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OFF MAIN STREET
THE OFFBEAT SIDE OF THE NEWS

Election makes pappy happy

Irv Weinstein covered a lot of elections in his career as Channel 7 anchorman.

None could have made him happier than one last week in California.

He and his wife, Elaine, watched their daughter win election as mayor of Irvine, a city of 175,000 people.

"Elaine and I were yelling 'yippee' on Tuesday because here in the heart of Orange County, Calif., a hotbed of right-wing conservative politics, our lifelong Democrat daughter, Beth Krom, was elected mayor," Weinstein said. "Who says miracles don't happen?"

Krom, a 1976 Kenmore West graduate, said she credits the positive influences from her formative years in Buffalo.

She left Buffalo in 1978 for Texas and later for California, but she still has a soft spot for our city.

Growing up watching her father on television laid the foundation for her interest in the world and how things work.

And she says she put him to work putting together campaign mailings and walking the precincts.

"It has been an interesting role reversal," Krom said. "Now my dad gets to watch me on TV."

Send your pennies -- 1943(S)

That oversized "Medicaid penny" shadowing Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra during his "we're broke" news conference Friday was no ordinary penny.

It was a 1943(S) -- stamped in San Francisco during World War II, when pennies were made of steel and zinc instead of copper. Giambra's aides were unaware that a 1943(S) can fetch maybe 30 cents, according to one area coin dealer.

Giambra wants to add a penny to the sales tax to generate millions more dollars for the government and solve a financial crisis looming in 2005. Were every penny a 1943(S), he'd have more than $3 billion, three times what the county needs to operate.

Getting priorities straight

By now, most Buffalo Catholics know their new bishop, the Most Rev. Edward U. Kmiec, was a big fan of the Tennessee Titans.

The former Nashville bishop got some advice during his installation as to where his football allegiance should lie now.

Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, in his welcoming remarks, exhorted Kmiec to become a Buffalo Bills fan.

"They need all the hope and prayers they can get," Grosz said.

Later on, Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York City, joined in the act, joking that Kmiec needed to address a special challenge as bishop of Buffalo.

"We have something called the Buffalo Bills," said Egan, "and 5 and 1 is not going to do it."

If only that were the challenge.

Egan might have been thinking about his hometown New York Jets, but there had to be a few Bills fans praying the esteemed cardinal knew something they didn't.

We're not sure who should get the credit -- Kmiec or running back Willis McGahee -- but the Bills haven't lost a game since the new bishop took over.

Following her blocks

Reporters tried in vain to interview Nancy Naples on Election Night.

They never got the chance. But they saw one thing. She could teach a Buffalo Bills running back about how to follow a block.

After being holed up in a private room most of the night -- guarded by large men in suits -- she appeared on stage shortly before midnight in Rich Renaissance Niagara.

Her opponent, Brian Higgins, was ahead by thousands of votes, but she told cheering supporters the race wasn't over.

When she finished speaking, she walked through the curtain behind the stage. Reporters and photographers in front of the stage started moving to the side to ask her some questions.

But Naples, with a large man holding her arm, ran down the steps of the stage and made a beeline for one of the side rooms.

As reporters rushed out to her, and at least one radio reporter called out her name, she stayed one step ahead of the reporters. Naples was ushered into the side room. The door closed, and more suits blocked the way.

Written by Patrick Lakamp with contributions from Jay Tokasz, Stephen Watson and Matt Spina.

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