Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

The most boring ASM Meeting ever, or, you didn’t miss much (July 2009)

[This originally appeared on July 26th on Muckrakers, the BH opinion blog. There’s less of a need to do these now, with the ASM press office.]

The ASM Student Council met on July 18th for its monthly meeting.  There wasn’t much on the agenda, and no members of the media attended the meeting, so there hasn’t been any coverage of the meeting. In fact, no one attended but ASM council members and an ASM staff member, which is the first time that’s happened this year.

I did want to briefly recap the meeting so at least there’s some record beyond the minutes that it even happened, but I think most readers will agree that they didn’t miss much.

Poor attendance was not limited to media and public, the Council was barely there as well. There are 29 members of the council, but only 13 made this meeting. (If you’re wondering how we even had quorum, there’s a special rule for the summer that says you only need a third of the council to make quorum. ASM doesn’t always set the bar very high.)

The first substantive thing the council took up was the BUCCE campaign. This is the name of the outreach campaign that was proposed at the June meeting and covered by the Herald last month (http://badgerherald.com/news/2009/06/13/asm_devise_outreach_.php) What the council did was effectively strip the idea for parts. We referred the proposal to the External Relations committee, which ostensibly already does much of what the campaign proposes, and told them to keep the ideas they liked and send the rest back to the council.  The council will figure out what, if anything, to do with those ideas at a future meeting.

The council also added three new members to the ASM Nominations Board: Katrina Flores, Tom Templeton, and Raechel Bartz.  The ASM Nominations Board is basically the Human Resources department for ASM, and is responsible for finding and filling nearly every job in ASM that is not directly elected. (The big exception is finding students to be on University committees, the Shared Governance Committee selects those.)  With the three new members, there are now nine members on the Noms Board, which is the maximum size the bylaws allow it to be. The additions passed unanimously.

Tyler Junger then gave an update on the auxiliary fund raid. There was no new information that wasn’t already covered in earlier Badger Herald (http://badgerherald.com/news/2009/07/18/uw_owes_22_million_t.php) or Daily Cardinal (http://dailycardinal.com/article/23163) stories.

Three of the remaining four resolutions we took up I either sponsored or co-sponsored, so I was probably more interested in the rest of the meeting than everyone else in the room.

The first resolution was in support of the High-Density Shelving Facility for the 2011-2013 budget. The UW will have to pick out the buildings it wants to ask for in the next budget later this year. The High-Density Shelving Facility was on the list for the 2009-2011 budget (See the proposal here: http://www.uwsa.edu/capbud/Capbud/09-11cap/msn/MSN_High_Density_Shelving_Facility_PRD.doc ). The state Department of Administration removed it from the budget it proposed to the Legislature, and the UW has to decide if it’s going to ask again. I think it’s important: having this facility is essentially expanding College or Memorial or Steenbock or any combination of the libraries for far cheaper that trying to build a new floor on top existing buildings. The student representatives to the Campus Planning Committee have been supportive of the project and argued for it the last time around, hopefully this will help them make the case that it should be supported again.

The next resolution is pretty toothless, and just directs the ASM Legislative Affairs chair to tell us if ASM should get in the game on Obama’s student loan reforms. ASM doesn’t have a lot of infrastructure to be effective in lobbying on national issues. Furthermore, the reform proposals are moving very fast, probably too fast for ASM to gear up and do anything worthwhile. On the other hand, this is an important issue and seems like something ASM should be paying attention to and getting involved with. If ASM can do so without embarrassing itself, it should, and if it’s too late then it’s not worth chasing after.

Kurt Gosselin sponsored a housekeeping resolution. In June the council gave the SSFC some explicit powers to manage the auxiliary/128 fund raid and present at the July regents meeting, and now that the meeting is over we passed a resolution removing that power.

The last resolution we took up was authorizing the graduate student caucus to be a neutral source of information on Research Assistants and Collective Bargaining Rights. I jointly sponsored this with Colin Ingram. RA Collective Bargaining/Unionization is a subject for another day, but ASM has agreed to be a source for information and to keep graduate students informed of what RA Collective Bargaining is all about. ASM is not taking a stand one way or the other on RA Collective Bargaining.

We finished up with reports of the chairs. Very few committees are doing anything interesting right now, with the exception of the Student Activity Governing Center Board. In addition to Move-Out night, the SACGB is continuing work on finding a café operator for the 3rd floor the SAC. Unfortunately, (because their food sucks) the Union has the right of first refusal on the space. Rep. Katy Ziebell, who is the point-person on Move-Out night, implored us to help out however we can several times during the meeting.

That was pretty much the entire meeting. The whole thing took just a bit over two hours. There were no ‘No’ votes cast, except for a few people who voted ‘Present’. The Coordinating Council, which is the “Executive Committee” of ASM, was scheduled to meet immediately after the council meeting, but they were unable to keep enough people present to get quorum, so they were unable to meet. Ironically, they were going to vote on a procedure to handle the case when the Coordinating Council needed to act but couldn’t get quorum.

The next student council meeting is Saturday, August 22nd at noon. This will be a more interesting meeting, because during the summer ASM is prohibited from making changes to the by-laws. Summer, by ASM’s calendar, ends two weeks before the first day of classes, so that restriction is lifted. However, we also lose the shield of a lower quorum, so it could be a very short meeting if more people don’t attend.

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Tenant Ratings, without the website

This was a few houses down from me on the way into work this morning

Bad Bad Landlord

Hopefully the tenant ratings website will be available before the next person rents there, and the current unhappy tenant can have a more constructive outlet for their displeasure.

I actually rented a block over from the same landlord who until recently owned the place in the photo, and I had a few problems. It was October or November before I actually got blinds on my sliding glass backdoor. The place also had a dishwasher, but it got more water on the floor than on my dishes, and nearly every month I’d include a note with my rent check reminding Randy to fix it and he never did.

It looks like this particular property was foreclosed on and is now owned by a bank, so it’s not clear who the bad bad landlord actually is.

Yet Another First Post

Like most people, I usually struggle with my introductions when writing. I suppose the first post of a blog is no different, so let me just lay out a couple of things to get started.

First, I know from experience I’m not a frequent blog poster. In my previous blogging attempts I think I’ve managed about 50 updates over the past decade and change (I’m going to count updating my .plan as blogging, because that was the state of the art at the time.) I expect to be better this time around, in part because I have more to say, in part because I have a regular schedule to keep, and in part because the tools are better.

Second, this blog is meant to be an archival home for things I write, and is not where I expect most people to read them. Certainly, some things will only be found here, but wherever possible I want to write at other sites. I’m fortunate enough to be able to occasionally write with the Badger Herald, and I’d really rather people read my stuff there.

For me, writing for the BH is a hobby, not a profession. As evidenced by this post, I’m never going to make my living from writing. That’s true of most bloggers, too. So, for me, it’s important to keep the BH strong (and the Daily Cardinal, and the WSJ/Cap Times, and anything else that has a news room.) Without the news side of the business, the opinion writers and hobbyist bloggers are screwed.

I’m not yet ready to count on citizen bloggers being able to carry all of the news-gathering responsibilities we expect from our local journalists. Societies flourished when they embraced division of labor, and it turns out that news journalism is hard. Not impossibly hard, mind you, but we’re better off because we have people who are able to spend all of their professional time in the news business. It’s like working on cars. I’m glad that I’ve got the freedom to tinker with my car whenever I want to, but I’m even happier that the market is able to support some people who can solve my car problems when I or my friends and neighbors don’t have the time or experience to do so ourselves.

Of course, the same thing can be said about bloggers. Blogging may have leveled the publishing field, but it’s still difficult to be a decent blogger. I don’t think enough of the new-media versus old-media analysis pays enough attention to the similarities between the two. Chiefly, it takes a ton of time to keep up a site that gets regular traffic, and isn’t just read when there’s nothing else in the RSS reader . Where Brenda or the Critical Badger find the time, I don’t know. A professional journalist spends their day working on stories, developing contacts and relationships, and responding to readers. That also takes a ton of time, but the journalist gets paid to do it.  When your only compensation is your own satisfaction, it’s understandable when people walk away.

Admittedly, my motivation for keeping news sites going is different than the public at large, who just want the news for free. I have no great insight into what’s going to save the news business.  I’m not delusional enough to think that my short essays every other week actually drive much traffic to the BH or make a difference to the bottom line. Some of what I will wind up writing will be on things the Herald doesn’t want to cover and will only ever be on this site. But, whenever possible, I’m going to prefer to that it appear there first. That’s one small thing I can do to keep old media relevant in a new media world.  I hope other bloggers think at least a little bit about how they can best preserve the commons.