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UB Student Newspaper Publishes Journalism

Luke Hammill, Senior News Editor at The Spectrum, a student newspaper at the State University of New York at Buffalo, has been asking some probing questions regarding university president Satish Tripathi’s involvement as a board member of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP). This SUNY Summary of Presidential Terms of Employment says that a university president can serve on the board of a not-for-profit, so long as approval is first obtained from the New York State Commission on Public Integrity. That commission morphed into the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) last August.

Clearly, that approval did not take place. Otherwise, UB would simply offer evidence that it did. Unless their record-keeping is so bad they can’t find the proof. So, instead, UB spokespeople offer comical explanations. Fun (funny) reading!

Meanwhile UB’s faculty union United University Professions (UUP) approved a referendum saying UB should cut ties with politically active not-for-profits like BNP and the Business Council of New York State (BCNYS). Focus a little more on educating students than on lobbying.

The unfazed university says that ain’t gonna happen.

Click here to read about that. Click here to read Hammill’s report from Wednesday, and click here to read his follow-up today.

What are they teaching these kids out there at the university? To question authority? Simply shocking. Where’s the respect for one’s elders? Hammill better watch it, or Tripathi might just decide to raise every student’s tuition and fees again. How would they like that, hmm?

Oh, that’s right. He’s going to do that anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • Great stuff, Luke. About your statement, “People will likely say I’m stirring up trouble,” — some might, but more will say you’re doing your job as a journalist. A great job, I’d say.

    And your work raises important points. The Partnership went to war against a NEW YORK STATE senator — check these links:
    http://blogs.artvoice.com/avdaily/2010/08/30/partnership-vs-antoine-thompson/
    http://blogs.artvoice.com/avdaily/2010/08/28/buffalo-niagara-partnership-are-you-serious/

    So the president of a NEW YORK STATE university, who is paid largely by NEW YORK STATE taxpayers (and voters) is going to serve on the board of an organization that recently helped unseat a NEW YORK STATE elected official–?! And moreover, help fund said organization with his substantial dues (perhaps paid by NEW YORK STATE taxpayers)–? No wonder they’re trying to duck a NEW YORK STATE ethics review.

    Buck, your link to today’s update is off — should be:
    http://www.ubspectrum.com/opinion/tripathi-didn-t-get-jcope-approval-to-join-bnp-1.2754284#.TyMvzmPBscc

  • Jim Holstun

    “And moreover, help fund said organization with his substantial dues (perhaps paid by NEW YORK STATE taxpayers)–?” No perhaps about it: definitely paid by the state. $47,994 in state money to the BNP, and $5,000 to BCNYS. See

    http://www.ubspectrum.com/news/faculty-union-demands-that-ub-leave-chambers-of-commerce-1.2747235#.TyP-yvla6rY

    For BNP attack on Antoine Thompson–paid for, in part, by the taxpayers of New York State, as RaChaCha says, see http://www.thepartnership.org/News/Emailfromthepresident/PrimaryDayPrimer.

    and

    http://www.thepartnership.org/News/Emailfromthepresident/VoteonJudgmentDayTuesNov2.

    The latter is particularly interesting: the BNP attacks Thompson because he favored one casino contractor over the Delaware North Company. And who heads Delaware North? Why, it’s Jeremy Jacobs, Chair of the UB Council, who oversees the selection of UB presidents and helps determine their salaries!

    One hand washes the other, I guess. Yet somehow those hands remain filthy.

  • @Jim Thanks for the add’l. I said “perhaps” on the source of the dues, as when issues of expenditures, presidents’ salaries, etc. come up they seem to fall back on saying that the Foundation paid for it — as opposed to the University itself.

  • Paul Buckley

    @Jim I think the Thompson thing is a bit of a stretch. Thompson was not supported by the BNP for re-election because his track record in the NYS Senate was abysmal – his mental elevator just didn’t reach the top floor – and not because of any implied or explicit connection to UB or Jeremy Jacobs.

    I’m on the BNP board, I was there for that discussion. (If you want to argue D vs. R instead: Although the BNP definitely leans right – witness its support for Chris Collins – it didn’t/couldn’t support Paladino’s run for governor but did support Paul Dyster and Mark Schroeder for their respective positions.)

    @RaChaCha has a good point about the dues-paying issue since any way you slice it the money comes from the taxpayer. However, we should embrace Tripathi’s presence on the board. UB and the local business community both want a more open, informed and cooperative relationship; it is a key element of the UB 2020 plan and participation in local professional organizations is one effective means to that end.

  • Jim Holstun

    Paul, have a look at the statement from your leader, Mr. Rudnick, who directly attacks Thompson for supporting another casino builder, and for not supporting Jeremy Jacobs’s company. I gave you the link–it’s not a stretch, it’s precisely what Andrew Rudnick says. Note also that the CAO of Delaware North, aggrieved at Antoine not funneling the money his way, is your fellow director.

    You’re avoiding the main point: should the representative of a stage agency, paid by state funds, be lending his name and his agency’s logo to a partisan political group like the BNP and the BCNYS? If you support this, would you also support Tripathi adding his name to the Board of Director of the Buffalo AFL-CIO? The argument for this would be precisely the same as for the BNP. And why can’t local capitalists eager to foster “a more open, informed, and cooperative relationship” with UB talk to the UB President without him being on the BNP Board of Directors? Are they that shy?

  • @Paul Buckley I agree that the head of one of the community’s largest employers should be well plugged in to the community’s leadership. Yet the idea that STATE taxpayer funds would be used to pay the expensive dues of a STATE employee to join the board of an organization that very actively supports or opposes STATE elected officials is one I’m trying not to think about too hard lest I get whiplash from my head spinning.

    BTW, a long-standing BNP question for you, since you’re on the board: did you see a 2009 letter from a large local employer to the BNP board including language close to (if not verbatim) that Mr. Rudnick had “exceeded his shelf life”–? Are you able to confirm whether such a letter was or was not sent to board members — and if it was, who sent it–?

  • Paul Buckley

    @Jim – Yes, President Trapathi should and does (as does his staff) seek connections throughout various WNY organizations, both political and apolitical, profit-seeking and not-for-profits. To be involved in as many organizations as one can find time for (and I’m sure he’s otherwise very busy) is both commendable, convenient and efficient. I don’t think you mean to imply that he should cloister himself in his Capen Hall office in order avoid any pretense of conspiracy or controversy; that would probably ALSO run counter to some NYS Board of Regents guideline and would end up as fodder for, say, a journalist interested in writing for the sake of controversy. And wow those private Capen Hall meetings would suck up way too much of the day, just for one community sector.

    Also, yes to the idea of his being a part of the AFL-CIO board. What better way to learn about the issues and agendas of union activities than to be invited to participate in those same activities. It’s networking at its best and allows all sides to get to know and understand (not necessarily agree with) each other.

    @RaChaCha – Andrew Rudnick has been a controversial figure for many years – and I don’t always with his and the Board’s positions – but he also has a difficult job: He represents three very different tiers of businesses (large, sort-of medium and very small) which have wildly different positions that run the political and business spectra, and A-type “I know what’s best” personalities to boot. As a board member I have received a few letters with regard to wholesale change needed at the BNP but generally they state a complaint without offering resolve, a problem without offering solution. “Throw the bum out” isn’t substantive when the writers (who will remain anonymous, sorry) don’t offer up rational, alternative solutions for anything or anyone different.

    Like most controversies it’s easy to formulate opinion based on the orts we get from the media and what little time we have to further research them. It’s harder to dig into detail and rationalize the issue in the context of a bigger picture and sometimes, the bigger picture is what matters.

    In summary: Conspiracy? Probably not. Taxpayer misappropriation? Depends on whether or not the taxpayers, in the end, get value for their investment. And that’s a thorny, subjective argument.

    Great thread. Thanks for keeping it mature.

  • Jim Holstun

    Paul, it’s possible to be both mature and in denial: you’re continuing to ignore the basic ethical/political question of whether a state agency should be contributing money to a partisan organization. Of course, the BNP is not aiming at giving “taxpayers . . . value for their investment”; it’s aimed at maximizing profits for the local ruling class, who constitute its board. That’s why they attack taxes on the rich, labor unions, Democrats, bans on fracking, etc.

    You have yet to show why networking requires endorsement and a $50,000 palm-greasing. Instead, you argue with something nobody has said (“Tripathi should stay cloistered in Capen Hall”). That’s the easy way out, but it’s also annoying.

    maturely,
    Jim Holstun

  • starbuck

    Having leaders from UB or other area colleges participate and collaborate with BNP (or AFL-CIO, etc.) sounds fine, but why couldn’t it be done in a way that doesn’t require money transfers from the schools?

    RaChaCha raises a good point that UB paying money to BNP like its regular members do just doesn’t sound good. One reason is the political activity, and there could be other reasons too. Groups like BNP could have a separate category for membership or partnership that doesn’t involve dues paying.

    If UB is ever paying money to any groups who ever endorse or support Democrats, I’d say the same thing of course.

  • starbuck

    By that last part I meant if any groups involved with for example the arts, or labor issues, environmentalism, community activism, etc. ever support Democrats politically then they should also be denied ever receiving financial payment from state universities.

    I have no idea if the Spectrum would be as interested in making an issue of instances of those if they ever happen, but it’s possible they or somebody else would. At least the universities should have a goal of fairness in how the restrictions are applied rather than enforcing it only against payments to the BNP which recently has supported Republicans, is what I meant.