SGB, College Dems clash for funding

By Lindsay Carroll

‘ ‘ ‘ Tension at last night’s Student Government Board meeting caused board members to defend… ‘ ‘ ‘ Tension at last night’s Student Government Board meeting caused board members to defend their voting methods and personal independence. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘There were several issues that came up that stirred a lot of emotion on both sides,’ said public relations chair Nikolai Condee-Padunov. ‘Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a part of the process.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘This doesn’t have to burn any bridges or cause any tension,’ he added. ‘ ‘ ‘ SGB denied a $17,500 budget modification after College Democrats informed the board that former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro cancelled her speaking event, to which the board had allocated funds on Sept. 16. ‘ ‘ ‘ College Democrats wanted to bring a new speaker, political strategist Donna Brazile, instead of Ferraro, who cancelled the event based on health reasons. ‘ ‘ ‘ Board member Perry Servedio read a prepared statement before the board voted on the change. He said that College Democrats had tripled their original budget ‘at the expense of every other student organization,’ by submitting the supplemental request for the speaker. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘$17,500 is tied up until December because Geraldine Ferraro is not coming,’ said Servedio. ‘That’s a lot of money.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ He said the group had not documented sufficient information to prove that the event would occur, such as proof of renting space and a contract for the event. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Does this sound like an organized organization?’ he asked. ‘ ‘ ‘ The board voted unanimously to deny the request to modify the budget to accommodate the new event, so the money will go back into the Student Activities Fund. ‘ ‘ ‘ College Democrats president Lissa Geiger said that because the request had been submitted, the group had confirmed that Donna Brazile could speak at Pitt on Oct. 28 and had arranged to rent a large auditorium in David Lawrence Hall. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I think the board made a mistake in denying this request,’ said Geiger, who addressed the board last night along with a group of fellow College Democrats. ‘ ‘ ‘ Servedio, who voted against funding the Ferraro event, also said that he was offended that the group sent out an e-mail to its members outlining how he and other members had voted during the Sept. 16 decision to fund the Ferraro event. ‘ ‘ ‘ Geiger said the e-mail was not official, but one leader sent out the e-mail to members. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘She wanted them to know who voted against it,’ said Geiger. ‘It was for College Democrats to know which members were supportive of our interests and which ones weren’t. SGB knows they’re being elected based on which ones served the interests of student organizations.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ During the open floor discussion, Geiger said she was disappointed that the board had voted without further discussion in light of Servedio’s statement. ‘ ‘ ‘ Each board member asserted that he had voted independently based on information that had been discussed at a planning meeting. ‘ ‘ ‘ Board member Amanda Reed apologized for Servedio’s statements in her remarks. She said they were disrespectful and that the board shouldn’t ‘burn bridges’ with any student organizations or leadership. ‘ ‘ ‘ After the meeting, Servedio maintained that it was wrong to allocate funds based on speculation of how much a group can raise. The cost of the Ferraro event was $22,500, but SGB allocated $17,500 because it believed that College Democrats could raise the remaining $5,000. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘That’s fiscal recklessness,’ said Servedio. Transit Council asks students for help ‘ ‘ ‘ John Weinhold of the Allegheny County Transit Council attended the meeting to urge SGB to distribute 1,000 letters requesting that Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato release funds to the Port Authority. ‘ ‘ ‘ Onorato is withholding $27 million in car rental and drink tax revenue that could go toward Port Authority operating expenses. ‘ ‘ ‘ The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 and the Port Authority have been in a stalemate in contract negotiations since August, and some fear the possibility of both a strike and a shutdown of the transit system. ‘ ‘ ‘ Weinhold said he feared that Allegheny County was ‘very rapidly approaching a transportation crisis.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘My purpose is to ask you to help us to help you,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ Weinhold said the council was independent of Port Authority and comprised of volunteer members chosen based on application. ‘ ‘ ‘ Several board members, including Francee Varner and Ryan Haddad, emphasized their reliance on public transportation.