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Off Main Street

> Cold play

Buffalo has a poor national reputation for its winter weather, but it's rare that someone complains about how brutally cold it gets here in June.

So we're not sure what New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia was thinking earlier this week when the Mets assigned him to the minor leagues.

Mejia said he was just glad he wasn't sent to the Mets' Triple A affiliate, the Bisons.

"I didn't want to go to Triple A because it's too cold," he said, according to the New York Times.

Where is the relieved Mejia going instead?

The tropical paradise of Binghamton.

Yes, Binghamton, where the average temperature in June is 63.9 degrees, compared with 66.6 degrees for Buffalo, where we've hit 80 degrees five times this month, according to the National Weather Service.

We hope Mejia gets sent to the Bisons later this summer on his way back to the majors. We'll ship him some mittens and a winter cap to help him stay warm.

> Give her a raise

Talk about buttering up the boss.

Barbara Burns, the award-winning radio reporter who recently became the public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office, was sitting in on a mortgage fraud news conference with her new boss, William J. Hochul Jr., the other day.

After reporters finished questioning the prosecutor, Burns tossed up the softball of the year:

"Mr. Hochul," she asked, "how have you been so successful in fighting crime?"

The question drew a laugh from Burns' former media colleagues, and Hochul's face lit up in a huge grin.

"I like questions like that one," Hochul said.

> Mmmmmm pie

Maria Whyte, well known as the Erie County Legislature majority leader, has a less known but far more impressive title: champion pie baker.

Whyte, we learned recently, was the two-time defending champion of the annual Best Pie in Black Rock Contest, held as part of the Rediscover Amherst Street Festival.

The native Midwesterner, who developed a sweet tooth growing up in pie country, won two years ago with an apple pie and last year with a peach pie.

This year's contest, held last Saturday at Assumption Church, saw 19 pies entered. Three expert judges -- how do we get that job? -- tasted and rated the pies without knowing the bakers' identities.

In a shocking upset, Whyte's classic apple pie finished second behind a strawberry pie from the mother-daughter team of Karen and Theresa Woody.

Rather than demand a recount, Whyte congratulated the winners while looking ahead to next year.

"I intend to take the title back," she said.

Whyte's festival experience also included some time in a dunk tank, where she was soaked about 10 times.

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt was one of many who tried to plunk Whyte into the cold water, she said, "But he couldn't."

> Stephen Strasburg, he ain't.

Tell us how you feel

Amherst Supervisor Barry Weinstein thinks town officials could use a little coaching on how to deal with unhappy members of the public.

So he's invited Amherst psychologist John Northman to Monday's work session to speak about "Communicating with Distressed Constituents."

Weinstein said he thought the topic would interest both council members and department heads.

But at least one board colleague was unimpressed to find this Dale Carnegie-like session on an agenda typically reserved for policy discussions such as downsizing.

"A psychologist?? Are you kidding me???" Council Member Mark Manna wrote in an e-mail. "Barry really wants to 'shrink' the board."

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Dan Herbeck and Sandra Tan.

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