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Off Main Street: Moscow on Lake Erie

Moscow Place

There are rollicking, free-wheeling elections where the outcome is in doubt throughout a tense night of ballot counting.

And then there’s democracy as practiced by Buffalo Place.

The downtown business improvement organization recently held elections for four seats on its board of directors, with four incumbents the sole candidates. Keith Belanger, the board chairman and M&T Bank executive, exercised more caution than necessary at the most recent Buffalo Place board meeting when he declined to talk about who won the two-year terms until after polls closed at noon that day. Not only are write-in candidates barred, but voters who represent downtown property owners must cast a vote for all four candidates. A ballot that contains votes for only one, two or three of them won’t count. So every board candidate is guaranteed to get the same number of votes.

One meeting attendee noted the resemblance of the voting to a Russian-style election.

“Keith is like Putin,” said Rocco Termini, a board member, drawing laughs from fellow members and Buffalo Place staff.

Belanger gamely defended the election, saying the nomination process was open.

“No one else wanted it,” he said.

For the record, Termini, Paul Snyder III, Steven Carmina and Carl Paladino each won re-election in a landslide with 22 votes.

Local extra in star turn

Today, an extra. Tomorrow, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Is that what awaits Janet Curry after the former aide to retired U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin finished seven days of shooting for the upcoming Thurgood Marshall movie?

Curry, who spent more than 30 years with Curtin, is an extra in the film and recently spent several days in makeup and wardrobe at her former workplace, the old federal courthouse downtown. She plays a member of the courtroom gallery and the scenes were shot in Curtin’s old courtroom.

“It’s so meaningful that they chose our courtroom,” Curry said. “Just sitting there and remembering the racial equality cases that were heard there was just wonderful.”

Curry said the opportunity to appear in a movie about Marshall and his legacy of civil rights victories was too good to pass up, in part because of Curtin’s reputation for taking on the same type of cases. More than anything else, Curtin is remembered as the judge who ordered the desegregation of Buffalo’s schools, as well as its police and fire departments.

And so what are the chances we’ll see Curry on the big screen?

“Every day I was there, I had a good spot,” she said of her seat in the gallery. “I think I have a good likelihood of being in the movie.”

Bills banter

Former Oasis singer and guitarist Noel Gallagher was at Artpark on Wednesday night with his new band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Midway through his set, before launching into Oasis hit “Champagne Supernova,” the famously cranky Brit asked the audience if the area had a football team.

“What’re they called?” he asked. “Buffalo Bills? That’s a stupid name. Who’s Buffalo Bill?”

Someone in the crowd shouted the origins of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, which stumped Gallagher.

“What? A frontiersman?” he answered. “(Expletive) hell is that? Is that like the Welsh? No? Like the Scottish? He’s a Scottish guy, Buffalo Bill.”

“Are they any good?” Gallagher continued. “No. I like ’em! I like teams that are (expletive).”

That’s not entirely true. Gallagher is a noted supporter of his hometown football club, Manchester City, which has won the English league championship four times, most recently in 2014.

And, as Bills fans know all too well, that’s four more times than the Bills have won the Super Bowl.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Stephen T. Watson, Phil Fairbanks and Joseph Popiolkowski.