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Thursday, May 12, 2005

new VP

As I'm sure many Cambridge Common readers already know, the UC elected Clay Capp to be its Vice President today. It was a complicated affair, and I'm sure there are a lot of people who will want to discuss a lot of different angles of this. I am very intimately involved in the whole thing (Clay is a close friend, Glazer is my roommate, I ran their campaign in December), so I've yet to really figure out what it is I'd like to say about it at this point. While I process it all, congratulations Clay (who occassionally contributes to CC), I am confident that you will be a great Vice President.

By the way, the Crimson has a web update article here.


At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The election of Clay Capp certainly raises questions about the legitamacy of the UC. The present executive board was elected only by a narrow margin with regards to the student populous. Capp was elected by 2 UC votes. This brings questions of absent members and ex-member votes into the equation. The narrow margins very much lessen the legitimacy of the present ruling body. You call into question the crimson's bias when endorsements are as democratic as can be for the organization, the bias of the UC most definitely should be addressed

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take 2:
I find it troubling that a different candidate did not accept nomination not because I have any personal issue with Capp's ability, but rather because his appointment has the odor of a foregone conclusion. On one hand I am pleased at the prospect of having a veep who can effectively work with Glazer to enact meaningful UC bills/reforms, but the appointment also has the potential to be a lightning rod for the "dissenting voice" on campus. The fact that Lurie got the amount of votes he did running to be an interim veep just to protest Capp's unchallenged appointment speaks to the doubts people-even UC people-feel towards Capp being VP.

Which leads me indirectly to my question- how much does student support of the UC executive board actually matter? Many of my friends/roomates don't seem to hold strong views one way or the other towards the VP resignation fiasco, yet from reading earlier posts I get a sense that a strong anti-exec.board sentiment exists within the population. If it is just a fringe radical group, fine. However it is difficult to determine the exact level of influence the fateful pro- split ticket Crimson editorial exerted on the student voter. To be truly effective it needed to work on some latent discontent regarding the status-quo policy of the UC or the record of Capp. How will this discontent be addressed? If it is not addressed and the voice of dissent fragments the legitimacy of the exec. board will it matter? (I'm thinking especially about the U.C.'s bargaining power with the administration). What do you foresee the consequences of Capp's election being in the legitimacy of the UC, and how they can be actively addressed.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger andrew golis said...

While I do understand the concerns that are being raised here, I think that they are overblown. Let's try to break this up so we can deal with it thoughtfully:

1. Was this the best possible process of electing a vice president?

Well, no. I think a campus wide election is the best. But we don't have that option, because we can't have one now and one in the fall would have to wait until October. We simply can't wait that long, and the by-laws and consitution demand this process.

2. Does winning by two votes question the legitimacy of the election?

No. A win is a win. I think it's legitimate to have a conversation about why it was that many supported Lurie, but Clay won according to the established rules.

3. Why didn't more people support Clay?

I think there are a lot of reasons. Some wanted to punt to the fall because, as Lurie argued, the new veep should be elected by the next council. This is no more "democratic," and I think it leaves the council without a veep during the most important times to have leadership, the summer and early fall when there is no coherent council. But, while I disagree with this point of view for the above reason, it is a legitimate point of difference. Others, I think, simply did not support Clay personally, which I disagree with for so many reasons I wouldn't know where to start. We can talk about why Clay will be a good vice president, this is an argument I enjoy and am fairly experienced at.

Finally, I think many UC members who have personal political ambitions of their own wanted to punt the decision until the fall because they knew that considerable support existed for Clay now, but hoped they would be able to take the position in the fall. I won't name names, but these people are politically crass and out for themselves more than they are out for the council, their constituents or the campus in general.

4. Why didn't more people run?

Lots of silly implications and accusations have abounded about pressures and coercion. Nothing beyond the normal politicking of "I think this person is best" or "I hope you'll support me" went on. Matt specifically said to others considering running that he was willing to work with them if they were elected. The argument that people didn't run because "there was a sense of inevitability" is really hilarious, because it's basically saying that people didn't want to run because they thought they'd lose. I don't really get how that is any kind of argument at all.

Have I forgotten anything?

Oh, discontent with the Exec Board and leadership. Yes, I think, as with all political bodies working to improve, there is unhappiness with the UC. Some of it is legitimate and some of it is ridiculously unfair and based on complete misunderstandings. I don't think students know enough about the UC to read the endorsement and think "ah, yes, I'll vote for the guy NOT on the Exec Board." Most don't know what the Exec Board is. Rather, I think the endorsement has some power (let me emphasize SOME, Ian only won by 50 votes so it wouldn't take a lot), because they assume that these people have had time to intelligently assess the candidates etc. Sometimes this is true, other times not so much (or at least I have strong disagreements).

Anything else?

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's zero -- and I mean zero -- question that the election of Clay Capp delegitmizes the current UC leadership and paints you guys in a very, very poor light. It smacks of political nepotism and posturing. No one, however, is painted in the poorer light than Capp himself, who had the incredible temerity to run for the position after loosing in the general election, and thus placing the entire UC in the embarrassing position in which it is now embroiled.

Not only would electing the other candidate -- a senior -- preserve some modicum of democracy, but also put to rest any speculation that the resignation of the previous VP was a carefully orchestrated behind-the-scenes ouster by the executive cabal. Whether "true" or not such speculation is not totally unreasonable, and it would have been proper to side-step the issue by electing the one member of the UC that no one could accuse of being in anyone's pocket.

And the most pathetic statement I've heard about all this is yours that "I think a campus wide election is the best" but then you turn around and say "But we don't have that option" citing the UC by-laws. Ummm ... maybe you could just change the UC by laws. Duh. Instead, you elect the ultimate insider who's unable to even command a majority of his own council.

At 10:21 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

As per usual, accusations long on rhetoric, short on facts or reality. Why don't you try constructing an actual argument with contestable facts, not just construct some outrageous conspiracy theory?

First, the argument that Clay shouldn't have run, because he lost the last election by 50 votes, is kind of silly. He has more of a mandate, more campus legitimacy and 1500 more votes than anyone else. The argument that because he ran in the fall and lost means he shouldn't take office after the person who won resigned just doesn't make any sense. Would you have said that if Samita ran? What about the fact the Mr. Lurie has run twice for President and lost by literally over a thousand more votes than Clay did in his election?

Second, how per se, would electing a senior "preserve some modicum of democracy"? Where is this "cabal" and how exactly did it work? It isn't unreasonable to speculate about such things, but it is unreasonable to accuse when that speculation has no support in reality to actually back it up. And the argument that Clay, the best person for the job, shouldn't run because people like you might speculate about things that didn't happen is not only unfair to Clay, it's unfair to the council that elected him

Finally, the reason that a campus wide election isn't the best is that it would mean that there would be no Vice President until October and, as I've already pointed out, the summer and early fall are the most important times to have a council leadership in place.

The saddest thing about all of this: the rhetoric you use, the unfounded and unsupported accusations you make and your general tone, is that it unfairly hurts real people who work their butts off for other people. Matt and Clay have, since December, wanted nothing more than to avoid this kind of hurtful politicking and just try to be honest and explain what they want and how they want to help people. They're just two guys, not "cabals" or "insiders" or whatever other accusations you make. These are fundamentally good people who have done nothing but what they think is best for the council and campus. If you know them, you'll know that.

If you are going to make arguments, why don't we start with facts, that way we can actually judge it on its merits, not on how well it hurts other people and the work they are trying to do.

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not listening (reading?) carefully. I am not constructing an outrageous conspiracy theory -- that's your reading into what I said. What I did say -- quite clearly -- is that people are speculating about the highly irregular turn of events. Such speculation may or may not turn out to be true, but that is not the point. It is easy to understand how it could appear sketchy when the current VP -- who came from another ticket -- resigned, and then the current president's running mate -- who lost in the actual election -- was appointed by a body that's at best vaguely sycophantic to the last four SAC chairs. In order to diffuse any such speculation the honorable thing to do would have been for Clay Capp not to run, and to continue to contribute to the council in the way he has already been doing. I never said that there was a cabal, but merely that people could well think that there is. Unless you'd like to (and can) release transcripts of every private meeting among members of the UC executive board it is not possible to put to rest such speculation. In the political world you can't only act on what you, privately, feel to be true, but what your constituencies might reasonably believe to be true. No amount of your vehemence in this, or any other forum, will quell those speculations -- in fact, your particularly argumentative style is likely to inflame such speculation and betrays your naïveté.

Samita being appointed VP, or anyone else other than Clay Capp, for that matter, would at least not smack of grand political nepotism, and not lend more weight to speculations and accusations that could further damage the credibility of the UC.

A senior being elected VP would help to preserve some modicum of democracy by allowing the proper democratic process to take its course in the fall. Of course, Clay Capp pledging to resign in October and in order to re open the VP position to a general election would be a step in the right direction, and I would urge you to urge him to publically pledge to do so.

But I find this niggling about why a campus-wide election is not an option to be really silly. All of the technological infrastructure is in place for a campus-wide election, and if the UC was really behind it instead of being self-serving, it could be set up tomorrow. Come on.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

But my point, again, is that punishing Clay, the council and the campus, for the fact that people will speculate about something that isn't just untrue, its unfair and unrepresentative of what peopl know to be the nature of Matt and Clay, is silly. Yes, people will speculate, but in order for some sort of reality to exist beyond the speculation people who were apart of this possible cabal would have had to do things to people OUTSIDE of it. The fact that Matt very openly told Samita and anyone else who asked him about the vice presidency that she was welcome to run and that he could work with her in fact is counter to that speculation. It's unfair, again, to prevent Clay from doing something because people will accuse him of things he didn't do.

The idea that if some sort of more extensive conspiracy would have yielded no outside proof of its existence ignores the fact that 22 people voted for Clay on a SECRET BALLOT and people who considered running either said that there was no pressure not to run or that that pressure consisted of the fact that so many people supported Clay. People would have had to have either been pressured not to run in some sort of unfair or coersive way beyond pure expressions of support for Clay for their to have been anything other than a fair democratic council election.

I'm not going to call for Clay to resign in October because I think it's a dumb idea. The campaign would take two weeks, no one would vote or care, and the new Vice President wouldn't take office until late October or early November, giving them essentially a month to hold the office, much of which (if it weren't Clay) would consist of learning their duties and knowing how to work w/ Glazer and the rest of the Exec Board.

The fact is, Clay won. Yes, it was close. But not enough people, on a secret ballot, agreed with your argument of how the process should go or who the council should elect for your argument to go through. I think that was the right choice.

At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just thinking...Ian's 50 or so vote victory represents a 1% difference between him and Clay. Clay's victory over Lurie is a more decisive 4.5% win. Smaller sample I know...but I don't really see how Clay lacks legitimacy. The campus came so close to electing him and didn't. But to say that his miniscule loss represents his illegitimacy as a candidate is ludicrous!

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous David Richmond said...

I don't know much at all about UC politics, Andrew, and you're probably right about all of this. But I find your tone in these comments disappointing -- "the conversation has begun"? Come on, you yourself know your own bias. The UC has a tough job and sometimes things don't work out despite people working their asses off; then people get blamed, fairly or unfairly. That's politics. But you self-style this blog aa a center for discussion from all sorts of different angles on campus -- then go on to feed a flamewar in your own comments.

If you're really serious about presenting different sides (and want to do something politically shrewd) why not offer the supposed UC dissenters (including the ousted VP) their side on this blog? No, not in comments. If they turn you down, that proves your point. If they take you up, maybe new things come to light for all of us.

Otherwise, don't feed your own (anonymous!) trolls. It just makes you look bad, and scares everyone else off. I think blogs just aren't good for discussion forums, on their own. Blogs present one obviously biased perspective on the world; true conversation happens more between blogs. Comments tend only to refine the position of the primary blogger(s).

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the dude admits his bias and no one can make a good argument, what do you expect him to do?!

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous David Richmond said...

Anonymous: either don't feed the trolls, or feed them enough rope to hang themselves.

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

david, I don't even know what that means.

At 5:01 PM, Anonymous David Richmond said...

It means don't give commenters who enjoy pissing people off (trolls) the dignity of a response. Or at least let them back their own way into embarrassing themselves. Golis seems to think that the "UC dissenters" a) don't exist and b) have no coherent argument. If he's right, instead of dignifying random generic speculation in comments by responding, he should offer the dissenters (Ian, Ty, whoever wants to write) the chance to have their say on the blog. Merely offering this will convince mr. anonymous who cries "conspiracy" that there is no such thing. If the "dissenters" actually choose to take him up on it, the claims of conspiracy are quashed _and_ everyone gets to have a productive discussion. If they don't, the would-be emperors are shown to have no clothes.

My original comment objected to Andrew's confrontational tone. If Andrew thinks his side of things has the moral high ground, he should just take it (by offering the supposed dissenters space here to respond to events), instead of being argumentative about why he deserves it.

One more thing: I don't have an opinion yet about Ian's resignation. I'm inclined to agree with Glazer et al that Capp's election was the best possible thing, but I've also heard the murmurings of discontent here and in the Crimson. Yes, I know the Crimson is sensationalist.

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your mom's sensationalist.


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