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AS NIAGARA FALLS

Acting out the part

Niagara Falls Council Chairman Anthony F. Quaranto hadn't been in Mayor Irene J. Elia's office for two minutes the other day before he was clutching his chest and pretending to gasp for breath.

Elia had asked him to stand in as acting mayor while she and City Administrator Albert T. Joseph went out of town for a day last week.

Quaranto, who had several heart bypasses a few years ago, takes his rehab and new diet seriously and looks to be in pretty good shape. A lifelong athlete, he's also pretty quick on his feet. The diminutive Elia, however, stopped him in his tracks with the unusual gesture of good will between the two branches of government.

Seems you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Quaranto, who's known for his short fuse and quick tongue, recovered quickly and promised to be on his best behavior for the day.

Hot time on ice

Dennis J. Gruarin, coordinator of a benefit hockey game between Buffalo Sabres alumni and a group called the "Damn Yankees" must have had some lessons in public relations.

"It's like a stag party without girls," Gruarin told a reporter last week. "Well, without beer, too. But it's like a wild event."

The game, to benefit a 14-year-old with bone cancer, will be held at 7 p.m. Friday in Niagara University Arena, Lewiston.

Gruarin is sure he'll have a good turnout, but former Sabres defenseman Larry Playfair said he wasn't sure just how well represented the younger generations would be at the game.

"I would guess anybody younger than 25 wouldn't remember us."

Come on, Larry, we know that's not true!

Dangerous liaisons

Sometimes the dullest topics bring out the sharpest knives.

The Lewiston Town Board has been arguing over whether freshman Republican Supervisor Sandra J. Maslen is allowed to appoint liaisons to committees such as the public library board of trustees and the Historic Preservation Commission.

The board, which has a 3-2 Democratic majority, insists it has the right to appoint the liaisons.

At this month's meeting, Maslen read from what she said was the Town Law, declaring, "The board may not adopt a rule that committees are appointed by the board, not the supervisor."

Town Attorney Timothy J. Toohey, a Democrat, said Maslen was not reading from the law but from a note about a court case. He said that even though Lewiston supervisors have appointed liaisons since at least 1976, it's always been unlawful.

Toohey insisted the law gives the supervisor right to appoint only committees consisting exclusively of Town Board members.

Republican Councilman D. James Langlois asked Toohey, "Aren't there two ways to interpret that?"

"Not two intelligent ways," Toohey replied.

The board tabled the question so they could argue about it some more at a later date.

A day (and night) in the life

Freshman Niagara Falls Councilman Paul A. Dyster, a former arms negotiator and college professor, is getting a crash course in time management. After back-to-back meetings in City Hall Monday night and Tuesday morning, it was noon Tuesday before he was leaving to start work at his home-brewing supply business.

Dyster also was wondering aloud why, before the election, he hadn't thought the limitations of a 24-hour day would put as much pressure on him as they did on the veteran part-time lawmakers. Maybe they can get together and legislate a 36-hour day.

Giving until it hurts

At the same two meetings, Anthony Bergamo, chief executive officer of Niagara Falls Redevelopment, made the point several times that he didn't think the group's philanthropic efforts in the community are recognized.

While Elia, Council members and the general public focus on the question of when the development shovels will go in the ground, Bergamo said the developers have contributed $123,000 to civic organizations and community causes, such as the Festival of Lights. Still, not to be dissuaded from charitable impulses, at the end of a meeting with Elia, he asked if there was a particular project in the city the mayor would like funded.

"We want to fund something for the community so the community and administration will feel like we've got a shovel in the ground," Bergamo explained. "If there's something that's imminent you need help with let us know."

Elia was quick to respond: "Yes, Niagara Falls High School. How much, $100,000? $1 million?"

Saving the landmark building from the wrecker's ball was a cause she and Dyster embraced before they even took office. In return, Bergamo asked that Elia not "torture" him.

Developing good relations

Bergamo also asked Elia to use her "good offices" on their behalf with Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte S.A., the Spanish company the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has given a 99-year lease to operate the airport.

Niagara Falls Redevelopment has a contract with the NFTA to manage fixed-base operations at the airport. The company wants to "interface with Cintra," he said, asking Elia for her assistance.

"Well, let's see some development here, and you'll have my full assistance." Meanwhile, Elia referred Bergamo to Luiz Kahl, chairman of the NFTA.

For the record, Elia has given Cintra her full support.

He serves to serve

Clyde L. Burmaster didn't know what he was letting himself in for.

As chairman of the Niagara County Legislature, once a year he has to spring for dinner for his colleagues. This is a tradition that dates back about 15 years, according to a former chairman, Lee Simonson of Lewiston.

It escaped Burmaster's notice until his predecessor, Gerald E. Meal of Royalton, informed him during the Jan. 18 meeting.

But Burmaster made an honest effort to keep his expenses down.

He announced, "I've been informed by Mr. Meal that it is traditional for the new chairman to invite everyone to DeFlippo's for one small slice of pizza and two wings apiece."

DeFlippo's,t in Lockport, has been the unofficial hangout of the legislators since its owner, Gerald R. DeFlippo, was elected to the Legislature in 1997.

Asked if he would have run for chairman had he known about this tradition, Burmaster said, "I'm not sure."

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