Category Archives: Peter Burnham

>This Is What I was Talking About: ARTHUR Z. KAMIN: Bring out the brooms at Brookdale

>Just the other day I posted, Cantalupo’s Resignation From Brookdale Exposes Shady Ties To Lillian Burry and County. The post was about the ties between former Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Brookdale Community College lawyer John Cantalupo, who finally resigned from the college’s Board of Trustees last Friday in the weak of the Peter Burnham scandal.

In today’s Asbury Park Press the commentary written by Arthur Z. Kamin states pretty much exactly what I had stated in my earlier post. It’s all there almost verbatim, how Cantalupo was Lillian Burry’s campaign treasurer, how Cantalupo helped negotiate Burnham’s generous employment contract and how Lillian Burry sits on the college board of school estimates which is responsible for approving contracts and budgets for the college.
I’m glad to see that someone else picked up on it and has connected the dots. I think the next one to step down after Jacob S. Elkes, the Vice -chairman of the College Board of Trustees, as Mr. Kamin has called for would be Lillian Burry herself.
Burry should step down from her position as a Monmouth County Freeholder and not seek re-election this November. Too many disturbing and questionable ethical revelations about Burry have been surfacing over the past few months that need closer examination from county residents.
Below is what Arthur Kamin wrote in today’s APP:
It’s been almost one weekly bombshell after another in the aftermath of the Brookdale Community College scandal that forced the school’s president, Peter F. Burnham, to resign in disgrace amid allegations of improper spending habits.


It raised anew serious questions about whether its board of trustees was doing an effective job of oversight or just sleepily rubber-stamping for payment Burnham’s excessive vouchers. The county prosecutor’s office is now investigating how the money was spent. There is no word yet from that office on when the probe will be completed.

So far, under strong pressure to quit, the high-level Brookdale resignation casualties, in separate actions, have been the board of trustees chairman Howard C. Birdsall, a 23-year veteran of the board, and the board’s multi-faceted attorney, John M. Cantalupo, who served for two years. Cantalupo took new heat last week when it was reported in the Asbury Park Press that he had been serving as Republican Freeholder Lillian G. Burry’s campaign treasurer.

But wait. Could that be right? Freeholder Burry’s campaign treasurer, a political position?

Didn’t Cantalupo serve as the attorney representing the Brookdale board of trustees and as general counsel for the college? And didn’t Cantalupo help negotiate the generous contract with Burnham that included lavish pay and perks at the same time the board was weighing an 8.2 percent tuition increase?

And don’t the freeholders, of which Burry is the former board director, appoint most of the Brookdale trustees? Don’t the trustees, in turn, appoint the attorney? Doesn’t Burry sit on the board of school estimate that votes on budgets that include the contracts of the president and the attorney? Wasn’t Burry a strong supporter of Burnham?

Is there anything wrong here? Is this a potential conflict of interest for Burry? Doesn’t it raise ethical concerns for Burry to have the Brookdale attorney as her campaign treasurer, often said to be her spokesman, at political fundraisers?

Cantalupo, in the May 14 issue of the Press, said he resigned as Burry’s campaign treasurer because he didn’t want to serve as a “political distraction for the most outstanding freeholder in Monmouth County.”

Interestingly, I asked Burry before the resignation if Cantalupo was serving as her campaign treasurer. She and her chief administrative assistant never replied to my e-mails. Neither did Cantalupo, who I also queried about the treasurer role and what it entailed. Bill Bucco, who described himself as Burry’s campaign spokesman, asked that any questions relating to her campaign be directed to him. But he did not reply to my questions about the Cantalupo campaign post. So much for transparency.

To their credit, Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley, a Republican, and Freeholder Amy A. Mallet, a Democrat, repeatedly called for Cantalupo to resign as Brookdale attorney. Curley said he was “very concerned” that Cantalupo was working for Burry as her campaign treasurer. Mallet questioned whether it was ethical for Burry to sit at the board of school estimate table deciding on the attorney’s fees.

There is no question that the freeholders now will have to grapple with the way Burry handled this matter — especially the fact that she would not disclose the Cantalupo link and kept the other freeholders in the dark on the issue. It was poor judgment on her part.

But now it’s time for another bombshell to drop. This one should come with the resignation of Jacob S. Elkes, the former board vice chairman who is serving as its interim chairman. He is a 16-year veteran of the board.

Elkes, like Birdsall, was part of the institution’s leadership vacuum that permitted the Burnham mess to take place. It’s time for him to go. The rest of this sleepy board should make plans to depart in an orderly fashion.

On his way out, Elkes should take with him the law firm of Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer that gave Brookdale Cantalupo. It’s time for a complete culture change at the college and a new law firm, without any freeholder connections. There is no shortage of good law firms to choose from in Monmouth County.

2 Comments

Filed under Arthur Z. Kamin, Asbury Park Press, Brookdale College President, Brookdale Community College, Freeholder Lillian Burry, John Cantalupo, Peter Burnham

>Ever Wonder Why Lillian Burry Maintains Her Silence On Resignations?

>Yesterday’s editorial in the Asbury Park Press questioned why the Brookdale College Board of Trustees didn’t do a better job of scrutinizing the expenses of former college President Peter Burnham and once again calls for the resignation of the Board President Howard Birdsall and Board Attorney John M. Cantalupo.

Birdsall and Cantalupo have both arrogantly ignored numerous requests from Freeholders Amy Mallet and John Curley, the Asbury Park Press and others to resign. So why haven’t they felt it necessary to admit a certain degree of fault in this scandal and heed the call to step down? It could be argued rather successfully that both looked the other way when others told them of Burnham’s improprieties.
It is also rather curious why the grand-dame of the Monmouth County Freeholder Board, Lillian Burry, hasn’t spoken out and demanded Birdsall and Cantalupo step down. After all, Burry was criticized for not speaking out sooner on the Burnham situation when the first allegations of improprieties surfaced against him.
Why is that do you think?
It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact the John M. Cantalupo is a close personal friend of Burry’s and has been acting as her Campaign Treasurer over the years, could it? Let’s think about it for a second, who was negotiating the terms Peter Burnham’s Brookdale contracts over the years, it was Cantalupo. Given Cantalupo’s status as personal friend and campaign treasurer, I find it hard to believe that Burry had no idea of over the years, what was contained in Burnham’s employment contracts.
And what about Howard Birdsall and his company, Birdsall Service Group ? Both are so intertwined within Monmouth County through political donations and public contracts, that Lillian Burry must feels it’s not in her best interest to speak out publicly against Birdsall
It’s for these reasons and others why it is so important to impose term limits on those that serve on volunteer boards and commissions in Monmouth County as Freeholder Mallet proposed last month but had her proposal voted down by her Republican colleagues on the Freeholder Board.
As stated in the APP editorial, it’s time for Birdsall and Cantalupo to accept part of the blame for the Burnham scandal and step down from the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees.

Leave a comment

Filed under Amy Mallet, Asbury Park Press, Birdsall Service Group, Board of Chosen Freeholders, Board of Trustees, Brookdale Community College, Howard Birdsall, John M. Cantalupa, Lillian Burry, Peter Burnham

>Wow Big News; Monmouth County Freeholders Reduce Proposed 2011 Budget by $3.7M

>Hey have you heard, the Monmouth County Freeholders have produced a new proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 that has reduced the previously proposed budget by $3.7 million?

I guess we’re all suppose to be happy with this latest budget proposal because it reflects a decrease of $1.1 million from last year’s adopted county budget.
That would be big new to me if the amount to be raised by taxes wasn’t increased by $6.8 million (or 2.26%) to fund the nearly 1/2 billion dollar budget.
I find it very hard to believe that out of a proposed budget of $492 million, the Freeholders can only find cuts that amount to less than 1% of this budget.
If you ask me, if the members of the Monmouth County Freeholder’s Board can point fingers at those who run Brookdale Community College to ferret out wasteful spending after the Burnham debacle, then they should be able to find wasteful spending with in their own departments that would lead to less spending and lower amount of tax dollars needed to be raised through taxation.
I wonder if the Bayshore or other Monmouth County Tea Party organizations have an opinion of their own on this?
I’m just saying….

5 Comments

Filed under Asbury Park Press, Brookdale Community College, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Peter Burnham, proposed budget, tax increase, Tea Party

>Burnham Quits As Brookdale College President

>I know I’m a little late on this so I won’t spend a lot of time here discussing it, but by now everyone knows that Brookdale College President Peter Burnham resigned from his position Tuesday with a black cloud hovering over his head.

There is a lot of finger pointing going around between the the Monmouth County Freeholders and Brookdale’s Board of Trustees as to who was responsible for overseeing the reimbursement of Burnham college expenses and his generous perks.
Freeholder Lillian Burry before Tuesday was quite on Burnham’s plight, until she was quoted as saying, “He disgraced himself in the eyes of his students, in the eyes of his peers, in the eyes of everyone who believed in his vision for Brookdale and every Monmouth County taxpayer, he has to be held accountable for his actions.”
And Freeholder John Curley, who’s job it is as a Freeholder to oversee the goings on at the college and who exposed Burnham’s contract to the public after Burnham called out the Freeholders for being responsible for a proposed 8% hike in tuition and fees last month, chimed in as well according to the Asbury Park Press:

…Freeholder John P. Curley said he was pleased that Burnham resigned. Now it’s time for the college board and its attorney to step down as well, he said, adding that the public does not have faith in the college leadership anymore.

“They are policing themselves at this point and that’s unacceptable,” Curley said….

What I find unacceptable in that quote is that fact that it has been Curley’s job and others, who have been the liaison between the the college board and the Freeholders, to police and oversee what the college board does on behalf of tax payers. Curley and others should have been acting as the police, watching over and policing the college’s board of trustees instead of maintaining a hands off policy expecting the board of trustees to do what was right for students and county tax payers.
The only Freeholder that has come out of this situation unscathed seems to be Freeholder Amy Mallet, who when she heard of Burnham’s extravagant contract and perks called for the immediate resignation of the college board’s President Howard Birdsall.

13 Comments

Filed under Board of Trustees, Brookdale Community College, Freeholder Amy Mallet, Freeholder John Curly, Freeholder Lillian Burry, Monmouth County, Peter Burnham

>Catching Up On The Past Few Days; Watson, Brookdale, Rally in Trenton and Jobs

>A lot has been happening over the past few days that I’ve been meaning to comment on but I have been a little under the weather and haven’t been feeling up to blogging. So now is my chance to get slightly caught up, in no particular order.

Congressman Rush Holt (who does by the way, happen to be a Rocket Scientist) who on Monday of this past week, beat IBM’s Watson Computer System in a simulated Jeopardy exhibition. But the match wasn’t just a battle of networks versus neurons, as Holt put it in his newsletter to constituents:

… ” To me and my colleagues, this was an important opportunity to raise awareness of serious issues concerning U.S. global competitiveness, the positive impact of technology on society, and the need for greater investments in math and science education.

Watson represents a major step forward for computer science. With its combination of sheer data processing power, natural language recognition and machine learning, the system demonstrates that technology has the potential to help humans improve the performance of many endeavors – everything from medicine to education to traffic safety to environmental protection. There is no limit, save for our imagination, to the impact on our society of innovations like Watson.”….

There were two major car accidents this past week that claimed the lives of a couple Middletown youths, the first last Sunday and the second just last night and still under investigation.

Yesterday, Brookdale Community College’s Board of Trustees suspended College President Peter Burnham without pay because they found some irregularities in his expense reports while auditing his books. The suspension came as a total surprise to Burnham, who felt “Bowled over” by the accusations and wouldn’t comment further. And now today, we find out that the Board of Trustees have contacted the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office to look into the matter for possible criminal charges.
As news of this latest info has started to make it’s way out to the public Freeholder Amy Mallet has called on Brookdale’s Board Chairman Howard Birdsall to resign and suggests that term limits be put on those that serve as trustees for the college.
I find this all very interesting, in a “how the mighty have fallen” sort of way. If Peter Burnham would have kept quite and not tried to blame the Monmouth County Freeholder for an 8% tuition hike a few weeks ago, none of this would have transpired. Freeholder John Curley, who acts as the liaison between the Freeholders and Brookdale, would have went about his business as usual and would not have said a word. But because he was angered and perhaps embarrassed by Burnham, Curley decided to make public Burnham’s contract and exploit it for all it’s worth, which has lead to all this “dirty laundry” being exposed and possible criminal charges being filed against Burnham.
Curley is being portrayed as some great white knight for exposing the excesses in Burnham’s contract, which is not the case. He acted out of anger and revenge for being called out by Burnham. If Curley and other Freeholders before him, that have acted as the liaison between the school and County governing body had done their oversight properly over the years, Peter Burnham’s excessive contract would have been taken care of years ago instead of now. There wouldn’t have been this dramatic call for change on the Board of Trustees and criminal charges against Burnham would not be pending, which is how the Trustees have chosen to cover themselves from allegations pointed at them.
It’s a real shame and embarrassment if you ask me.
There was a big rally in Trenton on Thursday attended 15,000 members of the Police, Firefighters and other first responders protesting Governor Christie’s efforts at health, pension and collective bargaining reform. Did it do any good or send the big guy a message? Probably not.
Finally, yesterday came good new for the economy. There was a big jump in the number of private sector jobs last month, a 192,00 jobs were added in February on top of the 63,000 that were added in January. The jobs report shows that even though the economy is still a little shaky and could be set back by the troubles in Libya and other mideast countries, it is growing and heading in the right direction. Unemployment is now down to 8.9% nationwide, falling below 9 percent for the first time in nearly two years.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brookdale Community College, Congressman Rush Holt, Freeholder Amy Mallet, IBM's Watson, Jeopardy., John Curley, Peter Burnham, Trenton Rally, unemployment

>What’s The Big Deal At Brookdale ?

>Evidently it is the salary and perks that the community college of Monmouth County is giving it’s School President Peter Burnham.

Burnham’s total compensation package for leading Brookdale over the past 20 years is roughly $300K a year. He currently receives a $1,500 monthly housing allowance, drives a 2010 Ford Expedition that the college purchased for $42,815,is provided with a membership to the Navisink Country Club, and can be reimbursed $20K per year to send his kids to private colleges on top of a $216K base salary.

That’s not to shabby if you ask me, but am I surprised or outraged at hearing the news? No, not really. His compensation doesn’t seem that far off from what other college presidents receive throughout the state or country.

College Presidents, like school district superintendents, are a special breed that are highly sort after. Someone like Peter Burnham, who has presided over an institution for 20 years and has oversaw it’s large expansion during that time while maintaining it’s academic level, which by the way, is considered far more superior than many other colleges in the state, probably deserves much of what he receives in compensation.

The only reason why Burnham’s compensation has come to light and has now been scrutinized is because he had the gaul to blame the Monmouth County Freeholders for a 8% hike in tuition which was planned for, but now rescinded under pressure, for the coming year.

Burnham embarrassed the Freeholder Board with his comments, so in retaliation Freeholder John Curly released information on Burnham’s salary and perks to embarrass Peter Burnham and Brookdale’s Board of Directors in return so that he could cover his ass and those of his colleagues on the Freeholder Board. After all, it is the Freeholder Board that appoints
Brookdale’s trustees and should have been overseeing/approving contracts for Burnham over the years. If his compensation wasn’t considered outrageous previously, why is it now? Politics, that’s why.

This was an underhanded and despicable move by Curly, to score political points and encourage others to voice outrage against Brookdale and Burnham, which it has. News out today is that Governor Christie will now be focusing his attention on Burnham’s employment contract and those of other public college presidents around the state.

Now, before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I am writing this because I support tuition hikes on students or think that it is appropriate that Peter Burnham receives such generous perks, I do not. I feel that before any costs are passed on to students in the form of tuition or fee hikes, all attempts to reduce costs should be made first.

I’m a big believer in honoring contracts that were negotiated in good faith, as it seems that Burnham’s was. If John Curly or other members of the Freeholder Board had a problem with Burnham’s contract previously they should have spoken before now, to claim ignorance of it is skirting their own responsiblity over it.

That said, it seems that regardless of the method used to achieve the means, it happens to be good news for those who attend Brookdale, the cost of their continuing education will not be rising next year.

5 Comments

Filed under Brookdale Community College, budget cuts, Freeholder John Curly, Peter Burnham, salary and compensation, tuition hike