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OFF MAIN STREET

'Bargain basement' at City Hall

Why go out in the cold to patronize downtown stores when you can shop in the comfort of City Hall?

Two guys were selling designer-label sweat shirts at bargain prices out of a room in the basement of City Hall recently, several employees have confirmed.

City officials said they were not aware of the sale, which apparently was advertised by word of mouth.

Although non-profit groups are permitted to sell things in the lobby, no one was granted permission to sell sweat shirts, and for-profit sales are prohibited, said Stephen T. Banko III, director of communications for Mayor Masiello.

He said he will look into the matter.

The actors' workshop

Speaking of the basement of City Hall, it was refreshing to overhear a cop in uniform trying to squirm his way out of paying a parking ticket in front of a hearing officer in the Parking Violations Bureau.

Some law enforcement types -- even when driving their private cars -- feel they are exempt from the rules the rest of us have to follow.

But the cop was being told, "Make sure the check is postmarked by (a certain date)."

We're told that casting directors sometimes hang out at the bureau because of the truly great performances staged there.

Gorski speaks softly

With the new year comes the departure of pols bounced from office in November. But even in defeat, losers are finding solace and reflection from one still-powerful guy.

County Executive Gorski, no stranger to defeat, wrote letters to several disappointed candidates, Democrats and Republicans, and quoted Theodore Roosevelt:

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; and, who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Gorski wished them a "holiday season of quiet reflection and simple pleasures."

That is something they were unlikely to find at town or city hall. Everything is nice-nice in County Hall, of course.

Dressing for success

Gorski spokesman Scott Brown has a personal as well as governmental reason for wishing state notification on the amnesty for sales tax collection on clothing, Jan. 17 to 23, had come earlier.

"I just bought a suit," he said.

And maybe Dennis can buy himself a coat so he won't always appear at news conferences in his shirt sleeves.

Even Chuck Swanick, the sweater man, has been been wearing suits since he became chairman of the Legislature.

Will the dynasty continue?

Jimmy may be gone, but there's talk of another Griffin coming to City Hall.

The word among insiders is that Tommy Griffin, Jimmy's son, was in line for a job on the Common Council staff, courtesy of incoming South Council Member Dennis Manley, a Griffin ally.

Those reports have cooled in recent days.

Manley says a few friends mentioned the younger Griffin, but it was never pursued seriously. He also claims Tommy's dad never pushed the idea.

"Jimmy Griffin never once approached me, never once mentioned it to me," Manley said.

Long-distance wings

It's a small world, after all.

A couple in Austin, Texas, had an unexpected package left on their doorstep by a delivery firm. The name of the addressee was different from theirs (although both began with an R), but the address was theirs. Since the package was from Buffalo, where they have a daughter, they opened it, to find a gift assortment from a Buffalo company that specializes in Buffalo-themed food items. That was nice.

The only problem was the gift card said it was from three people they had never heard of.

They contacted the delivery company, which dispatched a driver to pick up the package. By the time he arrived, they had heard from the company that sent the gift basket and learned that the problem was a simple transposition of two numbers in the street address.

The driver picked up the package, heard an explanation of why it was open and was told exactly how to get to the right house.

For their assistance, the couple at the "interim stop" were told by the Buffalo company they could keep one of the gift items and the company would send a replacement -- hopefully to the correct address.

Off Main is written with contributions from Dan Herbeck and Phil Fairbanks.