Farnesi exonerated, budget postponed

Associated Students, Inc. Executive Vice President Selena Farnesi was cleared Wednesday of allegations that she had violated open meeting laws.

Lauren Smoot, ASI senator-at-large for undergraduate and graduate academics affairs, was a member of the review team that looked into the allegations against Farnesi.

“We felt that what we found was insufficient cause for removal, so we believe there should be no action taken,” Smoot said.

A motion to conclude the review of Farnesi as requested passed easily.

“The motion passes; the review of the executive vice president — myself — will be concluded and no action will be taken,” Farnesi said.

The review of ASI Vice President of Finance Cesar Sanchez was postponed until May 4 after the personnel committee requested more time to complete their investigation.

“At the end of the four weeks, this one had not been completed,” Steven Chabolla, senator for the college of science and mathematics, said. “Time constraints were definitely a problem.”

Chabolla had been granted a previous extension in March.

Sanchez has been accused of violating the ASI Code of Conduct, but details of his alleged transgressions have not been made public. Those making the accusations have chosen to remain anonymous.

Since the next scheduled ASI meeting is right in the middle of spring break, the May 4 meeting will be the last, unless a special meeting is called.

“So, we are voting to postpone this to the very last possible moment,” Corey McPhetridge, senator-at-large for Greek affairs, said.

Sanchez asked Chabolla what it was that the personnel committee was reviewing him for.

“It was outlined in the memorandum that was originally introduced,” Chabolla replied.

Sanchez asked Chabolla if he would give him an item-by-item breakdown of what he was being accused of doing.

“Not right now,” Chabolla said.

Jaime Moncayo, senator-at-large for legislative affairs, responded to Sanchez’s inquiry.

“We don’t owe our executives any sort of due process under the California Corporation Code,” Moncayo said. “So, personally, the fact that we’re taking our time to kind of spread out this review and make it as objective and clear as possible is an extremely generous gesture on our part.”

The motion to extend Sanchez’s review passed.

ASI President Pedro Ramirez is under review for alleged code of conduct violations as well. His review was also extended until May 4.

Fresno State graduate student Hector Cerda addressed the senate regarding the “Class Action Rally and March” on April 13, which will focus on fee increases and cuts to classes.

“Jerry Brown has cut the budget by $500 million,” Cerda said. “Another $500 million cut is coming down the pike.”

Cindy Matson, vice president for Administration and Chief Financial Officer at Fresno State, addressed the senate regarding a proposed fee increase to fund additional student support services as well as transitional services for Fresno State’s athletic teams to the Mountain West Conference.

Fresno State’s Associate Vice President for Financial Services, Clint Moffitt, assisted Matson in the presentation by explaining that Fresno State had the lowest budget of any school in the Mountain West Conference at $26.6 million (the highest budget in the conference was $56 million). Student fees for athletics at Fresno State, Matson said, are $1.5 million each year, compared to $10 million at San Diego State, which has the highest fees in the conference.

Even during a recession, donations to Fresno State’s athletic programs are still flowing in.

“Fresno State, in a bad economy, is still raising $5.3 million [per year] from outside entities for athletics,” Moffitt said.

Fresno State brought in $7.6 million in ticket sales last year, and merchandise sales bring in additional funds.

Matson presented three proposals for student fee increases per semester: a $25 fee increase, with the remaining $1.96 million needed for the budget coming from the California State University general fund; a $55 increase, and a $70 increase. In each proposal, $10 would go toward academics with the remainder going to athletics.

Ramirez maintained that he was responsible for negotiating the $10 academic fee.

“Originally, it was all for athletics,” Sanchez said.

A straw poll was taken, and the $55 increase garnered the most approvals.