GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002:The Record

The Record: December 2005

12/28

Roberto Ramirez, 55, is one of the city's consummate political players and, if the polls are to be believed, the man who will be the power behind the throne when the former Bronx borough president, Fernando Ferrer, wins City Hall next November."No one said I would be a kingmaker when I supported Chuck Schumer and delivered the entire Bronx delegation to him," Mr. Ramirez said... " So why do they say that I am a kingmaker with Fernando Ferrer?" Messrs. Ferrer and Ramirez have been like brothers for more than a decade. (New York Sun)

12/26

Fernando Ferrer is facing his third run for mayor and again must navigate one of the most challenging aspects a candidate faces in a city where politics has long been defined by race and ethnicity: how to energize one's base, in Mr. Ferrer's case Hispanic voters, without turning off other constituenciesů. He expresses frustration and despair when asked to talk about the politics of race, choosing instead to discuss policy issues, like the state of the schools, or the mayor's plan for redeveloping the West Side. (New York Times)

He oversaw passage of the largest property tax increase in city history, shepherded through a controversial ban on indoor smoking and supports the city's bid for the Olympic Games and the redevelopment of Manhattan's far West Side. Who's the mystery man? City Council Speaker Gifford Miller. As the race for City Hall picks up pace, Miller plans to portray himself as the lone Democratic candidate who has been fighting Mayor Bloomberg day in and day out at City Hall. "The Democrat who is going to take on Michael Bloomberg and win is the Democrat who's already done it," boasted Miller at a fund-raiser in late last month. But Miller's critics say his record is awfully similar to Bloomberg's - and that the ambitious speaker has failed to distinguish himself on high-profile issues. (Daily News)

12/25

Mayor Bloomberg called his failure to negotiate contracts with the city's most powerful municipal unions one of his biggest disappointments of the past year. In a freewheeling end-of-the-year interview on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg listed the absence of a terrorist attack and the declining number of homicides, fire deaths, and traffic deaths as top accomplishments. "On balance," Bloomberg concluded, "it's been a good year." But his administration's failure to come to terms with the city's cops, firefighters and teachers topped his list of setbacks. ( Daily News)

12/24

It may be time for the city to cash out and sell Off-Track Betting - even if the odds of finding a buyer are slim, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. (Daily News)

The city is starting to see more of its share of homeland security money, but it's not enough, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. (Daily News)

12/23

Steve Shaw was once the president of his co-op board, the only elected office he said he had ever held, and now he wants to be mayor of New York City. Shaw, 30, an investment banker with a Canadian firm in Midtown Manhattan, is planning to run in a Republican primary against Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (NY Times)

12/22

A law that allows time to keep running down on former State Senator Guy Velella's jail sentence while he is out of jail making legal appeals, should be changed, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday. Velella has already shaved 86 days off of his sentence during the legal maneuvering over his early release from prison. He is slated to return to jail December 27 but his lawyers will probably file another appeal. (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

12/21

New York state appeals court ruled yesterday that former State Senator Guy J. Velella and four other released inmates must return to jail next Monday, unanimously upholding a mayoral panel's order that their early release from Rikers Island was illegal.

The ruling by five justices of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, First Department, appeared to give Mr. Velella little room to maneuver to stay out of jail (New York Times) Velella lawyer Charles Stillman said: "We are deeply disappointed by the court's decision. It will not be a pleasant holiday for our clients." He said he will "seek relief" from the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals. That court, however, rarely hears appeals on unanimous decisions. (New York Post) Each day that Velella is out counts against his sentence - which means he could have 92 days chopped off if he turns himself in next Monday. (Daily News)

Norman Siegel, the former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said yesterday that he intended to run for public advocate next year, seeking to unseat the incumbent, Betsy Gotbaum. (New York Times)

The Bloomberg administration's $4.1 billion financial plan for transforming the West Side of Manhattan has run into increasing criticism from independent financial analysts as an expensive and risky strategy that may be impossible to pursue under current statutes. Critics are not opposed to the extension of the No. 7 subway line from Times Square to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, or the new streets, parks and other projects within the plan. But they say that the administration's method of paying for these projects, along with the city's $300 million share in a new football stadium for the Jets, will add an unnecessary $1.3 billion to the price tag and pose risks for the city budget. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg took a swipe at his opponents yesterday, saying candidates who take contributions from people who do business with the city are corrupt. Bloomberg, a billionaire who self-finances his campaigns, was defending a Campaign Finance Board plan that would make it easier to track city vendors who make political donations. "I fail to see why, if I spend money that I earned myself, it should give you the right to go out and be corrupt," Bloomberg said yesterday of so-called "pay-to-play" donations. (Daily News)

The new $5 limit on teacher gifts should be scrapped in the name of common sense, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and the president of the teachers union said yesterday. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg defended a firefighter who contends harassment drove her out of an elite FDNY unit, saying yesterday that the city will not abide on-the-job discrimination. "We will have zero tolerance for any kind of discrimination based on gender and lots of other things - [sexual] orientation, marital status, race, religion," Bloomberg told reporters. The mayor's comments followed a Daily News story that detailed the alleged harassment suffered by Firefighter Adrienne Walsh during the 32 days she worked at Rescue 4, a storied fire company in Queens. (Daily News)

12/20

The city intends to use computer data to track campaign contributors who have municipal contracts. (NY Times)

Job growth in the New York metropolitan region will stagnate without a major expansion of commuter rail and subway access, according to a report. (NY Times)

12/19

The bond between President Bush and Bernard B. Kerik was a key factor in Mr. Bush's decision to nominate the former police commissioner to head homeland security. (NY Times)

Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik is likely to face fresh questions about his conduct this week when explosive E-mails are turned over to city investigators, the Daily News has learned. (Daily News)

A city correction officer romantically linked to Bernard Kerik when he was correction commissioner got away with breaking tax rules that led to more than 100 of her co-workers being arrested or fired in a 1990s scandal, The Post has learned. (NY Post)

Charging that their careers were sabotaged in part for failing to meet departmental quotas, nine black and Latino police officers said yesterday they are mounting a federal discrimination lawsuit against the city. (Newsday)

12/18

Outside of New York, Rudolph W. Giuliani's reputation continues to glow despite Bernard B. Kerik's woes. (NY Times)

The city has settled a lawsuit by victims of domestic violence over the placement of children in foster homes on the grounds that their mothers had been abused. (NY Times)

The leader of the State Senate said on Friday that he would call its members back to Albany next week to try to overhaul the budget process. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg suggested yesterday that layoffs of police officers could result if a labor arbitrator awarded them too much money in their current contract dispute with the city. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

States in the New York metropolitan region are still falling far short of being able to respond effectively to a biological attack or other large-scale public health emergency, according to a study by a nonpartisan public health organization. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg conceded yesterday that Bernard Kerik made "mistakes in judgment," but lobbed shots at the media for a "feeding frenzy" over the former top cop's problems. (Daily News)

Bernie Kerik has a message for prosecutors: Bring it on. The tough-guy former NYPD commissioner "welcomes" inquiries by the Bronx district attorney, saying they'll put to rest allegations about unethical gifts. (Daily News)

One day after his investigation commissioner revealed a probe of facts behind the Bernard Kerik fiasco, Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted that he handles such matters differently than did his predecessor. (Newsday)

The memorial honoring World Trade Center victims will include a forest of oak trees with a clearing for Sept. 11 gatherings and a Memorial Hall between twin reflecting pools. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg gave conditional approval to the general idea of opening a Wal-Mart superstore in Rego Park. (Newsday)

A small tax break by the city could mean big breaks for New Yorkers, city officials and entertainment leaders said about a new tax incentive. (Newsday)

12/17

Aiming to give the mayor his due, without it sounding too much like a compliment, City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. said in an interview this week that Michael R. Bloomberg is "not disliked" by minority voters. (NY Times)

It's city government meets e-Bay. The Bloomberg administration is creating a Web site that will encourage vendors to bid against one other for city contracts. (NY Post)

The former top aide to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, at the center of the latest sex scandal storm swirling around the council, yesterday denied ever harassing anyone. (NY Post)

12/16

The City Council voted overwhelmingly yesterday to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto of legislation that increases the public money available to candidates who face wealthy opponents. (NY Times)

Barry Ford, a longtime Democratic political operative and fund-raiser who once ran for Congress resigned from his position as chief policy adviser to the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, after he had been accused of "inappropriate behavior" by three women on his staff, according to two officials on the Council staff. (NY Times) (NY Post) (Daily News)

The city's massive budget deficit just got a little smaller, thanks in part to soaring property values and better-than-expected profits from Wall Street. (NY Post) (Daily News)

The City Council turned up the heat yesterday on landlords who let their tenants get cold. Just as a cold snap had the city shivering, the Council voted, 49 to 0, to double the current $250 fine for a heating violation. (Daily News)

12/15

The city has $682 million more than originally was projected when the City Council approved the budget in June. (Daily News)

A bill that would let tenants in buildings that do not allow animals replace a pet after it dies without fear of eviction passed the City Council Housing and Buildings Committee by a vote of 7-4 yesterday. (Daily News)

The bill to allow tenants to replaced dead pets is being delayed in City Council as landlords lobby Speaker Gifford Miller to block the bill. Some opponents of the measure say it rewards tenants who broke the rules by keeping pets in no-pet buildings. (New York Post)

A City Council hearing turned into a dogfight when a pet advocate equated animal rights with civil rights and pro-slavery Southerners with building co-op boards. (Newsday)

A City Council committee yesterday voted to double the fines for landlords who do not provide tenants with heat and hot water. The new fines will be $500 a day and $1,000 for repeat offenders. (New York Post)

As he embarks on his second mayoral campaign, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is both remarkably the same and altogether different from the candidate of 2001, when he played the role of the unlikely billionaire awkwardly lurching through his first political race. (New York Times)

12/14

Mayor Bloomberg's plan to rezone Manhattan's far West Side includes too little affordable housing, critics charged in the first City Council hearings on the ambitious project. (Daily News) (Newsday)

Crystallizing his message for his re-election campaign, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that crime has fallen nearly 5 percent this year in New York, and wrapped the announcement in a rosy assessment of life in the city under his tutelage. (NY Times)

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Some of the city's brightest kids are being shortchanged by a school system that does not offer enough academically challenging classes, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller charged yesterday. (NY Post)

12/13

Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani had a Christmas dinner at the White House on Sunday night, and he attended with an important goal in mind: to apologize to his host for pushing Bernard B. Kerik as homeland security secretary and then watching as Mr. Kerik's nomination collapsed in legal problems and embarrassed the president of the United States. (NY Times)

Guy Velella's son-in-law quietly holds a plum, $127,000-a-year job in city government - and Mayor Bloomberg now has to decide if he'll keep it. (NY Post)

12/12

Bernard B. Kerik, the former homeland security secretary nominee, said he faced an "ugly" process of confirmation. (NY Times) (Newsday) (NY Post)

After three years out of the public eye and with bitter memories of the 2001 mayoral primary still strong, Democrat Fernando Ferrer has landed in an unfamiliar position - front-runner - in the race to oust Mayor Bloomberg. (NY Post)

12/11

The Pataki administration Friday approved a rent assistance plan to help families in New York City leave shelters or avoid eviction. (NY Times)

The battle between lawyers for the federal and city governments over the crash of the Staten Island ferry last year has grown increasingly public in recent days. (NY Times)

Just last week, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had urged Cablevision to get into the holiday spirit and drop its vocal opposition to a proposed stadium on the far West Side of Manhattan. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg found himself on the defensive yesterday for a comment made by one of his aides that the City Council "is spending money like a drunken sailor." One councilman suggested that the remark had denigrated the nation's uniformed men and women in white. (NY Times)

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro laundered mob money and got a mob associate's daughter a city job in exchange for the cash, a Colombo crime-family pal claims in bombshell court documents obtained by The Post. (NY Post)

The state has begun enacting legislation designed to give consumers confidence that food they are buying as kosher really is. (NY Post)

There's at least one bit of good news likely to emerge from the budget cuts Mayor Bloomberg has on tap for next year - no layoffs. (NY Post)

Tension between Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council has intensified, with Bloomberg hinting Friday that some popular city services may have to be cut. (Newsday)

City attorneys can interview employees about the October 2003 Staten Island ferry crash despite the concerns of federal prosecutors that the conversations could interfere with their criminal case, a Brooklyn magistrate ruled Friday. (Newsday)

12/10

A deal announced yesterday between the city and its unionized municipal doctors sent a not-so-subtle message to thousands of teachers, cops and firefighters who also want raises: They'll get them in return for higher productivity. (NY Post)

City teachers could get a raise if they agree to work an extra class period each day so schools could hire fewer substitute instructors, Mayor Bloomberg suggested yesterday. The comment drew sharp rebuke from Randi Weingarten, head of the United Federation of Teachers. (Daily News)

The decision of William C. Thompson Jr., the city comptroller, not to run for mayor has changed the political calculus of the race, and many say the main beneficiary will be C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president and a mayoral hopeful. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg has found a new way to lob potshots at Madison Square Garden's anti-stadium owners - he's boycotting Knicks games. (Daily News)

12/09

New York City has entered into a marketing agreement with the History Channel in which the cable station will give the city free advertising and sponsor the improvement of historic projects in exchange for attaching its name to various tourist attractions around town. (NY Times)

Spending by the city is growing at nearly four times the rate of inflation, state Comptroller Alan Hevesi reported yesterday. Hevesi's latest review of the city's finances found overall city-funded spending soared by 9.5 percent last year and is projected to grow by another 9.4 percent this year. (NY Post)

The man behind the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics said yesterday he's trying to protect taxpayers in case the event proves a financial flop. The first draft of a "host city agreement," which officials must sign to win the Games, makes city taxpayers liable for any red ink the event generates, according to Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff. The city and state already have authorized $250 million to cover any shortfall, and Doctoroff says the city built a $200 million "cushion" into its proposed budget for the Summer Games. Doctoroff said city officials are trying to revise the hosting agreement to protect New Yorkers from losses beyond those figures. (Daily News)

Ending months of speculation, City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. is expected to announce early next week that he will not seek the Democratic mayoral nomination in 2005, according to City Hall sources. (Newsday)

12/08

The City Council yesterday voted to override the mayor's veto of a bill to put nurses in city schools. (Gotham Gazette Searchlight)

The firefighters union yesterday passed a vote of no confidence in Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. The firefighters are angry over staffing cuts and the lack of a new contract (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta yesterday defended city efforts to crack down on illicit behavior in fire houses and to cut the number of firefighters in engine companies. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Despite objections from the Bloomberg administration, the City Council yesterday voted to increase service on the Staten Island ferry during morning rush hour, nights and on weekends. (New York Times) (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that temporary increases in sales and income taxes should end next year as scheduled if at all possible but left the issue up to the state government. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is in a budget crunch, should not grant free lifetime travel privileges to board members and their spouses. (Daily News)

Celebrating the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, at sundown last night, Mayor Bloomberg said the city has "beaten the odds" just like the Maccabees whose triumph the holiday celebrates. (New York Post)

12/07

Thumbing his nose at critics, Mayor Bloomberg last night roundly praised the Independence Party and said it is growing at the expense of the floundering Republican and Democratic parties because voters are "not going to take it any more." The mayor's remarks at an Independence Party gathering in Chelsea came just hours after City Council Speaker Gifford Miller demanded that Bloomberg denounce party leader Lenora Fulani for practicing "divisive politics." (New York Post)

Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, the highest-ranking black woman in city government, will soon announce she'll seek the 2005 Democratic nomination for mayor (Newsday)

A city firefighter beaten unconscious by a comrade on New Year's Eve was attacked from behind with a metal chair and then pummeled as he lay on the ground, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday. The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, against the city and others also claimed that superior officers were present on Dec. 31, 2003, and did nothing after hearing Firefighter Michael Silvestri threaten to hit Firefighter Robert Walsh with the chair. (Newsday)

Thumbing his nose at critics, Mayor Bloomberg last night roundly praised the Independence Party and said it is growing at the expense of the floundering Republican and Democratic parties because voters are "not going to take it any more." The mayor's remarks at an Independence Party gathering in Chelsea came just hours after City Council Speaker Gifford Miller demanded that Bloomberg denounce party leader Lenora Fulani for practicing "divisive politics." (New York Post)

Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, the highest-ranking black woman in city government, will soon announce she'll seek the 2005 Democratic nomination for mayor (Newsday)
Fernando Ferrer said yesterday that while he believes, along with Mr. Bloomberg and other proponents of U.N. expansion, that the development would be "very good economically" for New York, he added, "Whether the U.N. needs our financial assistance to get this done is another question." He also said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan should resign. (NY Sun)
A city firefighter beaten unconscious by a comrade on New Year's Eve was attacked from behind with a metal chair and then pummeled as he lay on the ground, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.
The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, against the city and others also claimed that superior officers were present on Dec. 31, 2003, and did nothing after hearing Firefighter Michael Silvestri threaten to hit Firefighter Robert Walsh with the chair. (Newsday)

In his first public comments on Guy Velella's early release from jail, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau Monday criticized the board that freed the former state senator after he had served a mere three months of a year-long sentence for taking bribes. "As we have seen in the Velella case, it does not serve the public interest to vest agencies that operate with little or no public scrutiny with too much discretion over the length of jail or prison terms," Morgenthau said at a press conference yesterday. "Sentences, whether severe or lenient, should be determined not in secret but in open court with all parties present." Morgenthau's comments were made as he called for reforms in the Rockefeller drug laws, including fixed sentences with release dates that bear a closer relationship to terms fixed in court (Newsday)

12/06

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday spent the day in Harlem, where he must win voters if he wants to get re-elected next year. (NY Post) (Newsday)

Disgruntled firefighters are expected to pass a "no-confidence" vote Tuesday against Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. (Newsday)

New York's Olympic organizers have reserved almost all outdoor advertising space as part of an unprecedented marketing plan. (NY Times)

12/05

he political football that is former State Senator Guy J. Velella's fate has landed in a state appeals court, where a panel of five judges will take it up later this month. (NY Times)

Before year's end, we'll know if city Controller William Thompson will try to unseat Mayor Bloomberg or stay put - a decision that will have a ripple effect on next year's race for City Hall. (Daily News)

12/04

The City Council speaker seized an opportunity yesterday to attack the mayor on Staten Island, a traditionally Republican stronghold where many residents say that their quality of life has eroded in recent years. (NY Times) (NY Post)

For many companies and their lobbyists, the cost of doing business with the City Council already includes the obligatory round of fund-raisers and receptions for its 51 members. (NY Times)

New York and four European capitals brought their campaigns for the 2012 Summer Olympics to a hall full of European sports leaders on Friday after being warned by the International Olympic Committee to stop criticizing each other. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

Former Queens City Councilman Matthew Troy, whose career crashed in 1976 after he was found guilty of tax evasion and taking money from the clients of his law practice, died yesterday from Parkinson's disease. He was 75. (NY Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted to KISS-FM he prefers briefs to boxer shorts. (Newsday)

12/03

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday ruled out raising taxes to help pay a multibillion-dollar court mandate to fund city schools, and held firm that Albany should shoulder the burden. (NY Post)

Even though the Fire Department has begun cutting the number of five- firefighter trucks, services at the FDNY aren't being reduced, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. (NY Post)

The Republicans who control the State Senate dealt a rebuke to a fellow Republican, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, on Thursday, scuttling legislation he had long championed to allow the United Nations to move forward with a planned renovation and expansion of its headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan. (NY Times)

Sweatshops be bad, but a City Council law aimed at forcing city agencies to buy only from "responsible" manufacturers is full of holes, a judge has ruled. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman found that while the 2001 law was well-intended, it gave the city's controller too much power over city contracts. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg is set to attend an Independence Party dinner Monday - putting him in the same room as the controversial Lenora Fulani. Bloomberg has a complicated relationship with the party, taking its support while trying to distance himself from Fulani, the unofficial Independence leader who has been accused of espousing anti-Semitic views. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg vehemently defended plans yesterday to build a $1.4billion stadium on Manhattan's far West Side following a report contending housing on the site would be more profitable for taxpayers. (Daily News)

Hey Mayor Bloomberg: boxers or briefs? The answer to that and other rather personal questions were offered up yesterday during a madcap 60-second interview on the KISS-FM "Wake-up Club." (Daily News)

12/02

Some 600 homeless families hoping for federal Section 8 housing subsidies just learned they have been moved off the waiting list. (Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/258021p-221019c.html)

City Hall got a taste of star power yesterday, when Joey Pants and Ice-T took a seat before the City Council and lobbied for tax breaks to help keep TV and film production going in New York. (Daily News)

The Health Department will get an additional $5 million for HIV/AIDS services in black and Latino communities, Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday. (Daily News)

12/01

The chair of the city Campaign Finance Board, Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., yesterday condemned Mayor Michael Bloombergĺs effort to ban campaign contributions from people who do business with the city. Schwarz said that the ban should apply to all candidates and not just those in the voluntary campaign finance program. (New York Times) (New York Post)

City Council leaders Tuesday also criticized the mayorĺs proposal, saying he was trying to give himself an edge over potential challengers under the guise of reform. (Newsday)

New York City's comprehensive effort to overhaul its construction codes got its first full public airing yesterday, as hundreds packed the City Council hearing and disagreed over two competing bills. (New York Times)

The Bloomberg administration Tuesday defended its plan for rewriting the city's Building Code. (Newsday)

The city's new marketing agency ran a deficit of nearly $700,000 during its first year of operation, according to an independent audit. (Newsday)

Click here to see The Record for November 2004