Already the UConn football building houses a memorial to Jasper Howard, the slain football player, but why not grant the mad rich man his wish and take his name of the complex and name it for Howard?
A wealthy UConn football booster had a hissy fit this week and demanded his donation back, and wants his name taken off the football complex that he helped fund.Why? Because his donation didn't give him access to the hiring process for the new football coach.
Since it is highly unlikely that any court would ever force UConn to disgorge the gift from Robert Burton, Sr., the more interesting aspect of the story to me is the pathology of wealth that Mr. Burton demonstrated.
If anyone doubts that mega-wealthy people demonstrate pathological behaviors, I point them to Thomas Frank’s Easy Chair column in the February 2011 Harper’s Magazine, “Servile Disobedience.”
Frank gathered the results of psychological research studies on wealthy people; for anyone who has been a deckhand on a megayacht owned by someone worth half-a-billion, the results don’t surprise.
Research papers published in scientific journals like Psychological Science and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that rich people have no common touch, Franks noted.
One study showed that when rich people talk to strangers, they tended doodle and fidget more, and give fewer engagement cues – body language that shows you’re listening. Another study showed that lower-class people performed better on measures like generosity, charity and helpfulness. One of the researchers noted that the rich seem to lack empathy.
Frank summarizes: “All of which is to say, the rich are different from you and me. They are ruder and less generous. They don’t get what others are thinking. And apparently, they really don’t care.”
After motoring halfway around the world with a 67-year-old man-child multi-millionaire on his 150-foot mega-yacht, I have no questions about how rich people see normal folk. The “Let them eat cake” line of thought didn’t end with the demise of the French monarchy.
If you had any doubts about the fact that the rich lack empathy, and expect power where none should be given, please, read the letter from the rich UConn donor, Mr. Burton.
Let’s start with the letterhead. Mr. Burton drafted his diatribe on Burton Capital Management, LLC company stationary. Burton Capital Management, LLC was formed in Delaware on January 4, 2004, according to the online database provided by the Delaware Department of State Division of Corporations.
Burton Capital Management, LLC is not registered with the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s office, according to a search of the Secretary of the State’s online business entity database. Does this mean Mr. Burton is skipping out of his $250 a year entity tax?
Av Harris, spokesman for Secretary of the States Denise Merrill has not returned calls yet. But my guess is that foreign corporations have to file with the Secretary of the State’s office.
Burton Management Group, LLC is registered with the state, and shares the 100 Northfield Street, Greenwich address of Burton Capital Management, LLC.
Burton Management Group, LLC is also a Delaware limited liability company formed in Connecticut in June, 2003. Both Burton LLC’s have the same agent for service and address in Delaware: 222 Delaware Avenue, Suite 1200, Wilmington.
The Wikipedia entry for Robert Burton states that Burton Capital Management, LLC was formed to “acquire manufacturing companies.” Wikipedia says it was formed in 2003, but thanks to the Delaware Department of State, we know it was 2004.
One company Burton acquired: Cenveo, a printing outfit with four percent profit margins. This was well below the industry standard of seven percent, Wikipedia tells us.
Burton bought enough company stock to get himself appointed CEO.
To make Cenveo profitable, Burton cut the workforce from 8,000 employees to 6,000 employees, and closed various printing plants, according to Wikipedia’s sourced entry, a story from the Stamford Advocate.
Burton then laid off Cenveo’s entire Colorado headquarters and moved the company to Stamford, where he rehired some 50 of his people from previous printing enterprises.
In 1999, Burton had his hands in consolidating Quebecor printing into the world’s largest printing conglomerate. Ten years later, Quebecor filed bankruptcy and reorganization papers.
Mr. Burton has used his handsome profits to buy the 1994 colonial-style mansion at 170 Clapboard Ridge Road in Greenwich. This 8,500 square foot home, with 12 rooms, (six bedrooms), is perfect for the aspiring capitalist narcissist. Assessed at $3.6 million, Burton's palace sits on 2.3 acres of prime land.
If you guessed that Mr. Burton was a Republican, you’re right! He donated $700 to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008, according to Opensecrets.org. This doesn't make him a heavy spender in politics.
But by the research highlighted by Mr. Frank, we should be thrilled, indeed, that Mr. Burton gave any money at all to UConn. True to form, Mr. Burton didn’t give out of altruism, but a desire for power, and perhaps a vicarious attempt to relive his college football glory days.
Burton is no Andrew Carnegie, the first paragraph of his six-page missive to UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway (a man who I really don’t care for myself) shows that he didn't give $7 million to UConn football to help people, but because he wants to pull strings.
At least he's honest about the business of college athletics.
Mr. Burton thinks UConn football hired the wrong coach – Paul Pasqualoni. I might agree. As a Syracuse University alum, I might contend that Pasqualoni drove the proud Orange football franchise into the ground.
Yet Pasqualoni's win-loss record in the Big East is not why I think he was a bad hire. UConn was wrong to hire him because instead of the $150,000 annual salary of a professor, he signed a contract for $1.5 million a year.
Though this dough doesn’t put Pasqualoni in the mega-rich range, with some prudent investing, he too might become a pathologically wealthy fool, like some other high-profile coaches at UConn.
Burton's dislike of Pasqualoni isn't that he is common folk. Burton's letter rages that Hathaway didn't ask Burton's son Joe about Pasqualoni. Joe might have complained that Pasqualoni didn't make him captain of the Orange squad like Edsall did for Burton’s other son, Mike.
The six-page letter contains other gems that no kindergartner should feel comfortable stating in public. But since Burton invested $7 million in UConn football, he thinks he has the right to micromanage. If only donors to U.S. Senate campaigns were so honest!
The Greenwich kingmaker says because he paid for his alma mater, Murray State, to play UConn, he should have a say. It makes you wonder how a donor could arrange schedule choices, and it questions the validity of certain opponents.
Burton also whined that he even paid for artwork on the walls of the weightlifting room in the complex named after his family. I would rather that he paid for a bodyguard for Jasper Howard, the UConn star who was stabbed to death on campus.
The funniest part of Burton's scorned lover screed - why won't you listen to me? - is that Burton controls printing printing presses and has the chutzpah to complain no one listens.
Thomas Frank’s piece in Harper’s notes the same irony of a rich man lamenting the lack of a voice: “We’ve furnished them with megaphones so that their voices might be heard over the hubbub of the crowd.”
Before Burton petulantly revoked his largesse to UConn, Burton delivers his "Taxes are for little people" line: “We do not want to deal with people like you and your committee, who we do not trust and cannot count on to make the correct decisions or do anything right with our money.”
Well said, Mr. Crazy Rich Guy. Ask Coach Calhoun for a dime to call someone who cares.
UConn has options about Burton's name. The school could deny Burton’s demands, and leave his name on the stupid football complex, just to make him mad. It’s not like it’s a classroom building.
While I like my father’s million dollar daydream to name the building for my grandfather, a UConn footballer player from way back in the 1920s, I might suggest something different: grant Burton his wish, and name the football complex after Jasper Howard.
Howard's name in big letters will remind all football players who step through the doors of that building of their own mortality, that there is life outside of football, that it should be guarded zealously, and that being a college football player does not make one invincible.