The offbeat side of the news - The Buffalo News

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The offbeat side of the news

Kiss and make up

It’s no secret that the members of the Buffalo Board of Education do not play well together.

The five African-American women and four white men who make up the board often work as divided fronts marked by incessant sniping and bitter recriminations.

Voting tends to split along racial and gender lines, a schism that was apparent in last month’s failed bid to oust the district’s first African-American woman superintendent, Pamela Brown.

Afterward, some on the board pledged to work harder at getting along. Recently, there was even an indication that Park District board member Carl Paladino – the center of many stormy moments on the board – might be ready to kiss and make up.

Or not.

Perhaps Paladino was just caught off guard when Mary Ruth Kapsiak, of the Central District, leaned in a bit close to him at a meeting of the board’s Student Achievement Committee on Wednesday. As it turned out, Kapsiak merely wanted to say something to Paladino, but quietly to avoid disturbing a speaker who had the floor.

But Paladino seemed to have gotten the wrong impression – at first.

“Oh,” he said when Kapsiak was done. “I thought you were going to kiss me.”

Perpetually unretired

Paul G. Hashem, interim head of the Frontier School District, carries around a business card that touts himself as “Retired Superintendent of Schools.”

Though he stepped down as Lackawanna’s longtime school chief five years ago, Hashem hardly fits the profile of a retiree.

He has held about six interim jobs since his official retirement in 2008, including stops in Frontier, Springville, Grand Island and the Alternative High School in Orchard Park. The circuit has included two tours of duty in some of those districts.

If the job description on Hashem’s business card is comical, it’s by his wife’s design. Deborah Hashem takes more than a passing interest in her husband’s post-retirement career.

She accompanies him to all of his school board meetings, Hashem said, and even critiques his performance on their drive home afterward.

Since his wife designed the cards about five years ago, it’s “been unretirement” for him, said Hashem. “I laughed when I saw them, because I knew she wouldn’t let me stay retired.”

Hashem also is a retired part-time State Parks Police officer, with 35 years on the force.

A match made in steel

It makes sense that St. Bonaventure University and Hilbert College are taking a hard look at how the two schools could become better partners.

St. Bonaventure was founded by Franciscan friars. Hilbert was founded by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph.

And for more than 20 years, Bonaventure has used the Hilbert campus to teach weekend graduate courses.

The two institutions share one other thing in common; their leaders are both longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

Sister Margaret Carney, president of St. Bonaventure, and Cynthia Zane, president of Hilbert, have roots in western Pennsylvania and maintain a soft spot for the black and gold.

“But we do cheer for the Bills,” Carney said, “as long as they’re not playing the Steelers.”

Directionally challenged

A couple of blocks off Main Street, two women in a car seemed hopelessly lost this week as a convoy of vehicles queued up behind them on Scott Street, near the corner of Washington Street.

“Where can we find One News Plaza?” one of the women yelled from the car to an employee heading for The Buffalo News building.

“It’s right here,” the employee yelled back.

In their defense, there are no signs anywhere in the area that read “One News Plaza.”

Written by Harold McNeil, with contributions from Deidre Williams, Karen Robinson and Jay Rey. email:

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