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SUNY Research Foundation Found Subject to FOIL

The Albany Times Union has won its case against the SUNY Research Foundation. The cagey group had sought to avoid compliance with the Freedom of Information Law by denying reporter James Odoto’s request for “time sheets and documents concerning the work of Susan Bruno, the former special assistant to Research Foundation President John J. O’Connor.”

The ruling by Acting Supreme Court Judge Gerald W. Connolly directs the SUNY Research Foundation “to provide petitioners with immediate access to the records specified in petitioners’ FOIL request.” In addition, the respondents must pay legal fees and court costs to the Hearst Corporation, owners of the Times Union.

Click here to read the ruling.

Sound familiar? It does to me.

And you know, I’m sitting here reading this blow-off letter I received from the UB Foundation on August 19, which reads, in part: “The University at Buffalo Foundation, Inc., UB Foundation Activities, Inc., UBF Corporation, UBF Faculty-Student Housing Corp. and FNUB, Inc. are not subject to the provisions of the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)…”

The letter goes on to tell me to have my lawyer talk to their lawyer at Hodgson Russ LLP, if I have any further questions.

So I’m thinking that might not be a bad idea.

  • Jim Holstun

    Please, Buck, call that lawyer and file that FOIL request–end money laundering at the UB Foundation now, or at least make them use good Cayman Islands banks like any decent gangster.

    Wait, what’s that sound? Could it be a shredder working overtime at the UBF?

  • Lou Ricciuti


    When submitting a FOI on U.B., would you please include asking them about their experimental nuclear reactor (now idle) and the wastes it produced (besides it’s own fuel) and where those wastes were deposited — from the early 1960s until the device’s decommissioning? The reactor type is called a ‘Pulstar’ and was only one of two that ever ran critical. Ask them of the materials that they purposely irradiated for experimental reasons and the “disposition” of those items. I’d be happy to supply further details to you for your FOI.

    Lou Ricciuti

  • G. Parks

    Non-Profits are flying under the radar and need to be scrutinized and held accountable under the microscope of the IRS.

    Being exempt from taxes, makes 501(C)’s a low priority for the IRS. The IRS
    allows someone who is the CFO of a Foundation on a downstate SUNY campus, who admittingly spends 1 hr a week, if that much at all, to be compensated $88,375 a year.(This is documented on Form 990, which was filed with the IRS)

    It must be nice to put in 52 hrs, or less a year as the CFO of a Foundation and get paid $88,375 for doing so. That’s only $1,699.52 an hour!

    PS. That’s the second income that person got, they are also getting paid for another position they hold on campus, about $252,000. a year.

    SUNY Central in Albany knows what is going on and they are probably doing it themselves.

    SUNY has had enough autonomy and needs more transparency and accountability!

    This raises a large red flag and yet no one at the IRS cares.

  • Kathleen Vorse Marshall

    Fiscal responsibility? Audit reveals “3 cup magic shuffle” and firing.
    2 years ago my husband was courted and recruited for a fairly high level position at the Research Foundation, SUNY. We were fortunate to sell our home in a fairly short period of time thanks to a stable Midwestern real estate market. I relinquished my professional post, trusting to the greater good and his nice new salary. RF moved us to NYS from across the country at a cost of approximately $15,000.00. No housing allowance…not expected and certainly not requested…but we were very appreciative of the funds to help with the move.
    This brillant and honest gentleman who-cannot-be-named developed initiatives that received repeated public (and private) praise from Zimpher et al for “extraordinary vision and leadership” (he should have seen it coming).
    After a look at the landscape, he conducted an audit which revealed a long standing “3 cup magic shuffle”. Alas, after a little over 2 years in New York (June 2010 if anyone is paying attention) he was “terminated” due to “lack of funds”, as was his preeminent hire, who is amazingly one of the few female African-American PhD’s in upstate NY; an extremely intelligent, talented and resourceful woman.
    Nada severance for either, thank you.
    Lavallee, O’Connor and Rimai (with Zimpher’s knowledge) directly facilitated the removal of extraordinary integrity and talent from RF SUNY (even though, technically, as Lavallee and Rimai are with SUNY and not RF they have no power over an RF employee – can someone please explain this, and who, exactly, does O’Connor supervise ???? our attorney advised us that, if we decided to file a suit for fradulent enticement we should be prepared for a 5-6 year fight which may cost 60-80K, and no promise of a WIN— ahhhh, no, dude, can’t do it, you may have the dollars but we do not, we have 2 kids in a state university and tuition is due, and TAXES TAXES TAXES).
    Lavallee, O’Connor and Rimai directed that this proud gentleman who-cannot-be-named be escorted to his office immediately to remove his belongings, and was scrutinized in the process to ensure he did not “steal” anything. This was the reward for very intense work as he nurtured and educated his staff, as well as his praiseworthy “extraordinary vision and leadership”. The same was true for the talented and resourceful woman who-also-cannot-be-named.
    Oh my. Nothing quite like the call from your spouse saying, “I’ve been fired”.
    Of course, in order to receive a check for unused vacation pay he was required to sign a statement saying that he will not speak of RF in a derogatory manner nor compel a lawsuit against RF for 5 years. However, I am not precluded from the same, so I guess I am elected as mouthpiece.
    In case you are wondering…no performance issues…but of course New York is, after all, an “at will” state.
    What have we learned? Always, always, always trust your gut. If your gut says “watch out! there are snakes in the grass!” LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. —and don’t forget to include a departure clause in your next employment agreement.
    BTW, altho we HEART New York, we are exiting ASAP. The snakes make us nervous- ya just never know when one will jump ya; there, just barely outta the corner of yer eye…’ware all…good luck….and be careful.

  • Welcome to New York where honesty and integrity get you fired. There are a lot of nice, honest people in Western New York, but like the rest of the State they’ve trusted their leadership to corrupt and greedy elected officials who in turn appoint the same at every level of government. In the final analysis they have even taken over ‘management’ of the state university system including UBF, and other related foundations. One of the more amusing things about this whole situation is that these people most often retire out of New York State (e.g., take the money and run — UB’s President Simpson returns “home” to California) supported by pensions paid by New York State taxpayers. Good luck in your future prospects; you won’t find things any better anywhere in this state. Once you have the van loaded, you want to get far, far way.