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The Starbucks brew-ha-ha

Seattle-based Starbucks' decision to build a coffee shop on the already caffeine-laden Elmwood Strip is really stirring the pot in Buffalo political and restaurant circles. Faced with competition from what many regard as the "Wal-Mart of coffee shops," local shopkeepers are behaving like they had one too many lattes. For those who'd like to lighten up, Offmain offers these brew-ha-has:

Decafe: At the center of the controversy is Dale Zuchlewski, who figures to have a big say in the Starbucks war as Common Council member for the North District.

So what will it be, Dale? Starbucks house blend or a cup of local brew?

"I don't drink coffee, so it makes no difference to me," Zuchlewski said. "But I drink orange juice by the gallon."

Today's special: According to one pundit, "The trouble is, these days, if you see a panhandler on Elmwood Avenue, he no longer wants 25 cents for a cup of coffee. Now he wants $4 for a latte."

Bills loyalty knows no bounds

Two women won tickets to today's Bills game after they accepted a radio station's dare to show up topless at the Niagara Reservation at 8:15 a.m. Friday, according to Tom Ragan of the "Shredd and Ragan Show" on "The Edge", WEDG-FM, 103.3.

The women (named Dawn and Charlie and estimated to be in their early 30s) came to Goat Island and bared their breasts, as did Frankie Moh, one of the show's personalities, Ragan said.

The stunt mocked an incident a week ago when police received complaints about a woman walking around the island topless. Parks police asked her to cover up, but she declined, saying she was not doing anything illegal. "It's legal. We didn't see what the big deal was," said Ragan, commenting about complaints from the original incident.

He said the only complaints Friday were from the two women -- who were cold.

Conflict-of-interest gray zone

Beverly Gray was strident last week in her defense of BCTV, the public-access television station embroiled in a check-forging scandal.

The Council member at large suggested the motivation behind the city's search is racial, not because of theft and mismanagement allegations.

What Gray didn't mention is that she's a regular on BCTV. Every Thursday night, you can turn to Channel 18 and see the Beverly Gray show.

Stay tuned for more on BCTV.

A tale of two campaigns

The contrasting styles of the candidates for Amherst supervisor were on display recently when each sponsored a fund-raiser.

Republican William L. Kindel served "fresh-picked corn, homemade chowder and many more old-time food favorites" in "the Big Barn" at Spoth Farms. Tickets were $30. Or voters could be wooed by incumbent Democrat Susan J. Grelick, who advertised cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a concert by "internationally renowned cellist and conductor Arie Lipsky," in the University Inn and Conference Center. Tickets were $50.

The Butcher at Buffalo Night
< The 19th annual Buffalo Night in Washington was held recently with the usual array of "Buffalo food," wings, beef on weck, etc., etc.

Buffalo's own Charlie the Butcher was there and while barred from actually cooking the hot dogs, he had some strict orders for the caterer: If you can't grill them, don't bother serving them.

They were served properly grilled, according to Mrs. Charlie, sometimes known as Bonnie Roesch.

But, says Mrs. Charlie, those inside the Beltway apparently are outside the loop on Buffalo politics. When Charlie conducted a trivia contest and the question was name the candidates for mayor, the first response was Rocco Diina.

Pataki plays it close to the vest

The Off-Main staff would be hard-pressed to recall the last time someone asked it for advice on fashion, but of course that doesn't stop us from finding fault with others.

Couldn't help but notice when Gov. Pataki was in the area Thursday that the woolen vest he was wearing under his coat had a prominent hole in it.

We trust he's as careful with our tax dollars as he is with his own clothing budget.

Paxon still paying the price

A fall from grace is never pretty. Especially when it means losing all the perks that go with big-time power.

Rep. Bill Paxon of Amherst is still feeling the sting from his role in the attempted coup against Speaker Newt Gingrich. Paxon's prized hideaway on the first floor of the Capitol building has been reassigned.

A spokesman says Paxon gave up the small but cherished office when he resigned as chairman of the leadership in July. He keeps his suite of offices in the nearby Rayburn Building.

If that wasn't bad enough, Paxon's old digs are going to one of his co-conspirators, House GOP Caucus Chairman John Boehner of Ohio. The move is viewed as Gingrich's attempt to gain favor with the dissidents.


With contributions from Tom Dolan, Paul Westmoore, Phil Fairbanks, Dick Dawson, Sheila McCarthy and Doug Turner.