide that will allow student leaders to navigate the often confusing SG budget process with confidence.


Anonymous said...

The O&B folks don't trust Eric any farther than they can throw him. He's no more a "Maverick GDI" than Josh Richard was: elected with the indies and an almost instant flip to the system because he wanted to make friends.

He switched in the first place because Kellie played him (and his hurt at losing the party leadership fight) hoping to kick Sam off R&A for committee appointment votes. As usual they got outmaneauvered and he switched back to save face and "stay in the loop." He may have saved face, but he's no more in the O&B loop than Kim Cruts herself.

Anonymous said...

I can't think very highly of anyone who plans to set up a press conference so he can come out.

Anonymous said...

what a wet noodle and a weak interview. where is a question about him trying to go behind the backs of the O&B party stalwarts to become party leader for the summer and getting politically outmaneuvered? where's the questions about Eric betraying the interests of his fellow O&B senators in taking sides with the administration and their personal lap dogs in the senate on the aramark issue? elisabeth hasselbeck would have asked more hard hitting questions than this! and Eric, just switch to Gator already so I can win the pool!

Ken said...

Good interview. Senator Wolf sounds a lot like how I would have reacted when asked about Senate. (Your upcoming interview goes for the juicier controversies.) On a daily basis, you have to work together - FBK and partisanship raise their ugly sides mostly during election mode.

Likewise, I'm glad to see a technology/website committee is at it again (I ran one back in the day). The SG website needs serious work.

I wouldn't have worried too much about one's actual partisan affiliation either in terms of how you get things done or in terms of R&A (even if O&B fell below the minimum during the summer, there is always the "Minority Leader" fallback position of representing all of the non-Gator Senators instead of just O&B).

Anyway, like I said, good interview. Good to know UF still has folks running the 3rd floor in good faith rather than allowing their pro-FBK or anti-FBK campaign rhetoric get the best of them.

Anonymous said...

What a refreshing interview and perspective! Thank you, Eric Wolf, for being possibly the most mature person interviewed on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I love Eric Wolf...He isn't just a great independent, he is a hardworking person...Talking to him lets you know that all the bs you say in your blog about people not working for students isn't true...ERIC WOLF WORKS...and he always works with the gator party instead of slanders them...that's why he gets so much respect...others should follow his lead because he is truly a politician

Christian Duque said...

I think many of you misconstrue what it means to be interviewed on this blog. There is no secret endorsement or even approval of the most tepid nature. I like to keep the Q&A Roster as diverse as possible - that IS the main impetus.

I emailed Sen. Wolf pertaining to his article in the Alligator and a blurb I read on Ken Kern's blog. That email turned me onto the idea of a brief Q&A and yes, I don't know very much about him, but even a brief interview as is posted, opens the forum to a long, drawn out debate in the comments-section.

I personally don't like the idea of a GDI or Independent Senator being appointed by the Senate President to ANYTHING - in SG nobody rides for free, especially from a senate president I've heard horror stories that bring back memories of Joe Goldberg that first half of the Summer '04.

The idea of minority working with FBK is abhorrent and against the very foundations of our community and of our movement.

I am very appreciative of Sen. Wolf for two things, the lesser being he interviewed with my blog, but what I am really grateful for is that much like Kim Cruts, Ryan Day, Ben Grove, and even Pedro Morales, I don't consider Wolf an Independent in the vein of our line, but he is perhaps one of our greatest friends, b/c he's of noble integrity to ensure that the party that helped him win his seat continues to have a voice on the R&A Committee and that's commendable.

When Day, Cruts, Simmons, Grove, & Morales abandoned the GDI's, they never looked back, much less gave back.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who's involved with senate know that the only time anything gets done is when Eric works with Kellie Dale and MaryGrace Bell. The other indies, like Sam Miorelli and Cain Norris, just look to disrupt work done in the name of the student body. Eric has made several meaningful contributions like updating the 700 codes and welcoming the new liberal arts dean. Why the indies have an ingrate like Miorelli leading their party when Eric offers good judgment and trusted leadership is beyond me. The only hope for O@B is a Wolf/Bracco ticket in 09.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as one of those lazy non-working Gator-Party-slandering people, I'm more than willing to work with the Gator Party on plenty of things. But when people stand up in Senate and tell me that appointees are entitled to their positions, or that debate adversely impacts their health, you'd better believe I'll raise hell.

Anonymous said...

stockholm syndrome much?

Anonymous said...

Geez, with Duque apparently holding the final say on who is and isn't an "Independent," they're an even more exclusionary and secret society than FBK. With an even more irrational and arbitrary selection process.

How hilariously ironic...

Anonymous said...

Anon 1237 you are naaadira renfroe and I claim my 5 pounds. If you think that voting to approve terribly unqualified replacement senators and cmte members is serving the student body then it really doesn't surprise me that you are the flavor of the week in the gator party. You obviously dont understand the definition of either slander or work. Also for a point of information, elipses are not suitable replacements for periods.

Christian Duque said...

Sam Miorelli is the person that the GDI's need in the driver seat. Bracco should be considered for a presidential berth in '09. I believe that if Wolf can hold on until Fall, the O&B will be just fine, provided they win a few seats.

As much as I respect what he's done, I don't see Sen. Wolf standing with the independents for much longer. Even though he graduates in Fall '08, I doubt he'll make till December under the O&B banner.

Anonymous said...

12:37 Eric Wolf also struggled with weight problems, maybe you should take a chapter from his book. He can help you too.

No this isn't "you are fat" post, this is a "there is help" post Nadira.

Anonymous said...

Re: 2:33, as a Gator Party senator who's worked with Eric a couple of times, I can say that and he's an incredibly hard worker and a good guy.

Considering the alternatives on the Gator side, if Wolf was actually going to be around to run for President next spring, I'd seriously consider voting for him. Wolf/Bracco 09 could actually make things interesting.

Anonymous said...

Eric's interview once again separates him from a number of the O&B senators by demonstrating integrity. Ignoring partisan bickering, Eric truly represents his constituents and the student body as a whole with each and every action he does in Senate. With tremendous work on legislation, finances, and most recently, a complete overhaul of the SG Web site, all senators - not just independents - have a lot to learn from Eric. Both in and out of Senate, he has embodied what it means to work for the students.

As long as this blog commends only those independents who work against the majority party at all costs, this blog will never be a true indicator of talented independent senators with the best interests of the students at heart. Eric has used his appointments (tainted in Christian's eyes) to produce positive change in Senate, which is more than most of his fellow party members can say.

(PS: With Sam Miorelli in the driver's seat, the only thing in the independents' future is a car accident.)

francisco said...

Tssk, tssk, tssk, too bad Frank graduates Spring '09...

Oh well, I'm sure it would be fun running against ______ for SBP; I would especially enjoy the debates but, as I have always said, I'm not the President type. Don't worry, as long as their is the threat of there not being a competitive election in the Spring, I will be around. After all, if there are not two parties running it is the students that lose out and we couldn't have that now could we :-).

Well anyways, job well done...good interview; I expect to see some harder questions next time around

Anonymous said...

You people are insane. Eric Wolf is an illogical, back-stabbing faux idealist who has no idea how SG, or for that matter the real world, actually works.

Anonymous said...

Of course Day, Cruts, Simmons, Grove and Morales didn't look back. If they looked back, what would have been the point of leaving?

Anonymous said...

Eric bending over backword to hurt the issues students care about (see the Aramark issues, SRI bill, stopping corruption) and "working hard" to gain useless titles and "respect" from the sleaziest people on campus. Truly an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that you all really care about the inner workings of the SG and are aware of how everything works because you are undoubtedly qualified to rule the world...I mean how could I underestimate the importance of criticizing someone's weight or affinity for working with others..Bravo!!

And if the persons selected for positions are so mediocre where were you when applications were due ...thats right, you were on here speculating about what you don't know...great job guys, i would give you a gold star but i reserve them for the children ages 8 and under not 18 and over=]

Anonymous said...

The Maverick is awesome, good interview!

Christian Duque said...

You answer your own question. If you really know the inner-workings of SG, you know better than to sweat over fine tuning a righteous resume, filling out an application, and dry-cleaning your best suit for a call-back that either will never happen or will make you feel like you should never have come in the first place.

Cabinet is a place for connected insiders. Senate, to an extent, involves popularity and charisma, but you can't even get your name on the slate if you're not somewhat connected, this goes largely to the System party, but to a lesser-still-present-degree to the Minority/Opposition Party - no one's perfect folks.

Anonymous said...

I am not inferring that I know everything about SG...and I never asked a question...I simply made a very sarcastic observation...

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I have not encountered but a few people who dislike Eric, so I am pretty sure that the same people just keep posting negative comments about him.

Eric is one of the most helpful, friendly, and intelligent people that I have encountered and I am confident that he will go on to do great things.

Anonymous said...

Duque, I am very interested since you have revealed who the GDI slate should consist of, who do you feel the system will run for the fall senate execute and spring elections.

Let's make it a sg observer thing.

Anonymous said...

3:58- you are living under a rock. Eric has alienated and stomped on so many people that have helped him, just so he could try to sit at the "cool kids" table.

Anonymous said...

Okay Christian! I am really waiting for you to respond to the last comment. I am interested to see what you think.