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The offbeat side of the news

Hairy situation

The month-long growth of facial hair that Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has been sporting these days is decidedly more in the mold of Obi Wan Kenobi than Gandalf.

In other words, it’s plush but professorial, as opposed to anything approaching ZZ Top levels of outrageousness.

A new growth of beard on a formerly clean-shaven face is hard to ignore. It is, after all, as plain as the nose on one’s face. However, the county exec assures us that this new fuzzy-faced visage is merely temporary.

“I’ve done it before,” Poloncarz said about his beard growth.

“I usually do it like three weeks or so in the winter. I joke that it’s my winter growth, and then it gets to a point where I just shave it off,” he added.

Maintaining a neatly trimmed beard takes more effort than pursuing a clean shave, Poloncarz said, so the day of his return to whiskerlessness is drawing nigh. Surely, no one will bristle over the loss.

And by then, we suspect, he will have swapped the current picture on his Twitter account for the old smooth-faced one he had posted before the beard.

Strange bedfellows

Perhaps no one was more surprised than Clarence attorney Alan Bedenko to hear his confirmation to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Board discharged without even the tiniest bit of pushback Thursday.

In fact, the tough-talking blogger known as Buffalo Pundit was enthusiastically endorsed by Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, who lauded Bedenko as a strong advocate for the library system and someone who will make a great addition to the board.

It’s a surprise not only because Bedenko was recommended to the board by County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz – with whom Lorigo is a regular sparring partner – but also because Bedenko has been anything but kind to Lorigo in print. Anyone who reads Bedenko’s blog or follows him on Twitter knows that he does not hold back when he engages in virtual fisticuffs online.

Despite his online persona, Bedenko is far less combative in person, Lorigo insists. He said the two first met last fall at the “City & State” media launch party and had a chance to talk.

“Since then, I think he’s been a little more tame in what he has to say about me,” Lorigo said. Perhaps more importantly, Lorigo said, before his confirmation Thursday, Bedenko vowed to keep lawmakers in the loop about goings-on with the library.

“One of the things that happens with these library trustees is you put them on the board and you never hear from them again,” Lorigo said.

That’s not likely to happen this time.

A heap of healthiness

Make that winter-time run to Ted’s, hit Anderson’s for another custard and hike your Duff’s Super Bowl order to a full bucket – or two.

You can afford to live a little, Buffalo. After all, you’re the 21st healthiest city in America, according to a recent study released by, an online consumer health care website.

“To create this ranking, ... evaluated cities across the United States based on important health criteria such as exercise rates, the percentage of highly rated doctors and the number of residents with health insurance,” according to an agency representing

The healthiest place was Boston, Mass. The home of the deflated football also has the largest percentage of residents covered by health insurance.

As for the unhealthiest city in America, apparently, there’s not enough walking going on in Memphis. The list states that the western Tennessee city is plagued by “very low physical fitness rates and limited numbers of quality doctors.”

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with a contribution by T.J. Pignataro.