Unwanted ad dogs Buffalo site

Buffalo residents looking for information on Mayor Anthony Masiello's page

on the city's Web site get bonus material — banner advertisements.

Every time a visitor clicks on the "Mayor's Office" link (mayormas.tripod.com/window.htm) or any other page, up pops a small rectangular screen with a

different advertisement each time. The title bar says: "Welcome to a Tripod

Member Page!" According to Peter Cutler, the city's director of communications,

it's not something the mayor wanted or paid for, but it's something the

staff hasn't been able to ditch.

"We tried to get rid of it, but we couldn't," he said. "If we had our

druthers, we wouldn't have it at all."

It started about two years ago. An order to revamp the mayor's home

page lay idle — the information services department, which manages the city's

Web site, was backlogged. The mayor's office decided to use a computer-savvy

high school intern. The student apparently used Tripod, a popular Lycos

Inc. site that allows users to build Web pages for free.

When the ad first popped up, Cutler said the student was somehow able

to get rid of it. However, after six months or so, it popped up again. The

student was able to suppress the ad for a while, until once more it emerged.

It stuck and has remained ever since.

The city receives no revenue from the ad.

But, through it all, Cutler said only one person has lodged a complaint

about the ad — the mayor's wife.

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