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AS NIAGARA FALLS

Java jeopardy

Mayor Irene J. Elia has discovered another small bump in the road to a smooth transition. It seems the mayor's office doesn't have a coffee pot to call its own. What to do when the chief exec entertains VIP visitors? Quick to scope out the lay of the land, Elia discerned that the Inspections Office has the best coffee in the building -- gourmet, of course. In a fitting reversal of stereotypical gender roles, now that there's a woman in the mayor's office, Chief Construction Inspector Lou Fontana did the pouring honors.

Remember: This is the same office whose lunches were mistakenly diverted to the mayor's office last week. See, no hard feelings.

Really a bored meeting

At almost 2 1/2 hours, the January meeting of the Lewiston Town Board may have lasted too long. There are several ways to tell:

1. It's unusual for politicians to get tired of talking.

The Lewiston agenda allows councilmen to schedule talks on whatever points they want to bring up at the end of the meeting. But Councilman John D. Ceretto canceled four of his five topics, and Councilman Michael A. Johnson dropped two of his.

2. Supervisor Sandra J. Maslen had to interrupt the meeting to call a five-minute bathroom break for the benefit of two of her male colleagues.

3. Early in the meeting, two items were postponed until a work session was scheduled for a future date. When the board, much later, got around to scheduling that session, it forgot to include those two items on the agenda.

4. At the end, as reporters were attempting to interview town officials, the police officer who had been providing security showed he was eager to go home by turning off the lights in the meeting room.

Just another way of keeping the media in the dark.

Wily police work

It seems Niagara Falls police were kept at bay Wednesday morning by a pair of pesky prowlers in fur coats.

When last seen, two coyotes who had been rummaging through residents' yards in the Niagara Street area were heading toward an open field on Mackenna Avenue, where they are believed to be -- in police jargon -- "holed up."

Officer Walter Nichols said he attempted to track down the clever critters shortly before 4 a.m., but the pair proved too wily.

Perhaps an ACME anvil precariously perched over a pile of precious coyote chow would help bring this caper to conclusion!

Ethics, a light load

Assemblyman David E. Seaman is now serving on four Assembly committees, rather than the usual three, but it might not leave him with a schedule crunch.

Assembly leaders recently appointed Seaman to the Banking Committee, which was added to his existing assignments to the Judiciary, Codes and Ethics committees.

It might be too heavy a workload for some, but the Lockport Republican is not concerned.

"Ethics is kind of a dormant committee. It doesn't meet much," he said.

Ethics in Albany, dormant? Who would have guessed?

A profitable institution

In a City Council discussion about appointing marriage officers and using the fees to beautify City Hall, Councilwoman Frances M. Iusi asked about the city's liability. Asked to clarify the nature of her concern, Iusi said she was asking about insurance liability if the building were opened for marriage ceremonies outside of normal business hours. But Iusi was quick to quip that the city should also offer a disclaimer that all marriage licenses are nonrefundable, no matter what the results of the union.

Maybe adding a divorce court would build up the beautification fund a lot quicker.

Heartfelt concern

Councilman Paul A. Dyster says his health is fine after a brief scare last week when he found himself undergoing a quick angiogram after "suspicious results" from a stress test.

Dyster said he wanted to allay any concerns after "half of Niagara Falls" saw him being wheeled around Buffalo General Hospital on a gurney last Friday. Dyster, 45, said he suffers from high cholesterol that hasn't responded to a diet and exercise regime. He said medication will be the next treatment step to try to get the cholesterol under control.

'Let them sue us'

Lewiston Town Attorney Timothy J. Toohey told the Town Board at this month's meeting that he had settled a claim filed by National Fuel for $1,860.

Toohey said the gas company filed the damage claim after a town crew damaged an underground gas line while digging in Sanborn.

Highway Superintendent Steven L. Reiter revealed the town's legal strategy to the board.

"We never pay the price they ask for first," Reiter said. "We let them sue us and then pay 50 percent, or whatever we arrive at."

In this case, Toohey said, it was 80 percent of the claim. But Reiter said the taxpayers got their money's worth.

"That covered four or five hits," he said.

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