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Influence Survey: William C. Altreuter on Livability

For this week’s cover story, we polled a number of local folks about positive and negative influences in our region—people, ideas, circumstances. In the days to come, we’ll publish the responses we received in full here. 

Here’s what attorney and writer William C. Altreuter has to say:

1. What people/ideas/circumstances do you consider positive influences in this region?

The Honorable Paula Feroleto, the Chief Administrative Judge for the Eighth Judicial District, is not someone that very many people outside the legal profession have heard of, and that is probably a good thing. Judges should be largely anonymous, and judges that are well known frequently have acquired their greater visibility for the wrong reasons. In addition to presiding over a docket of cases—and doing a fine job of that—Justice Feroleto manages the operations of the courts in Western New York. “Herding cats” would be putting it kindly: she is in charge of seeing to it that the judges in our area do what they were elected to do. She manages this with aplomb, and gives no thought to personal aggrandizement.

Ideas? Well, to the extent that anyone is thinking in terms of livability I’d say that we are doing pretty well by several developers. Rocco Termini gets it. So does Karl Frizlen. Frizlen’s Winter Market has been a bright spot in this grey season.

Circumstances…There are a lot of great buildings here that could never be built today. A lot of us get to live in them. Amenities like trim,  stained glass, pocket doors…the little features in a Buffalo house that make them special are all things that people who live in newer places don’t have. When I look at the doorknobs in my house I’m happy. We have an arts scene that would be the envy of any city—theater, galleries and live music that spoil us for choice. UB and the surrounding colleges mean that our neighbors are more likely to be intelligent and involved people. I am impressed with what our public schools accomplish—this is a city that has a lot of poor people, but we also have a lot of hard-working, outstanding teachers. I think that the industrial heritage of the area makes us less union adverse than a lot of other cities with similar poverty problems, and that is an overall positive, because it means that we are, by and large, more progressive than we might otherwise be.

The consolidation of medical services into a central corridor is having a very positive effect, and one that I think will expand regionally. This is due in part to the presence of UB, and specifically the medical school, and it means that downtown is developing housing and retail that will benefit us all.

2. What people/ideas/circumstances do you consider negative influences in this region?

The hangdog attitude that pervades so much of our civic discourse is personified in Carl Paladino. The only thing that’s worse than the guy at the end of the bar who complains about the Bills, the Sabres, the Peace Bridge and the schools is the guy who has the same complaints and so much money that he can broadcast that negativity everywhere, all the time.

3. What people/ideas/circumstances do you think ought to be more influential in this region?

Me. I ought to be more influential. I can’t do it all, though. Someone else will have to run the Bills and the Sabres while I fix everything else.

One of the first places to start is mass transportation. I have been all over the country and all over the world and I have never seen mass transit as badly, and stupidly, run as the NFTA.


  • HystErica

    “I have been all over the country and all over the world and I have never seen mass transit as badly, and stupidly, run as the NFTA.”

    Amen! I’ll see your “badly & stupidly run” and throw in “insulting to the fare-paying riders”!