So, about Christopher Yendt’s construction company getting BUSU renovation contracts…

The BUSU Board of Directors has awarded about $14,000 in renovation contracts to NY construction — owned by Board member and BUSU VPFA Christopher Yendt.

In 2013 and 2014, Yendt put his own sweat and labour in to construction projects at BUSU. The BUG noted this one of these projects in 2013: Influencer of the Year report “Yendt’s Year” which covered his political influence as 2013-14 Vice President of Finance and Administration. It was not noticed at the time that Yendt was being compensated for this extra labour.

The question popped up on my radar about a month ago, when I received a question at ask.fm/brock.bug. “Is it a conflict of interest for Christopher Yendt to be awarded a ~$40,000+ contract to renovate Isaacs? Doesn’t he sit on the Board that makes the decision to pay him?”

Well, it’s not $40,000. Or at least, that’s not what is being admitted to. The number is about $14,000 according to an email from BUSU General Manager Juliette Prouse. This appears to be about $7,000 in each 2013 and 2014, for separate contracts.

“Yendt is doing us a favour on the labour”, said then-president Cooper Millard said according to the July 12, 2013 Board of Directors meeting. Yendt’s company, NY Construction, received what appears to be about $7,000 in 2013.

We see the process play out through the BUSU Board of Directors minutes.

Meeting-10-July-12-2013

yend-1

Meeting-11-July-19-2013
yendt-2

 

 

So I emailed BUSU General Manager Juliette Prouse:

We see in the meeting minutes from July 2013 that Yendt’s company was award a $7K contract. Is that the full extent of the work that Yendt has provided to BUSU as a carpentry contractor? Can you please let me know if there was another contract this year’s regarding the DJ booth? I don’t see it in this year’s Board minutes specifically, but I am told that the $70K capital expenses included this DJ booth project, however I doubt it was worth $33K. Can you please confirm or deny the $40K figure? What is the actual figure?

Prouse:

The Board approved approx. $14k for all the work in Isaac’s (why don’t you come and take a look in the third week of August when it should be finished?). When the Board did approve the quotes, they were compared with two others, as is required by our policies and procedures to avoid any perception of “jobs for the boys”. Yendt’s quote was best value and his work is of a high quality and he meets deadlines and comes in under budget so his was chosen. I wonder where the $40k story came from?

We are having some more extensive renovations done on the patio because of the outdoor smoking laws in Niagara and some work required to make the patio stairs safer. We had to get an architect in to plan and tender this work for us and we will be using University approved contractors based on the architects recommendations and the Boards approval. This is definitely more expensive than the work in Isaac’s – perhaps this is where the mix up happened?

This question came up a second time on my ask feed…

“The contracting business Yendt owns was given a massive job to renovate Isaac’s. Isn’t this a conflict of interest?”

Conflict of Interest is defined in Bylaw 50, Section 16.

I’ll provide you the text, but will not come to a conclusion of its meaning:

conflict-of-interest

 

 

Conflict of Interest? I don’t know. Can you work too hard for your beloved BUSU?

Everything you need to know about Brock Radio kicking BUSU out of its board

An amendment, passed last week at the Brock University Students Radio (BUSR) Annual General Meeting which removed two BUSU seats from its board, has put BUSR under scrutiny for compliance with its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), despite having been de-funded last October. Councilor Calvin Eady — who was one of seven Brock University Student Administrative Council (BUSAC) councilors who were overlooked by the BUSR AGM — has announced through BrockTV intentions to launch a motion to put BUSR under review of Bylaw 4200: Referendum Implementation and Review Committee (RILRC).

RILRC — a relatively new committee – was not used prior the petition-initiated referendum of October 2013 which saw 52% vote yes to removing funding of Brock Radio in a campaign that said “You pay but have no say” — citing the “8 hour rule” and other barriers to student involvement — but was decried by the BUG was a rigged game. However, we now face this evidence which can only support the fundamental complaints of the campaign.

Out of total of 29 eligible-to-vote BUSR members, eight were present to vote at the August 27, 2014 meeting. and 10 had provided a “proxy vote”. Only three of those were students

Above: For the first time ever, BrockTV live streamed BUSR AGM, and interviewed me after.

Problems for Brock Radio

1. The passage of this motion puts BUSR out of harmony with the 2012 BUSR MOU which specifies the structure of the Board of Directors.
2. This is antagonistic towards BUSU and BUSAC who would gate-keep future referendums. If Brock Radio wants to win (and keep) student funding, it needs to foster (not hinder) relations with Student Leaders.
3. Now there is talk, according to councilors Eady and Tulloch, of pressing a lawsuit against Brock Radio.

Responses

Juliette Prouse said that the “interesting question” — is BUSR in violation with its MOU, and so what if it is? — will be addressed after the BUSU team gets through Orientation Week. Then, Eady announced his intention to motion for RILRC review at the upcoming Sept 10 BUSAC meeting.

Christopher Yendt, president of the BUSU Board of Directors — who was central to last year’s BUSR AGM controversy when they rejected him (as VP Finance and Admin) from BUSR’s Board of Directors — did not respond for comment.

Through a liaison, Danielle Hunter — who had initiated the referendum through a petition after walking out of her seat in the BUSR Board of Directors — “respectfully” declined to comment.

Continue reading

BUG Briefs: August 2014

Topics covered: Student senate, Fed up, Brock Statue, Deficit, BUFA, ATM Fees, Turf Field, New Student Building, A Safer Brock, Brock Radio, and Alternative Student Media

Student Senate | Four students applied for the five available spots for Interim Undergraduate Senator. All four were acclaimed. Their names are: Jennifer Rubbra, Sam Piccolo, Peter Henen and Jonathan Wright. BUSU Board of Directors member Antonio Sergi was elected by council, to make a total of five Interim Student Senators. According to the 2014-15 Senate Schedule, they would be attending just three Senate meetings before being replaced in October in the by-election. Ordinarily, senators are chosen by popular vote in March to commence their term in May, however the 2014 senate election was cancelled by the Chief Returning Officer. The open question is what affect this has had on student representation in the Senate system this year.

Fed Up | The newly-funded-by-student-levee third-party organization Fed Up: The Affordable Food Project, which won support of 2/3rds of voters in a March 2014 referendum, but was considered highly contentious within BUSU, has not been able to secure on-campus space as a food vendor, despite its hopes of being ready for September. A July 31 BrockTV report says: “During a Q & A session that lasted over two hours, members of BUSU’s Board of Directors and management from Union Station expressed their concerns with Fed Up’s lack of a clear business plan and collectively felt that a number of issues plagued the organization’s proposal. As a result, it seems unlikely an agreement will be reached between the two parties. At the core of Board’s questions were concerns about on-campus storage space, proper refrigeration and transportation of food, and inventory and sales tracking with Fed Up’s planned pay-what-you-can system.” Fed Up had been eying the space in the Alumni Center which is currently a Salad Bar.  Also: BrockTV interview with Em Heppler

Brock Statue |  A bronze statue with a budget of $1.2M of Isaac Brock statue being is being built in a new ‘plaza’ in the bus loop in front of Schmon tower. The military leader’s erection is funded by private donation courtesy of David S. Howes. Brock says artist Danek Mozdzenski, who designed a Parliament Hill statue of Lester Pearson, was selected from 27 bids. Howes received an honorary degree in 2012. Student observer Mikhail Minin — who wrote, “I for one welcome the new era of militarizationnotes on his Facebook that Howes’ family textile business supplies the military with camo and tactical gear.  “It all makes sense now,” he said, posting a link to Lincoln Textiles, which Howes inherited from his father. Minin also calculates a $348,000 tax deduction for Howes’ donation. The Statue will be unveiled on October 9 — nearly coinciding with the 202nd anniversary of his October 13, 1812 death. The new plaza is 19km from the location where Brock died, according to a media release about the statue titled “Bringing the general home“.

Deficit | According to Brock University’s newly-released Budget Book 2014-15, and as told to us by a BUFA media release: “the 2014-15 is forecast at $3.2 million – lower than the $14.5-million deficit that was forecast when budgeting for 2013-14 began.” The July 16 letter concludes, “This budget news also comes in the context of recent layoffs by the University in other areas of its operations. We hope the University can find a way to ‘restore its financial health’ without further layoffs in the future. ”

BUFA | Brock University Faculty Association says contract negotiations between BUFA and Brock University’s Administration began, on August 6, “a new phase: pre-conciliation mediation.”This comes as BUFA’s series of “Bargaining Bulletins”, delivered to members and other community members by email — that claim “The Administration’s negotiating proposals put academic freedom under threat at Brock University.” We’ll look into those claims. To be honest some of this is still over my head, but doubtlessly this will need to be on everyone’s radar this year.

ATMs | BUSU Board Increases in ATM Fees from $1/transaction to $1.25, according to Adam Marshall, in this case acting independently as student, raised concerns in an open letter which he promoted on twitter prior to the decision becoming finalized. The letter outlines the math and Marshall concludes, “Increasing this fee simply to generate $1400 in new revenue is not in
students’ best interests.” So, what happened? “Acknowledged by a couple board members but GM reported Monday that fees are going up”, Marshall Tweeted.

BrockU 50th | This year Brock University celebrates its “golden” (50th) anniversary as a University which will, according to a university press release, “feel like a crescendo of celebrations”, which included a Golf Tournament in May, The Humanities Congress 2014, and upcoming Homecoming Alumni celebrations, and the 50th anniversary gala of General Brock’s October Soirée, which will be, according to Brock, “one of the hottest tickets in Niagara.”

Turf Field |  “We’re into August now and there doesn’t appear to be any turf field being built so BrockTV set out to find an answer,” says this BrockTV report. The Turf Field project which was approved by referendum last March failed to secure a sponsor in time for its July deadline and thus would need new referendum to access the $1M promised in the this past March’s referendum.

New Student Building | The committee will be meeting soon to begin a process of hiring a consultant to begin planning, BUSU president Roland Erman says in BrockTV‘s new series “A Few Good Minutes With“, where we also learn Erman is a fan of pro wrestling.

A Safer Brock | The Brock Student Sexual Violence Support Center, known as A Safer Brock, recently opened the doors of its downtown St. Catharines support centre. This week the student-funded group announced plans to rebuild the back lot of this area as a community garden.

Brock Radio | Breaking from its usual annual schedule, Brock University Student Radio (BUSR), which is the non-profit entity that controls CFBU 103.7FM, did not yet have it’s Annual General Meeting this summer as BUSR waits for its audit to be completed.
Currently, Brock Radio is not receiving funding from students after a referendum last October removed the fee. It is expected that a new referendum process may take place this year.

Alt Student Media | A Twitter and preliminary website has been created for Brock Inquirer, a new venture by Brock students Samantha Mitchell (Pop Culture) and Cameron James (Political Science).

POV Radio | independent journalist Brock University Gadfly author Sandor Ligetfalvy, whose work is focused on student politics surrounding Brock University, has applied to Brock Radio for a third season of Point of View, the only political news talk show at Brock.

Tips? Corrections? Complaints? brockbug@gmail.com
Twitter.com/BrockBUG
Ask.com/BrockBUG

Video: Will CASA ever be approved by BUSU referendum?

At the July 13 BUSAC meeting Antonio Sergi questioned president Erman about whether there would be a referendum to remove CASA, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Erman said such a referendum would be in the affirmative, but noted that internal changes at CASA are being proposed. “There’s no firm plans to run a referendum right now,” Erman said told Sergi.

CASA is given about $50K per year out of the Division 1 budget. Consecutive referendums in the early 2000′s failed to achieve quorum, so BUSU paid for CASA from Division 1.

Skip to 4:03. Speaking rights passed to Ligetfalvy:

Ligetfalvy:
Perhaps to bring some focus to what Sergi is going at, is , one of these, OUSA or CASA, wasn’t ever approved by referendum. And a portion of which is coming of Division 1. So, whichever one that is — CASA or –

Erman:
CASA is coming out of Division 1.

Ligetfalvy:
Right — never having been approved by referendum. The question there is, uh, will it ever be approved by referendum?

Erman:
It’s something that we can look in to and consider. It’s something last year that I was looking into and considering doing — referendums were coming up a lot last year. I felt like it was really the place to do that last year, but certainly I can re-evaluate and sit down, and get back to you with that further.

BUSAC July 13 2014: BrockTV grills Yendt in Open Question Period

Levesque:
Mr Yendt, is it true that during the April 10th meeting of the Board of Directors you voted in favour for adding several amendment bylaws to BUSU Policies and Proecedures?

Yendt:
So the Board of Directors, in its entirety, along with the executive of 2013-2014, approved the addition of documents into the Policies and Procedures. However, they’re not — just because they’re in the format of a bylaw doesn’t mean that they are a bylaw. They are in the Policies and Procedures and therefore they are policies and procedures, as added to the document.
To avoid the death of legislation that comes inevitibly at the end of a fiscal year, in our case that’s April 30 every year, and these were done on a temporary basis with the understanding that they were to go back to BUSAC at it’s earliest possible convenience in order for them to be approved as bylaws.

Levesque:
Ok, so my next question is …in the Policies and Procedures manual it states pretty clearly, in the introduction, “this policies and procedures manual should at no time suspend any policy that many be outlined in the BUSU constitution or the BUSU bylaws. So by that standard, any of those proposed amendments that are included in the manual, don’t have the weight of a bylaw, correct?

Yendt:
No, because if you look very clearly at Article 16 of the BUSU constitution and you read the hiearchy of legislation, and the hiearchy of legislation of Policy and Procedure supercedes that of a bylaw and anything that falls below it.

Levesque:
But in the manual itself it says … [inaudible] bylaws … I know what you’re talking about, but it also says directly in the procedure manual [that it cannot supercede bylaws], is that correct?

Yendt:
Correct. And what I would say in response to that is, if you read the constitution, the hiearchy of legislation, what comes higher, the constitution or policies and procedures? No, I’m asking you that.

Levesque:
It does say that.

Yendt:
Okay.

Levesque:
And then, the final part of my question, I guess related to that…
At the last BUSAC meeting you served as interim speaker, correct? During that meeting you approved — had on the agenda — a motion regarding the Governance committee proposed changes. Given this, how do you argue that how do you argue that those changes have any kind of weight to them? [inaudible]

Yendt:
So given that — as outlined — the addition to the Policy and Procedure was done primarily to avoid the death of legislation at the end of the fiscal year. And In doing that with the full intent to bring that back, as the Governance committee last year can attest to… if you ask any members of the committee it was designed to come back to BUSAC at its earliest possible convenience …. the reason it didn’t come back in May for review is simply because the commitee had not yet met in any iteration to be able to present that to BUSAC.

Nor did the committee feel that BUSAC would be best equipped to be able to answer any questions, or question the legislation, because they had no training on what bylaws, policies, standing orders … any of that stuff .. was.

And the idea was to come back at this retreat, um, today to present to the council. However, because of some of the difficulties we’ve had with members of the commitee either not being present throughout the summer, or not being responsive to emails, it’s been very difficult to be able to get that sort of information forward, to bring it to council.

As as a result of which, that’s why we sit in this sort of limbo, we have this temporary policy and procedure, designed simply to hold us between the gap of fiscal years, rather than as a long term policy. And I know, what you addressed previously in the beginning of policy and procedure where it says this isn’t designed to serve as bylaws, this never was designed to circumvent the bylaws, it was designed to get around the collapse of the legislation — the kind of barrier we have at the end of the year — and the fact that we missed quorum at our second to last meeting, and give the committee the impetus and the ability to have the information it had last year carry over. I think anyone here can attest to, if they spend any time within BUSU, they  know that there’s no guarantee that the members of the committee will be the same members last year. As a result of which, a lot of stuff is dropped gets dropped on the cutting room floor, never to be found again. That was the reason this was added to the policy and procedure.

Ligetfalvy:
Are any of the three policies — or “documents” — that are in the policies and procedures in effect? The governance committee, for example, has it met, and is it already in effect?

Yendt:
Absolutely. Of course they’re in effect, because a Policy and Procedure is higher on our legislative hierarchy and therefore there is a requirement by the organization to meet the policies and procedures as outlined. And as required by the governance committee to be able to vet senators for the interest of the senate position and, therefore, of course the committee has met,

july-13-yendt

 

Why did Board put BUSAC bylaws on Policies and Procedures?

Last month, a source forwarded me an email written by an anonymous writer. Subject line: “‘Democracy Is So Overrated’ – Frank Underwood”, a quote from Netflix’s House of Cards. In the email, an anonymous author outlines a series of concerns about the Board of Directors putting questionable BUSAC bylaws onto the Policies and Procedures.

In this feature report, The BUG looks into the issue.

    Has 2013's influencer of the year gone too far in 2014? | Councilors tell The BUG about constitution-bending maneuvers that grants more power to the Board of Directors

Has 2013′s influencer of the year gone too far in 2014? | Councilors tell The BUG about constitution-bending maneuvers that grants more power to the Board of Directors … or something

 

BUG Report: Yendt piggybacks Bylaws on to Policies and Procedures, sparking concerns

By Sandor Ligetfalvy | brockbug@gmail.com

On April 8, motions for a series of bylaws were ruled out of order at BUSAC. Then, on April 10, the Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these very same bylaws into “a legislative policy and procedure”.

busac-april-8-stricken-agenda

“I am declaring #19 out of order. Which would make 15 to 18 out of order as well. There’s a motion to pass a political policy to take up a legislative function. And that is not what a political policy is. You pass a reading and then make it okay for next year. Your decisions are null and void at the end of the month. There’s no avenue to do that, therefore any of the first readings that were supposed to be there tonight, are also out of order because there’s not another regularly scheduled BUSAC to run. Okay. Everybody understand that?” Speaker Josh Doan, April 8, 2014

Then, on April 10, the Board of Directors passed a motion to put these same bylaws into the Policies and Procedures, a document which has no other bylaws and is usually used as reference for business operations and best practices.

board-minutes-show-bylaws

“I believe this to be a gross misuse of the Board of Directors powers which have effectively changed the Legislative Hierarchy set out within the Constitution and I believe that the Appeals Committee must review this and rule it out of Order,” says a letter addressed to me written by Calvin Eady who is now beginning his second term as BUSAC councilor.

Both Eady’s Letter and the Anonymous Email raise similar concerns, although Eady says he is not the anonymous author. In both documents the replacement of the Legislative Affairs committee (Bylaw 2400) with a Governance committee is raised as a concern.

“Most Committees have 2 SAL position and some even have 3 so why are we getting rid of one for an Executive position on the Committee?” writes Eady.

The Anonymous Email suggests the new 2400 favours executive cronyism: “Although seemingly minor, governance means Yendt can get his best buddy (Ursaki) in as an exec, and only ONE SAL sits on this committee instead of TWO like leg affairs, whereas no exec sits on leg affairs unlike governance.” (Emphasis original).

Calling it “dramatic”, BrockTV Executive Director Adam Marshall — known for his dedicated coverage of student governance – criticizes Anonymous, saying, “The email writer is speculating that Yendt, Shorten and Ursacki are some political trio out to plant Yendt as president as if that would be some accomplishment.”

“The email is dramatic. The situation is legit,” says Marshall. Specifically, “Yendt changed bylaws and committees in between BUSAC meetings.”

Full Text of Anonymous Email: Click to Expand

Below: Comparison of two Bylaw 2400′s

2400-composition-of-comparison

Bylaw-2400-The-Legislative-Affairs-Committee-October-2012.pdf
Bylaw 2400 (The Governance Committee) – May 2014.docx

“In specific reference to Policy 20 [of Policies and Procedures] and Bylaw 2400. The changes made have replaced a SAL seat on the Committee with an Executive seat on the Committee which has allowed Drew Ursacki to gain a seat on the Governance Committee (formally the Legislative Affairs Committee) using his position as an Executive instead of his position on the Board of Directors. I believe that the decision made by temporary Speaker Christopher Yendt was a conflict of interest as now both Mr. Yendt and Mr. Ursacki are able to sit on the Committee together instead of contesting the only Board of Directors seat against each other. This has allowed Mr. Yendt to sit on the Governance Committee with less competition for the only seat allocated to a Board of Directors member,” writes Eady.

Yendt’s Hats: VP Finance. Board of Directors. Oh, And Temporary Speaker.

Christopher Yendt, as photographed for his VPFA profile

Christopher Yendt, as photographed for his VPFA profile

BUSU veteran Christopher Yendt was 2013-14 VP Finance and Administration has been a central figure of BUSU governance in the journals of The BUG where we noted Yendt as 2013′s “Student Governance Influencer of the Year“. Now as a member of the Board of Directors — acclaimed in March 2014 for a two-year term, without opposition – he continues in 2014 to wield significant influence. Both Eady’s Email and the Anonymous Letter take aim at Yendt who is once again central to a political story at BUSU.

Eady’s Letter says, “Yendt attempted to use a BUSAC Political Policy to make these exact changes to these exact bylaws at the last BUSAC Meeting of the 2013-2014 year but the Speaker at the time (Josh Doan) ruled the motions out of order because Political Policies are not intended to be used to change bylaws.” At the May 2014 BUSAC meeting — the first of the new council’s session — Yendt himself was temporary Speaker of BUSAC. According to Eady’s Letter, Yendt “ruled that Board of Director’s Policies and Procedures overrule BUSU Bylaws.”

“Allowing these policies and procedures to overrule Bylaws is a precedent that cannot be allowed to be set as it takes away the power of bylaw changes (which are set out in the Constitution) from BUSAC and gives a much smaller group, The Board of Directors, complete control in overruling BUSAC when it comes to bylaw changes”, writes Eady.

 

What were they thinking?

Then-senator Kevin Wilson, who was on Board for the April 10 motion, called the changes “vital to ensuring hard work was not lost but at the same time they were not intended to be set in place until BUSAC.” I told him it is being challenged on a constitutional basis. “Good and it should,” he replied.

“I thought that we had approved them as organizational policies as it reads to be brought back to BUSAC and hoped to be approved there after. Like the fact that they are legislative P&P in my mind means that it is a by-law that is floating and waiting to be approved by the next BUSAC.”

Wilson points to an apathetic council which did not achieve quorum at the 2nd-to-last meeting of the year, which is what, he says, necessitated this maneuver.

“BUSAC has the ultimate decision over by-laws and therefore are the gate keepers….the main part of this was to not lose the work that had been done to write these and have them kind of float and not be in effect until BUSAC’s approval.”

However, Wilson, too, recognizes the concern. “If BUSU is acting as though they are in effect before they have had 2 BUSAC meetings then that is wrong.”

So, the question hanging over our heads is: are any of these new bylaws in effect?

If any of the bylaws have actually been implemented, it would violate Article XVI, Section 2.

article-XVI

This issue is expected to be raised at the July 13 BUSAC meeting, which comes just days after the publishing of this report.

Commentary: Bylaws so good they don’t need council’s approval

By Sandor Ligetfalvy
The Policy and Procedures document is posted online with the new bylaws attached. If anyone was reading them without knowing Article XVI, they might believe that these bylaws are in effect. After all, they’re published in the colour of law on Policies and Procedures. Yet, the bylaws section of the BUSU website does not reflect the new bylaws. Nor should it, since they can not be in effect until two readings of BUSAC.

The author of the policy document seems to presume authority of council. As if, this way is the only way. and this exact legislative text is being crammed through a backdoor. Through the second backdoor. As noted, before these bylaws were piggybacked on the Policies and Procedures on April 10, they were attempted to be piggypacked through BUSAC Political Policy on April 8, but that was ruled out of order. This is doubtlessly why we have the House of Cards reference. Bad for the greater good. That is, of course, if these policies are even for the greater good; the authors of the letters referenced in this report say, emphatically, no, particularly on bylaw 2400.

Yet, absolutely no input is expected from council. Just a rubber stamp.

Regardless, the text is now publicly part of Policies and Procedures, despite that not being the purpose of the document. The argument that this was because they didn’t want to lose the work is hard to believe in an institution that has strong corporate memory and the ability to email a copy of the documents to the next group of committees who would be responsible. These “bylaws” are already in the public sphere as “a legislative policy and procedure” without having ever been reviewed, edited, and approved, by the full governance process. Like, what?

The text on the Policies and Procures is useless and meaningless until it’s passed. It gives blatantly false information: “Effective: May 2014.” Really, “effective” before two readings of council? Before council has gone through the details of these bylaws, amended them, debated those amendments, and then — finally — passed them? It could rightly take months to get through this legislation approved by council. After council is done with it, it might look remarkably different. So why are unauthorized bylaws being posted to the Policies and Procedures?

Is it because Frank Underwood is right?

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