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 … or something
BUG Report: Yendt piggybacks Bylaws on to Policies and Procedures, sparking concerns
By Sandor Ligetfalvy | email@example.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”.
“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.
“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.”
Below: Comparison of two Bylaw 2400′s
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
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.
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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