SGA President Matthew McCann issues executive order
Judicial Council finds issuance of order to be constitutional
Published: Sunday, January 22, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2012 12:05
The vote was unanimous on Friday when the Student Government Association’s Judicial Council met to decide whether or not an executive order issued by SGA President Matthew McCann was constitutional.
The executive order, which was issued on Dec. 14, 2011, called for the Activity and Service Fee Business Office to cease processing FAO Allocation 44-23.
According to Financial Allocations for Organizations Chair Kevin Gay, it’s extremely rare for an executive order to be issued.
“As far as I know there’s not a single Student Government agent that can recall an executive order being passed in recent memory,” Gay said.
The allocation was for the Mobile Innovation Club in the amount of $1,000 to help them attain a club banner, a banner design, cloud servers and storage, an 8GB iPod Touch, a .org domain name, a Kindle Fire and an Apple iOS developer program.
According to Gay, the allocation was approved in the FAO committee on Nov. 16, 2011 and passed favorably when it was read into the minutes during the Senate meeting on Nov. 17, 2011.
When asked, McCann cited several reasons as to why he believes the allocation passed favorably in both instances.
“I think it’s a variety of reasons, not necessarily an error that was part of it, but also there was a lack of knowledge on spending and specifically senators in the FAO committee were looking on things on the micro [level] when they have to look at the macro [level],” he said Saturday.
In his executive order, McCann cited two main reasons for ceasing the allocation.
His first concern was that the items mentioned in the allocation would not benefit the student body as a whole.
“The fact that these items will not be accessible to all students is in clear violation of Florida State Statute as well as our own Student Body Statutes,” McCann wrote in the executive order.
McCann also thought that the money would be used to “ ... essentially fund an educational program ... ”
“There are other fees such as the Technology Fee or E&G [departmental] funds that go to programs like this, where they are appropriate methods of funding,” McCann wrote. “If we continue to go down this road we would put ourselves open and liable to start funding the front desk staff of the Library or equipment for the Film Department, etc.”
McCann elaborated during a phone interview on Saturday saying that it’s not feasible for SGA to fund start-up organizations or to pay for walk-away items, especially ones that are only available to a limited number of students.
“ ... for them [students] to have to pay for the same items twice isn’t fair,” McCann said referring to the possibility of one of the items being lost, stolen or broken.
According to both McCann and Gay, two iPads were stolen from the Office of Student Involvement. McCann said that did not factor into his decision, but he said it does show how desirable electronics are.
SGA Sen. Joshua Scriven thought that McCann overstepped his powers and violated the Student Government Constitution by issuing the order, so he wrote a memorandum to request an official opinion from the Judicial Council.
“It is therefore, also clear that, within the [sic] Study Government, it is Senate, and not the Executive that has the final review over funding processes,” Scriven wrote in the memorandum, which was issued Jan. 15.
After McCann issued his executive order, an official opinion was obtained from Attorney General Cortez Whatley, who acts as a legal adviser to the SGA president. That opinion was obtained on Dec. 23, 2011.
The inquiry given to Whatley was: “Does the Student Body President have the authority to issue Executive Orders?”
Whatley answered yes, citing Article III, Section I of UCF’s Constitution. The clause states that, “All executive powers and those powers not specifically granted herein to other branches of Student Government shall be vested in the Student Body President ... ”
Although Whatley supported McCann’s decision, he added that executive orders should be used sparingly so that the Executive Branch doesn’t overextend its power.
“The Constitution of the University of Central Florida as well as its Student Body Statutes were written in accordance with democratic principles, and an abuse of this unique power will result in more of a dictatorial type of governance,” Whatley wrote in his official opinion.
All 13 of the Justices agreed with Whatley’s opinion when they met in the Black and Gold Ballroom, a small room inside the SGA Office on the second floor of the Student Union, Friday at 2:30 p.m.
“As the Judicial Council, we are looking at the physical acts of both the legislative branch and the executive branch,” Chief Justice Jordan Shapiro said at the beginning of the meeting.