A sentimental $1 check

The Lockport Common Council has agreed to take back the Ulrich City Centre parking lot, where the Friday night summer rock concerts are held.

Owner David L. Ulrich has been trying to sell the property, but he was stymied when an environmental investigation discovered old dry-cleaning chemicals buried beneath the pavement. The discovery torpedoed a prospective buyer’s hopes of obtaining financing.

In the 2004 agreement in which the city sold the then-vacant lot to Ulrich for $1, the city agreed to protect him against any environmental woes. So, the key question was: Will the city refund Ulrich’s $1 purchase price? The answer is no.

“We’re playing hardball,” Mayor Michael W. Tucker laughed.

Actually, the city never collected the $1. Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said he framed Ulrich’s check instead of cashing it. So, Mr. Ulrich, if your checkbook has not balanced for the past eight years, now you know why.

Chief executive ... fool?

Remember Sean Menke? Before resigning last summer, he was the chief executive officer of Pinnacle Airlines who took a 60 percent pay raise not long before his airline filed for bankruptcy in April.

Motley Fool, the puckish investment website, has just found him guilty of the “biggest CEO gaffe of the year.”

This matters in Buffalo, of course, because Pinnacle owned Colgan Air, operator of Continental Connection Flight 3407, which crashed in Clarence in February 2009, claiming 50 lives.

Menke’s antics drew harsh commentary from Motley Fool’s Sean Williams:

“I’d seen some questionable pay raises in my time, but this one may take the cake as the head-scratcher of them all. Just 11 days after his pay raise was filed with the SEC, Pinnacle filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – on April Fool’s Day, no less. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to!”

Blame it on the lawyers

Mark Daniels, 48, with seven felonies on his record, has sat next to many lawyers at defense tables over the years. He doesn’t seem happy with them.

In his past two bank robbery cases, he went through seven lawyers.Among those who have represented him: Joseph J. Terranova and Jeremy Schwartz, both skilled lawyers.

This week, it was Daniel P. Grasso’s turn to represent Daniels. The stacks of money stolen from the bank contained a GPS tracking device, so police were on Daniels’ trail right away. Police arrested him after he rammed two other cars.

Daniels didn’t testify, but he instructed Grasso to read a statement that he wrote. The statement, full of legalese, called for charges to be dismissed for a host of reasons.

Erie County Judge Michael L. D’Amico said he couldn’t be sure, but it sounded like a motion to him. Just in case, D’Amico said, “denied.”

The judge found him guilty, and Daniels faces 15 years in prison. Daniels already bailed out of a plea deal that called for a prison term of about half that time. Obviously, more bad lawyering.

In a suite State

Suite desserts at the Ralph?

From three men in a room to three men in a suite?

Under Friday’s agreement between the Buffalo Bills and Erie County, New York State will receive a suite at Ralph Wilson Stadium for use in its “I Love New York” campaign.

Given Albany’s over-representation of downstate Jets and Giants fans, we trust suite occupants will be required to don gear of the state’s only NFL team – ’da Bills!

Did they swap calculators?

The Christmas holiday brought peace to a pair of recent combatants in the race for Erie County comptroller.

Comptroller-elect Stefan Mychajliw was the guest of outgoing Comptroller David J. Shenk at the office Christmas party. Mychajliw posted a photo on his Facebook page Friday showing the view from the 11th floor of the Rath Building.

By Patrick Lakamp with contributions from Tom Prohaska, Jerry Zremski and T.J. Pignataro.