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OFF MAIN STREET
THE OFFBEAT SIDE OF THE NEWS

Fair weather flake-out

Those attending Sen. Charles Schumer's appearance at the Peace Bridge last week could not have been more surprised.

Unlike at his past visits, nobody shivered at this Schumer event.

The sun was shining, the winds were gentle and warm. The temperature reached 72 degrees.

Andrew Rudnick, Buffalo Niagara Partnership head, is one of those who endured Schumer's outdoor news conference at the Peace Bridge last December, a 30-degree day with winds blowing 13 to 26 mph.

But Rudnick passed up the chance to bask in the sunlight and limelight when the senator showed up to watch the Peace Bridge Authority begin to take down toll booths last week.

"The weather was too nice," Rudnick said. "It was too warm, and I wasn't ready to put on my sunglasses and take off my coat."

Living large and long

Americans are getting fatter, with deadly results.

Buffalonians are fat, too -- but our life span seems to be just fine.

New research indicates Americans are now dying earlier than their parents' generation, by at least four to nine months, because of illnesses caused by the epic trend of obesity. One-third of Americans are obese; two-thirds are overweight.

Within 50 years, researchers wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, obesity will have shortened the average American life span -- which reached 77.6 years in 2003 -- by two to five years.

So you'd think we'd be in trouble, here in the land of the deep-fried wing and the double-cheese pizza.

But we're living longer than average.

Women in upstate New York live to be 80.7 years old, state Department of Health data show. Men here make it to 76.1 years.

So, don't overindulge. But living in Western New York can be good for your health.

Talking inside the box

The new and much-ridiculed rules governing the conduct of reporters at Erie County Legislature meetings don't seem to be taking hold.

Not all legislators agree with the edict, put forth by Chairman George A. Holt Jr., and the new policy fell apart in a test Thursday.

Under the rules, reporters are barred from post-meeting interviews in "the box," the space where lawmakers have their desks. Freeing that space of cameras and reporters lets aides move freely to complete post-meeting paperwork, or so the reasoning goes.

But too many lawmakers disagree with the ban. So a small number rebelled by standing in the box Thursday, taking questions from clutches of reporters.

Seeing this, others who backed the rules did the same.

Facilities get A-OK

Retired Erie County Surrogate Joseph S. Mattina recently viewed the upgraded Surrogate Court facilities on the second-floor of Erie County Hall.

He told Surrogate Barbara Howe and her staff that "all the battles" he went through with architects and county officials on the design "were worth it."

Though invited by Howe solely for a private tour, Mattina's legal mind remained at work. He filed two wills in the Buffalo courthouse for clients as he declared the new and expanded courtroom "the best in the state" and superior to even the New York City area's renowned Surrogate courtrooms.

Rusty imagination?

In the past, Masten Council Member Antoine M. Thompson showed imagination in enticing supporters to attend his fund-raisers.

At a fund-raiser last September, a "Take It Back to the '70s Party," his supporters were urged to bring their 1970s clothes, music and dance moves along with their checkbooks.

The categories: the eight-track players ($250); the plaid bell-bottom pants crowd ($500); the Afro wig designation ($1,000).

So the categories Thompson established for his fund-raiser later this week seems flat. Perhaps dealing with water rate hikes and fiscal recovery plans has sapped his imagination.

His new bonus contribution categories are bronze ($250), silver ($500), gold ($750) and platinum ($1,000).

Written by Patrick Lakamp, with contributions from Matthew Spina, Matt Gryta and Charity Vogel.

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