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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

>Your sales tax itemized

A local bookseller has no qualms about pointing fingers when it comes to collecting sales taxes.

Mike Gurr, who runs the mobile book store Books N More of WNY, gives receipts showing the amount of "Pataki's tax" and "Giambra's tax" added to each purchase. That's 4 percent to Gov. George E. Pataki and the state and 4.75 percent to County Executive Joel A. Giambra and Erie County.

"It kind of surprised me. I thought it was pretty funny," said South Buffalo's Sandra Wilson, who recently bought copies of "Treasure Island" and "Swiss Family Robinson" from the vendor at a downtown Buffalo book sale. According to a receipt, Wilson was charged $8.98 for the two books, plus 36 cents in Pataki tax and 43 cents in Giambra tax.

Gurr said he started adding the description of the tax about a year and a half ago, just to let customers know where their money is going.

"A lot of people laugh when they see it," Gurr said. "A lot of people chuckle, or say 'I've never seen that before.' "

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>Army of One undaunted

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow keeps him from his appointed rounds.

No, Richard Cooper does not deliver mail.

He is the 82-year-old retired General Motors worker and veteran who has been a one-man support army for beleaguered Delphi workers.

For more than 40 straight working days, the scarecrow-thin Cooper has stood outside Delphi's main gate during the afternoon shift change. He wears a stars-and-stripes cap and holds a homemade placard urging a compromise in the labor dispute, as departing workers signal approval with waves or blasts of a car horn.

GM's $35,000 buyout offer this week to Delphi workers is a step but hardly enough to make Cooper leave his post.

"Rain, sun or snow, it makes no difference," Cooper said. "I take what comes. You can't be a quitter -- although I prefer the sun."

With warmer days ahead and compromise in the air, Cooper's vigil gets a little easier. "I'll be out here," he vowed, "for as long as it takes."

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>Going long, longer in Amherst

Amherst Town Board meetings have a well-deserved reputation as marathon exercises, but this week's topped them all: A meeting that started at 7:30 p.m. Monday ended at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday. It was like a four-overtime NHL playoff game, without the excitement.

Facing criticism for the sheer length of the proceedings, Supervisor Satish B. Mohan felt compelled to issue a news release Friday, defending the gabfest.

"Good government takes time," he wrote.

And for anyone who thinks a meeting that last seven hours and 15 minutes is necessarily a bad thing, Mohan said it has its good points.

"During this meeting, the board listened to 3 1/2 hours of citizen input. Overlooked is the fact that citizen participation in Amherst is now at an all-time high."

And there are economic benefits: think of the increased coffee sales that morning.

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>Even a bit part is worth it

Western New York already can claim some pride in the stage version of the movie "The Full Monty," which is set in Buffalo.

Now, thanks to a local connection, this newspaper plays a small but vital role in the production to be staged next month at The Court Theatre in the small English town of Tring, about 60 miles north of London.

The play, like the movie, is about five unemployed men who put on a strip tease show to make money. In one scene, the character of Harold Nicholls, played by Graham Jeffery, hides his face to avoid being recognized by a man trying out for one of the stripper positions. Theater-goers will note that he hides behind a copy of The Buffalo News. In an e-mail interview, Jeffery said the theater group got six copies of the newspaper from a friend who works for a Rochester company and is a business colleague of Jeffrey's.

By the way, the show runs April 5 to 8, ending on Jeffery's birthday. "So you could say I will be wearing my birthday suit," he wrote.

Written by Bruce Andriatch with contributions from Dan Herbeck, Thomas J. Dolan and Donn Esmonde.

e-mail: offmain@buffnews.com

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