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Off Main Street

Longing for the old days

Members of the new Buffalo School Board majority have vowed to change the way they do business, but their first meeting last week wound up being as terminally long as those under the old majority.

The board spent two hours in a heated debate over the appointment of Donald Ogilvie as interim superintendent. Its members then retreated into an hour-and-a-half executive session, delaying the start of the board’s regular business meeting by two hours – sending speakers and presenters home.

Apparently nobody told newcomer Patricia Pierce – who said virtually nothing during the entire meeting – that such long sessions are par for the course.

“Are we almost done?” she asked, addressing several members in the board minority upon their return to the boardroom after their private meeting.

The women on the board with more experience smirked and traded glances before one of them responded: “We haven’t even started our business meeting yet.”

Relocating billboard bluster

Speaking of the Buffalo School Board, everyone knows that one of the board’s now-veteran members, local developer Carl Paladino, has a way of getting his point across.

Well, over the past few years, one of the more unique venues for airing his views has involved a giant billboard on the side of a building he owns across from the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.

Paladino has used that billboard both to challenge critics and convey his political views, typically on education issues including vouchers and the School Board election.

Notably, following the election that turned power on the board to Paladino’s favor, he replaced the politically charged ones with an ad to adopt animals.

“When I get some thoughts, I just like to put them up there,” said Paladino. “I need my billboard. It’s like Duke (Paladino’s dog). I need Duke. I need my billboard.”

Supporters and casual observers, however, couldn’t help notice last week that the billboard is gone. “I know – my son did it,” Paladino said. “He said, ‘Dad, we’ve got to take the billboard down.’ We’re putting luxury apartments in there. It was just inappropriate for what we have going in the building.”

Commuters will still be able to get their daily dose of Paladino at a new location, which the former gubernatorial candidate would not disclose.

The new message board also will likely be digital, so he can change it more often.

“I’ll give you a little hint,” he said. “It will be very obvious from the Peace Bridge.”

Pridgen’s video proposal

Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen’s abilities as pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church and as a City Hall politician were chronicled in a front-page profile in The Buffalo News on Sunday.

Tuesday, he displayed his multimedia abilities, posting on Facebook a three-minute video of his proposal unfolding in real time to his girlfriend, Monique P. Thomas.

The video, in which still photos of Thomas and her two sons are set to upbeat music, was filmed on her 26th birthday. Thomas is holding up cards, which Pridgen prepared.

After giving Thomas a dollhouse, her favorite gift as a child, Pridgen asks her if she will be the doll of his house. All smiles, Thomas holds up a card that says “yes.”

“It was actually the real deal,” Pridgen said on Friday. “I had the camera set up, I had the cake set up.”

The proposal was a surprise, though Thomas has had a ring for about a year.

“We talked about it in Paris,” he said of a trip they took last year. But he wanted to get the timing right, he said.

“When I know I’m ready, I’ll come back,” he said he told her. “She had no idea. It was sweet.”

His proposal raised the bar.

“I got a text from a guy, ‘You’re putting so much pressure on us,’ ” he said.

The couple is planning an October wedding in Niagara Falls.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil with contributions by Tiffany Lankes and Jill Terreri.


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