Archive for April, 2013

[ Legislative Report 4/19/2013 ]

Posted in Boca House Meetings, Uncategorized on April 23, 2013 by dylanjbouscher

Here’s a report of the April 19, 2013 Boca House of Representatives meeting. This report is brought to you by University Press reporter Christopher Jorge Massana.

The April 19 meeting of the Student Government Boca House of Representatives marks the last time of the spring semester that the House will convene.

It also marks the day when the Boca House was introduced to a resolution condemning the appointment of a member of the Board of Trustees.

BRHR-13-06: “Condemnation of Elizabeth Fago Smith’s Nomination to the FAU Board of Trustees”, authored and sponsored by Representative Bryant Terrance Eng (who, in the interest of full disclosure, has written articles for the UP this semester). The resolution is an official condemnation of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s appointment of Elizabeth Fago Smith, a wealthy local businesswoman who operates Palm Health Partners, to Florida Atlantic University’s Board of Trustees.

The resolution notes that Fago Smith “has had nine liens filed against her by the IRS to recoup back taxes and has been a defendant in at least 35 lawsuits primarily for nonpayment and breach of contract”. Smith was also previously married to Milton Keith Pinder, of the Pinder Cartel, a drug organization that trafficked cocaine and marijuana, and had alleged connections with infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. According to the resolution, this “draws negative attention to Florida Atlantic University and thus reflects poorly upon the University’s student body.”

“She has a long history of personal and fiscal [ir]responsibility, and very little experience or expertise in higher education” said Eng, “Ryan Frierson [the SG Advisor] pointed to the idea that this has been a tough year for FAU; there’s a lot of things that you can’t avoid, the robbery that was on campus or teachers saying one thing… but probably the biggest wound was self-inflicted, and that’s systemic of some of the leadership in the Board of Trustees making decisions that are not in the best interest of our university. 

Eng then continued, “That being said, I wrote this bill with the idea in mind that we need to recognize that appointing this individual to the Board of Trustees is going weaken the competence of the Board of Trustees to make decisions beneficial to our university in the future.”

Eng then went on to discuss the the evidence attached to the bill, concluding with “Quite frankly, I wouldn’t hire someone to work at McDonald’s if they were married to a drug cartel man, and were sued 35 times for breaching contract, much less a Board of Trustees.”

Before Eng defended his resolution, others in the Boca House had a chance to speak about the bill, and what passing it would mean.

“I would recommend that this resolution be sent to the committees before it is sent to the Board of Trustees,” said Representative Clairmine Cyrise. ”We must investigate if she was guilty-charged, and on what grounds. We must investigate if she has [a background in] education or not, and before we send this bill to the Board of Trustees, we might be laughed at for this, because we have no proof that she has a [background in] education or not.”

Many other representatives agreed with Cyrise, including Eng himself, who advocated tabling the resolution in his closing comments. In the end, the resolution was tabled by a 20-3 margin and sent to House Committees for review before being brought up at the May 24 House Meeting. 

Outside of condemning Scott’s choice in trustees, the Boca House was also informed of new rules regarding the qualifications of their positions.

”LDR 2010… there is a possibility, going into next year, that to have a leadership position within Student Government, which could include the House, that this class could be a requirement,” said Student Government Advisor Ryan Frierson.

LDR 2010, for those interested, is a one-credit leadership course that, according to its registration catalogue, “Exposes students to the basic foundation of leadership and its application to college experiences in student leadership roles. Students engage in activities and projects that increase self awareness through the exploration of values, beliefs, culture and identity.”

Some representatives were less than thrilled that their positions may have new qualifications.

“My take on it is that it should be taken on a case-by-case basis…” said House Pro-Tempore Langston Wimberly “…just in case a student is not capable of paying for that class. They shouldn’t be forced to pay for it, they don’t have the means to provide for that class. Other than that, I think it’s a great idea, to help prepare students to be future leaders.”

“I don’t believe that students should have to pay for a course, and as it is, students have enough difficulty paying for courses that they have to take that are required, so I don’t think [it’s] fair for students to have to take a course to hold a leadership position” said House Speaker Jaclyn Broudy, “I take five classes, sometimes I take six a semester. I know in my own schedule, to add on a seventh class this semester just to take a leadership course…on a student’s wallet, I just don’t think that students should have to sign up to take a course to have a position.”

In addition to the above, April 19 was also the last meeting for outgoing Boca Campus Governor Ella Tepper, junior Sociology major.

“Today marks my last house meeting as Governor, but also my last house meeting as a member of Student Government” said Tepper, “I’ve been involved since August of 2010, year-round. I started here in this room, as a house representative, I moved up to becoming the director of COSO [Council of Student Organizations], and then became governor, as I’m standing before you guys here today…I just want to say it’s been an absolutely incredible experience.”

After Tepper’s announcement, she received applause and well-wishing comments, such as Representative Rebecca Sosa’s “Are you aware that you’re an amazing governor?”, as she departed.

Two more pieces of legislation were announced at the House meeting in addition to Eng’s resolution:

BRHR-13-07: “School Supply Vending Machines”, authored by Representative Rebecca Sosa and sponsored by a large number of representatives, passed unanimously. The resolution was meant to put the full support of the House behind the idea of turning the titular school supply vending machines into a reality at FAU, which would allow students to pick up any basic school supplies they need, even in the dead of night. “This is something that would truly benefit  those students who don’t have means of transportation, especially if they want to purchase school supplies after hours” said Sosa, ”It’s just a resolution, so hopefully during the summer we can work on together and submit a bill figure out all the logistics of it.”

BRHB-13-09: “Umbrellas for Traditions Plaza”, authored and sponsored by Jaclyn Broudy, also passed unanimously. The bill provides 10 new umbrellas for Traditions Plaza for $4,455 (approximately 6.8 percent of the House’s annual budget). As part of the bill, the Student Government logo would be displayed on the umbrellas alongside FAU’s logo.