Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New TDR Online

In this issue of The Dartmouth Review:


Anonymous said...

A.S. wrote "At the head of the nominated slate is Chicago lawyer John Mathias, who has been openly hostile to the interests of alumni."

Can you give us an example?

Anonymous said...

Would somebody tell Frank Gado and all the other logic-free fools that meritless lawsuits survive dismissal motions every day?

Frank spoke about Mathias "and his expert judgment that our case was wholly without merit. Well, even the best lawyers make mistakes ..." No wonder Frank dropped out of law school. He wouldn't be able to tell the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions if it bit him on the ass.

Pick any lawsuit where the plaintiff loses at trial. It's a good bet the defendant moved for dismissal early and failed.

Can Frank Gado give us any examples of how "parity" (a permanent minority of alumni-nominated trustees) has "a major source of its strength"? The Hanover Institute propaganda just pours out of this "nasty" campaigner, he's so full of it. For Gado to accuse someone else -- anyone else -- of attacking "for political advantage" is absurd. Gado is the ultimate political hack, abusing his position in the Association (obtained with the help of his Institute, of course) to further his own political ends. The man is utterly shameless.

A. S. Erickson said...

Of the changes in the Board's proportions, Mathias wrote, "The Board action was not only good for Dartmouth, it was essential under the circumstances." This view is clearly hostile to alumni—no group knowingly votes to dilute its own power.


He has also effectively labeled the majority of alumni (those who voted against the proposed constitution) as retarded. Here:


Not only that, but Mathias is given over to conspiracy theories. For instance, he has written, "My instincts tell be that the John M. Olin Foundation has something to do with the lawsuit against Dartmouth." The Olin Foundation disbanded in 2005.


There are a lot of outright partisans on both sides of this issue. The conclusion I've come to by sifting through the comments of the AoA's blog is that Mathias is no worse a partisan than some on the side of Board-parity, but he is certainly no better. If you're looking to elect an open-minded individual, look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

“No group knowingly votes to dilute its own power.” Of course not. But Mathias is commenting on whether Dartmouth’s decision was good for Dartmouth. He’s not talking about what’s in the interest of the AoA. (And you’re assuming the AoA has some power and some say over how that power grows or shrinks. It doesn’t have more than eight nominations and never has.)

Mathias has never labeled the majority of alumni “retarded.” Why didn’t you come up with a quote for that one?

He is not “given over to conspiracy theories.” He incorrectly surmised that Olin was behind the lawsuit and corrected himself within 45 minutes of someone pointing out that Olin had stopped giving out money (to the Review and all its other recipients). But Mathias was not far off. What was not public knowledge at the time is that the Center for Excellence in Higher Education has been raising money for the lawsuit (on false or misleading pretenses) and requesting donations on behalf of a foundation called Donors Trust. The Hanover Institute is also suspected of being secretly involved in funding prior to its public money campaign. That's the same Hanover Institute that got one of its officers into the inner circle of the EC leadership, where he has led the legal attack on the Board. That's not a coincidence.

Mathias might be “no worse a partisan than some on the side of Board-parity,” but he is also a far better partisan than many others on the opposite side. Some of those people are still on the Executive Committee.

Anonymous said...

A.S., do you have any response to the criticism of Frank Gado's stupid ideas about the relation between legal merit and a motion to dismiss?

A. S. Erickson said...


I was commenting on why Mathias can be perceived as hostile to alumni interests; I said nothing of Dartmouth.

Re: 'retarded' I provided you with a link. My word choice was unfortunate, but nonetheless it remains clear that Mathias doesn't think highly of his fellow alumni.

I agree it would be better if all the funding was out in the open, but that doesn't change Mathias' comment. He was grasping at straws.

I was using 'partisan' in a derogatory sense. He willfully distorts his opponents' views as much as anyone over at the AoA blog.


I'm not inclined toward a career in law, so my understanding of some of these issues is less than perfect. For instance, I don't know if there is a law-specific definition for merit. In a common sense, though, it seems that making it past the motion to dismiss does imply that the case has some merit to it. If it was merit-less, that would be the stage to weed it out. Whether it will ultimately be successful or not is different than whether the case has merit. But again, I'm unfamiliar with the intricacies of "legal merit."

Anonymous said...

"I was commenting on why Mathias can be perceived as hostile to alumni interests; I said nothing of Dartmouth." Yes, you did. You quoted Mathias talking about Dartmouth's interests as support for your impression of Mathias's hostility to alumni interests.

"Mathias doesn't think highly of his fellow alumni." You might get that impression from the page of writing you cited. You might also note that Mathias has praised Joe Malchow's industry and offered thoughtful compliments to other alumni with whom he disagrees, including the prickly John Bruce. The same cannot be said of some current members of the EC majority.

How does Mathias distort his opponents' views?

While it is true that a meritless case should not pass a motion to dismiss, not every case that survives a motion necessarily has merit. All a case has to do is make claims that could theoretically justify some relief. That weeds out claims that are brought against the wrong person or are nonsensical or just incorrectly crafted, leaving out essential elements (it is a motion to dismiss "for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted" -- it's not about merit or chance of success, it's about what the plaintiff says, merely stating a claim). It is about the lowest bar there is, just above questions like whether the plaintiff has the right margins on his papers. Many or most claims that survive the motion turn out to have no merit and are defeated.

Anonymous said...

Let's not confuse Mathias's opposition to EC improprieties with some kind of "anti-alumni" position. Anyone who is pro-alumni wants an AoA leadership that does not engage in self-dealing or use the organization for the benefit of outside interests. Some transparency would be good too.

A. S. Erickson said...

No doubt more transparency would be good, but the fact remains that if you support changing the proportion of the Board, you are not acting in the interests of alumni. That is all I meant by stating Mathias was "anti-alumni." We can argue over whether that was appropriate shorthand for his positions, but it remains clear he is in the minority of alumni who not only disagree with the lawsuit, but also agree with the Board's changes. To put that into perspective: the EC voted 6-5 for the lawsuit but 10-1 against the Board's changes. Mathias' position puts him with the '1' rather than the '10'.

Anonymous said...

According to their published minutes, the EC voted 6-3 for the lawsuit, not 6-5!! There were two no-shows.

In the 10-1 vote against the proposed changes, the one dissenter was a vice president of the College. This is apparently where John Mathias is aligned. The trustees themselves acknowledge that alumni sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining parity, yet Mathias opposes it.

Anonymous said...

You're right, the EC voted 6-3 for the lawsuit.

What "10-1 vote against the proposed changes" are you talking about? Do you care how the EC votes regarding the changes?

"The trustees themselves acknowledge that alumni sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining parity, yet Mathias opposes it."

I don't think the Trustees used the word "overwhelmingly," or even "in favor" of parity, but they did acknowledge the controversy.

Isn't this pissing in the wind? You're talking about individuals' opinions regarding a decision they had nothing to do with and cannot change. And Mathias says ending "parity" among the elected trustees (i.e. the particular proportion of the permanent, institutionalized minority that some alumni think they are entitled to) is good for Dartmouth, and that's why he supports it. I don't think he's said it's good for the AoA.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything more hostile to the interests of the Alumni Association than allowing officers to use their offices to unethically and secretly further their personal interests? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

The Board of Trustees has filed its answer to the alumni lawsuit.

Notable: the Board is finally asserting the Statute of Frauds as a defense.

RSA 506:2 says "No action shall be brought ... upon any agreement ... that is not to be performed within one year from the time of making it, unless such promise or agreement, or some note or memorandum thereof, is in writing and signed by the party to be charged or by some person authorized by him."

The plaintiff has written memoranda referring to the nomination of eight trustees. There is no writing that refers to twelve trustees or half of the elected trustees.