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We'll take this four-day workweek

Buffalo's cash crunch is forcing City Hall to look at some drastic cost-cutting measures. One idea floated by the Common Council involves putting some city employees on a four-day workweek in order to trim salaries by 20 percent.

The city, eager to gauge interest, will survey employees, but no one is expecting rank-and-file workers to embrace the idea. That's why Mayor Anthony M. Masiello was stunned when a couple of civil servants approached him a day or two after the shorter workweek was first suggested.

"They were really enthusiastic, and that sort of surprised me," the mayor recalled.

One problem.

"As we talked," the mayor added, "it became obvious they were under the impression they would get a third day off with no salary cut."

Only at City Hall.

Out of the frying pan, into the manure

What's worse: Getting arrested for drunken driving or getting caught trying to hide in liquid manure?

James Hoke of Campbell, a small town outside of Corning, was charged by State Police on Tuesday with driving drunk and trying to run away from a local traffic stop.

Trooper Jim Vaughan, with the help of his police dog, Garo, tracked Hoke for a half-mile to a nearby cow barn.

The trooper and his dog found their man immersed neck-deep in a liquid manure storage area. Hoke was promptly fished out and charged with driving while intoxicated and several other traffic violations.

"He stunk," Vaughan said. "Fortunately, I didn't have to transport him."

As the Hornell Tribune put it: "You know you're having a bad day when you submerge yourself in liquefied manure and the cops still find you."

Never-timid Eve speaks his mind

Deputy Assembly Speaker Arthur O. Eve is known for speaking his mind and, along the way, ruffling feathers. Eve, a Buffalo Democrat, did that and more last week during a forum on youth violence in Syracuse.

A tireless advocate for children, Eve told the gathering that education is the key. He also urged local clergy to work with police, businesses and community groups on a collaborative plan for ending youth violence.

Of course, Eve didn't put it quite that way.

"When I talk to churches," Eve told the group, "I say, 'The child you neglect today will blow your brains out tomorrow.' "

Fortunately, even Eve realized some in the crowd might find his comments a bit, shall we say, extreme.

"Some people might look at me and say, 'Gee, that's kind of harsh,' " he acknowledged. "But the child that's out there today, you don't know where that child will end up."

One thing about Art Eve. Like it or not, you know where he stands.

Hey, people, let's get a grip, huh?

We understand folks are a little jumpy about this anthrax stuff. But sometimes you have to wonder just how worried about their health some people really are.

The county Health Department is fielding about 75 calls a day from citizens concerned about possible exposure.

Some callers have a rash or scab and wonder if they've been exposed to the spores.

"One guy said he's had this sore for four months," said department spokesman Kevin Montgomery. "He's wondering if it might be anthrax."

We're wondering why he didn't call his doctor four months ago.

Cold news: Normal winter ahead

Button up, Western New York, another winter of bitter cold and heavy lake-effect snow is about to arrive.

In other words, a repeat of last year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual winter forecast last week, and yes, it calls for four months of unusually cold weather and higher-than-average snowfall in our region.

"We're expecting a winter with similar behavior," said NOAA Senior Forecaster Jim Wagner. "The one thing that won't be identical is the timing of the cold weather."

Unlike last year, when the bitter cold arrived in November and lasted nearly two months, the cold weather this year will probably hit later in the year and be more sporadic.

Hey, it's Buffalo and it's winter. You expected something different?

Finding your way isn't part of the test

Those folks at Mensa are not only smart, they're diplomatic, too.

The test for membership in the national organization for people of outstanding intelligence took place Saturday in the Town of Tonawanda, but only after the group urged the media to publicize where the test would be offered and include a prominent mention of the group's phone number. It seems a lot of Mensa candidates have trouble finding the test sites.

Yes, it happens "all the time," and no, that doesn't automatically disqualify you, said Katherine Barney, a spokeswoman at national headquarters in Arlington, Texas.

"People have different gifts," she said.

By Phil Fairbanks, with contributions from Brian Meyer, Donn Esmonde and Tom Ernst.

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