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AS NIAGARA FALLS / TALES OF THE STRANGE BUT TRUE

And these are PLANNERS!

Once a year, the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council meets in Lockport instead of Buffalo. It's always a harrowing experience for some of the Buffalo-based bureaucrats to find the meeting place.

This year, instead of meeting in Lockport City Hall, Niagara County's Public Safety Training Center was the site. Despite directions printed on the agenda, few of the panel's regulars had made it by the 9:30 a.m. meeting time. Some straggled in as much as 45 minutes later.

"It's a real easy place to find," one of them said sarcastically.

"We're going to get some tourism maps out. We want you to visit the rest of Niagara County," said County Public Works Commissioner Kevin P. O'Brien.

'See-mack'and the knife

Among other things, the transportation wonks discussed the use of federal transportation money that is supposed to be used for projects that improve traffic flow and reduce vehicle emissions by cutting down on gridlock. It's called Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funding, or CMAQ. Pronounce it "See-mack" and you'll fit right in.

Buffalo Niagara receives $8 million to $10 million of this money each year, and as always, government agencies like to have money they can toss around.

Said John D. Mecca of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority: "The paradox in CMAQ is, as you improve your air quality, your funding is decreased."

"So we want to improve our air, but not enough to lose our funding," Hal Morse, the council's executive director, said to general laughter.

Countdown to flattery

Rosemary Warren, a frequent speaker during the County Legislature public comment period, teased Legislature Clerk Michael P. Carney as she began her three-minute allocation Tuesday.

"I think the Lord wanted you to lose the election," began Warren, referring to Carney's disputed election in the 9th Legislature District that an appeals court awarded to William M. Davignon. Warren said that besides sparing Carney from having to cast votes on tough issues, "You're the youngest and the best-looking up there."

"Five minutes, I'll give you," Carney smiled.

"Ten seconds," retorted Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, who sits next to Carney.

Run-down feeling in Lewiston

In Lewiston, the Village Board has been making a real effort to slow motorists down on Center Street and remind motorists that pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk.

However, their good efforts appear to be in vain.

Brightly colored plastic-people signs reminding drivers to yield the right of way were run down.

The signs lasted all of two days, according to Police Chief Ronald Winkley.

Mayor Richard Soluri suggested a new tack: putting officers in the crosswalks -- handing out friendly reminders, not tickets.

Let's hope the officers are more successful than the plastic people.

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