New charges filed against Class Pass referendum

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Several ASUC officials recently filed charge sheets with the ASUC Judicial Council requesting that the Class Pass referendum be invalidated from the 2012 ASUC general election.

SQUELCH! Senator Noah Ickowitz filed charges Thursday alleging that the referendum — which students voted on in the ASUC elections last week — violated multiple portions of the ASUC Constitution and Bylaws, including a mandate that referendum ballot language be impartial. Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab also submitted additional charges Thursday on behalf of herself and ASUC President Vishalli Loomba, claiming that they were misled by campus officials.

The referendum would extend the Class Pass  — which gives students unlimited rides on AC Transit and Bear Transit — after it is set to expire in 2013 and increase its cost to $86 over seven years. During the first day of elections, the ballot incorrectly stated that the fee would last three years. Navab originally filed charges last Friday against Elections Council chair Pamudh Kariyawasam asking that the referendum be disqualified as a result.

Ickowitz’s charges take issue with the incorrect language as well as errors in the Voter’s Guide, claiming that bylaws were violated as a result.

He also alleges that the referendum breached bylaws that require referendums to be impartially phrased on the ballot. His charge sheet contends that essential information about the Class Pass was excluded from the ballot, including that the price of the pass could allegedly increase even more in future years if the cost of admissions on buses goes up. Furthermore, Ickowitz’s charges state that the terms of the contract with AC Transit were not adequately disclosed to students.

“They are thus giving their student fees to an independent entity, AC Transit … without even having access to the contract,” Ickowitz’s charges read. “Many of the cons to the contract were left out of the ballot language, skewing the impartiality.”

Though Ickowitz said in the sheet that the charges regarding impartiality and a lack of information cannot disqualify the ballot because they fell under the responsibility of the attorney general rather than the ASUC Elections Council, Ickowitz stated that he brought them forward “for the sake of integrity in referendums and full disclosure.”

Ickowitz’s charges state that no memorandum of understanding — an agreement between two parties — was presented to the ASUC Senate or students and that the referendum could be in violation of UC policy.

Though Ickowitz’s charges overlap with separate charges filed by Navab, he states in his sheet that Navab may possess a conflict of interest because of her previously expressed support on the Class Pass referendum.

“In no way do I think that President Navab is trying to ‘trick’ anyone, but by nature of her previous stance on the Class Pass Referendum in its original (and possibly illegal form) I must submit this charge sheet separately to give full voice to these concerns,” Ickowitz’s charges state.

In addition to pointing out errors in referendum language and the Voter’s Guide, Navab’s new charge sheet cites a “lack of full disclosure” from the campus Office of Parking and Transportation.

Campus Parking and Transportation Director Seamus Wilmot could not be reached for content.

Navab said she was led to believe that the terms for the Class Pass contract were set but later learned this was not the case.

“We are saddened to say that we were misled and misdirected by members of the campus Parking and Transportation Office and led to believe that this referendum had been completely vetted, and a complete contract between AC Transit and Parking and Transportation had already been negotiated,” Navab and Loomba’s charge sheet states.

The Judicial Council has issued a preliminary injunction to block vote counting pending a hearing, so results were not released during Thursday night’s tabulations ceremony.

“I think when there’s a lot of ‘I don’t knows’ we shouldn’t be putting fees in (the ballot),” Navab said. “In this situation, I think we were a little misled by Parking and Transportation.”