The Chronicle’s View: Grievance hearings bang out more grief

As U Elections Committee Special Prosecutor Zan Larsen prepares a case against the More 4 U Party that will apparently challenge its right to advance through election primaries, More 4 U presidential candidate Joe Coccimiglio wants the student body to know he genuinely respects Redbook rules. He just hasn’t been very particular about following them.

“I’m not a machine,” Coccimiglio pleaded. “We are trying our best.”

Maybe More 4 U members should have known better than to use oversized posters and distribute campaign materials in classrooms. After all, they could have called Elections Registrar Lorraine Evans for help with interpreting specifications at any time.

But, doesn’t it suffice to punish them once? For the aforementioned indiscretions and a few others — amounting to 10 total grievances — More 4 U was fined $220 and required to take down the offending posters. The party has since complied humbly.

Alas, gracious apologies don’t cut it for Larsen and the hyena-like pack of opposing parties — all now taking turns picking apart the flesh of the litter’s wounded runt. Larsen filed an additional grievance (the spirit was in the air, after all) to have the 10 other grievances viewed on a whole as a violation of the basic terms of the party’s contract. If More 4 U is found guilty at Thursday night’s meeting, the party’s primary election results will probably be retroactively invalidated.

It’s been clear from the body language and facial expressions in the first three debates that the Forward and Activate parties regard themselves as members of a more superior class of student politicians than More 4 U, while the FUSE Party kept out of the pompous parade before it marched into Tuesday night’s grievance hearings.

The hearings gave these three “institutionalist” parties the chance to remove the potentially alluring (albeit far-fetched) promises of More 4 U from the sight of the student masses so they can return to rehashing debates over new board positions.

Grievance hearings are definitely necessary to prevent unscrupulous candidates from gaining advantages, but there has to be some way to regulate these things to the point that they don’t end up determining the election.

It’s like Dade County at the U, every year.

Last year, the BLOC Party was nearly removed from the ballot for misreporting wholesale purchases until it was saved by a last-minute appeal. When the party won, its members made sure to change the policy so it suited them, retroactively.

In 2005, the runner-up PINC Party paid steep fines and was nearly disqualified. In 2004, grievance hearings against all three parties kept the officials from announcing results until early in the morning the day after the final tallies were counted. In 2001, the Innovation Party was disqualified altogether, and each candidate forced to pay individual fines — all for going a mere $227.21 over expenditures.

The Associated Students of the University of Utah is supposed to provide students with a learning opportunity by mimicking a professional political organization. The U Elections Committee is advised to remember that, official constitution aside, a little leeway — or an oversized poster — never killed anybody.