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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

>Long shot made longer

Kimberly Williamson Butler has had an up and down political career since she left Buffalo and ended up in New Orleans many years ago.

It would seem she is on the down cycle at the moment.

Butler, a Kenmore native, had held the title of Orleans Parish clerk of criminal court until recently when she apparently abdicated her post, throwing an already distressed court system into utter chaos.

According to the New York Times, the city's judges had asked her to relinquish some of her responsibilities in applying for money to clean up homes that had been damaged by Hurricane Katrina. She refused, then disappeared. A warrant was issued for her arrest, but Butler could not be found and would not show herself.

Ten days later, she appeared in court, said she was quitting her job and then from the courthouse steps announced her candidacy for mayor.

Her campaign was already a long shot. Being sentenced to three days in jail for contempt of court probably won't help.

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>'God Squad' challenged

Call it "The Morality Smackdown."

The Center for Inquiry, a worldwide organization of secular humanists with main offices in Amherst, has had just about enough of what they consider atheist bashing by the column-writing duo known as "The God Squad." Their column runs on Saturdays in The Buffalo News.

The humanists have demanded a debate. The center's Long Island branch wrote a letter in February, challenging Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Tom Hartman, who are based in Uniondale on Long Island, to debate the question, "Is God necessary for morality?"

Nathan Bupp, a spokesman for the center, said humanists were concerned by the column's "bigoted attitude toward nonbelievers."

The center wants a debate April 21. "The God Squad" hasn't replied to their letter or to calls from The News.

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>Oh deer

Well isn't this awkward?

Cheektowaga's "deer lady" Anita Depczynski was in court again this week for allegedly continuing to feed the deer in Stiglmeier Park. Amherst Town Justice Mark G. Farrell ordered her to stay away from all Cheektowaga parks and sentenced her to 100 hours feeding people at the Food Bank of Western New York.

Here's the uncomfortable part: Cheektowaga's bait and shoot program includes the deer in Stiglmeier Park and guess what happens to the venison?

It's donated . . . to the Food Bank of Western New York.

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>Caught by surprise

In ancient Greece, it might have been fatal to confuse a Trojan for a Spartan.

Good thing Rep. Thomas Reynolds didn't live in ancient Greece.

The Clarence Republican delivered a speech this week on the floor of the House, retelling the story of Jason McElwain of the other Greece, the Rochester suburb.

Jason is the autistic student manager of the Greece Athena basketball team, who became a near folk hero when he scored 20 points in a game last month.

Reynolds asked his House colleagues to join him in honoring the "Greece Athena High School Basketball Spartans."

But as the speech transcript noted, Athena's nickname is the Trojans.

Through a spokesman, the congressman issued this defense: "In a moment of surprise, I had a pro-Spartan staffer offer me a Trojan-Horse speech about the Greece Athena Trojans."

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>Parking ticket dream

Is the Buffalo Diocese getting involved in the city's parking ticket blitz?

It may have looked that way on Sunday to parishioners at St. Pius X Church on North French Road in Amherst.

Near the end of Mass, the Rev. Joe Marino said that, in the spirt of Lent and compassion, the church's pastor, Monsignor George Yiengst, would pay the fine for anyone who had gotten a ticket.

The congregation roared with laughter.

Without missing a beat, Yiengst, who was standing beside Marino broke into song: "To dream, the impossible dream . . ."

Written by Bruce Andriatch with a contribution from Jay Tokasz.

e-mail: offmain@buffnews.com

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