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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Preaching to the choir

Reining in long-winded panelists is an art.

The Rev. Darius Pridgen proved he had the skills to do that as moderator at a town hall meeting hosted by the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission on Thursday in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. The Common Council president and pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church was tasked with encouraging a spirited discussion but also ensuring that none of the nine panelists – a couple of them lawyers – dominated the conversation on ways to improve relations between law enforcement and minority communities.

“At my church, when the choir sings too long, I say ‘Amen,’ ” said Pridgen, who noted that choir members seldom failed to read the cue.

“So when you hear me say ‘Amen,’ that means you’ve got to wrap it up,” he explained.

The vast majority of the participants in the session were judges and others who work in the court system. So, when one panelist sought to speak out of turn during a lively discussion that threatened to go off the rails, Pridgen resorted to a, perhaps, more familiar refrain for this particular audience.

“Order in the court,” he said.

And the discussion was back on track.

This act won’t play in Buffalo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo employed rocker Jon Bon Jovi at a rally Thursday in Albany to aid the governor’s push for a hike in the state’s minimum wage.

Bon Jovi, whose net worth last year was estimated at several hundred million dollars, spoke to the gathering put together by Cuomo and unions, including the AFL-CIO and a hotel workers labor group.

The governor said that “corporations are getting away with murder” and “extorting” their employees by not paying higher living wages.

There is virtually no chance the road show will be repeated in Buffalo: Bon Jovi has became a favorite target of Buffalo Bills fans during his attempt to buy the football team amid speculation that he would be part of an effort to move the team to Toronto.

Don’t ‘Rush’ the field

The band Rush was the main attraction at First Niagara Center on Wednesday. But fans reported seeing another star from a different field photographing the band: retired Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Johnson.

The 6-foot-10-inch Johnson, with five Cy Young Awards on his résumé, is a photographer in his post-playing days. Rock stars are among his favorite subjects, and he also is friends with Rush’s lead singer, Geddy Lee.

They’ve got something else in common. Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013; Johnson gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July.

A bad spell

Tuesday’s Ken-Ton School Board meeting included a presentation on changes to the district’s Project SAVE, the school conduct and discipline code.

A slide in the presentation defined “plegiarism” as “the representation of ideas or work of another person as the student’s own.”

Assistant Superintendent Robin Zymroz, who was giving the presentation, ended it by asking the board if it had any questions.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say – because we’ve got a group of young readers here – but plagiarism on the third slide was spelled wrong,” Trustee Todd Potter Jr. said.

Emma Miller, a first-grader at Franklin Elementary School, and Maranda Ackendorf, a kindergartner at Hoover Elementary School, were at the meeting to demonstrate their success in the American Reading program by reading aloud for the board.

Zymroz and her audience laughed off the mistake.

“Any other questions?” Zymroz asked. “Any other corrections? Thank you, Trustee Potter.”

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Tom Precious, Matt Glynn and Joseph Popiolkowski. email: