The Record: December 2002

New Year's Eve security precautions will include the following restrictions on revelers in the Times Square area:

  • Backpacks and alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the area;
  • People should not abandon property at police checkpoints;
  • There will be access to all stores, theatres and restaurants but people should note the following traffic restrictions:

No parking in the following areas from 7:00 a.m. on Dec. 31, until 1:00 a.m. on January 1:

  • All cross-town streets from 34th to 57th Street between Sixth and Eighth Avenue;
  • West side of Sixth Avenue, from 34th to 59th Street;
  • East side of Eighth Avenue from 34th to 57th Street;
  • 48th Street between Fifth and Ninth Avenues.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. the following streets will be closed to all vehicular traffic:

  • Seventh Avenue, from 42nd to 57th Street;
  • Broadway, from 42nd to 57th Street;
  • 43rd to 47th Streets, from Sixth to Eighth Avenue.

After 5:00 p.m. the remainder of the traffic closures will be instituted as crowd conditions warrant:

  • All cross-town streets from 35th to 42nd Street - Sixth to Eighth Avenues;
  • All cross-town streets from 49th to 59th Street - Sixth to Eighth Avenues;
  • 48th Street, from Fifth to Ninth Avenues.
(Mayor's Office)

By the end of March, thanks to a law signed yesterday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, smoking will be banned in almost all bars and restaurants in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg called the smoking ban one of the most important things he has done in his life, saying that it would save "literally tens of thousands of lives." The law, which Bloomberg administration officials said would take effect on March 30, makes few exceptions. They include existing cigar bars, bars with no employees except the owners, nonprofit clubs with no employees, and some bars with enclosed smoking rooms. (New York Times) (Daily News) (NY Post) (Newsday)

Brooklyn Heights residents are fighting a plan to build an emergency command center in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge to replace Mayor Giuliani's $13 million "bunker," which was destroyed in the September 11 terror attack. "It's a mistake to put the OEM headquarters right next to two structures that are plainly potential terrorist targets," said the local City Council member, David Yassky, citing the bridge and the nearby federal courthouse. "In retrospect it was obviously an error to put the [original] headquarters right next to the twin towers [at 7 World Trade Center]. Knowing what we know now, that was clearly a mistake, and we shouldn't risk repeating it." The community board voted against the plan based on a wide variety of complaints, ranging from security to more mundane issues of traffic and park space. "It's not the kind of thing that would enhance the quality of the neighborhood," said Mark Zimmerman, president of the cooperative association at a nearby apartment complex, Concord Village. (New York Sun)

Trumpeting his administration's rookie-year successes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is resolving in 2003 to keep up the practice of ignoring his aides' advice -- by occasionally sounding out new, untested proposals in public. (Newsday)

When Michael Bloomberg was in the final stretch of the 2001 mayor's race, the billionaire Republican's TV ads warned that his Democratic foe, if elected, would wreck the City Hall of then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. But once in office, Bloomberg reversed course on dozens of Giuliani policies and practices, even as he sought to avoid directly antagonizing the ex-mayor. (Newsday)

Scores of deadbeat corporations, from giant General Electric to a local plumbing supply company, are evading a total of more than $1.2 million in parking fines, according to city records. (Daily News)

An overnight poll conducted on The News' Web site gave Bloomberg a big fat F. By 7 p.m., 50% of the respondents gave the mayor an F, while only 8% gave him an A. (Daily News)

The axed boss of the city's customer service office lacked patience for his job, city government leaders said yesterday, but an expert in handling customer complaints said he was in a no-win situation. (NY Post)

The Police Department laid off 103 janitorial workers yesterday, the first employees to lose their jobs in a department that must trim its spending by nearly 6 percent next year as the city faces a fiscal crisis unlike any since the 1970's. (NY Times)

The city's probation commissioner, Martin F. Horn, will take over the troubled Department of Correction, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday, while the administration seeks to formally merge the two agencies. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg last night abruptly fired the head of the city's customer-service office - after The Post alerted City Hall that the official had called New Yorkers and city workers "dumb," "whining" and "stupid." Fletcher Vredenburgh, who served as director of the Mayor's Action Center, trashed the very people he was supposed to be helping, in a Web-site essay on (New York Post)

As he ends his first year in office, Mayor Bloomberg is taking self-analysis to a new extreme - declaring yesterday he will create a mega report card covering 300 campaign promises. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday gave his so-called strike bike -- the bicycle he had bought to ride to work in the event of a transit strike -- to 16-year-old Michael Pruitt of Brooklyn who suffers from diabetes. On Christmas, the mayor also helped prepare holiday meals for Citymeals-on-Wheels and visited a fire house and a police station in Manhattan. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg persuaded Governor George Pataki to veto a bill that would have required welfare recipients without high school diplomas to get basic training in English. A spokesperson for the mayor said the measure would have limited the city's discretion in determining how best to aid welfare recipients, but many advocates for welfare recipients criticized the veto. (New York Post)

Speaker Gifford Miller boasted that the Council passed more substantive laws this year than ever before ("This is the most productive City Council in the history of city councils"), praised the racial and ethnic diversity of its leadership ("It's the most diverse in the history of the City Council") and maintained that it even broke a record this year for the number of public hearings ("We've held more hearings than any other Council"). (NY Times) (Daily News)

A city program to house homeless families temporarily in individual apartments across New York, begun as an emergency program two years ago, has ballooned to involve more than 2,000 apartments that now accommodate roughly a quarter of the city's population of homeless families. (NY Times)

In an interview at City Hall, Mayor Bloomberg said the first year of his administration has "absolutely" been a success. Clearly, Mr. Bloomberg's outsider status has shaken up the way business is done in City Hall, emboldening him to mull and attempt things without many of the political motivations that have traditionally fueled the machine of government.(NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg says there were few low points during his first year in office - unless you figure in some newspaper accounts. "There are days when you wake up and you read the newspapers and you want to shoot yourself," Bloomberg said in his last weekly radio show of 2002. "I'm always fascinated o find out where I was yesterday and what I said." (NY Post)

One year after taking office, Bloomberg looked back with pride last week on his first year, but pledged that in Year 2, he would work harder to form a deeper, more emotional connection with voters. (Daily News)

A proposal to turn an abandoned rail line on the far West Side of Manhattan into an elevated public promenade has been formally embraced by the Bloomberg administration, almost exactly a year after the Giuliani administration moved to demolish the hulking structure. Now, rather than seeking to tear down the 1.45-mile railroad viaduct, known as the High Line, New York City has asked the federal Surface Transportation Board to grant a certificate of interim trail use, which would preserve the route as a distinctly urban stretch in the national rails-to-trails network. (NY Times)

Despite Mayor Bloomberg's guarantee that quality of life in the Big Apple would not slip back to the bad old days, squeegee men are popping up in lower Manhattan. (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg took a rare swipe at his predecessor last week, suggesting that if Rudy Giuliani were still in office, there may well have been a transit strike. (Daily News)

In a major shift from the previous administration, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken legal action to save the 1.45-mile abandoned High Line rail on Manhattan's West Side, preserving the right to possibly build a unique, elevated public park, officials said. (Newsday)

In a surprise move at the 11th hour, Mayor Bloomberg secured an exemption in his tough anti-smoking bill to accommodate a cigar fest sponsored by a pal of Rudy Giuliani's. (NY Post)

Tensions between the city's largest fire union and the Michael Bloomberg flared Thursday, as the mayor threatened to lay off firefighters if crew reductions in some engine companies couldn't be made. Cutting costs through four-person engine companies is necessary "because the alternative is that we'd have to...lay off firefighters and I don't want to do that," Bloomberg said. "I want to keep as many firefighters as we possibly can ready to help the people of this city," the mayor said. The Uniformed Firefighters Association, representing the department's rank and file, this week filed a lawsuit to stop the reduction in staffing in 53 engine companies across the city aimed at saving $12 million. (Newsday) (NY Post)

The city is considering asking former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to assume some of the annual cost of more than $1 million for providing police security for him and people close to him, city officials said yesterday. The Police Department has considered disbanding the group of more than 20 officers to save money, and recently notified Mr. Giuliani's private consulting business of the possibility, a police official said. A final decision on the security team, which has been in existence around the clock since Mr. Giuliani left office in January, has not been reached, said city officials both inside and outside the Police Department. Mr. Giuliani is the only former mayor now receiving city security protection, a step extended to him when he left office largely because of his prominence after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Police officers are also guarding Mr. Giuliani's fiancee, Judith Nathan, and his children. (NY Times)

The City Council approved Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's antismoking bill yesterday at the last of its voting sessions this year.The bill passed 42 to 7 with 2 abstentions, an unusually large number of negative votes for a Council that tends to vote in lockstep with its leaders. It could become law around the end of March, depending on when Mr. Bloomberg actually signs it. (NY Times (Newsday)

Accusing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of a "credibility problem," the city controller ordered an audit of the agency yesterday to see if a 50-cent fare hike is needed. (Daily News) (NY Times)

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has replaced a dense report card that measured student performance in more than 100 hard-to-decipher categories with a minimalist version, which the plain-speaking chancellor said was more his style. (NY Times) (NY Post)

The City Council passed controversial legislation Wednesday that will ban cell phone use in live theaters, movie cinemas and all public performance stadiums, despite admitting that enforcement will be nearly impossible. Under the bill, which passed 40-9, violators will face a $50 fine. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg will veto the legislation because it is unenforceable, said Edward Skylar, a spokesman for the mayor. (Newsday)

The state Fiscal Control Board Wednesday described the city's budget plight as a half-billion dollars worse than the Bloomberg administration projects - an assessment promptly disputed and downplayed by city officials. (Newsday)

Council investigators who called 110 schools at random could not talk to - or even leave a message for - principals at two-thirds of the schools between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. (Daily News)

Digital X-rays at city hospitals. Parking tickets that can be contested online. Finding new homes for foster children through the Internet. Tax bills that can be paid with a click of a mouse. Hoping to prove that a little private sector know-how can go a long way in city government, Mayor Bloomberg outlined these and other technology innovations yesterday as part of a year-end focus on his first-term accomplishments. (Daily News)

The firefighters' union is suing the FDNY, claiming officials are using 9/11 as an excuse to reduce manpower in more than 50 engine companies. The lawsuit filed by the Uniformed Firefighters Association seeks to stop the city's plan to cut 53 city engine companies from five members to four, a move that could save the city $12 million. (NY Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday hailed the cityis continuing drop in crime and praised the Police Department and Commissioner Raymond Kelly for keeping crime down, despite budget cuts and the threat of terrorism. The mayor also noted that the number of fatalities from fires in the city had dropped as well. (Daily News) (New York Post)

The City Council challenged the Bloomberg administration yesterday on its claims that massive building projects tied to the 2012 Olympics would cost city taxpayers nothing. Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, who founded NYC2012 in 1998, insisted that the Olympics would be funded without city money if New York wins the international competition to host the games. (Newsday)

In City Council hearings yesterday about the cityis efforts to attract the 2012 Olympic games, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff said that Olympic facilities, such as an Olympic Village in Queens and extension of the Number 7 subway line, would all be put to good use after the games. (New York Post)

Several members of the City Council yesterday urged State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno to resign because the upstate Republican made a reference to lynching when he recently defended embattled U.S. Senator Trent Lott. Bruno said people should cut Lott isome slacki since he has apologized for comments that appeared to praise racial segregation. "What else do you want to do? You want to hang him from an oak tree?" Bruno said. (New York Post)

The transit workers' union and the M.T.A. announced a tentative agreement that calls for a 6 percent raise over three years. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post) (Daily News)

In a week of bitter transit talks over money and power, the last and biggest obstacle that negotiators cleared last night was about neither. It was about an abstraction: the meaning of zero. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority insisted, and Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union eventually agreed, that workers would get no pay raise in the first year of a three-year deal. (New York Times)

Out-of-control parents at youth sporting events could get the boot under a City Council bill, but the Bloomberg administration fears the measure could be a liability nightmare. (New York Post)

The New York Fire Department has a complex history of breathtaking heroism and small-minded racism, of resistance to change and awareness of its political clout. It is the largest in the country, with more than 11,000 full-time firefighters and officers, 228 firehouses, and 322 square miles of congested roads and soaring high-rises to protect. And its fraternal ways do not conform readily to distant public-policy analysis; for example, firefighters swap shifts to accommodate second jobs so often that critics wonder which job really is the second job. (NY Times)

Senior Bloomberg administration officials defended a compromise version of the mayor's sweeping anti-smoking legislation yesterday from attacks by City Council members unhappy with changes negotiated by their own leaders. Testifying before the Council's Health Committee, Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff and Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden argued that banning smoking in almost all bars and restaurants could benefit those businesses, and that the exceptions they agreed to were pragmatic and fair. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg has pledged city funds to make up any shortfall in the $71.5 million he has vowed to raise privately to host the 2004 Republican National Convention, it was revealed yesterday. But city officials insisted that guarantee of taxpayer money to support New York's convention bid was just a formality and they expect no problem in raising the big bucks privately. (NY Post)

New Yorkers look to City Hall to provide leadership or else suffer their wrath during a strike. This is why all eyes were on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg this week as pressure mounted from many corners to do what Rudolph W. Giuliani did three years ago: talk tough, seek damages (Mr. Bloomberg did so late this week) and even threaten workers with mass firings. But there are several key differences in the dynamics between the three major players in this crisis - the state, the city and the union - this year as compared with 1999. These dynamics are driven by the changes in leadership at the union and City Hall, and the revised relationships between the mayor and the governor and New York City's new fiscal agenda. (NY Times)

Mike (The Bike) Bloomberg went shopping for a new set of wheels yesterday - and picked out a pricey, 27-speed roadster to power himself through any transit strike. (Daily News) (NY Post)

City health care workers can receive a smallpox vaccination next month if they choose, Health Department officials said Friday. About 15,000 doses of the vaccine will be made available from the federal government to city health care workers on or around Jan. 24, and those people being vaccinated will be asked to assist the city in helping to treat people if an outbreak were to occur. (Newsday)

Both the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City filed lawsuits yesterday in an attempt to prevent a transit strike. The transportation authority sought an injunction and fines on transit workers that strike under the guidelines set by the Taylor Law, which forbids transit workers from striking. The city demanded even harsher penalties against striking transit workers, calling for a $1 million fine on the union and a $25,000 fine on each transit worker for every day of the strike, with penalties doubling each day. The city also wants the Transit Workers Union to reimburse the city for its added expenses during a strike.

"Mayor Bloomberg should shut up," responded Roger Toussaint, head of Transport Workers Union Local 100. "The fines, the injunctions are not going to ... force transit workers to settle." (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post) (Newsday)

From redrawn commuter-train schedules to special buses to get emergency workers to the office on time, from a state of emergency in Jersey City to children flatly announcing plans to skip school, everybody had a transit strike contingency plan yesterday. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday offered his vision of the future of Lower Manhattan: a collection of neighborhoods stitched together by large parks and broad pedestrian walkways, with a direct mass transit link to Kennedy Airport via a new tunnel under the East River. (NY Times) (Newsday) (NY Post) (Daily News)

New Yorkers seeking food stamps have been discouraged by cumbersome application procedures even as food pantries and soup kitchens draw record numbers, according to a City Council probe. (Newsday)

Smoking will be banned in virtually all bars, restaurants and clubs by the spring. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

Investigators in the expanding Rikers Island corruption probe are trying to determine whether jail officials pocketed proceeds from the sale of scrap metal. (Daily News)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said yesterday he plans to fire 50 of the city's worst principals in an unprecendented housecleaning. (Daily News) (NY Post)

The head of the fire officers union called Mayor Bloomberg's second-in-command "petty and stupid" and urged he be fired for calling the FDNY a bastion of inefficiency. In a Dec. 9 letter to the mayor's office, Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Peter Gorman blasted Deputy Mayor Marc Shaw's recent remarks that firefighters are "hanging around doing nothing 95% of the time." (Daily News) (Newsday)

Governor George Pataki refused yesterday to become involved in contract talks between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Transport Workers Union, even as union president Roger Toussaint said the sides were itwo continents apart.i With the unionis contract set to expire on Sunday, the city continued to prepare for a possible strike that would shut down city subways and buses.(Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

The eventual outcome of contract talks between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Transport Workers Union could establish a pattern for future public employee pay raises and for the principle of union givebacks at a time when the city and the state are broke. (Daily News)

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein reportedly plans to announce today the creation of a training institute for new principals, at least partly financed with private dollars. (New York Times)

A computerized timekeeping system that was supposed to save the city's social-service agency millions of dollars ended up costing twice as much as planned and saved no money, City Comptroller Bill Thompson said yesterday. An audit by Thompson's office found that the AutoTime paperless system used by the Human Resource Administration is fraught with problems and still incomplete after seven years. AutoTime was intended to help the agency reduce costs and errors and eliminate paperwork. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday unveiled a plan that would tighten the noose on car commuters if there's a transit strike - and that threatens to leave a chaotic nightmare in its wake. (New York Post) (Newsday)

Just days from a strike deadline, the transit workers' union and management remained far apart yesterday, unable to reach agreement on even the meaning and cost of some basic contract proposals. With the city's 34,000 subway and bus workers threatening a walkout next Monday, a wide gap remained on all major contract issues, including wages, pensions, health coverage and changing the discipline system. (New York Times) (New York Daily News)

As the city braces for a possible transit strike, City Hall also is plotting an aggressive legal strategy that, as it has before, may well stop any strike from happening. (New York Daily News)

Half of the deaths of children whose cases were known to the city's child welfare system could have been averted by better monitoring of foster homes, better intervention with families and more education about the appropriate care of young children, according to a report published yesterday by the public advocate Betsy Gotbaum's office. (New York Times)

With less than a week to go before the Dec. 15 contract expiration, the Transport Workers Union and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority appear to be far apart. The union authorized a strike Saturday after the MTA last week offered no pay increase during the first year and hikes tied to productivity during the second and third years. The union is demanding 24 percent over the three years. .. Mayor Bloomberg said the strike could cost the city up to $100 million a day and predicted other gloomy consequences. "The damage to the city would be terrible," Bloomberg said. (New York Post)

A transit strike is a vision of human and economic chaos.It happened twice before in modern times - for 12 days in 1966 and for 11 days in 1980 - and it could happen again next weekend, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents 34,000 transit workers, at loggerheads over wages and other issues. The union has demanded a 24 percent wage increase over three years; the transportation authority, facing a $2 billion deficit and the prospect of 25- or 50-cent fare increases, has called for a one- year wage freeze, with raises in the second and third years only if warranted by productivity increases. The transit workers now average $44,000 a year; the average was $18,520 in 1980, when the fare was 50 cents, and $6,250 in 1966, when a ride cost a quaint 15 cents.The two sides were so far apart yesterday that they did not even agree on when the contract expires and a strike might begin. The union said the current three-year agreement would end at 12:01 a.m. next Monday; a strike then would hit with maximum impact at the start of the workweek, and at the height of the holiday shopping season. The authority says the contract ends at 12:01 a.m. Sunday; a strike then would give commuters and others a day's breather to map strategy. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg warned yesterday that "hotheads" who walk off their transit jobs will be severely punished, as the city prepared today to unveil a subway and bus strike contingency plan. If "hotheads go out and strike, there's serious consequences - and we will make sure that the courts, to the extent we possibly can, invoke every single one of those consequences," he said. "The damage to the city would be terrible." (Daily News)

Governor Pataki must step up and take action to avert a looming transit strike that could cripple the city in the heart of the holiday season, City Council members said yesterday.

There's really only one person in New York State who can stop this strike from happening single-handedly and that's Governor Pataki," said Council Member Bill DeBlasio, a Democrat from Brooklyn.

Contract talks between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and subway and bus workers are locked in hostilities at absolutely the worst time, the council members said, noting Mr. Pataki has the largest number of appointees to the board of the state agency. The city is $6 billion in the red and just as the holiday shopping and tourist season brings a ray of hope, a determined Transport Workers Union - provoked by its meager contract offer - seems prepared put to the brakes on the subway and buses in six days. (New York Sun)

Gov. Pataki is poised to call out the National Guard and send state troopers to New York City if the transit union strikes next weekend, sources said yesterday. (New York Post)

Firehouse closings are inevitable, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday, as firefighters fumed over a top City Hall official's charges that the FDNY is a bastion of inefficiency. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is planning to shift some of his attention this week to the physical condition of New York City, particularly its housing.

In the first of two major speeches on the subject, Mr. Bloomberg tomorrow will lay out his administration's vision for creating roughly 60,000 housing units throughout the five boroughs over the next four years. The proposals would cost hundreds of millions of dollars in state, federal and city funds — some of it currently earmarked for other uses — and millions more in private investment. (New York Times)

The city will have to go ahead with plans to close several firehouses, Deputy Mayor Marc Shaw said yesterday, calling an agreement to set up a commission to study the issue a "political punt." (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

A week after signing the largest property tax increase in the city's history, Mayor Bloomberg is now making a different kind of history - he's got the lowest approval rating of any mayor in more than a decade. (Daily News)

A joint City Council committee session examined the growing phenomenon of teenage prostitution in New York. (NY Times) (NY Post)

As New York City began to prepare for the possibility of a transit strike, Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned yesterday that a strike would dangerously cripple the city and could even lead to deaths because emergency vehicles would be unable to navigate the gridlocked streets. (NY Times) (Daily News)

With the budget behind them, City Council leaders and the Bloomberg administration have intensified negotiations on the mayor's prized antismoking legislation, and hope to reach an agreement as early as next week. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

The City Council Education Committee bucked the mayor and unanimously passed a bill requiring the schools chancellor to reveal the status and cost of every school construction project. (Daily News)

New York City is receiving less federal money to help people get jobs and could lose more because of an ongoing failure to spend what has been allocated, City Council officials said yesterday. At a hearing to review the city's employment programs, council members expressed concern that the city was not moving quickly enough to spend the federal funds. Under the federal Workforce Investment Act, created in 1998, the city has received hundreds of millions of dollars to create one-stop career centers where job referrals, counseling, training and other services are provided. But government officials and workers' advocates have long expressed concern that the Giuliani administration had channeled most of the funds to the city's welfare agency to get people off welfare and had not offered enough support to people seeking work. State and federal officials had warned city officials last year that about $70 million could revert to the federal coffers if not spent within two years. (NY Times)

City Council speaker Gifford Miller and several other council members criticized Gov. George Pataki yesterday for the recent decision not to award an Empire Zone to Chinatown. "I'm just frankly very disappointed that the Pataki administration turned down our Chinatown application," said Miller, speaking at a Lafayette Street hotel in front of Chinatown business leaders and activists, who cite the closure of 65 garment businesses as evidence that the neighborhood is still reeling economically from the Sept. 11 attacks. "The city has 40 percent of the population, so it should have gotten two Empire Zones," he said. Miller urged the state to re-think the decision, or at least offer Chinatown another chance. (Newsday)

Increase the workweek for city workers to at least 40 hours. Eliminate planned, predictable overtime shifts for police officers. Provide more preventive services to keep borderline students in regular classes, rather than more expensive special education classes. And remind all employees: last one out, turn off the lights! Those were some of the suggestions in a series of reports issued by the Citizens Budget Commission yesterday by a private budget-watchdog group contending that the city could save more than $1 billion a year (NY Times)  (Daily News)  (NY Post)

How close was New York City to bankruptcy in 1975? So close that the city's lawyers were in State Supreme Court filing a bankruptcy petition. So close that police cars were mobilized to serve the papers on the banks. So close that aides to Mayor Abraham D. Beame had written a statement announcing the default along with an emergency effort to save the city's dwindling cash for vital services like police and fire protection.That close. With the city struggling to stem a new flood of red ink, grim vignettes of the earlier fiscal crisis - grimmer, perhaps, than all but the closest insiders knew - emerged yesterday at a forum at Baruch College to mark the presentation to its School of Public Affairs of a voluminous archive of the 1970's trauma. (NY Times)

Domestic violence victims will now be able to receive emergency shelter without police documentation under separate bills the City Council passed Wednesday. (Newsday)

The city might have to peddle some of its assets to close a projected $3 billion budget gap next year, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller said yesterday. "You can sell things," Miller said at a Baruch College forum on the budget. "We may get to that point." (NY Post)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller said yesterday the city may have to increase its income tax if state lawmakers do not approve a commuter tax and provide other aid to help the city solve its budget problems. (New York Post

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said budget cuts and the increase in the property tax will balance the city's budget this fiscal year and put it on track to close about half of its projected $6.4 billion budget gap next year. To close the rest of next yearis gap, though, Bloomberg will need the cooperation of the state, the federal government and the unions. (New York Times

The City Councilis Committee on Aging unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that will allow an estimated 400 or more elderly homeowners to qualify for a property tax break, officials said. The measure would raise the income eligibility threshold limit by $1,000 for the Senior Citizens Homeowners Exemption program, which provides reduced property taxes for those 65 and older. The bill is expected to be passed by the full council and is likely to be approved by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, council officials said. (Newsday

The mayor on Monday signed legislation hiking property taxes an immediate 18.5 percent. (Newsday)  (Daily News)  (New York Post

City officials have submitted a preliminary plan to the feds for dealing with a terrorist-launched smallpox epidemic, officials said yesterday. (Newsday)  (New York Post

The city Education Department faces the prospect of a class-action suit if it fails to follow strict federal guidelines on school choice, advocacy groups and lawmakers predict. Under President Bushpis No Child Left Behind legislation, poor children in failing schools are entitled to attend better ones a even if there is no space available. (New York Sun

Since taking office as public advocate in January, Betsy Gotbaum has had a hard time getting her footing. Marginalized, she is now so far out of the loop that, to her critics, she has become a joke at City Hall. And no one knows that better than Ms. Gotbaum herself. (New York Times)

As the nation marks World AIDS Day today, activists are slamming Mayor Bloomberg for ignoring exploding numbers of homeless people with AIDS in New York. (Daily News)

The Sanitation Department began enforcing "personal appearance standards," which have torn through the rank and file like a boot camp buzz-cutter since they were issued by department officials last month. (NY Times)

Despite its growing fiscal crisis, the city is rejecting a $6 million windfall from its biggest property tax deadbeat, lawyers involved in a battle over the real estate charge. (Daily News)

With budget negotiations completed, key members of the City Council's Black and Hispanic Caucus have begun quietly jockeying for future leadership of the organization. (Newsday)

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