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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

It pays to be a Bills fan

During the hunt for two escaped convicts from the Clinton Correction Facility in Dannemora, restrictions on the freedom of law-abiding motorists still ruled the day along various roadways in the state’s North Country.

Checkpoints necessarily stalled traffic on these remote routes as law enforcement officers remained vigilant in their pursuit of the pair. For motorists passing through, the protocol called for a state trooper to stop a vehicle, poke his or her Stetson into the backseat and – more than likely – summon the driver to pop open the trunk of the vehicle before waving the motorist on.

Apparently, that protocol wasn’t always necessary, particularly if the motorists happened to be appropriately attired, according to Buffalo News Reporter Robert J. McCarthy. He briefly explained it early Friday in a tweet from Owls Head, where he was covering the manhunt for Richard Matt and David Sweat:

“Trooper waves News reporter thru checkpoint without trunk check, ‘I trust you; you’re wearing a Bills shirt.’ ”

Lots of buzz about a drone

Cats may be stealthy and light of foot, but at the Orange Cat coffee house in Lewiston, they are still no match for a drone.

As customers were catching their morning caffeine buzz Friday on the front patio of the establishment, they were jolted by an overhead intrusion – a remote-controlled drone, complete with what was obviously a camera peering down from 20 feet above.

“That’s obnoxious,” one coffee hound gasped.

“Sounds like a swarm of bees,” remarked another.

A couple of patrons waved, while others displayed a less-than-welcoming hand gesture that seemed to frighten away the hovering craft until it returned moments later for another gander.

A barista at the coffee house said it was not the first time the drone had dropped in, adding that a customer who lived nearby is its owner.

“And where might this customer live?” asked a rattled coffee sipper.

“We’re not sure,” came the response.

Just to satisfy his curiosity, an Off Main correspondent drove through the neighborhood expecting to spot some creepy looking voyeur manning the drone’s remote controls, but no such sighting was achieved.

Perhaps the aerial invader of privacy was on a coffee break.

Legislative losing string

It was a bit of a tough Thursday for Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo in his attempt to muster majority support from his colleagues.

During the body’s regular bimonthly session, the Conservative Party member from West Seneca attempted to corral at least five other lawmakers around a resolution he introduced that would have prohibited the wearing of any denim attire in the Legislature chambers, either by staff or his fellow elected officials. The resolution on proper attire also would have required owners of electronic devices to place them on mute or vibrate during all Legislature meetings, or risk being ejected from the proceedings.

Democratic Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant blocked a vote on the measure by successfully getting it sent to committee, a move supported by all five Democrats in the Legislature and Lorigo’s fellow majority caucus colleague and arch foe, Kevin Hardwick, R-City of Tonawanda.

Lorigo then motioned to send to committee a resolution that Grant introduced immediately afterwards. However, it did not pass and the measure to approve a state-authorized, pilot parking system for residents in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood was approved by an 8-3 vote.

Finally, an amendment by Lorigo to cut a $300 per semester tuition increase in Erie Community College’s 2015-2016 budget also was defeated, following a spirited debate. Lorigo did, however, manage to discreetly tweet about it during the back-and-forth.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with a contribution by Lou Michel.