Friday, August 15, 2014

Welcome to the Rod Serling News Hour

I want to say it's been a very strange news week in East Niagara, but I feel like we're full of strange news around here — like the greater Lockport area is the epicenter for the Rod Serling News Hour or something. Maybe we'll end up a show on Fox someday. But I digress ...

Last Friday night — or Saturday morning, technically — I woke up to a Facebook message from a reader asking what was going on near Washburn and Spalding streets. So around 3 a.m., I went for a walk to see what was up. While awaiting word from police officials as to why Genesee Street (it wasn't Spalding after all) was blocked off, I talked with a guy by the name of Willie about the "paradise" that is Lockport. He wasn't being sarcastic. A former Buffalo resident, Willie was perfectly content with the Lock City, even with the current uptick in crime.

One of the things he mentioned to me, though, is that overnight on-street parking could help to alleviate crime in "the Zone." Now, I've always heard that on-street parking was the cause of crime — although I've never understood why — so I was intrigued by this unique perspective.

Willie explained that apartment units outnumber driveway parking spots in "the Zone," meaning that oftentimes car owners — and especially families with multiple cars — can't seriously consider living in the area. In other words, people normally associated with having money and a stable home life are forced to live somewhere else. Only single-parent families and those without cars need apply.

Don't read that as a dig against single-parent families or people without cars, but I'd have to imagine that more crime is committed by people who find themselves in those situations than by those in two-parent homes with multiple cars. It was a unique perspective. And I think the Lockport Common Council should give it some consideration.

While every police officer in the city was at that crime scene, some jerk or a team of jerks, more likely, was breaking a memorial bench dedicated to Albert Jex. A heinous act, no doubt. But one that actually might have a good ending, as it seems to have brought the Lockport community together to fight FOR something instead of against each other, as we seem to do so often.

Saturday afternoon we went to a wedding. I was ordained last year at the request of my friend Dan who asked me to marry him and his bride-to-be Jessica. Their wedding Saturday was awesome. Highlights included a bounce house, which the wedding party kicked the kids out of to use, and general tomfoolery. Heather was the wedding photographer and I can't wait to see photos of me and my buddy in our Sunday best bouncing around in a bounce house. Plus, I just like weddings.

I was still riding that high when Tuesday night/Wednesday morning — 12:35 a.m. to be exact — I got a very odd email from Gia Arnold announcing her decision to drop out of the race for state Senate due to an extramarital affair she had. It referred to her husband as her ex-husband and said that the affair began in August of this year ... or the prior week, if you're counting days.

ENP posted that story at 12:47 a.m., which was hours before anyone else. As a result, we got a lot of traffic from political websites on the other side of the state. In fact, we continue to get a lot of traffic from downstate because of it. The exposure is great but I was looking forward to the last month of the primary campaign, which is now moot. Ya win some, ya lose some.

While Gia Arnold was trending, we got a tip that Shamir Allen, aka "DuWop" had been arrested in Rochester. There was no resting on our laurels. Heather and I had to jump back into action to confirm and report that Lockport's most wanted was in jail. It took longer than we wanted it to (an hour and 13 minutes, to be exact) but we got that story online first, too. By a lot.

There were, of course, dozens of other stories this week but those are the ones that stick with me at the moment. Those stories and the wedding.

In short (too late?), I had a great week. And I hope you did, too.

Scott Leffler is many things but corrections officer is not one of them, even though someone told him last week that he "obviously is ... and don't bother trying to deny it." He also meets many interesting people at crime scenes. O.o

This column was originally published on East Niagara Post.