GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record: April 2002

4/30
Bronx state Senator Guy Velella has been indicted on bribery charges by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and could be arrested as soon as tomorrow. (New York Post) (Daily News)

City Comptroller Bill Thompson vowed yesterday that he would block any attempts by the Bloomberg administration to borrow funds to meet the city's future budget needs. Thompson said he would not stand in the way of Mayor Bloomberg's current budget plan, which includes borrowing $470 million for the rest of this fiscal year and another $1.5 billion for 2003. But Thompson, who must authorize any additional borrowing, said he could not back any debt-financing for operational expenses after the $1.5 billion the mayor is seeking next year. (New York Post)

Judith Rizzo, a top deputy to Schools Chancellor Harold Levy, in charge of classroom instruction and curriculum, announced her resignation yesterday, saying her decision to head a think tank had nothing to do with the anticipated shakeup of the city's school leadership. (Daily News)

4/29
When people talk about the causes of New York City's nearly $5 billion budget deficit, they usually talk about the recession, the attack on the World Trade Center, and city spending that has risen faster than the rate of inflation in recent years. But a large chunk of the city's shortfall is, by some reckonings, self-inflicted: tax cuts enacted since 1995 will cost the city about $2.6 billion next year. Now the question of whether the city should re-raise taxes is the most hotly debated issue in city government. (New York Times)

4/28
The official mayoral mansion is getting a major face-lift thanks to the only mayor in 60 years who's opted not to live there. Mayor Bloomberg started patching up Gracie Mansion's sagging, flaking exteriors two weeks ago, Deputy Mayor Patti Harris said. Officials will also replace the 26-year-old ventilation system, redesign the interior and put sculptures donated by the Museum of Modern Art on the lawn. And Bloomberg plans to open up previously cordoned-off parts of the house to visitors. (New York Post)

David N. Dinkins, the former New York City mayor, will give all his official and personal papers and correspondence to Columbia University, the university will announce tomorrow. The university will also begin to produce a set of videotapes and audiotapes of interviews with Mr. Dinkins, who is a professor at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, that will record his life, political philosophy and policy agenda. The Dinkins papers will not include the original mayoral papers, which will remain at the City Archives, but Columbia will keep photocopies of these documents. (New York Times)

4/27
The mayor's latest off-the-cuff comment occurred on Bloomberg's weekly WABC radio show when the discussion turned to school reform. After a discussion about the ills of the city's education system, Bloomberg's choice of words then veered into territory rarely trod by previous mayors. "If the police damaged our children the way our educational system did, we'd go shoot the police commissioner," he said. (New York Post)

Right-wing French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen told reporters in France last week he was "socially on the left, economically on the right and nationally French." When observers said the phrase seemed reminiscent of something Adolf Hitler once uttered, Le Pen said "It wasn't from Hitler that I got my references, it's from Bloomberg - the Jewish mayor of New York." (New York Post)

4/26
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has drafted a detailed proposal that would give Mayor Bloomberg control of city schools, sources told The Post. Silver finalized his plan - which is now being reviewed by aides to Bloomberg - in a meeting with key legislators and staff on Wednesday. Under the plan, the current seven-member Board of Education would be replaced with a 12-member policy-setting board, with the mayor having seven of the appointments, sources said. The remainder would be named by the five borough presidents. The plan also would set up parental representation on the board. (New York Post)

The cost of cigarettes, phone bills and parking fines could rise soon in the city Ď pumping $850 million into city coffers, under a package of legislative changes that state leaders are close to approving, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said yesterday. The proposals, part of Mayor Bloomberg's long-sought wish list, must still be formally approved by Gov. Pataki and state legislators, who are still haggling over the details. (Daily News)

Community leaders, parents, and teachers sounded off on looming education cuts Ď and a proposed tax hike to counteract them Ď during a five-borough tour of the City Council Education Committee that ended last night. (Daily News)

4/25
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver late last night said he would not agree to a final state budget without a guarantee first from Mayor Bloomberg that the city won't cut classroom funding. (New York Post)

In a marked departure from the heavy hand that the Giuliani administration once placed on the Rent Guidelines Board, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that he would sit back and let the board decide which way rents should go this year. (New York Times)

Tensions over the Middle East yesterday spilled into the City Council. On the same day that City Council Speaker Gifford Miller called for a show of solidarity with Israel, Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron urged his colleagues to denounce the killing of innocent Palestinians. (New York Post)

The City Council passed a bill yesterday that would protect "transgendered individuals" against discrimination. Hailed by Council Speaker Gifford Miller as "an important piece of civil rights legislation," the bill passed by a 45-to-5 vote, with one abstention. (Daily News)

4/24
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Harold Levy reacted yesterday to a Daily News report that Levy was on his way out. During a question and answer session, the mayor said he had never had a conversation with Levy about whether the chancellor should leave and praised the former Citicorp lawyer¬s concern for the city¬s public school students. However, he offered no ringing endorsement of the job done by Levy. And he offered no assurance that Levy would be reconsidered for the top job, assuming Bloomberg gets the power he wants from the state to appoint the next chancellor. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that while he had considered new candidates for schools chancellor, he would not make a decision until he won control of the system, a change that must come from the state legislature. Aides to Bloomberg suggested that names of possible successors to Levy were being floated by people who hope to sideline or stop the mayor¬s negotiations with state lawmakers over school control. Levy, meanwhile, contested reports that his departure was imminent. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday he would look for someone with management skills░developed from overseeing a very large organization and with or without a background in education to run the New York City school system. The mayor said he could envision setting up a management system similar to that at a university in which a chief executive is in charge of overall operations, while a provost, or chief academic officer, focuses on academic issues. The mayor¬s views would seemingly eliminate Schools Chancellor Harold Levy from consideration as a candidate, whether or not Albany gives Bloomberg greater control of the city¬s 1,100 schools. Levy¬s job has been in jeopardy at least since the summer, but both Bloomberg and Levy denied Tuesday that Bloomberg had already told Levy to depart on June 30. (Newsday)

Schools Chancellor Harold Levy said yesterday he is mulling his future as speculation mounts that Mayor Bloomberg wants him out. │There are a lot of decisions that have to be made with my family,░ Levy said. (New York Post)

The living wage bill could turn into a legislative showdown between City Council and the Bloomberg administration. Some 40 members of the council are sponsoring the measure, which would require companies that receive city contracts and subsidies to pay their workers at least $8.10 an hour with health benefits, or $9.60 an hour without benefits. Yesterday Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff testified against the bill which, the administration says would cost the city at least $100 million a year, pressure employers to eliminate thousands of low-wage jobs and frighten away new businesses. The bill¬s supporters say it will lift people out of poverty and cost the city less than $10 million a year. (New York Times)

Wayne Barrett writes that Mayor Michael Bloomberg¬s budget lacks creativity, relying almost entirely on service cuts to solve the current financial crisis. The mayor, who has made frequent trips to Albany, argues that the state government would not approve any tax hikes. Yet he does not use the threat of tax hikes to try to bring in more aid from Albany. Similarly Bloomberg has been reluctant to try to get any changes in work rules from the United Federation of Teachers, which has many friends in the state capital. (Village Voice)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will host Vice President Dick Cheney at a May 16 party to help the Republican Party raise money for its effort to retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans hope the event will bring in at least $1.5 million. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg excluded members of the New York office of the the Palestinian Authority from a Gracie Mansion reception this week for United Nations diplomats representing more than 100 countries. (New York Post)

4/23
Governor George Pataki last night approved the state legislature's plan to redraw districts for the state senate and state assembly. Before the governor gave his OK, the legislature passed an amendment addressing some of his concerns. The plan will give five new seats to New York City because of population increases in the five boroughs. (New York Post)

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a former New York City educator who is now chief executive officer of the Cleveland schools, and Paul Vallas, who oversaw the Chicago schools for six years, are among those who could become schools chancellor if Mayor Michael Bloomberg gains control of the school system. Bloomberg aides say the search for a new chancellor has not begun, largely because it remains unclear whether Bloomberg or the Board of Education will be entrusted with making the choice. (Daily News)

Smoking would be banned in all restaurants, regardless of size, under a bill to be introduced in City Council tomorrow by Republican Councilmember James Oddo of Staten Island. Smoking currently is not allowed in restaurants with more than 35 seats. The Oddo measure would still allow smoking in taverns, cafes and pubs where food service generates less than 40 percent of total annual gross sales. (Daily News)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller yesterday released his tax returns, but similar information was not available for billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A spokesman for the mayor, Edward Skyler, said Bloomberg typically got extensions on filing his return and would probably release limited tax information this summer. Unlike most politicians, Bloomberg does not make his tax returns public (New York Times)

Jeff Gottlieb, a top aide to City Councilmember David Weprin, is planning a run for the state legislature. He says he will challenge Assemblywoman Nettie Meyersohn or State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. Gottlieb had bowed out of a campaign for City Council last year at the urging of the Queens Democratic organization, which reportedly then pledged to show its gratitude by supporting him for a seat in Albany this year. But redistricting has changed things in Queens, and the organization support never came through. Gottlieb says he is running anyway. "I'm itching to go," he said last week. (Daily News)

4/22
Forty-five of the Council's 51 members are sponsoring a bill that would require many such companies that receive city contracts and subsidies to pay their workers at least $8.10 an hour with health benefits, or $9.60 an hour without benefits. (New York Times)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo seized upon President Bush's planned trip to the Adirondacks today to criticize the environmental policies of the president and his host, Gov. Pataki. (New York Post)

4/21
Council Speaker Gifford Miller called property-tax hikes "a possibility" for helping close the city's deficit, but maintained that he will push for other revenues as budget talks begin. Under law, the property tax is the only major tax that the City Council can set locally. City lawyers say that even if Bloomberg eventually vetoed a property-tax increase, the council can enact one as it does other legislation, with a two-thirds override vote. (Newsday)

In January, Dennis Rivera, the leader of S.E.I.U./1199, the hospital workers' union, stood on the steps of the Capitol in Albany praising a $1.8 billion health care package that would put money in the pockets of the state's lowest-paid health care workers. But the package left out more than 100,000 workers: the nurses, therapists and most of the aides who care for sick or disabled people in their own homes. (New York Times)

The negotiations over whether Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will get control of the New York City schools have come down to an intricate dance involving the state and city budgets, with the various players trying to win as many spoils as possible before they sign off on a deal. (New York Times)

As deputy mayors under Rudolph W. Giuliani, they were the inner circle of lieutenants, running perhaps the most centralized and iron-fisted municipal government in modern New York history. Now, back in the private sector, they have traded their deputy's badges for high-powered positions in law, finance, lobbying, telecommunications and, of course, Major League Baseball. (New York Times)

4/20
Allan W. Jennings, the head of the City Council's Civil Service and Labor Committee released a list of 1,079 police officers -- by name and shield number -- who were said to be doing jobs that could be done by civilians. Police officials, saying the list was a breach of the officer's safety and security, stormed out of the meeting. The move was criticized by both the mayor's and the City Council's Speaker's offices. Christopher D. Policano, who is the speaker's chief spokesman, said the list was handed out to reporters without either Mr. Miller's or the Central Council staff's knowledge or consent. (New York Times)

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly unleashed an angry tirade against the City Council member for releasing the names of police officers moved to civilian duty. "They took the list - that includes the names of narcotics officers, names of officers in Internal Affairs, people that may very well be involved in undercover investigations - and made it public, gave it to members of the media," said Kelly. (New York Post)

The State Senate has agreed to redraw its redistricting plan to create an Upper Manhattan district with a Hispanic majority and to rejoin parts of Borough Park in Brooklyn that had been split, Gov. George E. Pataki said after speaking at an annual conference of Latino voters and community leaders. The Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg has also been reunited. (New York Times)

After three months of warm weekly meetings and praising each other publicly, the relationship between the mayor and the City Council is showing signs of serious strain. At the center of the chasm is a profound disagreement over how to deal with New York City's roughly $5 billion budget gap. (New York Times)

4/19
Members of the Bloomberg cabinet met yesterday to revise the city's position paper on the national welfare legislation now up for reauthorization in Congress. This document promises to be Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's first substantial expression of city poverty policy. For months the administration has hinted at a new approach to social welfare, while sending mixed messages to the right and the left. (NY Times)

Amidst other protests at City Hall yesterday, members of the state's Black, Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus offered their support for the City Council budget rather than the mayor's budget. (Daily News)

4/18
Pushing his tough-times fiscal package another step, Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday expressed new hope that the city will get major help from Albany and Washington to avert drastic service cuts -- even though key commitments have yet to come from both capitals. As expected, the mayor's revised, $41.9-billion plan includes none of the tax hikes proposed last week by the City Council, which require state approval. (NY Times) (Daily News) (Newsday)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller accused Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday of using "scare tactics" to force New Yorkers to accept already-steep cuts in education, police, fire and all other services. (Newsday)

The unions representing city workers took a cautious approach Wednesday to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget, which calls on them to help him balance the budget in the coming year. But some unrest within individual unions showed that insurgents might be willing to use the mayor's call for union cooperation - read that concessions - as a vehicle to advance their own agenda. (Newsday)

The Bloomberg administration's proposed budget has eliminated a $10 million fund that was being used to encourage the creation of charter schools by offering them financial help with the renovation and construction of buildings, libraries and laboratories. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg is thinking about charging city residents to pick up their trash - one of several new fees he may put in place to plug the gaping budget deficits in the years to come. Bloomberg's budget proposal yesterday listed a possible "residential waste fee" among the new measures that may go into effect starting in July 2003. (NY Post)

The city's struggling recycling program appears to be headed for the budget chopping block despite repeated protests from frustrated City Council members and environmentalists. (Daily News)

Budgets are political documents as well as financial ones, and Mayor Bloomberg's offering yesterday was no exception. For starters, nowhere in the 308-page document was there any mention of new taxes, outside of an aggressive increase in the city's cigarette levy.What it did contain was a clear message to state and federal legislators, as well as the city's municipal unions: Help us now, or be prepared to shoulder the blame for even deeper cuts in city services. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg pulled out his best salesman skills yesterday to work the difficult territory between wooing labor unions and Albany - and trying to scare the life out of them. In his soft sell, Bloomberg courted his allies with praise, plain talk and hopes of avoiding layoffs. The hard sell came packaged in a book of "contingency cuts" released after the mayor's budget address that would slash up to 2,000 jobs, put fewer cops on the street and let garbage rot on the curb. (NY Post)

4/16
Michele R. Titus, a lawyer and Democratic district leader, easily won a special election for a state assembly seat from Queens yesterday. Titus won 68 percent of the vote to defeat Michael DuValle, the Conservative and Independence candidate, who received 26 percent, and Republican Marina Rejas, who received 6 percent. The election was to fill the seat previously held by Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, who died earlier this year. (New York Times)

Andrew M. Cuomo, former U.S. secretary for housing and urban development, yesterday officially entered the race for governor. The Democrat marked the occasion by blasting George Pataki's record as governor, denouncing the incumbent╚s handling of the upstate economy, the condition of the public schools, and the effort to rebuild the site of the World Trade Center. Before taking on Pataki, though, Cuomo must beat out State Comptroller Carl McCall for the Democratic nomination. (New York Times)

Queens Democrat Daniel Hevesi, the son of former New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi, said today he would not seek re-election this year to the state senate. Under redistricting plans approved by the state legislature last week, Hevesi and State Senator Toby Stavisky are in the same district and so would have to run against each other. Hevesi's father, who ran for mayor last year, is seeking the Democratic nomination for state comptroller this year. Daniel Hevesi said he planned to work on his father's campaign. (Newsday)

4/16
In an interview with the new New York Sun, Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted reporters for their coverage of the rebuilding process. In the exchange, published in the debut issue of the daily, the Sun asked Bloomberg if he was "restless" with the pace of reconstruction of lower Manhattan. "The only thing I╚m getting restless is in you and your associates╚ pressure to ruin this city," Bloomberg responded. "Anybody that would put forward a final plan only a few months after they started looking at it is about as irresponsible an action as I can think of." (The New York Sun -- The Sun is currently not available on line.)

A deal to give Mayor Michael Bloomberg control of the school system seemed further away yesterday, as a key member of the state assembly warned that the mayor must accept some form of a Board of Education. "We've already gone much more than halfway to meet the mayor," Assembly Steven Sanders said. "So the ball is clearly in the mayor's court." Democrats think they have already made concessions, allowing the mayor to pick the schools chancellor and dominate a weakened Board of Education. (Daily News)

The warm relations between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council may be entering a frostier phase. Several clashes in recent weeks have created irritation on both sides of City Hall, ending the relative harmony between the new mayor and the virtually all-new City Council. (Daily News)

4/15
Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he's confident the city will get $650 million in state and federal help it needs to balance the budget - and keep his harsh contingency plan on ice. But that package of deep service cuts, which includes reductions even in the Fire Department, will be ready if any part of that budget package falls through, Bloomberg warned.(Daily News)

The task of closing a major deficit becomes a tougher but clearer challenge this week as Mayor Michael Bloomberg prepares to stand by his grim budget forecasts of three months ago. It will be tougher because Wednesday, Bloomberg plans to issue a budget revised from January with at least the same $4.8 billion gap to fill - and without many of the revenue-raisers the City Council urged last week. But it will be a bit clearer because the borders of the upcoming talks and hearings between the administration and the Council will come into view, officials on both sides say.The suspense, already building, increased a bit Friday when word began spreading at City Hall that part of the administration's "contingency" plan included closing eight to 10 unspecified firehouses - if its other budget-balancing actions were blocked. (Newsday)

Chances are slim that Bloomberg can cut billions out of the city budget and remain as popular as Santa Claus. He's already getting into small-time spats with the city's notoriously merciless press corps. He could soon come up against powerful unions-something he never had to face at his own company. And if he collides with a city council dominated by new members, a control board might be the only way to separate them. Bloomberg insists that wouldn't be so bad. A control board would be similar to the council, he explains, "except that they're smart and they understand the problem." That's not exactly the kind of politic thing a mayor is supposed to say. But then, Mike Bloomberg is an entrepreneur, not a politician. (Newsweek)

Bloomberg flip-flopped yesterday and said having the Financial Control Board in charge "would be terrible for the city." He explained that his "flippant" comment was a message to the council to take the matter seriously. "When they [the board] ran the city [in the 1970's], unions that thought they were immune to layoffs were decimated," the mayor said. "Libraries were closed, teachers were fired, police and firefighters were laid off. It was very draconian, and there is no reason to think it won't happen again." (New York Post)

4/14
The new district lines approved last week by the state Legislature give the borough a shot at sending its first Latino to Albany. They also make it possible that the first Asian-American ever to sit in the state capital will come from Queens. And if nothing else, the new lines would offer at least one fascinating battle between two Democratic state senators from well-known political families, Toby Ann Stavisky (Flushing), the widow of the state Sen. Leonard Price Stavisky, and Daniel Hevesi (Forest Hills), the son of former city controller and mayoral candidate Alan Hevesi. They are thrown together into the same district. (Daily News)

George Martinez, who had run against now-indicted Councilmember Angel Rodriguez in the Democratic primary, but whom Rodriguez kicked off the ballot on a legal technicality, said in a written release last week that he wants to extend his "heart and prayers to the councilman and his family for what will no doubt be a very trying period in their lives." But a letter from his campaign director, Pace University political science Prof. Christopher Malone, had a different tone. That letter, faxed at the same time and from the same source, said Rodriguez's indictment was "business as usual for" the councilman. "Surprised by a federal indictment?" Malone wrote. "Not in the least." (Daily News)

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz after four months. The transition from his predecessor, Howard Golden, wasn't exactly smooth, and Markowitz generated national controversy within months of taking office when he took down a portrait of George Washington. On top of that, he's given his unabashed support to tax increases. Given that the state Legislature stripped the job of most of its policy influence in 1989, the new borough boss seems to be making his mark through personality more than politics. (Daily News)

Pete Hamill visit Mayor Bloomberg in the "bull pen" at City Hall, for another 100 Days story. "At the beginning, I tried a policy of having dinner each night in a different borough. Then I sort of changed it, and wanted to do as much as I could downtown, to get people, through the press, I suppose, to know that downtown was alive. Now I'm back to trying to do it in the boroughs." Also: He says that since being sworn in, he has been to Bermuda exactly once. And he did go to Florida to visit one of his daughters. "But my private life, it's just none of their business." (Daily News)

4/13
The Bloomberg administration has prepared a list of potential emergency cuts to city agencies beyond those to be outlined next week in the mayor's executive budget, including one proposal to close nearly 10 fire companies, city officials say. The emergency cuts would be carried out only if the city fails to get the state and federal help it had been counting on and the concessions it anticipates from unions. In addition to the firehouse cuts, the list of potential reductions includes the further consolidation of recreational sites for the elderly and reductions in the number of times that homeless shelters are cleaned. That the Bloomberg administration would even consider cutting parts of the budget considered sacrosanct under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, like fire companies, particularly after Sept. 11, underscores the seriousness of New York's fiscal problems. (New York Times)

If Mayor Bloomberg wants control of city schools, he's going to have to keep his budget ax away from the schools this year and pledge more money in the future, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said yesterday. In blunt terms, the Manhattan Democrat laid out the kind of financial commitment he and state legislators want from Bloomberg before they agree to give the mayor greater - but not total - control of city schools. Bloomberg would have to pledge to not cut more than $300 million from the coming school year budget.He also must promise to increase future education funding, possibly by setting aside a portion of the city sales or income tax. (Daily News)

The inquiry into whether a politically connected Giuliani appointee improperly charged up to a quarter of a million dollars in expenses to a city housing corporation has raised new questions about the level of public scrutiny that such corporations receive. The appointee under investigation, Russell A. Harding, was the president of the New York City Housing Development Corporation, a public benefit corporation with the power to provide tax-exempt financing for low- and middle-income housing. Such public benefit corporations, which have multiplied in recent decades, are neither fish nor fowl: they are created by government, often to do the work of government, but they are not bound by all the checks and balances of government. (New York Times)

Two members of the City Council, Charles Barron and G. Oliver Koppell, said yesterday that they had been told they could not meet with any city commissioners because of public comments they made criticizing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The prohibition escalates one of the first conflicts in the relatively friendly relations between the two branches of government. (New York Times)

Bloomberg told Andrew Alper, president of the Economic Development Corporation, he was "not being helpful" when he publicly criticized City Hall's inadequate outreach to the private sector in prior years. "Maybe it is because of its size or maybe it was because of a certain kind of arrogance in the mayor's office," Alper had been quoted as saying in Wednesday's New York Times. (New York Post)

4/12
Mayor Bloomberg, who just completed his first 100 days in office, hinted yesterday that he plans to run for a second term. "I probably will run for reelection," Bloomberg told interviewer Charlie Rose on WNET-TV. (Daily News) (New York Post)

While negotiations are continuing, sources on both sides said yesterday that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D--Manhattan) has agreed to let the mayor hire and fire a chancellor, control all budgets and run the schools' day-to-day operations -- the core of Bloomberg's demands. In return, Bloomberg has agreed to soften his tone about "abolishing" the Board of Education, and to allow some kind of citywide board -- made up mostly of parents and professional educators -- to arise in its place. (Daily News) (Newsday)

4/11
For the first time since his indictment on extortion charges, City Councilman Angel Rodriguez appeared before his Council colleagues yesterday and appealed to them to keep an open mind until they had heard his side of the story. "I believe in my heart that I am innocent and I will be vindicated by a jury of my peers," said Mr. Rodriguez. (NY Times) (Newsday)

"What did I do in the first 100 days?" Bloomberg asked a group of top business leaders. "I think the answer is, got ready for the next 1,000." While the mayor was short on specifics, he sketched a range of priorities, many of which he has previously mentioned, but provided some new details.They included: plan to dispose of city trash, an aggressive bid to woo the Democratic and Republican conventions to the city in 2004, a Ground Zero master plan, and a 311 helpline. (Daily News) (Newsday) (NY Times)

4/10
In a break with his previous position, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has begun signaling he could accept a weakened city Board of Education if he was given control of the city's school system. The possible change came after Bloomberg met Saturday with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has long blocked efforts to give the mayor control of the schools. Bloomberg has been demanding that the board be eliminated entirely but now might accept a board that would set policy but not administer the school system. Silver and the mayor are set to meet again today. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday disputed the City Council's projections for city revenue next year. The council, claiming an economic recovery is already under way, estimated the city would take in $445 million more than the mayor had projected for next fiscal year. "It would be nice if that were true," Bloomberg responded, adding "there's not a lot of evidence that tax revenues will be higher than we forecast" in February. (Daily News)

One of the four Republicans on the City Council, Martin Golden of Brooklyn, is expected to announce that he will run for state senate. Golden will run from a new district that includes much of his Bay Ridge council district. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that he would make no effort to stop the ads for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws that quote him saying he enjoyed the weed. "I never lie," the mayor said, "so if somebody asked me a question, I told them." The ads feature Bloomberg and quote his response to a question last summer about whether he had ever tried marijuana: "You bet I did. And I liked it." The ad campaign is aimed at getting the city to change its policy of arresting and jailing marijuana users. Bloomberg, though, has vowed that he would not change that policy. (Daily News)

4/9
The City Council called yesterday for levying a new income tax surcharge to pay for new schools, school libraries and labs, charting a collision course with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg over two political flash points: taxes and budget cuts. Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, announced the council's plan for a new tax, which would be leveraged to pay for $5 billion in new debt, in Corona, Queens, in a temporary classroom that was built in the playground of what he described as the most overcrowded school in the nation. In laying out the plan, Mr. Miller challenged Mr. Bloomberg's oft-repeated position that higher taxes would frighten away businesses. "We have got to keep our middle class, we have got to attract businesses, and we believe that the way to do that, first and foremost, is to have an outstanding public education system," Mr. Miller said.
The Bloomberg administration was swift to take up the gauntlet. "I'm opposed to raising taxes on anything other than cigarettes, which clearly would save lives if you did," said the mayor ... His aides called the Council's proposal unrealistic and "not responsible."
The Council made its push for an education tax surcharge as part of its response, and rebuttal, to Mayor Bloomberg's plan for closing a $4.76 billion budget deficit in the fiscal year beginning in July. (New York Times)

Bloomberg's different approach to closing the city's projected $4.8 billion budget deficit relies on cuts to city agencies and $1.5 billion in borrowing.

The tax hikes floated by the Council overshadowed other proposals the lawmakers made yesterday. They included restoring $344 million the mayor wants to cut from the Board of Education. The Council also called for a slew of alternative cuts, savings and consolidations worth $559 million a year. Other highlights of the Council plan include:
─ Restoration of the commuter tax to generate $450 million a year.
─ A 25% surcharge on real estate taxes paid by absentee landlords who rent out one- or two-family homes. The move could raise $65 million a year.
─ Higher taxes on beer, wine and liquor, costing consumers $30 million a year.
─ A steeper tax on cigarettes, to $1.50 a pack from eight cents, a move expected to generate $250 million a year.
─ The selling of 500 new taxi medallions, at $200,000 each, to raise $100 million for the fiscal year starting July 1. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg joined beer lovers and distributors yesterday in opposing a proposed tax hike on their favorite suds. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller wants to double the city's beer tax to 6 cents a liter, increase the liquor tax to 56 cents a liter from 26 cents and slap a 4 cents-a-liter city tax on wine. The proposal would generate $30 million to help cover the city's budget shortfall. While Bloomberg has called for steep increases in the cigarette tax, he opposes the new taxes on alcohol. "It's a very different thing," he said, calling cigarette smoking a serious health issue."Used to excess, obviously, alcohol abuse is a serious problem, but it is of nowhere near the magnitude of smoking." (Daily News)

The New York City Council Monday offered a radically different set of priorities for the handling of the city's legal work in its response to Mayor Bloomberg's plan to close a projected $4.8 billion budget deficit. One clear example of this is a proposed shift of $25.6 million from court-appointed lawyers to the Legal Aid Society. (New York Law Journal)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg stares out from the full-page ad in The New York Times, a quote bubble emerging from his mouth. The quote: ``You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.'' The question: whether he had ever smoked marijuana. Bloomberg's remark, made to a New York magazine reporter last year before he was elected mayor, has become the centerpiece of an advocacy group's advertising campaign urging New York City to stop arresting and jailing people for smoking marijuana. The $500,000 campaign will feature bus shelter signs and telephone booth posters carrying the quote, the Washington-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said Monday. It also includes radio spots and the Times ads, the first of which appeared in Tuesday's editions. Bloomberg said Monday that the city would continue making such arrests, no matter what he may have said in the past. ``I'm not thrilled they're using my name,'' he said. ``I suppose there's that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it.'' The mayor didn't say when he smoked marijuana. (Associated Press)

Reaching back to his days as a community activist to make government more accessible to his constituents, Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) mailed out more than 50,000 "Civic Action Checklists" that list some 22 possible complaints, such as air pollution violations, businesses operating in homes, and trucks parking overnight on residential streets. He has received about 250 back so far. (Daily News)

4/8
Package of articles about Bloomberg's first 100 days: In 100 days, Bloomberg's main accomplishment has been, to use the operative clich , to "change the tone." Analysis along these lines will usually mention that he paid a call on Al Sharpton, and that he doesn't go around labeling people idiots or loopy Marxists. But the about-face taking place at City Hall runs deeper than that, and it could prove the key to Bloomberg's success, if indeed he's successful. It can be summed up in one sentence: Bloomberg -- the mayor, if not the businessman-citizen -- has lots of will but no ego. "The way he's different," says John LoCicero, a former Koch aide, "is that his ego doesn't get in the way. He's going to do it his way, that's true, but he doesn't care if all the publicity doesn't come his way. He's very sure of himself." (New York Magazine)

Since taking office in January, members of the new, fresh-faced City Council have changed their rules of procedure, drafted an array of proposals and labored mightily to present a public image of unity, all in an effort to become a more potent force in counterbalancing the power of the mayor. But today, as the first real test of that prowess begins when Speaker Gifford Miller unveils the response to the mayor's proposed budget, the body looks more like a freewheeling collection of shifting coalitions, often guided by outside forces, than like a cohesive unit guided by a singular vision. As one lobbyist put it, "A leadership voice hasn't really developed."

From Mr. Miller's perspective, the fact that groups of council members have been publicly advocating measures like new taxes or changes to the city's lead-paint law is all to the good. "I happen to believe that it's a healthy thing," he said, "for people who were elected by their constituencies to be able to feel free to represent those constituencies as they think best." (New York Times)

The city is doing a "woefully inadequate" job of collecting $130 million it's owed by insurance companies for ambulance services, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller said yesterday. Mayor Bloomberg has proposed privatizing 75 ambulance routes now operated by the Fire Department's Emergency Medical Service unit. Bloomberg estimates that will shave $10 million from the city's $4.8 billion budget hole. But Miller (D-Manhattan) - who will deliver the council's budget response today - said Bloomberg's plan is flawed, setting the stage for the first showdown between the mayor and the council. "We currently collect $26 million out of $162 million in bills," the speaker said. "That is an anemic, unacceptable rate of return. Instead of privatizing the routes, privatize the collection service." (New York Post)

Schools Chancellor Harold Levy plans to privatize management of all of the Board of Education's sprawling computer services - and the firm founded by billionaire businessman Ross Perot is vying for the lucrative contract. (New York Post)

Bloomberg sidestepped questions yesterday on whether he was the anonymous donor who gave $10 million to the Carnegie Corp. in December, shortly before he took office. The money was distributed to more than 130 cultural groups. The Department of Cultural Affairs could lose $10 million next year under Bloomberg's proposed budget. The billionaire media mogul, long a patron of the arts, said the city's $4.8 billion budget gap leaves him little choice. He has called on private donors to pick up the slack. (Daily News)

The mayor made his theatrical debut at the Inner Circle charity dinner over the weekend, appearing in a skit with members of the cast of "The Producers." Earlier he was spoofed by City Hall reporters as superhero Cash Man in a skit called "Thanks A Billion." "I don't think that I will follow on the heels of John Gielgud or Lionel Barrymore or Alec Guinness," Bloomberg said. "There are people who think I look like Brad Pitt, but that's probably not true." (New York Post)

4/7
Asked about his first 100 days in office, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg expressed frustration with the endless litany of ceremonial duties that he said distracted him from more serious obligations - 600 requests to speak in March alone. "I don't think I have enough time spent here, working on policy, which is the job," Mr. Bloomberg said at City Hall. And he said he was vexed by the extent to which the city was unable to act on critical matters without the approval of Albany. (New York Times)

Most believe that Bloomberg has defied expectations, pushing a slimmed-down agenda that includes driving crime down to new lows, continuing the cleanup of lower Manhattan and working to plug a gaping, $4.8 billion hole in the city's budget - with no new taxes."If you try to do multiple things at the same time," he said, "you accomplish not nothing, but less." So what has been the biggest accomplishment of his young administration? "The biggest, most lasting thing done in the first 100 days is exactly what I said I would try to do," he said. "And that was pick the team [and] set the tone." (Daily News)

As evidence mounts against an embattled city councilman from Brooklyn accused of bribing a developer, colleagues have painted a picture of an ambitious politician who was driven by arrogance and seduced by power. While virtually no one in New York's political circles saw a federal indictment coming, players both inside and outside of city government said Angel Rodriguez's hardball tactics may have caught up with him. "He was promising everything to everybody, but he did it in a way that didn't feel right," said one council member. "I felt like I was watching a three-card monte game." (New York Post)

Money was the theme as City Hall reporters and Mayor Bloomberg traded gibes at the annual Inner Circle charity dinner last night. Bloomberg picked up the theme in his rebuttal, which featured cast members from the Broadway smash musical "The Producers." Bloomberg himself, entering on ersatz helicopter and wearing a Hawaiian shirt, sang: "I want to be the new mayor. What a deal at any price. I want to be the new mayor, like Rudy was, only rich and nice." (Daily News)

4/6
Mayor Bloomberg yesterday hinted for the first time that he might back an income-tax hike to raise money for schools - but only if he gets control of the school system. (New York Post)

A proposal to take back the papers of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani would trigger a legal battle, City Hall's top lawyer warned yesterday. "I do believe that to have this bill apply retroactively to the Giuliani agreement in particular is illegal," Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo told a City Council hearing. The legislation is aimed at retrieving 2,114 boxes of records from Giuliani's two terms as mayor that were turned over to the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs, a nonprofit group created with his backing. The papers were transferred to a private Queens warehouse just before he left office Dec. 31. A number of archivists, historians and public officials expressed outrage when word of the transfer became known. Critics said they feared the possible destruction of public documents. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday defended a plan to train all obstetrics and gynecology residents in the city's public hospitals in updated procedures for performing abortions.

The remarks from the mayor came a day after Newsday reported Health and Hospitals Corp. president Dr. Benjamin Chu was moving forward with the training program and searching for financial donors to fund it. Abortion training is an elective for the 150 OB-GYN medical residents who rotate in the 11 public hospitals. About 90 of the residents go through the training every year, Chu said. Under Bloomberg's plan, the training would be required, except for those who opt out for moral or religious reasons. "Make no mistake about it, I'm pro-choice, always have been. I'm not in favor of abortion and it would be sick to be in favor of abortion. But I think it is up to a woman to choose," Bloomberg said Friday during his weekly radio program on WABC/770 AM.

"The public hospitals should have well-trained doctors because people who go to those hospitals deserve the same options as people that go to the private hospitals. And I want to make sure that our doctors are always trained in every procedure as best as human beings can be," Bloomberg said. About 100,000 abortions are performed annually in New York City. Of those, about 6,500 procedures are performed at the public hospitals, making the Health and Hospitals Corp. one of the largest public-hospital abortion providers in the country. (Newsday)

The New York Fire Department alerted firefighters that it planned to begin strictly enforcing the department's zero tolerance policy on the use of illegal drugs. (New York Times)

4/5
City Councilman Angel Rodriguez, despite learning that federal prosecutors have hundreds of surveillance tapes in their bribery case against him, intends to press on with his job, he said Thursday. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg appointed four new commissioners yesterday and came another step closer to finishing the staffing of his administration. John Odermatt was named commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management; Sayu Bhojwani as commissioner of the Office of Immigrant Affairs; Hector Gonzalez as chairman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board; and Jeanne Mullgrav as commissioner of the Department of Youth and Community Development. (New York Times) (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg rejected the idea of a tax surcharge for schools yesterday before it got off the drawing board. Asked about the Council's idea of a save-the-schools surcharge, Bloomberg called it "more theatrics than practicality." Bloomberg has vowed to oppose raising any tax other than the cigarette tax. (Daily News)

The Committee on Governmental Opreations, chaired by Council Member Bill Perkins, will vote today on an amendment to the City Charter requiring council members to pay fair market value for their council chairs, should they choose to purchase them at the end of their term.

4/4
Assembly Democrats and Mayor Michael Bloomberg appear to be at an impasse that could jeopardize the mayor's plan to take control of the New York City school system this year. Steven Sanders, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, said that he and other legislators were still pressing Bloomberg to accept a compromise plan that would effectively hand him control of the school system but retain a Board of Education that would help shape education policy. (New York Times)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller is considering a series of cuts that the council can propose to the mayor. Some of those include: axing a deputy commissioner and an assistant commissioner from each city agency; cutting legal and public-relations units; scrapping the mayor's Office of Contracts; merging the Departments of Business Services, Employment and Consumer Affairs; and a $14 million reduction in the Corporation Counsel's approximately $100 million budget. (Daily News) (NY Post)

4/3
A majority of the City Council urged Mayor Bloomberg yesterday to support a $2 billion plan to hike taxes on commuters, stock transactions and New Yorkers earning more than $200,000. (Daily News)

Former Bronx political boss Roberto Ramirez will teach politics as a graduate professor at the City University of New York. Ramirez's course is tentatively titled "The Power of Politics and Policy in the Making." (Newsday)

Reversing course from the Giuliani administration, Mayor Bloomberg has decided not to sell three glittering office towers near the United Nations. (NY Post)

Already battling corruption charges, Brooklyn City Councilman Angel Rodriguez will be facing a city probe of his campaign finances - which included a $15,000 loan to himself. (NY Post)

4/2
Three months into his return engagement as top cop on the 14th floor of 1 Police Plaza, Raymond Kelly does seem to be defying critics who said crime statistics would begin slipping upon his return. Just the opposite has happened. Crime statistics have dropped to lows not seen in nearly 40 years. The number of homicides dropped nearly 42%. Every other major crime category also has plummeted - with the exception of rape, which climbed 7.5%. During his first 90 days in office, Kelly also: ─ Declared war on public pests with Operation Clean Sweep; ─ Tapped military and spy pros to combat the terror threat; ─ Successfully controlled protests at the World Economic Forum; ─ Issued a formal ban on racial profiling; ─ Made plans to deal with the city's budget crisis. ( Daily News)

While most of his fellow officeholders ventured only cautious expressions of disappointment over the extortion indictment of City Councilman Angel Rodriguez, at least one community leader is harboring an angry sense of betrayal. Rodriguez, who just a few months ago was vying to be Council speaker, was charged last week in a 15-count federal indictment with trying to extort money and a discount on three Cobble Hill buildings from a real estate developer seeking approval of a controversial Red Hook project. "It is a disappointment for voters in Red Hook, and throughout the city," said John McGettrick, co-chairman of the Red Hook Civic Association. "It undermines faith in elected officials, and it makes me angry and frustrated." McGettrick said his association thought it had an ally in its effort to fight the development, which includes a supermarket. The association wanted the space used for housing. But Rodriguez (D-Sunset Park) wound up backing the project after, according to the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office, soliciting a bribe.( Daily News)

4/1
The Fairway supermarket project in Red Hook at the heart of the extortion indictment of Councilman Angel Rodriguez is moving ahead, according to city officials. The project was approved by the City Council Jan. 30 and needs only the approval of the Brooklyn Borough Board. A leading critic of the development, John McGettrick, co-chairman of the Red Hook Civic Association, urged Markowitz and other officials to block the project until they conduct a "top-to-bottom investigation" of how it was handled throughout the city's land-use process. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg denied yesterday that he's planning to oust Harold Levy as chancellor of the city's 1.1 million student system - and that no candidates are being sought out at this time. (New York Post)

Shattering spending records, the candidates for state Senate on the East Side burned through almost $3.1 million in the Feb. 12 race, financial reports show. The spending by Democrat Liz Krueger, who won, Republican Assemblyman John Ravitz and their political parties exceeded what some campaigns for governor or U.S. senator cost in other states. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg, the city's most prominent straphanger, said yesterday that his staff is exploring car-pooling to City Hall to help ease the congestion on traffic-choked Manhattan streets. "City Hall had about 70 cars on Dec. 31, and today we're down to about 40 cars, and we're trying to go from individual drivers to a pool system," the mayor said. (New York Post)

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