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AS NIAGARA FALLS

Take a number

Legislator Renae Kimble recently urged the Human Resources Committee to support her proposal to create a 21-member ad hoc committee to study minority hiring by county government.

Human Resources Director Bruce R. Fenwick thought that was too big and asked how Kimble arrived at 21 members.

Actually, it just worked out that way after Kimble listed all the officials and groups she thought needed to be represented, but she answered, "I like the number. Please make me happy."

"She picked her age," said Chairman Malcolm A. Needler, trying to make Kimble happy.

Kimble said, "I had 44 members on the Infant Mortality Task Force."

"She picked my age for that one," said Needler, who this year actually will mark the sixth anniversary of his 44th birthday.

"Then 21 isn't so bad," Fenwick concluded.

Spare the hot rod

Sometimes the questions left unanswered by police reports are the most interesting. Take, for instance, the case of the two testosterone-fueled drag racers last weekend.

Spotted by police racing side-by-side down the two-lane Ridge Road in the wee hours, the precipitous pair were speedily stopped by sheriff's deputies. Admitting that alcohol also fueled their need for speed, they were subsequently charged with having an unauthorized speed contest.

Oddly, it seems, they were not charged with speeding. Why not? A possible explanation lay deeper within the officer's report: One was driving an older model Nissan, the other an equally aged Mitsubishi.

Street stock, in only the most generous of terms.

One final question remains, however: Who does authorize such "speed contests," and can we perhaps arrange one the next time deadline looms?

Political football

The County Legislature recently honored Les Dugan, longtime football coach at Lockport's former DeSales Catholic High School.

Said Legislator Gerald R. DeFlippo: "He was my coach in football for three years. There were some days I hated him, but I love him now." DeFlippo then read the citation.

"That's the first time I knew Jerry could read," Dugan commented.

Remedial work might also be in order for whoever made the sign that recently designated the driveway to DeSales in the former coach's honor.

The sign says, "Les DuGan Way."

Dugan said, "I don't need any plaudits and applause. I'm rich with memories and friends. And enemies, too, especially at Bishop Duffy and Niagara Catholic and the other schools we beat regularly."

Crying woofer

The County Legislature's Public Works Committee is expected to consider seeking bids for a Legislature chambers sound system later this month.

That will be good news for those audience regulars who continually complain they can't hear the debates. At the last meeting, they told lawmakers such a purchase would be better than buying them all laptop computers, as has been considered.

"If you put laptop computers in here, I still can't hear," said William Snelgrove of Lockport.

Upside of downsizing?

Are there ulterior motives behind proposals to shrink the size of the 19-member County Legislature?

Legislator Lee Simonson, R-Lewiston, discussed the possibility on a recent cable TV appearance. At the last Legislature meeting, Richard Eliseo of Cambria, president of the Concerned Niagara County Taxpayers Association, called Simonson out.

"I saw you on your TV show," Eliseo said. "You were saying the Legislature would go down to 15 members?"

"Possibly," Simonson answered.

"Does that mean we're going to lose four from the cities, which are mostly Democratic?" asked Eliseo.

"Hopefully," Simonson replied to general laughter.

Talking heads

Legislator Samuel P. Granieri, R-Niagara Falls, thought the last meeting of the County Charter Commission was the most productive so far, perhaps because the members gathered around a conference table in the county attorney's office instead of sitting at the legislators' desks in the Legislature chambers.

The latter arrangement adds formality as everyone has to face the front and spontaneous exchanges seem limited.

Budget Director Sharon Sacco said, "Meetings in the Legislature chambers always turn out poorly because everybody's looking at the back of somebody's head."

"I thought it was because of the legislators," answered Granieri.

Bipartisan sanctuary

The misdemeanor charges in the Board of Elections salary scandal have uprooted some folks who are normally found in the County Courthouse and moved them two blocks to Lockport City Hall for court proceedings against former Democratic Election Commissioner Judith M. Cirifalco and Republican Legislator James W. Ward.

While waiting for her last court appearance to begin, Cirifalco hid from reporters by taking refuge in Mayor Thomas C. Sullivan's office.

Sullivan's a Democrat, but he's not partisan in offering accommodations. "We let Jim Ward stay here, too," he said. "We have free coffee."

Oughta be a law

City and county court proceedings seldom if ever start at the time printed on the court calendar, which is a constant annoyance to deadline-oriented journalists but seems to be expected, if not counted on, by the lawyers.

For example, the wheels of justice continued to move at a leisurely pace when former Election Commissioner Judith M. Cirifalco had another Lockport City Court appearance earlier this month.

The proceedings were scheduled for 9 a.m., but the only folks who showed up on time were nonlawyers: Cirifalco and two reporters. There was no sign of the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the stenographer or the judge.

Acting Judge David R. Wendt, defense attorney Michele G. Bergevin, First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist and the steno all eventually turned up, none seeming rushed, and court convened 40 minutes after the scheduled time.

When we asked Lundquist why this constantly happens, he explained, "It's a lawyer thing."

Given the way the morning had gone, the outcome of the court hearing seemed appropriate: a 2 1/2 -month delay.

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