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Bonfire of the Vanities Revisited – The Brookdale Stolen Ice Affair [POLL]

Facebook-Brookdale in lovely Lincroft
Facebook-Brookdale in lovely Lincroft

In the latest edition of “And they call this higher education?”, a Brookdale Community College student was supposed to be going to court on Monday over a charge he stole a cup of ice.

Instead, charges were dropped after reports surfaced that 18 year old Cedric Calero of Manalapan received a summons Jan. 31 after he reached over the counter in the school’s cafeteria and took a cup to fill with ice from the self-service station.

Reports indicate that the cashier had stepped away after Calero paid for his food and took the cup without permission. The cafeteria manager called college police officers, who wrote him a ticket for taking a beverage worth $1.80.

Calero had agreed to pay the buck 80 at this point, but the manager, after having accused Calero of stealing, said that he’d already called the police.

The school’s spokeswoman backed the manager of the cafeteria by saying, “When a situation of this nature, that appears to be small, escalates to a police matter, there’s a reason for it.”

At this point, the President of the Long Branch Chapter of the NAACP, Bill Dangler calls the college’s Vice President of community relations, Webster Tremmel, who tells him that the police were called because Calero was “mouthing off” to the manager.

All this over a cup of ice!

Christopher Jeune, Brookdale’s administrator for judicial affairs and student information, originally wanted Calero to admit the theft; but the boy’s mother and uncle instructed him not to, and instead hired William Bajohr, a Woodbridge attorney, who agreed to represent Calero before a disciplinary hearing March 2 to get the offenses downgraded.

Calero ultimately signed a statement downgrading the charges, and as recently as today, was told that he will not have to appear in Municipal Court on Monday.

However the lawyer did say that the offense will remain on his school record and he will still be required to write a 500-word essay on the importance of following the rules, but at least there’s no criminal record.

And, his mother will be out around a thousand dollars or so after having had to hire a lawyer just to represent her son.

Again, all over a dollar 80 cup of ice!

Last night I referenced the storyline of the 1987 Tom Wolfe bestselling novel, “Bonfire of the Vanities”.

That story centers around an incident involving a white bond trader who’s life is destroyed when he and his mistress accidentally enter the Bronx; and she strikes one of two African American youths approaching their car…injuring and eventually killing one of the youths.

The story devolves into a tale of marginal characters all trying to make a name for themselves out of the incident…a has-been, alcoholic journalist for a city tabloid; a religious leader who sees the injured boy as a cause celeb; and a media-obsessed DA pushing for the arrest of the bond trader.

Were one to judge the real villains in the book, they would probably be the DA, the “community activist”, and the reporter.

And while the parallel may not be 100 percent, the jist of the storyline in both cases, in my very humble opinion, is how some individuals will try to “glom” on to a situation to give themselves more cache!

Such as the cafeteria manager, the college’s spokesperson, and the administrator of judicial affairs for the college.

So, who would you say is the bigger “douche” here?


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