OFF MAIN STREET/The offbeat side of the news - The Buffalo News

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OFF MAIN STREET/The offbeat side of the news

It’s a wrap for Clairmont

As director of special events and services and assistant to the State University of New York chancellor, Maggie Clairmont was often the “go-to” person for SUNY trustees who had questions or needed information about schedules or arrangements for events such as the trustees’ meeting earlier this week in the University at Buffalo’s Capen Hall.

Clairmont, who lives in the Albany area, is retiring after 45 years with SUNY, so the trustees decided to cap off their June meeting with a formal recognition of her work and the presentation of a gift that was on an easel, hidden behind a drape.

But when Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher pulled the drape away to reveal the present, it became clear how much Clairmont, who was known as a stickler for details, will be missed.

The gift was still covered in brown paper.

“And, it’s wrapped,” said Zimpher, who got a chuckle from board members.

The gift was quickly unwrapped to show a framed plaque with a proclamation commemorating Clairmont’s lengthy service.

A purr-fect ordinance

The city’s new cat ordinance couldn’t go forward without an appearance by a cat in City Hall’s stately Council Chambers.

“This will be the first time that we will have a feline among us,” said Council President Darius G. Pridgen.

“Are they testifying?” asked Majority Leader Demone A. Smith.

“Yes, Art is going to bring the feline down,” Pridgen said, referring to Arthur J. Robinson Jr., a fixture in Council Chambers who is often relied upon to serve on volunteer boards. The city’s “cat task force” was no exception.

Robinson, sitting in the gallery next to a large white cat in a cage, explained that he has trapped many unowned cats around his Seneca-Babcock neighborhood and taken them in to be spayed or neutered. He then releases them where he found them, a practice the city’s new ordinance encourages.

He brought the cat down to the Council floor, where the task force was honored with proclamations.

“Are you going to swear in the cat?” Smith asked.

It seems as if Pridgen has devoted a lot of time to curbing the city’s growing cat population. It also appears that he’s not really a cat person himself.

Pridgen reached gingerly over the caged cat for something behind him and told a clerk not to hand him the gavel, as to not spook the animal.

“Probably of all of the resolutions ... that I’ve ever written, the cats got more attention,” Pridgen said. “There were more articles about cats than I ever care to see in my life.”

The cat didn’t make any quick movements, but Pridgen seemed ill at ease during the proclamation presentation.

“Any Council members want to pet him or take him home? You sure?” he asked his colleagues, who asked him the same thing. “No, I want my fingers,” he said.

Victory for pets’ rights

Yes, the State Legislature tackled a big issue this week when it approved medical marijuana.

Then there are the other bills that get passed during the flurry at the end of a legislative session.

Such as the bill that prohibits tattooing or piercing your pet.

Apparently, this is a thing people do.

And then they post pictures of the tattooed animal on Instagram with the caption: “One of the many reasons why my dog is cooler than yours!” This leads to incensed animal rights groups, which leads to lobbying in Albany.

Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, co-sponsored the bill, which passed both houses of the Legislature and will be sent to the governor for his signature.

“I believe that if given the choice, animals would decline to having themselves undergo a painful procedure of being either tattooed or pierced,” Grisanti said, adding that such actions constitute a “selfish act” by pet owners.

But pets can still be marked with small tattoos to indicate that they have been spayed or neutered. And you can still get that tattoo on your arm of your own pet. “Cattoo” anyone?

Written by Jill Terreri, with a contribution from Jay Tokasz. email:

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