Thursday, April 25, 2013

Extortion Allegations Swirl around Divestment Debate at Berkeley

The divestment imbroglio at UC Berkeley just got uglier, amidst extortion allegations. According to the UC Berkeley newspaper, the Daily Cal,  ASUC Senator Jorge Pacheco sent a letter to ASUC President Connor Landgraf, stating a suit against prior actions of Landgraf would be dismissed if he agreed not to veto the controversial divestment resolution. Pacheco's actions were condemned by Senator Mihir Deo, who stated,  "The fact that he used something important to all students to leverage a political opinion of his was very disappointing and unacceptable."

From the Daily Cal

Hours before ASUC President Connor Landgraf publicly announced that he would not veto SB 160, the controversial divestment bill, he received a letter that gave him pause. It guaranteed a settlement on charges against him if he agreed not to veto the bill, which passed 11-9 in the ASUC Senate. Landgraf said he received the letter, written by Cooperative Movement Senator Jorge Pacheco, around 4 p.m. Tuesday. In the letter, Pacheco stated that he would settle the suit against Landgrafs executive order to put the health and wellness referendum on the spring 2013 ballot if Landgraf opted not to veto SB 160. A settlement was ultimately reached on the suit against Landgrafs executive order around 5:30 p.m. that day.

Landgraf said that he had already made the decision not to veto SB 160 at the time Pacheco slipped the handwritten letter into his office. Landgraf communicated in a text message to Pacheco that he was disappointed and shocked by the letter and immediately sent it to ASUC Attorney General Hinh Tran to make it clear that Landgrafs decision regarding SB 160 was not influenced by Pachecos offer. By not vetoing, I will settle, the letter reads. You should make this decision on your own conscience, but this is something I will do if you stand behind your senators and demonstrate everything that would appease any and all of my concerns….Tran said that his office is still looking into the legality of such a letter and that it may violate a bylaw. He was not aware of a precedent for this sort of situation.  

Prophetic words from our friends at Divest This:

What most of us, until recently, could not even imagine, ruthless players like divestment’s champions wake up every morning and do. Subverting the language of human rights for short-term political gain, forcing colleges and religious organizations to take a stand or risk possibly permanent schisms, dragging the bitterness of the Middle East into a struggling, multiethnic college, city, union or church, these are all acts with potentially long-term damaging effects. Yet the ruthless do not care about the consequences of their actions. To them, the leaders and members of UC Berkeley are mere props to be manipulated so that leaders of the divestment movement can feel part of some great, global, revolutionary struggle....

While divestment proponents might be able to convince themselves that the ends justify the means as part of some fantasized higher, noble calling, in truth their means have become their ends. For what defines such movements outside of their willingness to say anything, do anything, hurt anyone, sew conflict, corrupt democracy, abuse the language of human rights and free speech, i.e., to behave in a manner that defines ruthlessness?

1 comment:

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

no surprises here. looking forward to hearing about the continued fall out from this emerging scandal.