Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This year's Baseball HOF nominees, new guys in bold: Jeff Bagwell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Juan Gonzalez, Brian Jordan, Barry Larkin, Javy Lopez, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Dale Murphy, Phil Nevin, Rafael Palmeiro, Brad Radke, Tim Raines, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, Bernie Williams, Tony Womack, Eric Young.

Wow. Javy Lopez. Haven't heard that name in a while.

Monday, November 28, 2011

When CLA was a senior in high school I realized that my opportunities to watch her play soccer-- which was a lovely thing to behold-- were drawing to an end. I felt a bit like that this weekend, the first of four times that we'll take LCA back to school after Thanksgiving. So while I am considering the things that I am thankful for I want to be sure to remember to be thankful for realizing that I want to be aware of these moments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Moogy Klingman,and Paul Motian Rest in Peace.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New York Magazine is running a point/counterpoint set of articles about the Republican and Democratic parties. The Republican piece is called "When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?" and it seemed to me that this is a worthwhile question which deserves a serious answer. Before I clicked on it I wrote my answer down on a scrap of paper so that nobody could accuse me of cheating: "Shortly after the 1960 Presidential election." Then I clicked. You can imagine my disappointment when I saw the byline on the piece: David Frum? Seriously? Mr. Frum tells us, "When I entered Republican politics, during an earlier period of malaise, in the late seventies and early eighties, the movement got most of the big questions --crime, inflation, the Cold War --right," and there we have the nub of it. In fact, in the late seventies and early eighties the Republican Party embarked upon a disastrous series of policies on all of those things. It took eight years of Bill Clinton to start fixing the mess that Reagan and Bush left behind, and it was only the fact that the United States had then and has today resources unequaled by any other nation in either history or the world that made it possible to emerge from those dark days. First chance they got the Republican party plunged us back into the disaster that Reagan's puppeteers had engineered, and now David Frum has been kind enough to take a moment away from cocktail hour with his friend the giant rabbit to tell us about what our national priorities should look like. Here's a tip for you David: don't smoke whatever that is in bed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've just learned that William J. Edgar, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Geneseo has died. Professor Edgar's classes were among the highlights of my time at Geneseo, and during her time there CLA was admitted into the Honors Program that he created. (She also took Logic with his wife.) When she was admitted I wrote to him to tell him what an influence he'd been for me, and how pleased I was that the connection had endured for a second generation. The fashion at Geneseo during my time was to have these advanced monstrous seminars, taught by two or more faculty members. The idea was that you'd read a ton, and write a short paper every week, with a longer, more comprehensive paper two or three or four times over the semester. I took one like that with Ken Deutsch, (PoliSci) Bill Edgar (Philosopy) and Bill Martin (Economics) that amounted to a survey of 20th Century political philosophy and was one of the peak intellectual experiences of my life.

Although it appears that the mayors of a number of cities got together and decided that it was time to evict the Occupy protesters, in Buffalo our Mayor has decided (for now, anyway) to let them sit tight. He may be thinking that the winter weather will do the job for him, but meanwhile, next Thursday 13,200 Turkey Trot runners are going to go past Niagara Square and the McKinley Monument where our Occupy people are encamped. It will be interesting to see....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One of the things that frustrates me about the pending sale of WBFO to WNED is that I believe that both current and prospective WBFO management underestimate the extent to which an audience exists for FM radio music programing. To be sure, I mostly listen to satellite radio in the car at this point, but that's mere anecdote. The EVP of Katz Media Group, a Clear Channel company, thinks different:

There is no direct competition to AM/FM radio for share of consumer media usage (nothing else has the ability to broadcast in geographically-specific areas with primarily locally-geared content and primarily live personalities, and, based on industry studies and Arbitron (ARB) ratings, nothing has had much, if any, impact on that usage).

To be sure, Clear Channel is part of the problem with land-based radio, but they know what they are talking about. She continues: "With radio, as with any medium, it has always been and always will be about content. We are entertainers. Our content is local, personal and perishable – nearly all its usage is live, in real time." And that is the nub of it. At the WNED meeting held last month I raised Mark Scott's remarkable performance during the 2000 Thanksgiving week blizzard as evidence of the importance of WBFO remaining fully staffed; I believe the same argument applies to WBFO's cultural programing. When asked what land-based radio has done wrong in the last ten years Ms. Garber was blunt: "Consolidated hundreds of stations, went public and bowed to investor pressure by cutting spending on live personalities and local programming, thinking it would generate more profit. Reacted to PPM ratings by making DJs talk less (and thereby relate less to listeners). Not figure out how to make advertisers perceive radio as being as sexy as anything new that is on the internet." We are about to see public radio in Buffalo repeat those mistakes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkey Trot registration closed.

I am pretty much indifferent to the NBA, but the lockout story is interesting. The players have moved to decertify the union, and will be bringing an antitrust action (I'm guessing in the Southern District of New York). I'm even less of an antitrust lawyer than I am an NBA fan, but it seems to me that the other sports leagues out there might want to get with the NBA owners and persuade them to find a way to compromise this. With the possible exception of baseball, which has the advantage of a Supreme Court decision directly on point, pretty much all sports leagues are vulnerable to antitrust claims. Hell, the NFL lost when the USFL sued, resulting in a $1 verdict that was automatically trebled. This is not a path the NBA should want to tread, and the NFL and the NHL should be screaming.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Some thoughts on Penn State and Joe Paterno. First of all, I hope that if I witnessed a sexual assault in progress that I'd do something to stop it, and call the cops. Mike McQueary apparently did neither of these things, and instead told his father what he'd seen and asked for advice. I guarantee that had I been in his position my father would have asked, "What did you do to stop it?" and "Are the police on the way?" He would not have told me to tell Joe Paterno about it.

Second, people seem to be confused about what this story is actually about. It is only tangentially a story about college sports-- what it really is about is the way that colleges handle incidences of sexual assault. Notwithstanding the fact that sexual assault is a criminal matter the default response on campus is to handle these things internally. The Penn State situation is unusual only in that the victims were not members of the campus community, but were instead brought onto campus by the assailant. Given the culture-- and the actual sexual assault policies of every school we've sued over the years-- it is hardly surprising that everyone who was made aware of the situation passed the matter up the administrative chain.

Third, there appears to be some backlash suggesting that Paterno is being scapegoated. In view of the fact that he made the wrong choice at each step of this genuine crisis, I can't agree. If he didn't want to be fired the classy thing to have done would have been to have resigned. Months ago. It is incredible to me that someone nearly universally regarded as a moral avatar could have been so morally tone deaf, particularly with the example of the crisis in his own religion before him as an example.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Per Charley Pierce: "By any conventional measure, and entirely through their own fault, the Republicans have produced a field of candidates so utterly comical, so completely devoid of conventional political merit, that the field itself is a strong evidence for the elimination of the Republican party."

When Obama was elected four years ago it seemed to me that the Republican party was on the verge of irrelevance, a regional force with declining influence. Of course I was wrong: I'd failed to reckon with the power of anger, and the generally fearful nature of the American electorate, and its plain old stupidity as well. The Republican Party isn't going away. Too bad. Fortunately, its continued existence provides Peirce with an opportunity to fulminate exquisitely about things that matter. Is he the best writer on politics working today? Well, there is Matt Taibbi to consider.

Number 66 at my polling place at 8:30. Not a big crowd.

Monday, November 07, 2011

To Lucinda Williams at the Town Ballroom last night, the first time we've seen her live. That's somewhat surprising when I think about it-- my brother introduced me to her work long ago. I suppose part of it may be that for a while the only way to see her was in larger venues, which I tend to disfavor, but this was perfect. She was backed by a crackerjack trio, which sweetened even her more lachrymose material. My, my, as beautiful as I find her work, I think A captured it well when she turned to me at about mid-set and said, "Now for some sad songs." You can't be a Lucinda Williams follower without following her personal life-- it is all right there, right out in front. Some bad boyfriends died, she was mad and brokenhearted about some others, and even people that she liked but didn't date seem to come to unfortunate ends. At one point she announced that she was going to do a Dylan number, and I thought, "This will be excellent." It was, but seriously, is there a more lugubrious Dylan song than "Trying to Get to Heaven"? ("Knocking on Heaven's Door", maybe?) It is a strange thing to watch her adoring audience mouthing the words to these raw songs about painful heartbreak, even moreso because we all are given to understand that she is in a good place right now, happily married to her manager, a fellow named Tom Overby. Unless I am mistaken Mr. Overby was very much in evidence at this performance, a tall, thin man in a suit and tie who helped her with changing guitars, and brought out cups of water, and turned the pages on her music stand. His solicitude was touching-- when you listen to Lucinda Williams you always want the best for her; and in a way it made her seem even more vulnerable. She's a tougher looking chick in person than I'd have guessed-- she kinda looked like she'd kick your ass if you looked at her funny in a bar, in jeans, a leather vest, and a belt with a Harley buckle. On the other hand she seemed to be moving stiffly, leading A to guess that she might have been having back problems. In any event, she turned in a terrific and endearing set, good as I'd expected.

Friday, November 04, 2011

I find that I have not been particularly critical of Erie County Executive Chris Collins in these pages, (although I was probably critical enough, in some sense). Please allow me to rectify this omission: Chris Collins has been exactly the sort of small-minded creep he promised to be when he ran for the job, and now that he has had four years to prove it only two sorts of people should consider voting for him. Those would be people who are, like Collins, so rich that they are completely disconnected from reality; or people, like Collins, who are narrow-minded bullies who believe that narrow-minded bullying is a valid philosophy of government.

Here are some highlights: Collins fought an expensive lawsuit against the Department of Justice over conditions in the Holding Center, then caved. This meant that outside counsel-- coincidentally, a firm that had paid big into his campaign-- got paid nicely, and that the resources of the County Attorney's office were expended in a pointless direction, all in a losing cause. Nobody wins a lawsuit like that, but Collins thought that defending the deplorable conditions in the jail was a better use of taxpayer money than fixing those conditions. Collins wants to close libraries, and defied the County Legislature on arts funding after dismantling a non-partisan arts funding mechanism which had worked effectively for years. The arts organizations he has deigned to fund are arts organizations that affluent white people like. I like the Albright-Knox and the Philharmonic too, but concentrating support for the arts in organizations like that is a pretty plain signal. He rode into office promising that Six Sigma principles would make county government more efficient and cost effective. Please let me know if you have notices any difference, because I have not. He has politicized everything he touches, and although I suppose that's pretty much par for the course it is strange to see it in action. It bears mentioning that when he makes an appointment he typically asks the legislature to pay his appointees more than the designated pay grade called for by county law. He has done this on the grounds that those appointees could be making more in the private sector, and that because of their expertise they are the persons best suited to run their agencies, notwithstanding the fact that these are among the people who advised him on, inter alia, the Holding Center lawsuit. He may not be as crude and sexist as Carl Paladino, but he is certainly crude and sexist. He has managed to run a surplus, but he has done this by closing clinics and day care centers, and other services. He favors cutting even more, but in a way that will push the costs of those services down to the towns and cities-- that's not cutting taxes, that's moving the tiles on the board, and doing so in a way that disproportionately favors affluent communities.

He's a bad guy, is what I'm saying. This Tuesday we have a chance to stand up to a bully, and I am looking forward to it, but not just because it is a chance to vote against someone so despicable. In his time as Comptroller Mark Poloncarz has demonstrated time and again that he is an honest, hard working guy who appears to be, in almost every respect, the anti-Collins. It will be a pleasure to vote for him.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

In the spirit of the holiday we watched a vampire movie last night, Tomas Alfredson's 2008 Let the Right One In. Vampires are pretty much always in vogue, and there's lots more vampire scholarship out there than I'd ever care to wade through, but this movie impressed me as rather unusual. The link between sex and death is central to the vampire myth, as is the contrast between innocence and experience, but in this movie we come to understand the "victim" in a more complicated way than I think I've seen in this genre.

The last Cardinals manager before Tony La Russa was Joe Torre.

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