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Robert Freeman on the Capitol Pressroom

Today’s installment of the Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter features an interview with Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the NYS Committee on Open Government. Freeman offers his opinions on my recent (unsuccessful) court case seeking disclosure under FOIL of records held by the UB Foundation(s).

Click here to listen to the podcast. Freeman’s segment starts at 24:30.

  • Jim Holstun

    Transparency soon?
    It’s a fascinating interview and offers some hope for greater transparency at UB. The constant excuse offered for covert ops at the UBF is that philanthropical donors modestly want to remain anonymous. But when’s the last time you heard of a big donor ducking a photo-op?

    The real motive may lie rather in fear that the community won’t respond well to the revelation of obscene salary top-ups and perhaps influence being exercised by local contractors and lawyers. We’ve seen something like this recently at the SUNY Research Foundation (UB Foundation on a statewide level), with a case in point being Ms. Susan Bruno, former special assistant to Research Foundation President John J. O’Connor.

    Without the required educational credentials for her position (a B.A. or equivalent), only vague responsibilities at the RF, and permission to work almost exclusively from home, she drew an annual salary of $84,120. Nice work if you can get it, and you can, if you’re connected: Ms Bruno is the daughter of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. But sometimes, the gravy train gets side-tracked: Ms. Bruno is currently working elsewhere.

  • Jake

    This all seems very shady to me. But I want to pose some questions, honestly not knowing the answer: what sort of necessity is there for additional compensation for university administrators? does it affect UB’s competitiveness in recruitment?

  • Fred

    Freedman is great. If there is a chance to get into any public or quasi public institution he is your best bet. His opinions are always in favor of opening up info. rather than hide it or cause a long period of foot dragging to take place before it is produced. That was the problem with the old laws as there was a rule to produce, but never a time period in which it must be produced (depending on the volume of information requested) that is fairly short.

  • Jim Holstun

    Jake–it’s a good question. But we need to take a step back and ask, “competitive for what?” I really find myself wondering what we got for $750K with John Simpson: gender discrimination, a plan to corporatize UB, a general deterioration of morale–and an imperial attempt to name his own successor. Rather than “We need to spend 750,000 to get a really great president,” it seems more like a case of “Jesus, we’re spending $750,000 on him–he must be great, right? I hope so!”

    You may need to dangle $750K to entice Richie Rich to come in from California for a few years, but that’s not necessarily going to get the job done. The campus is full of senior professors who would be willing to step up for perhaps a paltry $200K, or maybe even just out love a love for UB.