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Thursday, April 6, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 127

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Letters to the Editor

Crooked politics

To the editor,

In response to the letter written by former Student Government Association President Tom Cassidy ("It's all politics," Letters, April 5), there are several points I must make.

Cassidy claims I intended to discredit Speaker of the Senate Justin Ray so that I could win the speaker's seat. I cannot deny that the situation has presented an advantage to my candidacy. But it was Ray's decision, as well as Cassidy's, that caused any discredit of character.

Cassidy claims that I wrote slanderous propaganda, but slander cannot exist unless a statement was false. Since there was no falsity in my comments it is Cassidy who has engaged in slander. The facts remain that President James Robertson was entitled to his office on Monday and both Cassidy and Ray were made aware of this last week. They chose to ignore that.

Cassidy denies that there was a conspiracy to keep Robertson out of office. It has since come to my attention that four of the most powerful executive committee members (led by Ray and Cassidy) deliberated and came to a unanimous agreement to keep the new president at bay.

That is a conspiracy and clearly an abuse of power. If that wasn't enough, even after Robertson was sworn in, members of Cassidy's administration were still trying to nullify the induction by claiming Director of Finance Leigh Street was not on the Justice of the Hearing Board and therefore had no right to swear in the new president. She had every right and I am proud of her for making a difficult choice and for fighting to uphold our constitution.

I would like to add that one of the decision makers has since acknowledged that he made a poor choice. I sincerely commend him for that.

Cassidy also claims that I did not take the time to talk with Ray about the issue. I spoke to Ray on March 30 and asked him if Robertson had the right to be sworn in. He told me he did.

He proceeded to tell me that Vice-President/Chief Justice of the Hearing Board Dana Enriquez had agreed to not swear him in until the inaugural dinner on April 7. I asked Ray about the likelihood that Robertson would continue to pursue his right and he responded by shrugging off the issue.

Cassidy is wrong in saying that the duty of interpreting the constitution is reserved for the Speaker. Every elected official in student government swears that they will to the best of their ability "preserve, protect and enforce the Constitution." That oath includes the duty of interpretation. In this case, there was no need for interpretation as the constitution is very explicit in the duration of our elected officials' terms.

As for the fact that the senate voted on the election calendar that provided for the mishap, I agree that gave it the appearance of legitimacy. But that approval does not supersede the constitution. The constitution is supreme. It is the responsibility of each elected official to make sure the group itself does not overstep its powers.

The SGA will not lose its integrity. It is an entity that affords us the opportunity to express divergent views and to effect change when necessary. The constitution represents its integrity. It is the individuals within SGA that should be ever cognizant of how their decisions impact the interests of others and how they could affect the foundation of the organization itself. As long as the constitution is supported, the reputation of the SGA will remain strong.

I can separate differences of opinion in public policy and friendship. It is my sincere hope that everyone else can as well.

Senator Richard Russell,
Speaker Pro Tempore, 36th Administration,
CBA Senator-elect #4
MBA


To the editor,

This is in response to the letter written by former Student Government President Tom Cassidy ("It's all politics," Letters, April 5). What Cassidy forgot to mention in his irrational, emotional blurb was that he was wrong.

Leigh Street,
SGA Director of Finance


To the editor,

In response to former Student Government President Tom Cassidy's erroneous claims, the duty of interpreting the constitution is not the job of anyone on the legislative branch. It is the job of a judiciary branch, be it a hearing board or a committee (See Article V of the SGA constitution).

The constitution, (not a bylaw) clearly states that elected executives' and senators' terms begin on the first Monday of April (Article III, Section 4 and Article IV, Section 2). The only way the senate can change that is via a constitutional amendment, which is explained in Article VI.

If SGA has as much credibility as Cassidy states, why doesn't he know the constitution he works with? Senator Richard Russell has done nothing but point out the facts and make efforts to insure the constitution is followed.

The job of any SGA member is to serve the students. When people such as Justin Ray say that they will try to become Speaker of the Senate to oppose anything that James Robertson supports, that is serving only a personal vendetta. I witnessed Ray saying this during and just after the elections.

I support SGA because of the power and the voice it gives students. This isn't about becoming speaker, as Cassidy would like one to believe. The issue is about people using SGA as their personal revenge tool. Ray apparently believes that is what SGA is, which is detrimental to all students.

I urge Ray and Cassidy to step back. Nobody respects a sore loser. The students of UH do not want self-serving people representing them in SGA.

Andy Steinke,
sophomore, math



Letters Policy

Letters to the editor are welcome from all members of the UH community and should focus on issues, not personalities. Letters must be typed and must include the author's name, telephone number and affiliation with the University. Anonymous letters will not be published. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, language and space. Letters may be delivered in person to Room 151, Communication; e-mailed to dclettrs@mail.uh.edu; or faxed to (713) 743-5384.

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