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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

>Perception versus reality

Somebody might want to tell David Cordish -- the Baltimore developer who has a 99-year lease on the empty Rainbow Centre Mall -- to update his Web site.

Under a section of the site called "Quotes About the Company," former Mayor Michael O'Laughlin's is quoted as saying, "The Cordish Company honored every commitment they made to us, written or otherwise, and their development spawned a number of new projects around Rainbow Centre."

Local business owners would likely agree that the vision of the bustling downtown mall perpetuated on Cordish's Web site is far from reality. The mall has been an indoor ghost town for years, and Mayor Vince Anello told a business crowd last week he's been looking for a new developer to buy out the remainder of the lease.

The late Mayor O'Laughlin can't tell the Cordish Co. his quote isn't accurate anymore, but anyone who works or lives in the Falls could.

It just shows that you can't believe everything you read on the Internet.

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>Overheard in court

Buffalo attorney Julian Johnson was in Lockport City Court for trial a few weeks ago and was questioning potential jurors.

He tried to establish a friendly rapport with these strangers by admitting he was a bit hard of hearing. He encouraged them to speak up.

As he turned to question the next juror, he asked him what he did for a living.

"I'm a hearing aid technician," came the reply.

Johnson smiled and said maybe the juror should make an appointment for him.

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>Lost in translation

There were times last fall when Maple Avenue Elementary School Principal Carol Gold had some crazy exchanges during her trip to Japan.

"One time I was traveling in a car with the Japanese family I was staying with in Nagano," Gold recalled at a recent Niagara Falls School Board meeting. "I couldn't speak Japanese and they couldn't speak English. A woman I was with asked me if I smoked and I said, 'No, I don't smoke.' Then she asked me again, 'Do you smoke?' 'No, I don't smoke, I said.' "

After several exchanges, Gold said, "I saw her point at a volcano and finally figured out she was trying to tell me the volcano was smoking."

Gold went to Japan as the winner of a Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund scholarship. She said she had a wonderful experience, which included a number of funny and embarrassing situations.

She said she tried to communicate with her host family by using a little machine that resembled a Franklin Speller, where you put in a word and it translates from Japanese to English, and the reverse. She said it did not always clarify things.

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>Behavior and consequences

After a 10-minute speech in Niagara County Court earlier this month about how he planned to reform his life, Reginald Cheatham, 36, who fondled a teenage girl in a Lockport garage last year, was sentenced by Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. to the maximum one year in jail on his guilty plea to forcible touching.

"These selfish, petty actions the last 20 years aren't who I am," Cheatham, an admitted crack addict, told the judge. "When I'm under the influence, I make bad decisions."

"Yeah," Broderick shot back. "I have two pages of them right here. These are the ones you got caught on."

With contributions from Gail Franklin, Nancy A. Fischer, Paul Westmoore and Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau.

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