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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Tomato, Tomahto

It's nice to have friends in high places.

Except when they can't pronounce your name.

"I know Jim Keane," former President Bill Clinton began in a phone message used the day before Tuesday's election, on behalf of the candidate's unsuccessful county executive bid.

One problem. Clinton referred to Keane the way his name is spelled -- "KEEN" -- rather than the way Keane himself pronounces it -- "CANE."

And the former president did so two more times during the short message.

Granted, the Democratic Party has enough to think over after Keane's loss. But making a former president look bad is a colossally careless error.

Didn't anyone notice?

***

Cold, but no flying pigs

Who says the voter-counters at the Erie County Board of Elections don't have a sense of humor?

Christopher C. Collins' landslide victory in Tuesday's county executive race had plenty of tongues wagging on election night in the place where results are tallied.

Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr noted that months earlier, some pundits predicted the GOP would have a tough time retaining the county's top office when Joel A. Giambra's term ended.

"People were saying it would be a cold day in hell before another Republican was elected county executive," Mohr said. "Well, did you look out the window?"

Tuesday did see the region's first icy bout of winter.

***

Steel drivin' broadcaster

Sportscaster John Murphy was armed with a ballpoint pen, yellow legal pad and his son on calculator at the Orchard Park Democrats' election headquarters Tuesday night.

When the smoke had cleared, Murphy -- husband of Town Supervisor Mary Travers Murphy -- managed to enter and tally complete results for the Town Board race about 10 minutes before the Republicans down the street.

Those were the high-tech Republicans, who were entering their results into an Excel spreadsheet and projecting them on the restaurant wall.

It wasn't quite as epic a battle as John Henry and the steam drill. But as with Henry, the victory wasn't sweet.

The legendary steel drivin' man keeled over and died.

Murphy merely saw his wife's only ally on the Town Board voted out.

***

Ch-ch-ch-change

Call us jaded, or perhaps just exhausted from politicians, but we're nervous about one thing we heard at Collins' victory celebration Election Night in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

Collins bounded on the stage with the track "Won't Get Fooled Again" blaring from the speakers.

Sure, voters rallied behind his theme that might best be summed up by The Who's hit song, with lyrics like "smile and grin at the change all around."

But it's the song's last line that should worry voters.

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

***

A doggone hero

You never know when -- or how -- police training will come in handy.

Chales Caicedo is a state police investigator assigned to the FBI's drug task force. Task force members recently took a "safe streets training program," which included instructions on how to perform CPR on a small child.

Just days after the training session, Caicedo was at his Buffalo-area home when an alarmed neighbor came running up to him. The neighbor said a small Pekingese dog named Fluffles had been dropped on his head and wasn't breathing.

You can probably guess what Caicedo did next.

Yes, the cop's mouth-to-snout resuscitation effort was successful, and the last we heard, Fluffles was doing just fine.

"This is a case where a man was a dog's best friend," said Buffalo FBI spokesman Paul M. Moskal.

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Mark Sommer, Brian Meyer, Elmer Ploetz, Patrick Lakamp and Dan Herbeck.

-mail: offmain@buffnews.com

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