GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record: April 2003

4/30
The city's pension costs are expected to rise by $1 billion next year, creating another huge hole in the city's budget, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday. The skyrocketing pension costs are a direct result of increased benefits for retirees and the continued downturn in the stock market. (Daily News)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will spend more than $40 million to hire 1,200 parent coordinators for city public schools. Each school will have one coordinator who will act as a liaison between parents and principals and be paid up to $39,000 a year. (New York Post)

City Councilmember James Oddo yesterday introduced a bill that would ban the easy sale of ephedra, an herbal stimulant linked to the death of Baltimore Oriole pitcher Steve Bechler earlier this year. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city would mark Central Park's 150th birthday this year with fireworks, concerts, a light show an auction of designer park benches and exhibits. The festivities, all free, will be paid for by corporate sponsors. (New York Post) (Newsday)

4/29
Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg took very different approaches toward the city's labor unions when they became mayor, though each faced deficits of several billion dollars. (NY Times)

The city's Education Department has hired 108 people - most of them currently superintendents or school principals - to serve as local instructional supervisors, a new administrative position that is crucial to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's systemwide reorganization of the public schools.(NY Times)

The city's plan for a new $111 million emergency management center near the Brooklyn Bridge may be facing big roadblocks. (NY Newsday)

4/27
Despite proposed budget cuts and layoffs, the city is still collecting millions of dollars in application and test fees for jobs that may not be filled for years. (NY Post)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller joined about a hundred protestors yesterday outside Engine 44 on the Upper East Side to urge Mayor Bloomberg not to dissolve their local fire company. (NY Post)

4/26
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that he has offered to give a ticker-tape parade up lower Broadway for the American troops returning from the war in Iraq, and is waiting for a response from Washington. (NY Times)

Even though he's a billionaire, Mayor Bloomberg wants New Yorkers to know he really does feel your pain when it comes to budget cuts and layoffs. (Daily News) (NY Post)

A mass infusion of slot machines in New York City may be a solution - albeit an undesirable one - to the city's behemoth budget problems, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. (Daily News)

In a somewhat contradictory message, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested Friday that city unions were wasting their members' money by fighting his budget proposals, which could include thousands of layoffs. On the one hand, the mayor said union leaders were fighting his budget proposals even if their members were not directly affected. He also suggested, however, that union leaders would rather accept layoffs than cut the wages and benefits of the remaining workers. (Newsday)

4/25
A day after a state report accused the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of hiding surplus funds to justify a 50-cent increase, Mayor Bloomberg told New Yorkers yesterday to get used to it. "Outside all of the rhetoric and sensationalism ... it certainly looks like the agency does need a fare hike," he said at City Hall.(Daily News)

Lawyers, politicians and an assortment of interested parties filled a chamber of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn yesterday for arguments that will ultimately affect the immediate political future of the City Council's speaker, Gifford Miller, and five other council members. (New York Times)

At first glance, the flowing Champagne and tuxedos, the glistening jewelry and string quartet, appear to be part of Hollywood's latest film on New York's upper crust. But it soon becomes clear the scenes of opulence are part of a hard-hitting union advertising campaign that attacks Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for not doing more to raise taxes on the rich to help eliminate the city's budget deficit. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg's approval rating has fallen to its lowest level since he took office, a new poll showed last night. The New York 1 News survey found that 59 percent of those questioned disapprove of the job Hizzoner is doing - virtually unheard of among politicians, and 16 percentage points worse than last month's rating. (New York Post) (New York 1)

4/24
Four judges -- all Nassau County Republicans -- convene in Brooklyn today to consider the political fate of Democratic City Council Speaker Gifford Miller. The judges are appointees of Gov. George Pataki -- a factor some City Hall observers say could add partisan spice to the fray. (Newsday)

Gov. Pataki's job-approval rating has plummeted to its lowest point since 1995, as New Yorkers overwhelmingly frown on his handling of the budget crisis, a new poll yesterday showed. (New York Post)

4/23
Less than a year after giving Mayor Michael Bloomberg control of the city's 1,200 schools, members of the state legislature accused Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Bloomberg of breaking the law in their zeal to remake the public schools. At a hearing of the State Assembly Education Committee yesterday, some members said that the school governance law didn't give Bloomberg permission to make the Education Department a city agency or to eliminate community school districts. Some legislators said they would introduce bills try to to stop the restructuring plan. (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to cut the budget could lead to chaotic lunchrooms, out-of-control hallways and playgrounds, fewer books and an end to after-school programs at city schools. The first cuts will happen this summer if city unions don't come up with $600 million in givebacks and savings. (Daily News)

4/22
Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he prefers to speak softly rather than carry a big flounder in his campaign to get Gov. Pataki to help the cash-strapped city. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg has offered to throw a victory parade up the Canyon of Heroes for the troops of Operation Iraqi Freedom, officials said yesterday.(Daily News)

The Republican leader of the City Council plans to introduce a bill that would bar local legislators from receiving any outside income - but could give them a pay hike down the line, The Post has learned. (NY Post)

4/21
Mayor Michael Bloomberg hoped that union leaders would join him in finding ways to trim $600 million in labor costs, but his efforts have gone nowhere. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg kept up the pressure on municipal labor unions to help him close the city's $3.8 billion budget gap yesterday, saying union workers should tell their leaders to accept some concessions. (Daily News)

If the proposed cuts to preventive child-welfare services go through, more kids will end up on foster care, which will cost the city that much more, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum warned yesterday. (NY Post)

4/20
Uncertainty about term limits is affecting not only the City Council members whose terms could end this year but also the dozens of candidates who hope to succeed them. (NY Times)

As state legislators plot to boost income or sales taxes on New Yorkers, others are trying to sell shares in another, lesser-known alternative: the stock transfer tax. (Daily News)

4/19
City Hall asked a powerful assemblyman yesterday to cancel a hearing planned for next week on Mayor Bloomberg's school overhaul - apparently nervous about complaints that the mayor has overstepped his power. (Daily News)

Just days after Mayor Bloomberg blasted labor leaders, union officials want to meet with the administration as part of a last-ditch effort to forestall thousands of layoffs and Draconian cuts to city agencies. (Daily News)

The commission appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to push nonpartisan elections is also considering restricting or eliminating outside income for City Council members. (NY Post)

4/18
A group of City Council members unveiled two bills yesterday intended to regulate private child support collection companies that pocket much of the money they were hired to collect. (New York Times)

New strains are showing between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki over whether it is better to hike taxes or borrow to meet expenses. Bloomberg keeps urging a tax on those who work but don't live -- or vote -- in the city. Pataki and state Senate Republicans refuse, spawning discussion in Albany of state taxes on private payrolls or upper-income earners that could also benefit the city. (Newsday)

4/17
It took years to rid Times Square of prostitution and drugs, but now state lawmakers might invite another vice – gambling, straight into the heart of Manhattan – in the name of helping the city. (New York 1)

Mayor Bloomberg hinted yesterday that he's open to a hike in the city's personal income tax if Albany doesn't grant him a commuter tax. (New York Post)

On the surface, Gov. George E. Pataki seems to have adopted the same strategy this year in his battle with the Legislature over the budget that has worked so well for him in years past: refuse to compromise and then hold out until the political pressure on legislators to act builds to an intolerable level. (New York Times)

Parts of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's most draconian budget-cutting scenario could become reality even if the city gets most of the help it is seeking from the state, officials conceded Wednesday. (Newsday)

4/16
Mayor Michael Bloomberg released two budget proposals yesterday, a $44.5 billion best-case plan that he described as "painful" and a backup plan of $1 billion less that he said would be "devastating." (NY Times)

Moments after laying out his description of a New York City with far fewer firehouses, thousands of laid-off workers and no pools for city children to frolic in during the summer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stared toward the cameras and talked wistfully about why the city's fiscal predicament left him "a little sad, a little angry." (NY Times)

An angry Mayor Bloomberg blasted the city's unions yesterday for failing to come up with $600 million in givebacks to help balance the city's budget - sparking a furious response from union leaders. (Daily News) (NY Post)

State lawmakers yesterday announced a deal to add a massive $1.9 billion to Gov. Pataki's zero-growth budget - providing more aid to Mayor Bloomberg in the process. But the lawmakers refused to say precisely how the money would be spent or how it would be raised, although insiders predicted a combination of new taxes and fees. The agreement sets up a likely confrontation with Pataki, who quickly denounced the deal. (NY Post)

Beaming his most urgent distress signal to date, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday he's "not ashamed to ask for help" from a struggling state and embattled unions to fill a $3.8 billion budget deficit. (Newsday)

From Chelsea to Bedford-Stuyvesant, Mayor Bloomberg's budget plans - one a package of nasty cuts, the other a doomsday scenario of "devastating" slashes - drew gasps yesterday from seniors, parents and students. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg exploded at a city councilman who questioned him about firehouse closings yesterday during a closed-door budget briefing. "This is my budget," a witness said the mayor told Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn). "You don't like it? I don't give a sh--! Don't vote for it." (Daily News) (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg offered a harrowing portrait of a hobbled city yesterday - including 20 percent of its firehouses shut - if Albany and municipal unions don't help close a $3.8 billion budget gap. (NY Post)

4/15
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's budget plan will include the closing of Prospect Park and Queens Zoos, as he tries to find $600 million in savings for the next fiscal year.(NY Times)

Today is D-day for the city. Mayor Bloomberg - wielding a huge knife - will release a Draconian slice-and-dice budget that spells out in stark terms what happens if Albany doesn't come to the city's rescue.(NY Daily News)

In City Hall's latest push for control of Ground Zero, a top official said yesterday that the Port Authority's ownership of the disaster site could stunt the overall redevelopment of downtown.(NY Daily News)

Nightclubs and bar owners are again asking the Bloomberg administration to allow them to pay for NYPD cops to patrol outside their establishments.(NY Post)

4/13
Mayor Bloomberg's budget headaches continue to grow with new figures showing likely shortfalls in revenue that City Hall hoped was already in the bank. Two days before the mayor delivers his executive budget, the latest data show tax revenue is barely keeping up with City Hall expectations - and in some cases it's falling short. (NY Post)

The city's budget crisis has led New York's low-key comptroller, William Thompson Jr., to take on a more visible role -- warning against waste, cheerleading for investment and trying to explain to ordinary New Yorkers why their city is grappling with a nearly $4 billion budget deficit. (Newsday)

Members of the press corps for the second straight year roasted Mayor Bloomberg at the New York Hilton - this time focusing on his smoking ban. The 81st annual evening of skits, songs and dance numbers - aptly titled "What's He Smoking?" - drew a large crowd for the $500-a-plate event. Past and present City Hall reporters took direct aim at Hizzoner - who also had to endure and a special-guest ribbing from Baghdad by Fox News Reporter Greg Kelly, the son of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. (NY Post)

4/12
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is quietly considering alternatives to his commuter tax proposal. Some are being contemplated by Democrats in the State Assembly, and some could include a tax increase for New York City residents as well as commuters. In one version, the proceeds from a new tax - which could be about one-half of 1 percent of income - would essentially go into one big pot and be divided based on a formula that takes into account workers' hometowns and the city where they work. Another version would tax all people who worked in the city, regardless of where they lived, according to the amount of time they earned money there. That version, which has not been fleshed out in any great detail, would tax full-time city residents at a higher rate than commuters, and would even tax people who work occasionally in the city, like professional athletes or touring performers. (NY Times)

If the city doesn't get roughly $1.7 billion in requested aid from Albany, the Bloomberg administration is ready to deliver 10,000 more pink slips to city workers - part of a $1 billion contingency plan that hits every sector of city government. (Daily News) (NY Post)

The city was poised to get about $200 million richer after Congress approved a deal last night on a $2.23 billion homeland security bill that included money for high-risk areas such as New York. (Daily News)

A failure by state leaders to authorize new local tax revenues would threaten the city's safety, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested Friday. Even while intoning his usual prediction that the state will come through, Bloomberg played up the fiscal downside as he prepared to bare his nightmare scenario of what could happen if it does not. The city needs a "broad-based tax," he said in his weekly WABC radio appearance, "to avoid the kinds of cuts that really would start making the streets unsafe. We can't do that ..." (Newsday)

4/11
Calling his upcoming worst-case budget plan "scary," Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned Thursday that numbers of teachers, police officers and firefighters could be "downsized" if the state fails to help the city. The declaration came as his differences with state and labor leaders deepened over how to close a growing city deficit that's already forcing more than 5,400 other employees to be laid off. (Newsday) (New York Times) (New York Post)

Making his point: Mayor Bloomberg speaks in Staten Island about status of its homeport yesterday. He'll meet Gov. Pataki tonight to discuss budget gap. With the budget clock ticking, Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki will meet for dinner tonight at a Manhattan restaurant - the Republicans' first get-together since their rare public feud last week over homeland security funding. (Daily News)

4/10
Racial finger-pointing erupted in the City Council yesterday over a vote to override Mayor Bloomberg's veto of a bill easing work requirements for people on welfare. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Smokers who think they can stand outside a bar drinking, cigarette in hand, are in for a rude awakening. First Mayor Bloomberg pushed through an indoor-smoking ban. Then yesterday, at his request, a bill was quietly introduced in the City Council to increase the fines of outdoor consumption of alcohol. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg launched his own overseas attack yesterday, filing suit against four foreign governments that he said owe the city a whopping $100M in back property taxes on their consulates or missions. (Daily News) (New York Times)

4/9
The Education Department will eliminate the equivalent of almost 2,000 full-time jobs at the end of the school year. The announcement came a day after the Bloomberg administration announced 3,400 layoffs at other city agencies. Together the cuts would be the largest city layoff since 1991. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday)

More than 10 percent of the Sanitation Department work force could be cut under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest proposal to cut the city’s budget deficit. Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Union, warned pickups would have to be reduced sharply if the layoffs go through, (New York Post)

Fire response times will increase in the neighborhoods where eight city firehouses are scheduled to be closed, but will remain below the city average in all but two cases, according to a Fire Department analysis. (New York Times)

The City Council today is expected to override mayoral vetoes of four measures that previously passed the council. (New York Post)

Two possible mayoral candidates, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion say they think the new smoking ban goes too far and would consider trying to change it. (New York Post)

4/8
Mayor Bloomberg moved to lay off 3,400 city workers and close eight Fire Department engine companies yesterday. The layoffs, to take effect in 30 days, run the gamut - from sanitation workers and correction officers to clerks, teacher's aides and civilian employees in the FDNY. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

After his disastrous lobbying efforts last week to steer federal security dollars away from the city to the state, Governor George Pataki backed down - handing Mayor Bloomberg most of what he wanted on homeland security funding. (Daily News)

With the lightning speed of a pickpocket, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council approved the largest property tax increase in city history with virtually no public input in the span of 11 days last fall. Never again. That's the goal of a new bill - titled the Fair and Open Tax Act of 2003 - to be introduced in the Council today. The proposed legislation would require the Council to conduct public hearings in each of the five boroughs at least 120 days before passing an increase in the property tax rate. (Daily News)

4/6
New York City would get its first-ever modern casinos as part of a top-secret plan to provide Mayor Bloomberg with more than $400 million a year in badly needed revenue. (NY Post)

Neighborhood residents and firefighters are urging Mayor Bloomberg to save eight firehouses from getting the ax - despite a panel's recent decision to support the move. (NY Post)

4/5
Gov. George Pataki chastised Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hinting that the mayor's insistence on the greater share of aid was hurting his request for a commuter tax. Pataki stepped up his efforts to press his case, saying yesterday that the state is spending millions of dollars each week to protect New York City. He accused the mayor of diminishing the efforts. "I don't understand why he would disparage our security efforts to help the people of the city." (NY Times) (NY Post)

Bloomberg's fast-paced effort to overhaul the city's public school system has run into growing and formidable opposition from local and state lawmakers, including some Republicans in Albany who say they feel betrayed after granting the mayor full control of the school system last year. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg told the municipal labor unions yesterday that they needed to get serious about finding ways to help the city balance its budget, and warned them they would have to deal with him for years because he had every intention of being re-elected. (NY Times) (Daily News)

Municipal unions are failing to offer the city "real savings" in closed-door talks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday in his most charged remarks yet on the subject. That prompted the head of a union coalition to ask whether the mayor is "trying to show how tough he can be in dealing with the work force." (Newsday)

4/4
Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday stepped up his efforts to wring concessions from municipal unions, while in Washington he battled competition from Gov. George Pataki for anti-terrorism aid. On both fronts, the administration was negotiating to obtain crucial tens of millions of dollars in outside help on which his crisis budget for the coming fiscal year depends. (Newsday) (Daily News) (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki smile warmly at each other in public. But their professional relationship has gone into the deep freeze on several fronts. (Daily News)

A proposed crackdown on big trucks using residential streets was rerouted yesterday for fine tuning. Fed up with heavy trucks using their neighborhoods as shortcuts, more than two dozen City Council members have sponsored a bill requiring truck drivers to carry certified maps of the city's authorized truck routes. They also would be required to have a destination routing sheet for each trip into the city. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a major overhaul of the city's failing special-education system yesterday, slashing 600 bureaucratic jobs and moving more children into regular classrooms. Four of five special ed students can't pass standardized tests, and fewer than half earn a high school diploma - a $2 billion mess that previous mayors have been unable to fix. (Daily News) (Newsday)

4/3
Nine months after New York City suspended the recycling of glass and plastics to save money, the city comptroller and several City Council members charged yesterday that the city would not save close to the $40 million the Bloomberg administration had projected. (NY Times)

The mayor is preparing a doomsday backup plan with $1 billion in further spending cuts, and as many as 15,000 layoffs in it, in case the city fails to get the help it is seeking from Albany. The implications are clear: if state officials do not approve a $1 billion commuter tax, and all the other help that the city is seeking to balance its budget, they could end up shouldering the blame for draconian cuts and layoffs. (NY Times)

4/2
With no state aid in sight and no concessions from unions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has begun drafting contingency plans to cut $1 billion from the city budget next fiscal year -- as much as 18 percent at some city agencies. The plans would include massive layoffs, with 10,000 to 15,000 workers losing their jobs. (New York Times) (Newsday) (Daily News)

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum yesterday became the latest public official to blame the city health department agency for a $14 million cut in federal funds for AIDS received by the city. New York recently saw a 12 percent cut in federal Ryan White Title I funds, which help pay for AIDS care in the cities hit hardest by disease. (Newsday)

4/1
New York City has agreed to settle a lawsuit that accused the Police Department of adopting a deliberate policy of singling out homeless people for arrest, according to court records and lawyers involved. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg sprinted down to Washington late yesterday in a last-ditch push to snag more homeland security aid for the cash-strapped city. (Daily News)

The pending deal between the Port Authority and the Bloomberg administration to swap the land beneath two airports for the World Trade Center property has picked up momentum in recent weeks, even as it has become a game of political pick-up sticks setting off repercussions on both sides of the Hudson River. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's deadline for winning $600 million in savings from city unions is expected to pass today without an agreement, union and city officials said yesterday, leaving another giant question mark hovering over the city's finances. (New York Times)

Click here to see The Record for March