"NO" on the Recall

The recall petition lacks specificity and sufficient evidence; organizers should have pursued less extreme options.

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Though the dust from the Nov. 13 fight on Eshleman Hall's second floor has settled, the potentially dramatic effects of that night have yet to be determined.

ASUC Senator John Moghtader is challenging the recall election against him that's set to occur next week. Why? According to Moghtader, the petition to recall him does not contain a specific reason for doing so, as required by the ASUC Constitution. As of press time, the Judicial Council has yet to rule.

Moghtader's charge absolutely warrants the council's serious consideration. The constitution states explicitly that a specific reason for recall must be given. But no such statement appears on the petition to oust Moghtader, and instead he is accused of creating "an unsafe atmosphere that undermines the physical safety" of others and regularly silencing "those who have views different from his own." Logically, such strongly worded statements would require a bevy of factual evidence to back them up and lend them legitimacy; in this case, however, none whatsoever is provided.

More bothersome than the lack of specificity is that the petition's organizers felt that providing facts in the petition was unnecessary and neglected them also out of a concern about the possibility of a libel suit--something which could only be a worry if their statements are untrue. It's also troubling that the recall effort was launched before the police report on the Eshleman Hall incident was released and well before the Alameda County District Attorney made the decision not to file charges against anyone in the incident. Organizers had little if any solid information on which to base their charges, which significantly delegitimizes the accuracy of their claims.

The organizers' regretful decision to leave out important specifics and factual evidence from the petition ought to make the Judicial Council's ruling a clear-cut decision in favor of Moghtader.

Following such a ruling, the senate should immediately take up the urgent task of revising the outdated and unclear recall process to prevent abuses of the system, especially unnecessary and costly efforts like the current one.

If the recall election does proceed, vote no.

The accusations against Moghtader are largely based on hearsay and rumors, subject to individual bias. To allow an election to proceed on these grounds would set a dangerous and unfair precedent and leave our elected officials vulnerable to arbitrary personal and political attacks.

Despite the petition's vagueness, we don't condone Moghtader's behavior, particularly at a speaker event at the Boalt Hall School of Law. As organizers charge, the senator's behavior was rude and inappropriate, not to mention unwise for a public figure. Such tactics of civil disobedience are regular occurrences at campus events and Moghtader's tactics were ineffective and moreover, inappropriate because he is a senator.

For a recall effort to be legitimate, an elected official must be performing his or her official duties in a way that does a disservice to his or her constituents. In Moghtader's case, no such charges have been raised.

Though some of his past behavior has been disruptive, this certainly does not warrant the extreme and costly tactic of pursuing a recall. Better means of addressing this behavior exist, such as calling for the senator's resignation or impeachment rather than resorting to an extreme tactic. For the organizers to carelessly disregard all possible alternatives as they did is irresponsible and unfair to the campus community, who will have to foot the election's $50,000 bill no matter their feelings on the issue.

Regardless of ideology, students should be fair when weighing their options next week. The petition's vague charges against Moghtader lack sufficient evidence to support them and as such, voting "yes" on the recall would constitute an unfair assumption of the senator's guilt and would establish a dangerous precedent to the future of the ASUC.

Tags: RECALL, ASUC SENATE






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