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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

The shoes fit well

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo was a no-show last week at a community forum he was scheduled to headline in Conference Center Niagara Falls.

Leslie G. Leach, executive deputy attorney general, filled in for his boss.

He seemed to enjoy the new role.

"Off the bat, I feel younger," Leach told hundreds of people who had expected to hear Cuomo speak. "I happen to now be better looking. I am more fit, and I am going to call a man named Mario and ask him about increasing my allowance."

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Klyczek gets a charge

If there's one thing that makes Niagara County Community College President James P. Klyczek a happy man, it's money -- not for him, but for his school.

Klyczek told a recent board of trustees meeting that NCCC will receive $1.4 million in chargebacks this semester for educating students who hail from other counties. All counties have to pay a chargeback fee to a community college for each student who comes from within their political boundaries and attends a school in another county.

The same could hold true for next semester, depending on how many of the students remain at NCCC, Klyczek noted.

"In contrast to the other counties, that's the best day of the year for me -- signing the chargeback bills," Klyczek, with a large smile, told the board.

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Dyster downsizes

Environmentally friendly Mayor Paul Dyster of Niagara Falls was pleased to accept two golf-cart size electric cars from the New York Power Authority for the city Police Department in a ceremony outside City Hall on Friday.

The GEMs -- global electric motor cars -- will be used to patrol downtown areas such as parking lots and to assist visitors during the tourist season.

Dyster acknowledged the irony of the situation. "I'm a green mayor, but I'm driving that big, black Crown Victoria over there," he said, looking over at the parking lot and the snazzy city-owned vehicle he drives.

The official car is for, well, official purposes, like driving around visiting big shots, but Dyster said it sits in the parking lot most of the time.

"I'd be happier in a much smaller car," he said, "but the position of mayor requires I have the Crown Victoria."

Dyster did take the tiny electric car for a spin around the block -- and was grinning from ear to ear.

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Ross reminisces

When the Niagara County Legislature's alumni gathered last Tuesday, Chairman William L. Ross remembered his 1993 election race against Arthur F. Kroening.

Both were popular incumbent legislators at the time, forced into competition in the same Wheatfield district by a court-ordered redistricting. Ross, now a Conservative, was a Democrat then, while Kroening was the Republican candidate. He's now Wheatfield's highway superintendent.

Ethnic politics was in the forefront of the Ross-Kroening contest.

Ross recalled, "This Italian Catholic didn't stand a chance against a German Lutheran. I would campaign, and they would say, 'We like you, Ross, but you're not a Bergholz boy.' He beat me by 500 votes."

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Hereby resolved

For all these years, former Niagara County Legislator Larry Haseley has gotten a bad rap.

Haseley, a Republican who represented the Town of Lockport in the Legislature from 1986 to 1993, has gone down in Legislature lore for voting against his own resolution.

But another former legislator, Philo J. Brooks, a Porter Republican, came to Haseley's defense during the Legislature alumni reception last Tuesday.

Brooks, who served from 1966 to 1993 and now has a county office building named for him, said Haseley did not vote against his own resolution. "He seconded my motion and voted against it. I was the only one who voted for it," Brooks said.

Haseley said, "I was in favor of it. There was an amendment added onto it. I really liked the original resolution."

With contributions from Denise Jewel Gee, Paul Westmoore, Bill Michelmore and Thomas J. Prohaska of The News Niagara Bureau.

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