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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Co-opting a brand

IBM is staffing up a new technology center downtown that is expected to reach 500 jobs.

However, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul thinks Buffalo’s connection to Big Blue should not stop there.

See, IBM is short for International Business Machines, but Hochul had an idea for changing what the letters stand for. She shared it Friday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“I was thinking about ‘Innovating Buffalo’s Momentum,’ ” she said.

IBM might have to run that one by Watson the computer first.

Pizza for picketers

Members of the Buffalo Teachers Federation have been planning to picket the homes of Buffalo Board of Education members for some time in an effort to move the board toward a contract settlement. On Tuesday, they started with Carl Paladino’s South Buffalo house, though they weren’t quite anticipating the welcome.

After a few dozen members of the BTF showed up on his sidewalk with signs calling for “A New Contract Now,” Paladino countered with a call to Imperial Pizza on Abbott Road. He had two sheet pizzas set up on tables at the end of his driveway. Paladino also stepped out and chatted with BTF President Phil Rumore for a while, and the two discussed their shared opposition to mayoral control of the district.

For obvious reasons, most BTF picketers ignored Paladino’s free pizza, though a few did grab some slices before they left around 4:30 p.m.

When asked about the picketing after Wednesday’s School Board meeting, Paladino said that while he has issues with the BTF, he doesn’t have a beef with most teachers.

“Most of the teachers are nice people,” he said. “They have their calling in life, and they’re frustrated.”

Butt out

For some, coffee and a cigarette go together like sugar and spice.

But, if you want your tobacco with a side of dark roast coffee, cinnamon rolls or Timbits, don’t set fire to your favorite cafe and bake shop. At least, that was the implied message in an overtly polite sign posted by some employees at the Athol Springs Tim Hortons this week.

“Please refrain from throwing lit cigarettes onto the mulch” the 8½-by-11-inch note reads. Carefully crafted on a computer and printed, the sign – which is protected from the elements under a piece of plastic – is affixed to the side of the giant menu board at the popular lakeside coffee stop.

Although the repetition or severity of the smoldering mulch events at Tim Hortons remained undetermined, given the bone-dry conditions around the area this spring, these folks are clearly taking no chances.

Tim Hortons outlets are still springing up like dandelions around Western New York. But, if the long lines at the drive-thrus are any indication, we can’t afford to lose even one of them.

Carefully dispose of your cigarette butts, don’t burn the mulch, and they won’t burn the doughnuts.

Don’t count on it

Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw had an interesting welcome for Dan Bylsma, the new head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.

In what Mychajliw described as a lighthearted letter to Bylsma, which the comptroller shared with this column, the former TV journalist congratulated Bylsma on his Stanley Cup win in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mychajliw went on to extol the virtues of Bylsma’s new adopted community and then wax enthusiastically about Bylsma’s accounting degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“If by chance this whole hockey coaching thing doesn’t work out, I’m confident we can find a place for you in the Office of Comptroller,” Mychajliw wrote. “You certainly qualify academically, but you will eventually have to pass a civil service test.”

The comptroller went on to express his hope that Bylsma won’t have to take Mychajliw up on his offer which, frankly, is about as likely as Mychajliw playing goalie for the Sabres.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions from Matt Glynn, Sandra Tan and T.J. Pignataro. email: