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The offbeat side of the news

Bedding on the Bills

City Mattress is rooting for the Buffalo Bills to do well this year, even if it costs them a lot of money.

The retail chain last Sunday wrapped up a one-month promotion promising everyone who bought bedroom sets, furniture or anything else a full refund of the purchase price if the Bills win the American Football Conference championship this season.

Eric Anderson, the chain’s director of advertising and marketing, said he couldn’t reveal how many customers are eligible for the potential Bills refund.

But he did say sales were up 15 percent during the promotion over the same period a year ago, and many customers mentioned the ad.

If recent history is any guide, City Mattress isn’t likely to have to pay out. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, and Vegas Insider puts the chances of the team winning the conference championship – and making it the Super Bowl – at 32 to 1.

City Mattress was inspired by Jordan’s Furniture, which gave away $30 million worth of free furniture after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 and is running a similar promotion this season.

Of course Jordan’s, and City Mattress, took out prize indemnification insurance, so they won’t be on the hook for the refund. But City Mattress still wants the Bills to beat the odds and make it to the big game.

“We would be ecstatic if this happens, because we’d love to return all this money to our customers,” Anderson said.

Have a cookie

One of the perks of being a dignitary is that people tend to want to feed you, even if you’re just stopping by for an impromptu news conference.

At least, that was the case recently when U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called the folks at People Inc. to inform them that he was dropping by. The plan was for the nonprofit human service agency to serve as backdrop as Schumer looked to promote a piece of legislation in the Congress aimed at creating tax-free savings accounts for those with developmental disabilities.

Apprised of Schumer’s impending visit, the first thing Rhonda Fredrick, the agency’s chief operating officer, wanted to know is: “What does he like to eat?”

“Everything,” came the reply from one of Schumer’s staffers.

So, waiting for the senator when he got there was a six-pack of “Mighties” from Mighty Taco, and a dozen cookies baked by the participants in People Inc.’s Young Adult Life Transitions and Community Active People programs.

“They’re the best cookies you will ever eat and the recipe, I am told by our program folks, is a secret,” said Kevin Horrigan, People Inc.’s director of government relations.

The cookies are glazed in white frosting, with People Inc.’s blue, butterfly logo imprinted on them and, according to our sources, they are really good.

The haiku defense

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. said this week that he received three letters asking him to be lenient toward Mary R. Ball, 40, of Newfane, who had pleaded guilty June 23 to a felony count of driving while intoxicated.

Ball was arrested twice within a month, once in Lockport and once in Newfane, both times for driving drunk.

In court this week, Kloch said one of the letters “was in the form of a haiku.”

That’s a traditional form of Japanese poetry that is limited to 17 syllables, traditionally in lines of five, seven and five.

Defense attorney P. Andrew Vona was skeptical. “That may just be the way it printed,” he told the judge.

“I saw some rhyming at the start,” Kloch insisted. “It was the first letter I got in the form of a haiku.”

Perhaps Ball’s case could be summed up in that form:

Twice she drank and drove.

Now she is on probation.

Be careful, Mary!

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil with contributions by Steven T. Watson and Thomas J. Prohaska.