WHO, Really, Is Running the Zombie Libraries?

Monday, in my piece asking questions about the legal counsel – or lack of same – being provided by “Acting” City Attorney Walter Denson, I referred to a story in that day’s Trentonian by Anthony Campisi on the status of the “Mayor’s Learning Center Libraries,” or as I refer to them, the City’s “Zombie Libraries.”

Now I have had several people tell me, “Yeah, the Branch Libraries were re-opened illegally by Mayor Tony Mack, but isn’t it really better to have them opened than closed? For the kids?” I am sensitive to that, and don’t like to see these facilities closed, their books and services made unavailable to those citizens, kids and adults alike, who depend on them.

But there are a lot of things to consider when something like this happens outside the normal – legal – channels. Mr. Campisi’s article discusses many of them:

Mayor Mack’s and others’ statements to the contrary, books are in fact being lent to readers even though they are the property of Trenton’s Public Library, and not the Mayor.

It is still unclear if the “volunteers” staffing the facilities have undergone any training and background checks before being allowed to work with children.

The finances of these centers are still murky, with the Administration admitting that their expectations they could run the Centers totally with “volunteers” are unrealisitic. Paid staff will be required. This admission will surely drive already unknown – and unapproved costs – even higher. How much will the Zombies cost? No one knows!

And, which is very troubling to me, we know next to nothing about WHO is managing these centers: their background, experience and competence. What we do know doesn’t fill me with confidence.

Up to this week, the only person spoke of as being a principal in this enterprise was Brian White. Mr. White is a former employee of the Library, as referenced in the now-infamous March meeting minutes of the Public Library Trustees. He also seems to bear a long-standing grudge against Library Director Kimberly Matthews (unless calling her “a bitch” and “evil person” were meant as terms of  endearment). Mr. White also seems to have been the author of an “anonymous” comment in this space, impugning my manhood, or something. I never could really make sense of what he was suggesting.

In any case, without any formal legal review of the Mayor’s proposal, we had no way to evaluate this Mr. White, and find out if he had any business near a library.

This week, we have a glimpse at one other person who claims to be involved with the management of this effort. In a long-winded and hard-to-follow Comment made online on in response to Mr. Campisi’s article, a gentleman posting s “CEO Hope,” his real name Shuantae Bellamy, disputes many of Mr. Campisi’s charges about the “Learning Centers,” and makes claims about his own role in the Centers that should be further examined.

I will ask some questions about Mr. Bellamy below, but first I really must reprint (and beg the courtesy of the Trentonian to do so!) Mr. Bellamy’s comments in full. They are, in a word, remarkable. From June 18, 2012:

This is S. Bellamy, Yes we was talking about Video Books, its a very good thing…It will teach them how to read, if you give a child a book who’s 5 and under they will not be able to read the book, so I was speaking with they about Video Books…What a Video Book is is a book that is like a slide show that teaches/programs the child to know words by seeing pictures as is if its a book on food we show them pictures of apples, corn, pizza and etc and we say the words repeatedly and highlight the picture now when a child go to the store and they see an apple they know what it look like well as can properly say the words..Cause again if a child can not read & parents buy them books how can they read it…And the 1st set of Video books will be out the 2nd week of July and the 3 ladies whom I was speaking to 2 of them I have gave Jobs to and the other was a very well known minister & parent of 2 daughters whom are doing great in school, sports, programs and etc more….And far as I go I have been working with programs, running camps & etc for over 9 years and If anyone go back they will see I was at this before Tony was in office! And I’m not just here in NJ I’m also in Philly, Vegas, Chicago & Myrtle Beach. I dont smoke nor drink and I dont have a neg. background dealing with kids! How come we can get neg- post in the papers about the learning centers and twisted stories but NO ONE will come interview the Volunteers whom are doing this to make sure these kids have a place to go…..Also, its not said how I am the #1 Urban Author and in the top 10 children’s educational author with 5 awards and currently leading the Steve H. awards and etc. or the fact that I’m willing to take all my book sales & video book sales and turn over all the profit to keep these learning centers going! I do not nor have I ever took any $$$ to work with kids with that being said I will never take no PAY for helping out at these learning centers..Thats like me sitting on City Council which is a position thats supposed to be to help the community but they are getting paid! If a person believes and love their community and wants it to be better, I dont feel they should get a pay check to doing so how about doing it for the passion in their heart! If I need to apply for a JOB to be there I would and if I would get a pay I would turn it right back over the city to keep the learning centers going! CANT PAY ME TO KEEP THESE CHILDREN OFF THE STREETS AND LEARNING!!!!!!!!!!! THAT WILL NEVER BE WHAT I’M IN TO! Far as where the MONEY is coming from, why is this a HOT TOPIC! How about we look at the pos+ matters of it….People of all ages are coming in, Im helping with reading, connecting people with jobs, I have 9 teenagers now coming there who just this weekend was out with me doing some volunteering work whom range between the ages of 15-19 but this wasnt talked about, I can go on and on about the branch Im at…In fact how about someone stop by and make a sneak up visit and see how its going for themselves vs just reading this paper! Cause I knwo we’re doing a great thing over at the location I’m at, I have a sign in sheet with currently 184 names of children and 52 adults and far as the books being taking out I have not allowed no one to take out any books and thats because we do not send out books with the name Library on them we was not told to do so nor would I do so because how can we know who has what book and when it needs to be returned and to me I would rather have them read there so if they need any help I’m there to help them out with words and etc. Im a hands on person when it comes to them learning. And I will end off with this! Please go look up what I went to Chesapeake University for and what my degree is in and the fact that Im NJ & PA state certified in early childhood development and own day-cares and summer camps. See the real things will not be printed in the papers only attacks to destroy what is a good thing. This reporter knows my name but he will not interview me on what it is that I’m doing in this city! Any one that supports the Mayor only gets kicked in the face and attacked! What about just looking at the fact these kids now have a place to go! Its summer break we need for them to be safe, still learning & enjoying pos+ matters not hanging on the streets!!! For more direct information about me and what I’m doing or into anyone can stop by this branch or call me directly at 609-954-7885 I have nothing to HIDE! And I’m sure people going to come on this page and write false things and etc. but use a decoy name which is foolish because if your a honest person reporting honestly then you should be able to state your name and contact info such as I did & do all the time….ALSO IM THE SAME PERSON WHO RAISED MONEY FOR THE LIBRARIES WHEN THEY WAS 1ST SAID TO BE CLOSING DOWN! THAT ON RECORD THE THEN MAYOR D.P. SAID HE COULDN’T TAKE IT BUT THEN LATER TOOK FUNDING HELP FOR OTHER PROJECTS! ITS ALL ON FILE MY NAME IS THERE ITS PUBLIC RECORDS GO LOOK IT UP! I WAS THE LONE RANGER BATTLING FOR OUR CITY YOUTHS AT THE LEVEL OF MAYOR!

Wow. In case you couldn’t follow all this, let me review some of these claims.

“…[W]e was talking about Video Books…the 1st set of Video books will be out the 2nd week of July…” What about these “Video Books?” How are they being paid for? How will they be distributed? Is there any revenue here? Is this a private business of Mr. Bellamy’s? Will they be used at the Learning Centers? Who will vet them to see if they are of any value or use? Will Mr. Bellamy sell these books to library patrons?

“…and the 3 ladies whom I was speaking to 2 of them I have gave Jobs to…” Jobs? At the Learning Centers? Who approved them as hires? If they are private jobs for Mr. Bellamy’s business, is he recruiting and hiring on the premises of the Learning Centers?

“I have been working with programs, running camps & etc for over 9 years and If anyone go back they will see I was at this before Tony was in office! And I’m not just here in NJ I’m also in Philly, Vegas, Chicago & Myrtle Beach.” Tell us more! What is your background? What are your qualifications? What associations do you have with the Mack Administration?

“Also, its not said how I am the #1 Urban Author and in the top 10 children’s educational author with 5 awards and currently leading the Steve H. awards and etc. or the fact that I’m willing to take all my book sales & video book sales and turn over all the profit to keep these learning centers going!” Can we hear more about this? What kind of revenues will be coming into these Centers? Has the Mayor disclosed any of this? These are public facilities, after all.

“I do not nor have I ever took any $$$ to work with kids with that being said I will never take no PAY for helping out at these learning centers.. So you say you are a volunteer at the Center? How does this square with your claim that you are working on Video Books (which you also say will generate revenue and profits that will be turned over to the learning centers) at the learning centers? Are you using these Learning Centers to work on your own private business?

“And I will end off with this! Please go look up what I went to Chesapeake University for and what my degree is in and the fact that Im NJ & PA state certified in early childhood development and own day-cares and summer camps. See the real things will not be printed in the papers only attacks to destroy what is a good thing. This reporter knows my name but he will not interview me on what it is that I’m doing in this city!”

Perhaps Mr. Campisi, or some other reporter should interview Mr. Bellamy, and some of the other volunteers and “staff” working at these centers!

Because, based on that rant, and the fact these centers were planned, opened and now being operated entirely out of public view and oversight – not to mention outside the law – I have very serious questions about who, really, is running these Zombie Libraries, and working with Trenton’s children.

18 comments to WHO, Really, Is Running the Zombie Libraries?

  • Bill Kearney

    Wow! A proud author who has yet to master the basics of the English language. …And Mayor Mack’s “community” is OK wiff dis?? Puh-leeez. What a joke. Sir, YOU need to go back to school and master English before you “teach” anyone anything! OMFG!!!

  • Marge Berkeyheiser

    I have read this guy’s rants before. He was trying to open his own learing center. He was always advertising for kids in his learning center, for modeling, or singing, acting and dancing. He was going to make videos to make them famous. He would advertise for parents to volunteer,(OH IT ALL SOUNDS SO FAMILIAR). He talked very little about actually learning. He always had a new money making scheme and it always involved kids. I got tired of him begging for money and kids all the time and you could make very little sense out of what he was saying so I cut him from my page. That is about all I know about him but I don’t think I would want my kids around him. There is something about him that makes the hair on my neck stand up. Oh yes, he is an ex-con.

  • Marge Miccio

    With the Sandusky case on the front page of every newspaper, we should be particularly careful about who is working with the children of Trenton. Letting unvetted “paid volunteers” have close contact with minors is a recipe for lawsuits. Lending out books that do not belong to the city is illegal. Yes, there should be “Learning Centers” available to the children of Trenton – they’re called SCHOOLS and LIBRARIES, not these cooked-up insufficient, illegal disasters waiting to happen.

  • Geoff

    Although I moved from Trenton 12 years ago, I still go back frequently and maintain that I will move back eventually. I read both Trenton papers on the web and try to keep current with my hometown.

    I read Mr. Bellamy’s rant the other day in the Trentonian and just shook my head in disgust and amazement at his lack of language skills…I did as Mr. Bellamy asked and looked him up on the internet…and all I found were trashy, amateur videos of wannabe rappers on You Tube (he has his own channel with zero subscriptions and only 200 or so views.

    I found nothing regarding his claim to be the #1 Urban Author nor could I find anything about the Steve H awards, although I must say in all honesty I really didn’t waste a lot of time on this guy and his outrageous claims.

    Keep up the good work. I admire the fact that you commute out of state and yet have time to research and publish these blogs. It is glowingly apparent you truly do love Trenton.

    My best to you and yours.


  • jeff

    One really big question i have is, are all these so called volunteers and such having background checks, since megans law i thought you had to with children involved?

  • LiLi Temple

    @Marge B. You are so spot on in your comments. But you forgot one of his earlier ventures as an online shoe salesman. I met him back when he was Shu Hope. I know of some not too kosher dealings. But, I’m not going to go into it with anyone but him.

    I doubt that he is approved by the Mack administration to “speak” on its behalf. His rant really casts a poor example of this project/program.

  • ed w

    yes Megan’s law applies, background checks are required with anyone who works with children. i did some work for a school(not trenton) and even though i had no direct contact with children, had to get fingerprinted at the local police station and a background check performed( cost me about $50 about10 years ago(btw passed)) probably much more now.

    not many volunteers i know would want to pay that kind of money unless there was something in it for them.

    would you want young children around strangers with questionable backgrounds and even more questionable writing skills.

  • Does anyone know anything about Chesapeake University? I tried the internet and don’t think there is anything. At least the word, “chesapeake,” was spelled correctly. The misuse of the objective case of the pronoun, “who” does, however, piss me off. Whatever, this dude did not major in English.

  • Geoff

    Chesapeake College is a two year regional community college on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

    A Google search turned up nothing for Chesapeake University.

    Regarding the Steve H awards: Radio host Steve Harvey has started The Hoodie Awards. The awards are presented to “everyday people” in a variety of categories. According to the Steve Harvey website, the categories are:

    “Best Church, Best Beauty Salon, Best Community Leader, Best Barbershop, Best School Teacher, Best High School Coach, Best Soul Food Place, Best High School, Best Car Wash/Detail Shop, Best BBQ Restaurant, Best Nail Salon, Best Church Choir”

    I don’t know which category Mr. Bellamy is supposedly nominated in, but he is not leading the voting in the Best Community Leader category…that voting is today and Mr. Bellamy is NOT one of the four gentlemen nominated.

    I hope someone or some organization will take this guy to task…demand proof of his claims…verify his education and qualifications…but that kind of hope is like wishing I had wings and could fly…just ain’t gonna happen.

  • Kevin

    Thanks, Geoff. Over on Facebook, there was talk about Chesapeake College as well. I wondered if “Steve H” was Steve Harvey; I didn’t know he sponsored any awards. Very interesting to know the status of Mr. Bellamy’s missing “nomination.” Unless there is another “Steve H” out there sponsoring an award, Steve Hallucination perhaps?

    And Pat and Bill, yes, Mr. Bellamy’s usage of English verges on abuse.

    Ed, Jeff and Marge M, I am also very concerned at the casualness with which volunteers are being allowed to work in these “Centers” with children.

    Marge B, yep, I also question if Mr. Bellamy is using the Center he is working in as a place for him to grow his own business, using the kids who are patrons there as his customers. That’s not right.

  • This is HOPE

    I Can produce everything that I state again because I’m not in the popular anti-tony circle It’s bashing season. Im very open to back ground checks and etc. Everyone I know and deal with knows where I came from and what I’m in to and I never took a payment from a parent for nothing at all! I produce for them and I even pay people when task are done. I’m out here supporting these youths and it’s like its bashing bashing season for anything that has something to do with them. No one wasn’t there in the days of Doug Palmer when he came around closing down buildings and etc but because I dont report to your circle oh who is he, what is he about. Again I can produce FACTS and I am a winner in 2011 and I’m leading again this year but that dont mean nothing to me it’s just to show these youths and teens that they can change there lives around and make it better because I done it. Makes no sense that we going at it over better things for our city youths. And FYI! Nothing I do has anything to do with a City Own Property (M.L.C.) you can do personal business in no city building! It’s illegal!!

  • […] WHO, Really, Is Running the Zombie Libraries? […]

  • This is a very well written piece and I applaud you on your command of the English language but truthfully I don’t get your point. I have read your post and those that commented on it and again it serves no purpose except to those with ill feelings for the growth and development of the citizens of Trenton.
    Now it’s a fact that Trenton is almost 80% African American yet those who comment most likely don’t live there (neither do I for that matter) but it’s clear that the intent of your blog is to hurt, maim or damage an already sensitive issue. One would think that the answer and success of the Mayors Learning Centers being staffed properly is “volunteers”. I somewhat heard your concern about the Zombie Libraries (which can be interpreted more than one way) yet I didn’t hear where you or any of your blog supporters or KKK members offered any support or to volunteer their services to make the centers work. I’m sorry did I say KKK members, didn’t meant to do that out loud. Maybe its Tourettes Syndrome or something but. The truth is CEO Hope is there trying. He may not have all the tools to meet your standards or those of others but the fact that he is “PRESENT” in the struggle and he shows up to offer of himself as a warm body if nothing else. So if your not out trying to assist in the process, you shouldn’t throw stones at those that are. I’m sure you were raised better than that. Don’t throw stones and hurt people who genuinely care and are doing their best to make a difference while you sit back and do nothing. When I was in the military, I would rather have a guy who would go to battle than one that was ready for battle. Sounds to me like you guys are only ready for battle. GET INVOLVED!
    From reading your post and those of others its’ obvious you have something to offer. It’s just your negative is not needed.
    Be Encouraged

  • Kevin

    Mr. Phelps – Thanks for reading and for commenting.

    With all due respect, you may kiss my ass. I appreciate your continued interest in the affairs of Trenton, but your implication that my motivations and those of others sharing similar opinions on this and other matters in this town are racist – and, yes you did say KKK – is despicable.

    My underlying objection to these “Centers” is that they are, despite any good intentions, at their heart, illegal. They were planned in secret, rolled out and operated using unknown sums of money that was not appropriated by Trenton’s City Council, and are in violation of New Jersey state law governing the management of municipally-owned properties as libraries.

    This is one of a series of actions I have opposed of the current Administration since nearly the day it took office. Not because the Mayor and his principal colleagues are African-American, but because they are fools and incompetents. Bullshit has no color, Mr. Phelps, and there has been WAY too much of that in this town for the last two years.

    I refuse to have anything to do with these “Centers” because they are inherently, fundamentally flawed, and corrupt at heart.

    Since you don’t live here and don’t know much about many of us, take my word on it that many of us are plenty INVOLVED, on many and varied levels, and have been for a long time. I for one don’t feel I need to defend my words and my involvement in this town. I don’t need or appreciate pontification from hundreds of miles away aimed at us and questioning our motivations as racist simply we have some, I guess, sick and misplaced instinct to call bullshit when we see fools and incompetents.

    So, in conclusion, and as I believe I also said above, kiss my ass.

  • Mr. Bellamy – and this will be my last comment on you. Being involved does not mean one appearance at city council over six years ago. People like me and Mr. Moriarty (and many, many, many others) are out there every day fighting for a better Trenton. One problem I have these learning centers is that books which do not belong to the centers are being lent out. This is an abuse of someone else’s property. Such behavior is held very low regard.

  • This is HOPE

    Ms. Stewart…We spoke and had a very good conversation now you get on here and what we spoke about and I produced to you – you never even said anything about it. 6 yrs ago, is not the case here! Public records don’t lie and I been there week to week for over 10yrs. I’m done. I would like to ask that everyone spend their time looking in to me & please note that I have my background check and etc done and I have not an issue to produce it to you or allow you to get it your self! It seems to me because you dont know me & I dont blast who I am and what I do out there like that its an issue as to can he do this or that! Well I been in this city 35yrs and 13 I been working with kids. So for me to entertain this any longer is a time waster and I will not reply to this any more unless its a show up date to produce what I have to show my back yard is clean! Until then I’m done because we all can be doing something better. But I would never attack nor disrespect no one or put out false information. Just like the lady LiLi Temple said I was an on line shoe person but what she dont know is my business was never on line!! And the fact that I currently have 3 stores that are doing very well and we donate and do free public events and etc but again only speaking what she wants to say and not the truth because she dont even know me because I dont even work in the stores…tis tis tis..I WILL NEVER REPLY TO THIS POST AGAIN! UNLESS ITS A DATE, TIME AND PLACE TO SHOW UP WITH FACTS AND ETC.

  • LiLi Temple

    Hope. I do know you. I was around when you “dated” my girlfriend. I knew you when you ran the sumner camp out of the house on stuyvesant and used the candy store as your address. I recall there was a fee for that camp. I’ve seen our documents, picturesb over the years- and the web page that you had your shoes on display. You may not have sold any shoes on that web site but you surely had one. We’ve met and I’ve watched you over the years. I’ve always found you very suspect. Out of respect to those you and I have dealt with, I won’t say anything else-except that you seem to have a desire to be some body big. You can’t just jump into something and think that you are the shout caller. Keep doing ya thing but put away the snake oil.

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