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OFF MAIN STREET

He's no Newt

Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad is no fan of Rep. Bill Paxon of Amherst. The nation's senior governor is angry over the attempted coup of House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"There wouldn't be welfare reform, the balanced budget or tax reform without Newt," Brandstad says.

And what about Paxon, who lost two leadership jobs because of his role in the attempted coup? Brandstad scoffs at the notion that Paxon could emerge as a potential successor to Gingrich.

"He's Guy Molinari's son-in-law!" he says.

From rags to Riches

Nardin is moving in, and now the Riches appear to be moving out.

Guess the Albright Estate isn't big enough for both of them.

Bob and Mindy Rich have purchased the entire top floor and part of the floor below at the City Centre, the downtown condominium project.

"I can confirm they signed a contract to purchase the space," said William Jones, a partner in City Centre, located at Main and Chippewa streets.

The Riches' two-story Theater District condo is connected by an internal staircase but has never been occupied. It's one of the 18 condos currently being finished in the 40-unit tower.

The Riches' current home, at 14 Tudor Place in one of the city's posher neighborhoods, is on the market, at a whopping $695,000.

The Riches, you may recall, were among the residents of the Albright Estate who tried to stop Nardin Academy from opening its Montessori program in the neighborhood.

Now they won't have to contend with the young voices during the day. But they will be within earshot of Chippewa, where youthful excitement carries on well into the wee hours.

Testing the waters

Tony Masiello is many things -- but vindictive he is not. Witness his news conference last week honoring two people who risked their lives to save a drowning man in the Black Rock Canal.

One hero was Mary Weatherston-Pitts, the wife of Common Council President James Pitts.

Yes, Pitts is running against Masiello for mayor. But that didn't stop hizzoner from honoring Pitts' wife for heroism.

What was she thinking when she jumped into the canal?

"How shockingly cold the water was . . . It was very cold," she recalled.

A few minutes later, Pitts, who also was invited to attend the ceremony, was asked to speak.

"How does it feel to be in this office," one observer asked him.

"It's very cold," Pitts shot back.

Together again

Speaking of Pitts and celebrations, there's another one that may catch his attention.

Roland Rogers will be in town this weekend -- to celebrate the Bennett High School class of 1967 reunion. And the two will have more to discuss than their mutual birth date of April 17, 1949.

Both are native Buffalonians, they worked together on Pitts' first Council run in 1977 and now both are running for mayor.

But while Pitts stayed home, Rogers went downstate, where he is one of four Democratic candidates in the primary for mayor of New York.

Rogers is a Harlem real estate developer and community activist who heads a committee to observe New York's 350th anniversary as a city in 2003. And he faces a tough task in attempting to take on incumbent Republican Rudy Giuliani.

So they also can talk about being the underdog and how tough it is to knock off a sitting mayor.

A cool-blooded fan

Sharon Bailey's gigs are usually at clubs and coffeehouses. But a few weeks back, she and her band found themselves playing a bar mitzvah.

Nothing odd about that. Unless you consider the backdrop -- the Buffalo Zoo, in the Reptile House of all places.

Most of the snakes and lizards seemed unfazed by the whole scene. There was one exception.

"The green iguana bobbed his head the entire time," she said. "I wanted to put sunglasses on the guy, he was so cool."

Time to "B" prepared

The names have changed over the years. It started out as Sunship, then Bcam. And most recently, BCTV.

But in the wake of check forging allegations at Buffalo's public access TV station, there's a new nickname circulating City Hall.

B-scam.

The voice behind the veep

By all accounts, Vice President Gore has adopted it as a new mantra. And he's quick to thank Mayor Masiello for the trendy "Field of Dreams" reference.

"If we clean it up, they will come," Masiello told Gore during a recent conference call on the importance of brownfield development.

Gore liked the phrase enough to repeat it a week later at a news conference in Washington D.C. and then again last week in Boston.

Masiello, we're told, is downright giddy over his status as Gore's new ghostwriter.

Off Main Street is written by Phil Fairbanks, with contributions from Robert J. McCarthy, Rick Stouffer, Douglas Turner and Tom Dolan.