Daily Cal Took Quote out of Context, Misinterpreted

Matteen Mokalla is a former ASUC senator, and is presently editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Political Review. Respond at [email protected].





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Shame on you, Daily Californian, for printing one of the poorest stories I have ever seen in an otherwise outstanding college newspaper! You took a private e-mail I wrote to my colleagues over three months ago and reprinted portions of it entirely out of context. To make matters worse, no one from the Daily Cal called me to ensure the authenticity of the e-mail or to seek further comment-how terribly amateur. Because of your poor reporting and fact checking, I am now forced to defend myself.

On Nov. 5, 2001, I decided I would officially retire from APPLE and set out to explain why in a private e-mail to the party.

While explaining my reasons for leaving the party, I also decided I would express some suggestions on how to be a successful senator. After all, when I was a senator I never lost a bill that made it to the floor. Essentially, it was my version of ASUC Hardball.

Unfortunately, the Daily Cal reported only a few of my "eight keys to success," and again reported them entirely out of context. I will say this, however: I stand by what I said 100 percent, and here is why.

In my email I wrote that the party should "fuck (please forgive the language I was upset at the time) internal reform." In ASUC-speak, that means, "stop Student Action from unscrupulous activities." Sorry folks, but most of the students on this campus do not care about ASUC or its parties, let alone how it functions.

Instead the senators should focus on creating projects outside of ASUC and outside of Eshleman Hall. In my opinion, the only thing about ASUC that needs reform is its image. This could be done by actually getting out there and helping the students who voted them into office. So what if ASUC is "internally reformed"? What does that mean for the average Berkeley student? How has that made anyone's life on campus any better? I stand by my words that internal reform, as the Daily Cal reported, "is a B.S. idea."

I also wrote "pass every bill unless it is really, really stupid." A lesson I learned early on from former Student Action Senator Chris Wendt is that ASUC senate spends too much time debating issues that are meaningless to the rest of the student body. For example, James Gallagher's bill requesting a voluntary pledge of allegiance before every senate meeting was debated for almost an hour. Give me a break! From what I understand he still recites it anyway. Why waste your time and the student's time? Pass the bill and get working on something more substantive!

Still, this may leave you wondering, "What exactly is a 'stupid' bill?" I'll give you one example-spending $30,000 on a Jimmy Carter speech when Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, Robert Reich, Susan Sontag, Peter Jennings, Lawrence Summers, and other prominent figures have come or are coming to campus for free.

The last "key to success" the Daily Cal reported was my most eloquent one: "If you don't give other senators shit about their bills," I wrote in my private email, "They will vote for your bills in the future." When I was in the senate, many times the bills of future executive candidates were scrutinized no matter how good the idea was.

Former senators Brian Bergman, Justin Christensen, Josh Fryday, and Wally Adeyemo lost bills because rival party members didn't want them to look good come election time. This didn't happen with me, however. For example, Justin Christensen and I established a wonderful rapport. He could count on me to lobby for him with APPLE and I could count on him to lobby Student Action when I had a bill up. I didn't care that Justin was running for executive vice president, I just wanted to get my bill passed.

I wrote that private email because I want senators to succeed, regardless of their party. If you want proof ask Jesse Gabriel of Student Action. I challenge the Daily Cal to print an apology for its poor story. At the very least, next time they should call me. If they want I will say a bad word or two to spice things up, but what's most important is that you get the story straight.

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