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The True Rundown of YG

Youth and Government, is a competition meant to bestow experience through a mock representation of the ins and outs of the Texas government. The statewide organization is split into sections inside both the Judicial and Legislative branches of government: Trial court, State Affairs Forum, Appellate Court, the Legislative Sector, and our very own Media team. Often coming into Youth and Government as a new delegate, it gets confusing and it is important that we know how each of the sections work. 

Media is our journalistic section that, through stories, videos, and posts, spreads out across the entire conference, presenting the opportunity to interact with many delegates of all sections. Broadcast media allows delegates to record interviews, report live news stories, and make videos about the conference. Social Media creates posts across social media platforms focusing on any angle they want to cover and write about from the conference. Print Media writes news stories and articles that are posted to a blog. Photo Media (Photojournalism), takes the most pictures for their stories, posting on social platforms and creating a photo essay that tells a story through a mixture of pictures and captions. All of Media works together in similar ways, whether reporting live or writing stories ahead of time. 

Trial court, one of Youth and Government’s most popular sections, is split between both District and County Court. District court follows a similar process to court cases we see outside of this competition. One of the court cases being used this weekend, “It’s All Guicci”, focuses on Dominico de Sole’s prosecution of Art Fraud against Ann Freedman, a real-world past case. The delegates in District court substitute each of the players in this case, and practice in their own interpretation and questions to the best of their ability. This involves witnesses, a bailiff, the prosecution and defense attorney, and the honorable Judge. County court is very similar to District court, and they are currently working on the same case! 

Vergara discusses his request for change in the Appellate court. From right to left see: Jessica Ibarra, Laila George, Victoria Cao, Julio Vergara, and Sofia Alaniz (Appellate Court).

In State Affairs, the delegates are focused on proposals. These proposals are suggested solutions or improvements that the delegates come up with for current problems that are happening in the real world. After a duo of delegates open with their proposal, anyone can stand to ask clarification and questions regarding the proposal. These help delegates decide whether or not to vote in favor of these proposals. After the time allotted for questions and answers, selected delegates from the committee speak as either proponents or opponents for the proposal being discussed. This is when the selected speakers attempt to convince the committee to support the proposal or speak against it. 

Appellate court, or the appeals court, is sent the decisions made by the trial court about their cases. In this court, the delegates standing in as Appellants, Appellees, and the Judge review the official decisions and have the opportunity here to request changes to the decision. These requests are discussed between the Appellants and Appellees until final adjustments to the decision are approved. In an interview with Jessica Ibarra, an attorney on the appellate court, she explains that, “after a case from trial court that has gone through completely, we argue specifics.” They deep dive into the ins and outs of the court’s decision. Ibarra loves appellate, mentioning that, “it’s actually very intellectual and you have to make up arguments…and understand case law in a  deeper sense.” Despite it being her first year participating in appellate court, she has a true understanding for what it takes to perform the best she can.

Similarly to Trial Court, the legislative section is also split into two sections: the House and the Senate, just like the system in the U.S. In the legislative section, the teams focus on proposing and amending bills to pass. Both the Senate and the House take bills that have been passed by the committee, and are heard by the two chambers. They are then assessed and adjusted to either be blocked or passed on to the Governor. Delegates have the opportunity to debate the bill, propose amendments, check for clarification, and speak for or against the bill. 

All of these sections are unique to themselves, and interwork with each other in an amazing way. Even with these explanations, the best way to understand even better is through seeing and experiencing it yourself. It’s an unforgettable experience, and is a straightforward representation of our government today.

Written by: LeeAnn Martin

2022-04-23T12:48:33-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why YG?

The halls of the Renaissance Hotel echo with the war cries of legislators locked in verbal battle. The River Bend Church and State Capital  now house courts of justice determined to ensure that righteousness prevails, and the State Affairs section is in the midst of finding solutions to the world’s challenges through intensive research and contemplation. After months of anticipation and tedious preparation, the annual Youth and Government Texas State Conference (YG) is finally in motion. Why? Obviously YG, its sponsors, and its coordinators are responsible for organizing this program and for providing the opportunity to participate, to youths across the nation for nearly a century now. However, how is YG impacting our society, how is it contributing to the communities it has reached?

Cathryn Aguilar, advisor of a judicial county court team,  sees YG as nothing but an exemplary organization cultivating the proactivity and boldness of America’s youth, ensuring that the future will have active and responsible civic leaders – “This program fosters their willingness to get involved and their ability to understand what’s at stake and also understand that they have the capability to bring about change”. Mrs. Aguilar is confident that the empowerment of the youth will lead to a more engaged and active society and, by extension, will solve many modern day political issues. To exemplify her faith in YG, she presented one of her students, Aubreana, a judicial lawyer that became inspired by her YG experiences and will now be attending Yale university this fall in pursuit of a political career.

To YG Parents, Maria Puente and Araceli Coral, Youth and Government is all about nurturing communication skills. Mrs. Coral, concerned that social media has stunted the youth’s proper development of human communication skills, commends YG for its emphasis on teaching its delegates to speak and convey ideas in an articulate manner – “You want your kids to be able to interact with those around them, and not feel like they can’t participate just because of a lack of articulation,” said Coral. Not only does YG produce vocal students but also provides a community, something that proved valuable during the Covid-19 pandemic to the Puente family – “Knowing that even in a virtual setting my daughter still had a community to interact with and learn from, helped the family maintain a sense of stability and normalcy,” stated Mrs. Puente.

So what is the purpose of YG? Families have been reinforced, and the young are being instilled the virtues of courage and justice. YG suggests their goal is the development of “ young men and women who will be better citizens by being both knowledgeable and active in determining the future of our democracy”. Despite this, there is one principle at the core of YG, a central concept that can be found in all aspects of Youth and Government. Every branch is fighting for intellectual diversity, whether it be for justice, new policy, proposals, or for the spread of information. Everything YG does is for the sake of fearless advocacy.

Mrs.Aguilar’s team on the left  during mock trial deciding what responsibility art dealer Ann Freedman had in the selling of illegitimate art before judge Furino.

 

Written by: Luis Fuentes

2022-04-23T11:49:33-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Lt. Governor Finds Her Balance in the Legislative Section

Zoe Klein, the 2022 Youth and Government (YG) Lieutenant Governor, had only taken one step into the senate chamber when she let out a squeal of excitement. This conference is Klein’s first year working in the Legislative branch of YG, as well as her first time in a senate chamber. 

“I can’t believe we’re here,” Klein said, “This is amazing.”

For the last two years, Klein has been on a mock trial team, but after her team placed first in nationals, she began her duties as Lieutenant Governor. According to Klein, being Lieutenant Governor involves a lot of new responsibilities.

“I would say that the most difficult part of my job right now is figuring out what the process is. All of the legislative procedures are very complicated and new to me, and it is really impressive that every one of us in government knows how to do it.” 

Just like Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Klein spends many of her working hours in the senate chamber hearing bills. Klein’s role as Lieutenant Governor involves presiding over the senate and determining the docket. 

“I get to sit in Dan Patrick’s chair and hear everyone’s testimony on their bills, which is really exciting,” Klein said. “I get to hear debate and lead that whole process, and I make a lot of decisions relating to which bills get to be heard.” 

 While she figures out all the new procedures, Klein explained that she is relying on those around her to help her better understand the legislative process. According to Klein, everyone at YG has been very supportive and willing to help.

“The YMCA provides a lot of resources, which is great,” Klein said, “I’ve been getting a lot of guidance from people in the program, like the President Pro Tempore, Nikola Martanovic, and Ms. Six, who is our section leader.”

Klein admits that YG can sometimes be stressful, but says that the experience and friendships make it worth it. From her very first time testifying as a witness in 2020, Klein said it was something she knew she wanted to keep doing. By knowing about the delta 8 gummies effects, it is very easy to deal with any kind of tough and stressful situations in life.  

Every time I got on the witness stand, there was just joy that came over me and this exhilaration that I had really not felt before,” Klein said, “And at first I thought it was just being a witness. But the next year, I was an attorney. And it was the exact same feeling– maybe even more.” 

“I still love mock trial, but I feel so grateful that I’ve had the chance to explore a new section,” Klein said. “Especially in my last year in YG, diversifying my knowledge feels like exactly what I want to be doing.”

Even though Klein is new to the legislative section, she says she is having fun and has no doubts that she will be able to manage her new responsibilities. 

“It’s a learning curve,” Klein said, “but I’m figuring it out and I feel confident in my abilities.”

Lieutenant Governor Zoe Klein prepares the docket in the calendar committee with President Pro Tempore Nikola Martanovic (left) and Senator Garrett Mantzey (right). Calendar committee decides the order of bills that will be presented to the senate.

Written by: Delia Rune

2022-08-12T01:39:52-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Courage in the County Court

This year, the YMCA’s Texas Youth and Government State County Court Mock Trial took place at Riverbend Church. Trials are a formal examination of evidence before a judge, and typically before a jury, in order to decide guilt in a case of criminal or civil proceedings, according to Lexico. The judicial courts place limitations on the government and protect against extreme government power. Trials defend minorities, of all kinds, from the majority, as well as the rights of those who are unable to defend themselves. 

   The Trial court case being argued this year is entitled, “It’s all Gucci” Domenico de Sole V. Ann Freedman. Ann Freeman is accused of selling a fake Roshko painting to Domenico de Sole for $8.5 million dollars. Haley Hillhouse, played the role of Ann Freedman for the case “It’s All Gucci” for the First Baptist Christian Academy’s judicial team. She gave a straightforward analysis of mock trials and their many benefits. “The trial is a good learning experience and for every trial, I feel like I can improve and I learn a lot from other teams and the judges.” Johnny Tran, also from First Baptist Christian Academy, filled the role of Plaintiff for the defense of Dominico de Sole. “The trial was really fun and competitive yet at the same time it was a good time for me to show and practice public speaking.” Addison Hobbs from First Baptist Chrisitan Academy enacted  Laley Nasik. “Mock Trial has helped me with public speaking because before I was really bad at it. when I first started I would be shaking, but honestly, this has really made me more outgoing and being able to talk in front of people.” As you can tell, mock trials definitely aid delegates in their personal growth and can prepare them for many things that  come their way. 

The defense team for Domenico De Sole, Jungho Lim, Haley Hillhouse, Addison Hobbs, Johnny Tran, and Jackson Hughes get ready for trial with a strong mindset.

 

Written by: Alexis Ruiz

2022-04-23T09:34:08-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Proposal: Technical and Skill-Based Courses Required in High Schools

Anna Lackner, a student from Frassati Catholic High School and author of the 21st proposal, claims that requiring high schoolers to take technical and skill-based courses would be highly beneficial to the futures of students. It would allow for the exercise of  their interests and exposing them to new concepts, activities, and possible careers. Presented to Committee B at the Texas Capitol YMCA Youth and Government Conference, this particular proposal would require all public, Texas high schools to provide trade and skill courses for their students. Lackner explained to the committee that while technical professions tend to be successful and are vital aspects of society, in recent years the number of skilled workers in America has dropped.

According to Lackner, 68% of tradespeople have struggled to hire skilled workers over the past year, and “27% of skilled workers are within 10 years of the social security age of retirement”, which is 62 years of age. Because of this, Lackner asserts that it is “crucial” for high school students to be introduced to trade and skill-based classes, in order to bring about a fresh and interested generation of skilled workers and tradespeople. 

Lackner then described how trade and skill courses can expand student’s mindsets and interests in careers, professions, and their futures. She states that students with well-rounded experience will graduate high school with a better preparation for their futures, and “the labor shortage in skilled trade jobs would be lessened and over time completely alleviated.” 

Lackner’s plan for executing her proposal is stated as requiring “every student in a Texas public high school to complete a minimum of one semester of a technical or skill based course in order to graduate”. These courses would be approved by the TEAC, or the Texas Education Agency’s Career, and would be included in the required 5 credits of electives in order to graduate. A minimum of 5 technical, or skill based, courses would be offered by each school. 

Lackner categorizes a few of these course subject examples as “agriculture, food, and natural resources; architecture and construction… business, marketing and finance… human services… law and public services…” and so on. 

Val Cabello, a supporter of the proposal, explained her personal reasoning for her views. She claims “much of the economy is built on skilled labor”, and without the presence of trade jobs and skilled workers, many economic and social factors would suffer, such as the development of new companies, employability, creativity, innovation, and productivity. 

Of course, not everyone agreed with Lackner’s proposal. Matthew Garcia, in opposition, explained that the proposal would impose unfair responsibilities on high school teachers. He claimed that “in the last 20 years, teachers’ salaries have degraded”, and asserted that the nationwide rising number of public school teachers leaving the profession, the declining salary, and the expectations teachers are already assumed to have achieved, are all factors against the intention of the proposal. 

In response, Lackner relented that the teacher shortage was a valid issue, but was “not covered in her proposal.” She instead believes that the concept of providing interesting and niche courses within high schools, more students, as well as teachers, will find more interest in the classroom, and school as a whole, creating “well-rounded individuals” and possibly renovating the teacher shortage. 

Currently, this proposal is pending its results from the committee.


Shown above: The Senate Committee schedule outside the State Affairs Forum committee conference at the Texas Capitol

Written by: Abby McAdams

2022-04-22T16:31:19-05:00April 22nd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ruling Out Fraudulence: Why Ann Freedman Should be Found Guilty

“Objection!” echoed loudly across the courtroom as Texas Youth and Government judicial delegates debated the case of Dominico De Sole v. Ann Freedman in the Texas State Capitol during the 2022 Texas Youth and Government State Conference. The plaintiff, representing Dominico De Sole, is suing Ann Freedman for the selling of fraudulent artwork. The defense, representing Ann Freedman, is arguing that she was deceived and did not actively sell fraudulent paintings. To win this case, the plaintiff attorneys must meet the burden of proof, meaning Ann Freedman is found guilty of mail fraud, wire fraud, and racketeering activities, which can be found as a violation in 18 U.S. Code 1962 C, 18 U.S. Code 1341, and 18 U.S. Code 1343. 

The plaintiff calls three witnesses to the stand, including Dominico De Sole, James Martin, and David Anfam. Dominico De Sole, the buyer of an $8.3 million dollar Mark Rothko painting, sold to him by Ann Freedman, is called to the stand. This specific Rothko painting is part of a larger Rosales Collection in the Knoedler Gallery, of which all of the artwork sales have been made by Ann Freedman, who is the president of the Knoedler Gallery. Dominico De Sole testifies that the information provided by Ann Freedman about the details of the painting are false. In addition to Dominico’s testimony, an invoice to Jim Kelly, Dominico De Sole’s art dealer, is entered into evidence, to prove wire fraud. The plaintiff’s second witness, James Martin was hired to examine the Rothko painting. He testified that he could not confirm the painting to be authentic, raising concerns of inconsistencies within the artwork. The plaintiff’s third and final witness, David Anfam, through his testimony, is established as an art historian, art critic, and art curator, whose career focuses on the works of Mark Rothko. While he was never hired to examine or authenticate the artworks, his name was still used by the Knoedler Gallery to authenticate the artworks based on Anfam’s opinion that the artwork was “beautiful”.

Ann Freedman, Laili Nasar, and Stephan Polcari all are called by defense attorneys to the stand. Ann Freedman is defined as a non-expert on paintings which causes her to rely on other art experts to authenticate the artworks she sells at Knoedler Gallery. Due to this, she is a non-reliable source for authentication. She testifies that David Anfam had shown interest in writing an essay on the Rothko piece, implying the painting was in fact authentic. Laili Nasar, the project manager for the Mark Rothko Catalogue Raisonne, testifies that although she never formally authenticated the painting, Ann Freedman used her name to promote the sale of the painting. Finally, the defense’s last witness Stephan Polcari, testifies that he was asked to view and author essays about the works that were part of Ann Freedman’s collection. He diverges from previous witnesses, stating that he believes there are no inconsistencies within the painting. Through his testimony, he posed that the time period when these paintings were created does not guarantee documentation of authenticity, therefore there is no way for Ann Freedman to know whether the painting is authentic or not.

Both the plaintiff’s and defense’s testimonies from the witnesses provide the audience with a broad scope of evidence to consider whether Ann Freedman should be found guilty in violation of multiple U.S. codes. Although, the testimonies made by Dominico De Sole, James Martin, and David Anfam, in addition to stipulated facts agreed upon by both parties, demonstrate the incriminating actions of Ann Freedman. She ignored the concerns raised by James Martin, and disregarded respect when incorrectly using both David Anfam and Laili Nasar’s names. Moreover, the stipulated facts state, “Ann Freedman had a profit sharing agreement with Knoedler for 30% of the same.” It can be concluded that Ann Freedman’s motivation in selling fraudulent artworks was to receive a profit. The stipulated facts go on to state that, “Martin’s analysis agreed with the Dedalus conclusions and asserted that the canvas backs and pigments on the surface post-dated the attributed dates of the works by at least ten years and were inconsistent with the understanding that the paintings were made in the 1950s.” This clearly shows that Ann Freedman knew there were inconsistencies with the painting before she sold it to Dominico De Sole. 

Attorneys on the case this year at the state conference agree with this conclusion. When asked about the ruling of the case, attorney Sebastian Solitaire from First Baptist Christian Academy said, “After reading through the case countless times, I leaned more towards Ann Freedman being guilty rather than ignorant.” 

Considering the evidence presented and the characteristics of the case, I believe that Ann Freedman should be found guilty of violating 18 U.S. Code 1962 C, 18 U.S. Code 1341, and 18 U.S. Code 1343. 

Written by: Kristen Henderson

2022-04-22T16:05:15-05:00April 22nd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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