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7 Days: The Straight Dope From the Week That Was

Thursday, September 24

The cast and crew of After Life, a Bollywood musical, set up shop on Main Street in downtown Buffalo today. After Life is one of four major film productions shooting in Western New York: Keanu Reeves continues to scout locations for Henry’s Crime; Denzel Washington has shot some scenes in Olean for Unstoppable; and an indie film called Nicholas of Myra has done some shooting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Earlier in the week, Tea New York—a coalition of libertarians, small government advocates, and Albany haters that has been staging “tea party” protests and haranguing elected officials at press conferences for the past month or so—endorsed four candidates challenging incumbents in the Erie County Legislature: Dino Fudoli in the 5th District, Kevin Hardwick in the 10th, Lynne Dixon in the 12th, and Shelly Schratz in the 14th. Today, WNYMedia’s Chris Smith dubbed the challengers the “Collins Four,” in reference to County Executive Chris Collins sponsoring all four candidates. Smith called on the four challengers to decline Tea New York’s endorsement, citing the far-right conspiracy theories espoused by some members of the organizations Tea New York comprises: Obama is hiding his birth certificate, Obama is a fascist who wants to destroy America, a civil war is brewing, Obama wants to naturalize all illegal immigrants so they’ll vote Democrat in the 2010 elections, the government’s going to force us all to take flu shots at gunpoint…that sort of stuff. Only two of the four responded to WNYMedia, Dixon and Hardwick, who both expressed pleasure in accepting Tea New York’s endorsement, based on the group’s advocacy for lower taxes and limited government.

Farewell, sweet prince

Friday, September 25

After a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, demolition of the former Continental nightclub was slated to begin in earnest today. The demolition will make way for developer Mark Croce’s renovation of the neighboring Curtiss building into a boutique hotel. The Continental was at the center of nearly every off-center musical community in Buffalo, from punk to goth to art rock, and its stage was home to any number of legendary acts: the Fems, the Goo Goo Dolls, Green Jello, Nullstadt, and too many others to name.

Saturday, September 26

The season of the crow has fallen on Buffalo once again. Surely you’ve seen them in the tree and on the rooftops.

Sunday, September 27

Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney, released security camera video tapes of the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building committed by Pendleton native Timothy McVeigh. Trentadue obtained the tapes from the federal government through a Freedom of Information Act request as part of an “unofficial” inquiry he conducting into the events of that day. The kicker: The tapes are blank in the minutes leading up to the explosion. “The real story is what’s missing,” Trentadue told The Oklahoman newspaper, which published a story and posted the video online on Sunday.

Monday, September 28

Buki, the Buffalo Zoo’s 52-year-old Asian elephant, passed away at 5:40am. Born in Thailand, Buki came to the US in 1959 and joined the King Brothers Circus. In 1984 she retired from circus work and came to the Buffalo Zoo. Buki apparently suffered kidney problems; a necropsy was performed the evening of her death. In a statement, the Zoo said that the results of the necropsy would not be available for several weeks. In Defense of Animals, an animal protection group, called on the Zoo to release preliminary results of the necropsy and Buki’s complete medical records immediately.

Tuesday, September 29

A murder of Democrats descended on the city tonight to take part in the state party’s annual fall business meeting, held at the Hyatt. The real work would wait for Wednesday: Tuesday night was about schmoozing, and the place to be was the Pearl Street Grill, where a fete in honor of State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who hopes to run for governor next year, drew together the disparate pieces of the fractured local party. In attendance were Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and his camp; Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, Brown’s arch-nemesis, and his legions; Assemblyman Mark Schroeder; Congressman Brian Higgins’s chief of staff, Chuck Eaton; Erie County Legislator Tim Kennedy; State Senator Bill Stachowski, who scored $50,000 for Kennedy’s facade improvement program on South Park Avenue last week; former Buffalo Mayor Tony Masiello; Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster; Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, also down from the Falls; a bevy of members of Buffalo’s Common Council, from both minority and majority factions; McKinley High School Principal Crystal Barton; Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams; Ere County Clerk Kathy Hochul; Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper, who has his eye on Kirsten Gillibrand’s Senate seat; Phil Rumore of the Buffalo Teachers Federation; Mike Fitzpatrick, former Erie County legislator and retired vice president of the International Ironworkers Union; and on and on.

Also in attendance was former Erie County Democratic Party chairman Steve Pigeon, currently staff counsel to State Senate President Pedro Espada, who led the June leadership coup that temporarily returned control of the chamber to Republicans. Pigeon helped to orchestrate that putsch, along with Tom Golisano, whose political activities Pigeon coordinates. Several attendees wondered quietly why someone wouldn’t throw Pigeon out of the joint. “Because we’re Dumbocrats,” said one woman.

Meantime, Cuomo waxed gubernatorial. If he can convince local Democrats to keep their knives sheathed even for one night, what effect might his run for governor have?

Wednesday, September 30

Erie County Comptroller Mark Polocarz today released an audit of county payroll and timekeeping systems that suggests that County Executive Chris Collins’s management team neglects to use the swipe card timekeeping system Collins implemented last year: “…following the Collins Administration’s deployment of a new swipe card timekeeping system in 2008, dozens of Collins Administration political appointees stopped keeping daily time records and do not swipe in and out while all other County employees are required to swipe in/out or complete daily time sheets,” the report says.

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