Share this article

print logo

The offbeat side of the news

Considerate cousin

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. was amused by some of the evidence at the arraignment of a Niagara Falls man on drug charges.

Ian L. Lightfoot, 35, of Niagara Falls was arrested March 17 when city police stopped a car driven by Lightfoot’s cousin, Terry Cauley Sr., 46, of Cheektowaga.

Both men were indicted on charges of third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance when police found 0.16 ounces of alleged cocaine in the auto.

Cauley was charged with driving without insurance, while police reports said $3,070 in cash was found in Lightfoot’s pocket.

Kloch smiled as he read aloud a report that Lightfoot’s co-defendant told the arresting officer, “Why are you arresting my cousin? That ain’t his dope, it’s mine.”

Kloch said, “I’ll remind you, Mr. Lightfoot, that you should probably send a card on National Cousins Day.”

Late-night sleuthing

Common Council President Rich Fontana’s sleuthing skills came to light this week after a man applied to the Council for a license to open a tobacco shop in the lawmaker’s Lovejoy District.

Michael Montanez told the Council he planned to sell a product known as e-liquid cigarettes aimed at helping smokers reduce their dependence on nicotine. Fontana then revealed what his own “investigation” found: Customers at the store were likely to get hooked on something much more potent.

Already alerted to complaints of illegal narcotics sales at 1190 Lovejoy St., Fontana went to see for himself.

He took a 3 a.m. drive to the store, where he was promptly flagged down by a person in a chair selling drugs out front.

Montanez, who was not at the shop at the time, later sought to distance himself from the alleged goings-on. But Fontana said, even in the middle of the night, Montanez should be aware of activities at his store.

“I want you to be successful,” Fontana told him. “You cannot have drug dealers offering the Council president drugs at 3 in the morning.”

Low-tech lighting

National Grid officials this week asked Amherst officials for permission to expand an electric substation because of recent growth in town.

The discussion was routine until one resident questioned what two new controversial hotels would do for power if the expansion was denied.

Zoning Board Chairman J. Matthew Plunkett had one idea.

“Candles and fireplaces,” he said.

Book marks D.C. duplicity

“This Town,” the newly released book by veteran New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich, is getting a lot of buzz in political circles for its attempt to reveal the often-incestuous relationship in Washington among elected officials, the media and lobbyists.

He chose to begin his book at the June 2008 memorial service of South Buffalo native Tim Russert, longtime host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Leibovich writes about Russert at length, deeming him “the most powerful unelected figure” in D.C. at the time of his death.

He presents the Kennedy Center service as an example of how any event in Washington – no matter the setting – is a chance for the city’s elite to size each other up, network and put on a performance for the onlooking media.

“Tim Russert is dead. But the room is alive,” Leibovich begins his book.

Leibovich notes the attention paid to high-flying Obama aides Robert Gibbs and David Axlerod, and to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. He quotes the latter as calling the scene “a new low, even for Washington tackiness.”

Our own Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., receives some of the roughest treatment. According to a review in Politico, the senator is described at the funeral as “head bowed, conspicuously biting his lips, squinting extra hard for full telegenic grief effect.”

Written by Harold McNeil, with contributions from Thomas J. Prohaska, Jill Terreri, Stephen Watson and Charlie Specht. email: