The Student Government senate flexed a little muscle Wednesday when it passed a resolution to freeze the executive branch’s financial accounts. The resolution was brought to the floor April 5 when student body President Bijal Chhadva and Vice President Andrew Aubery were in Tallahassee, causing an exchange of aggressive e-mails — one from Chhadva and one from Senate President Stavros Papandreou.
“If you read the resolution, they are in violation of certain statutes,” Papandreou said. “Since they are in violation of certain statutes, those statutes follow up and say, ‘If you are deemed irresponsible of violation of this statute then your account shall be frozen.'”
According to the resolution, the executive branch has not been spending in accordance with their allocation, they have not been following procedural financial guidelines and they have not been submitting all financial requests to the SG business office in a timely manner.
“They all kind of relate to the same thing, which is turning paperwork in on time, complete, turning in reimbursement paperwork, turning in invoices — those are all interrelated,” Business Manager David Armstrong said. “When you read down the list where it says submitting financial requests in a timely manner, failure to comply with responsibilities, not following the procedural guidelines, these are all interrelated.”
Even though the senate passed the resolution after forming an investigative committee that presented their findings, the Business Office, and Armstrong in particular, must make the final decision. The resolution that was passed was only a suggestion to the Business Office to make the move.
“The recommendation was made to the Business Office, so I am assuming the Business Office froze the account,” Papandreou said. “It was not a unanimous decision, I think there was a couple of abstentions and four people that voted against.”
When spoken to on Thursday, Armstrong said he would come to a decision by Monday at the latest. Although it is a possibility that the executive branch will have their assets frozen, the senate wrote into the resolution four exceptions, which are expenditures for the SG banquet, money to WBUL for its 16th anniversary, expenditures for the Great American Cleanup and Payroll.
“If you look at the resolution, the number one thing was the SG banquet,” Chhadva said. “Talk about priorities.”
Chhadva does not deny that he has turned in some paperwork late — he even acknowledges that some of his allocations are in the red — but he said that the Business Office has always accepted his proposals and that reimbursements and minor, legal transfers from one allocation to the other puts all of his expenses in the green.
“Anything we do with money, we have to go through the Business Office, because they have to approve the paperwork,” Chhadva said. “If it was late, they could have told us, ‘No we are not going to approve it, because it is late,’ but since nothing was mentioned and since they cooperated with us I don’t think it was a problem. If the Business Office did not have a problem with it, I don’t see why anyone else should have an issue with it.”
As for some of his accounts in the red, Chhadva said that one account is minus $70 and that it is legal for him to transfer up to $150 from one allocation to another. The other account Chhadva mentioned is in the red by almost $200, but he is still waiting for an apartment complex to reimburse him $500, putting that account also in the green.
“Overall, we have $40,000 left in our account, so we have been pretty conservative with the way we have spent our money,” Chhadva said.
Chhadva denies any wrongdoing and believes that this resolution, which he said would hardly make a difference in his last three weeks in office, may have been a personal attack. Although Papandreou refuted any personal vendetta in a phone interview, an exchange of e-mails between him and Chhadva suggests something different.
“Dear senate, this e-mail is about the resolution that was talked about in senate,” Chhadva said in his e-mail. “If you have something that you would like to say, please talk to us. Be a man. Have the guts to speak to us instead of creating commotion while we are out of town working and lobbying in Tallahassee for the student body’s interest.”
Chhadva’s concise response to the resolution goes on to defend himself and Aubery from any wrongdoing and closes by citing the student apathy toward SG.
“No wonder why students are so apathetic toward Student Government,” Chhadva said. “They are tired of the childish bickering and the immaturity of some of our leaders.”
Papandreou’s response was longer and more aggressive. It not only attacked Chhadva’s financial habits, but it also attacked his attire at Board of Governer’s meetings, his cabinet’s meeting frequency and his and Aubery’s availability as well as communication skills.
“Sometimes talking to both of you is as effective as talking to the Cookie Monster about dining etiquette,” Papandreou said in his e-mail.
Papandreou insists that the resolution was not a personal attack, that it was just the senate doing their job and invoking statutes in order to stop delinquent behavior.
“We have been very professional, there is business that needs to be taken care of,” Papandreou said. “I don’t want to have to freeze their account, but if it has to be frozen it is going to be frozen.”