GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record

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2/28
The Bush administration has agreed to provide New York an extra $508 million in federal Medicaid payments, delivering a victory to Governor George Pataki, who must close a multibillion dollar budget gap. (NY Times)

Chancellor Harold Levy ordered all department heads in the Board of Education's central bureaucracy yesterday to prepare to slash their spending by a third to soften the impact of $350 million in anticipated budget cuts on classrooms.Levy also acknowledged for the first time he was considering offering a severance plan to entice employees to leave their jobs. (Daily News)

The Tweed Court House has an $83 million renovation, but the costs may increase. It seems the award-winning project included fire sprinklers on only two floors, leaving some officials wondering whether they will be required on three other floors before the building is opened to the public. (NY Post)

Jewish Councilman David Weprin ignited a furious debate yesterday among his minority colleagues when he tried to join the black and Latino caucus. Weprin, a Queens Democrat who is chair of the Finance Committee, submitted a written application based on his little-known Hispanic heritage. His mother is Cuban. Sources told The Post that some black members are vehemently opposed to his joining because they believe he is jockeying to be in a position to succeed Speaker Gifford Miller in two years. (NY Post)

2/27
Steven Sanders, chairman of the State Assembly Education Committee, said he told Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott yesterday that the Assembly will not agree to abolish the Board of Education as Mayor Michael Bloomberg has urged. "I said if the mayor was adamant about eliminating the board entirely . . . he wouldn't get any further than any of the previous mayors," said Sanders, a Manhattan Democrat. "If he wants substantial change with a revamped, reconfigured board, that's out there, that can happen." (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg has rejected a proposal by City Councilmember Alan Jennings of Queens to raise the tax on beer, wine and hard liquor. Bloomberg spokesman Jordan Barowitz said the mayor will not ask Albany for permission to increase the tax because he Ñdoes not believe that this is the right time to be raising taxes.É The mayor has, however, called for a hike of $1.42 in the tax on a pack of cigarettes. (New York Post)

Liz Krueger, who won a hotly contested race for State Senate earlier this month, has acknowledged that her father exceeded the legal limit on contributions to her campaign by $50,000. The East Side Democrat, said she has returned the money to her father, Wall Street executive Harvey Krueger. Krueger's parents reportedly pumped $328,000 into two organizations that worked to elect her, one of the largest contributions ever in a New York legislative race. (Daily News)

Poll workers often gave incorrect information to voters in the November 2001 municipal elections, according to a survey conducted by the New York Public Interest Research Group, the Center for Excellence in New York City Governance at New York University and more than 40 other civic organizations. But the survey also found that most voters found the poll workers to be courteous and that there were few complaints about broken voting machines. (New York Times)

In a speech to foreign journalists last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he is not worried about firms fleeing to the suburbs, because "if you move to the suburbs, you are so far away that you really get marginalized." The best workers do not want to be in he suburbs, he said, but Ñin the inner city . . . where things are going on late at night, weekends -- the hustle and bustle. The best and the brightest want to be with the best and the brightest." (New York Post)

Democratic Party leaders are threatening to withdraw their support for Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Margarita Lopez Torres when she runs for reelection to a 10-year term this fall. Assemblyman Vito Lopez, whose support is key in such contests, charges that Lopez Torres has not done enough for the Latino community since she was elected. Lopez also said he was angry that the judge's husband, Matthew Chachere, had written an article several years ago in City Limits, a liberal political magazine, calling for someone to run against Vito Lopez. (Daily News)

2/26
In the opening of City Council hearings to debate school governance, former Mayor Edward I. Koch, the former head of Chicago schools and a real estate executive portrayed mayoral control as the salvation of the New York City schools yesterday while two of the borough presidents argued for a continued role by their offices. Mr. Koch testified that only by gaining the power to hire and fire chancellors - power now vested in the semi-independent Board of Education - would the mayor have the credibility and clout to change the school system."Does the single fact that the mayor appoints a chancellor mean that education is going to get better?" Mr. Koch asked rhetorically. "No." But he added: "We've got nothing to lose. Nothing. The system is shameful." (New York Times)

It is tough enough to take on the job of New York City cultural affairs commissioner just as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has proposed cuts of 15 percent to the agency's expense budget and 20 percent to its capital budget. But Kate D. Levin also inherits a department many arts professionals describe as in need of serious reinvigoration. Even as Rudolph W. Giuliani poured an unprecedented amount of city money into cultural building projects and became known for his love of opera, the agency charged with promoting the interests of New York's arts institutions quietly but steadily diminished in size and influence amid years of budgetary ups and downs. "The cupboard is bare," Ms. Levin said. "There is only so much you can do. It will be my nonstop effort to see that the cultural community is made whole to the extent that it's possible." (New York Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has a pilot's license and an airplane or two at his disposal, took the controls of a New York City police helicopter last month to go to the inauguration of Adolfo Carri÷n Jr., the Bronx borough president. It was nice, he said, but really no big deal, given that he owns a better one. "I fly helicopters more sophisticated than that all the time that I happen to own," Mr. Bloomberg said. "And it was a good experience to show the men and women of that part of the Police Department that I know what they're doing and I care about it."(New York Times)

2/25
Fifteen employees of the Oversight Investigations division of the City Council quietly were fired under a reorganization plan that will fold the unit into a new committee, the Oversight and Investigations Committee, chaired by freshman City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Woodside). The oversight staff, cut from 21 to 6, is expected ultimately to total about 15. To date, City Council Speaker G. Gifford Miller has fired between 60 and 80 council employees, leaving a council staff of about 270. (Newsday)

2/24
Councilmember James S. Oddo, a Republican from Staten Island, said he will formally introduce legislation on Wednesday to transfer street-naming duties from the City Council to the city's community boards in an effort to free council members to tackle weightier work, like closing the city's budget gap. The change, he said, "would not only symbolize our refocusing on more pressing matters, but would be a tangible step in redefining our role as a serious legislative body." (New York Times)

For the second weekend in a row, Bloomberg's aides would not answer where the mayor was, or whether he was even out of town. (Daily News)

2/23
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that the city would have a "tough time" giving police officers raises larger than those proposed by the previous administration, even if a state arbitration panel were to rule that a larger-than-budgeted salary increase was warranted. (New York Times)

A Brooklyn State Supreme Court justice has been reassigned following accusations that he failed to tell the authorities after hearing that a fellow judge had solicited a bribe, several people knowledgeable about the move said yesterday.The justice, Edward M. Rappaport, was moved from the civil term of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn to the criminal term there. The reassignment is the second this week stemming from inquiries in the court there, and court officials said they expect several more soon.The action comes three weeks after the arrest of Victor I. Barron, the justice accused of soliciting and taking a bribe. (New York Times)

Some half-dozen of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's relatives and friends have held on to well-paying City Hall jobs despite a change in administration and deep budget cuts.The former Giuliani aides have generally stayed on the city payroll without attracting much public attention, but this week Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Giuliani cousin Raymond Casey as president of the Off-Track Betting Corp.(Newsday)

2/22
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes dismissed as "facetious" yesterday claims that a judge in a controversial civil dispute had been influenced by a bribe. Hynes said the statement attributed to Satmar Hasidic Rabbi Solomon Wertheimer, though "grossly irresponsible," represented "a sarcastic retort to complaints from adversaries" in the dispute. (New York Daily News)

The Bloomberg administration has backed away for now from plans to move major functions of the Department of Buildings into the Fire Department, one of the last large and unrealized goals of Rudolph W. Giuliani. (New York Times)

2/21
Steven Sanders, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, said that Democratic lawmakers were seeking to tie mayoral control to a strengthened formula for state fiscal oversight of city schools. It would ensure that the city will not reduce its financial contribution to the schools, even if state aid goes up. In his strongest endorsement of mayoral control yet, Mr. Sanders, a close ally of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, said "the pendulum is swinging" in favor of giving the mayor more responsibility and accountability for the schools. (New York Times)

Queens trash that is now trucked out of town could instead make a stop in the South Bronx, under a proposal Mayor Bloomberg thinks could save the city $7 million. But opponents of the mayor's plan said it goes against the city's solid waste management plan in which each borough is responsible for its own trash disposal. (Daily News)

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Huttner, who was publicly censured by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct in December for using his judicial status to advance his co-op's position in a lawsuit, will leave his Brooklyn courtroom for one in Queens. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg appeared on Late Night With David Letterman and read his list of the "Ten Ways I'll Improve New York City."
10. I'll personally pay every New Yorker's rent for the next four years.
9.Get caught jaywalking and we'll impound your shoes.
8.Once a week, a different New Yorker has to mow Central Park.
7. Subway cars now equipped with a complimentary all-you-can-eat soup-and-salad bar.
6. Drop by for bare-knuckle boxing matches on front lawn of Gracie Mansion.
5. Free full-body massages from your cabby.
4. I'm renaming the city "Funkytown."
3. Mandatory 10 o'clock curfew for Bill Clinton.
2. If a car alarm goes off, call me and I'll personally come and tow it.
1. OK, Arizona, you had your fun - now we're coming to get our World Series trophy.
(New York Post)

2/20
Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to say yesterday where he went over the long weekend, and insisted his three-day jaunt is no one else's business.The billionaire mayor was reportedly in Bermuda, where he owns a home. His decision to withhold details about his private time is a clear departure from other New York mayors, who for decades have shared information about their whereabouts, even while vacationing. (Daily News)

City Councilman Hiram Monserrate is the first Latino legislator from Queens. (Newsday)

Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron, the new head of the City Council's higher-education committe yesterday slammed the City University's tougher entrance standards as discriminatory toward minority students. (New York)

2/19
As Global Crossing, the troubled telecommunications company, made its long tumble toward bankruptcy, it became a big campaign contributor in New York - giving more than $200,000 in 18 months, most of it to Gov. George E. Pataki and his Republican allies. (New York Times)

The new district lines realign Assembly and Senate districts and create a new Assembly district in the north-central Bronx to reflect population shifts measured by the 2000 census. But within those guidelines is a lot of wiggle room for old-fashioned politics, even though the lines are subject to review by the Justice Department and may wind up being challenged in the courts. Two state Senate districts' lines would be heavily redrawn to the benefit of Bronx GOP Chairman Guy Velella, the borough's only elected Republican, and to the detriment of a Democratic state senator who created some election headaches for Velella. (Daily News)

The new state legislative lines for Queens squeezed two state senators into one district, meaning a newly created Queens seat does not have an incumbent. Former City Councilman John Sabini of Jackson Heights said yesterday that he is a candidate because 80 percent of his old district is within the boundaries proposed for the new 13th Senate District. (Newsday)

Wherever he was, Mayor Bloomberg's office wasn't saying how Hizzoner was spending a hush-hush, three-day weekend that wasn't due to end until he returns to City Hall this morning. The mayor's getaway is in keeping with his long-stated desire to maintain his privacy, while enjoying one of the most public jobs in the country. (Daily News)

Councilman David Weprin (D-Queens), chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, said yesterday the 6a.m.-to-10 a.m. ban on single-occupancy vehicles into Manhattan keeps 190,000 people a day from going into Manhattan by car to shop, dine, take in shows and otherwise spend money. That translates into $200 million a year in lost tax revenues, he said. (Daily News)

Last fall an opening for a relatively obscure City Council seat led to open political warfare in southeastern Queens, with seven candidates vying to replace Juanita Watkins in the seat in Far Rockaway, Laurelton and parts of Ozone Park and Richmond Hill. The race was won by James Sanders. Now, with an election looming to replace the late Assemblywoman Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, insiders fear even worse fighting. There are three top contenders: Michele Titus, a Democratic district leader; Fred Lewis, who works for city Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and was an adviser to former mayoral candidate Mark Green, and Brian Block, who works for state Sen. Malcolm Smith. Other hopefuls include two Council candidates from last fall, Henrietta Fullard and David Hooks, and the Rev. Evan Gray, who lost to Rhodd-Cummings by just 211 votes in a special election in 1998. (Daily News)

2/18
So far, the new City Council has spent more time rearranging seating in the chamber than on adopting significant new legislation. Some of the bills introduced -- to designate an official flag for Staten Island; to rename a Bronx street after the late sponsor of a stickball league; to suspend alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules for Purim, Ash Wednesday and the Asian Lunar New Year; to designate a broken mailbox as an immediate hazardous building violation; to clean up crime scenes after police are done with their business. Some Democrats want to admonish former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for signing a baseball stadium agreement just before leaving office - and the four Republicans want to pay him homage as "America's Mayor" for his handling of the Sept. 11 terror attack. (Daily News)

When Daniel Doctoroff went looking for sponsors for his dream of luring the Olympics to New York City, he wooed the chief of Merrill Lynch by giving him a 2012 Olympics pin. "He knew I was an Olympics fanatic and that I collected [Olympic] pins," said Merrill Lynch CEO David Komansky, who knew Doctoroff as an investment banker. "He started weaving this tale about bringing the Olympics to New York City. It was an absolute daydream to me. Truthfully, I thought I would never hear from him again." Six months later, Doctoroff returned with an "unbelievable presentation" that convinced Komansky to throw Merrill Lynch's support behind the pitch. Three years later, the city is one of four finalists to become the U.S. candidate to the International Olympics Committee, which will choose the 2012 site in November. "He almost did it single-handedly," Komansky said. A successful investment banker - and a dreamer who pays attention to detail - Doctoroff appears to be well-suited for his new job as deputy mayor for economic development. (Newsday)

Bushwick's veteran state assemblyman, Vito Lopez, has filled his campaign war chest with tens of thousands of dollars from developers who have landed contracts to rebuild burned-out sections of his Brooklyn district, state election records show. The outpouring of support, about $30,000 from one consortium alone, has left the Democrat with a war chest of $437,154 - although he hasn't faced a serious opponent in his last three campaigns. (New York Post)

2/17
Fiorello LaGuardia had The Great Depression. Ed Koch had the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. And Rudy Giuliani, in the end, had the World Trade Center attacks. Now, Mayor Bloomberg's crisis has been identified - a city budget that is more out of balance than any other in history, and is expected to remain that way. (Daily News)

Democrat Liz Krueger's parents pumped $328,000 into her successful campaign for state Senate in Manhattan - one of the largest contributions ever in a legislative race in New York, new records show. Her father, Harvey Krueger, spent so much he appears to have exceeded the limit on contributions, a Board of Elections official said. But Liz Krueger, who beat Republican John Ravitz by 18 points in Tuesday's special election on the East Side, denied any rules were broken. (Daily News)

In the few months since he became the city's first Asian to win a major elective office, John Liu has been transformed. He is no longer just the elected official for the 20th Council District in Flushing, Queens, but as one colleague put it, "a citywide councilman," who represents the city's Asians, who make up an estimated 10 percent of New York's population. (New York Times)

2/16
The city's commissioner of cultural affairs, Kate D. Levin, said yesterday that she hoped to restructure her agency's budget to allow more flexibility in its giving, including the ability to shift more money to some of the city's less-well-known cultural organizations. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday defended the idea of charging tolls on East River bridges as a budget-filler, but borough officials said it would unfairly hit people living outside Manhattan. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to remind police officers they should not smoke in public buildings. ( Daily News)

2/15
Up to 80 City Council staffers will receive the ax over the next several days under a reorganization plan being implemented by newly elected City Council Speaker Gifford Miller. The cuts will reduce the total council staff size from 360 to 280, officials said. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg celebrated his 60th birthday last night with a group of close friends at the posh '21' club. Hizzoner's party - about 12 to 14 people - took up two tables, with Bloomberg holding court at one and his gal pal, Diana Taylor, hosting the other. (New York Post)

The Bloomberg administration has signed an agreement that permits a private nonprofit group to retain control of Rudolph W. Giuliani's mayoral papers, brushing aside the concerns of some historians, archival groups and civil libertarians who had urged the city to physically return the documents to the Municipal Archives. The agreement also addressed another main concern among those critics by stating clearly that the city's corporation counsel will determine which, if any, documents are private and can therefore be withheld from the public. An earlier agreement seemed to give Mr. Giuliani that authority. (New York Times)

2/14
Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday proposed a budget that called for cuts in almost all city agencies, including Police and Fire. He also plans to borrow $1.5 billion to close a budget gap of $4.8 billion, to cut capital spending, to seek $800 million from the state and federal governments and to raise the tax on a pack of cigarette from $8 cents a pack to $1.50. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

The plan to borrow by selling $1.5 billion in bonds to balance the budget is perhaps the most controversial part of the budget Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday. Even the mayor himself does not seem to like it. Nevertheless, the city was so hurt financially by the Sept. 11 attack, he said, that the one-time action is justified. (New York Times)

The capital budget announced yesterday does not include any new baseball stadiums. Overall, the mayor wants to reduce capital projects by 20 percent, or $25.6 billion beginning in July, for the next several budget years. As a result, some eight or nine planned schools will not be built for the time being and some routine water main and sewer work, as well as the financing for a new cultural district around the Brooklyn Academy of Music, will be delayed. The funding for the renovation of Lincoln Center will be spread out over a longer period of time. (New York Times)

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the plan to reduce the size of the Police Department through attrition would not affect its ability to fight crime. The plan to reduce the number of budgeted police positions from 40,710 to 39,100 is the first downsizing of the department in a decade but still leaves the department larger than it was in the early 1990s. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg proposes to slash spending at the Board of Education by $354 million and to cut school construction by 20 percent. That could mean the building of as many as nine planned schools would be postponed. The mayor also cut City University funding by nearly $13 million. The proposals, which would reduce city spending on schools by 7 percent, drew outrage from education advocates. (Daily News) (New York Post)

A number of fines, fees and charges would rise under the proposed budget. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would suspend the plastic, glass and metal recycling program because it is costing the city money. The city will then try to convince the state to repeal the bottle bill -- the 5-cent deposit on soda and beer bottles and cans -- and instead charge a 5-cent fee that would be given to the city to revive the recycling program. Although the mayor acknowledged that homeless people make money by collecting the deposits, he said there were better ways to help them than having them go through the garbage. Environmentalists blasted the recycling plans as short-sighted. (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Elected officials, budget watchdogs and union leaders yesterday all said they were concerned about pieces of Mayor Bloomberg's budget proposal but were willing to work with him. The toughest shots came from tobacco giant Philip Morris, which blasted the plan to raise the tax on cigarettes by $1.42, saying it will force jobs and merchants out of the city. New Yorkers for Parks criticized Bloomberg for cutting about 13 percent from the Parks Department. (New York Post)

A Republican plan for redistricting the state legislature would eliminate three Democratic State Senate districts in the city. The plan, to be unveiled today, is designed to make Republicans more competitive in the city, according to party sources. It is expected to be challenged in court. (New York Post)

The city could gain one new State Senate and four State Assembly seats under a redistricting plan to be announced as early as today. (Daily News)

Special elections throughout the state on Tuesday did little to shift the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans in Albany. The Republican Party picked up two Assembly seats, one in Staten Island and one in Onondaga County, that had been held by Democrats. The Democrats picked up a State Senate seat on the East Side of Manhattan that had been in Republican hands for more than 30 years. As a result, the Republicans increased their numbers in the Assembly to 53 from 51, and the Democratic number fell to 96 from 98. There is one vacancy. In the State Senate, the Republican majority remained unchanged from earlier this year, with the Republicans holding 36 seats and the Democrats 25. The Republicans had gained a seat earlier this year when Pedro Espada Jr., a state senator from the Bronx, changed his affiliation to Republican from Democrat. (New York Times)

2/13
Democrat Liz Krueger defeated Assemblyman John Ravitz yesterday to capture the State Senate seat that Republican Roy Goodman had held for 33 years. In unofficial results from the Upper East Side District, Krueger, longtime head of the Community Food Resource Center, defeated Ravitz by 59 percent to 41 percent. Some estimate the two sides spent a total of $1.75 million on the campaign. Krueger must run again in November, and Ravitz said he will decide later whether to seek a rematch.

In the other closely contested city election yesterday, on Staten Island, Republican Matthew Mirones, who owns a company that makes prosthetic limbs, defeated Democrat James Hart, a plumber and union leader, by 53 percent to 47 percent. The race was for the seat vacated by Eric N. Vitaliano, a Democrat who was elected a Civil Court judge in November.

And in two races considered less competitive, Annette Robinson, a former city councilmember from Brooklyn, was elected to fill the seat in the Assembly vacated by Albert Vann, who was elected to the City Council last November. Robinson, who was ineligible to run for re-election for her Council seat because of term limits, essentially traded positions with Vann, her longtime political ally. Carl Andrews, an aide to State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer, was elected to the State Senate seat vacated by Marty Markowitz, who was elected Brooklyn borough president in November. (New York Times)

Democrat Liz Krueger's victory over Assemblyman John Ravitz was a surprising landslide. "I always thought I was going to win, but I never expected this kind of margin," said Krueger, who narrowly lost an election for the same State Senate seat in 2000. While the GOP still holds a comfortable, 36-to-25 majority in the State Senate, Democrats will try to point to Krueger's overwhelming victory as an indicator that Governor George Pataki is vulnerable in this fall's gubernatorial election. (New York Post)

Former City Councilmember Una Clarke has joined the administration of Governor George Pataki, becoming the latest Caribbean-American politician to flirt with the Republican Party. Clarke, a Democrat, said she will be vice president for economic opportunities for minorities in the Empire State Development Corp. She said she remains a supporter of State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, but does not know whom she would support if McCall faced Pataki in a general election. (Newsday)

2/12
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed Martha Stark as city finance commissioner. "Given her more than 15 years experience in business, law, education, government and policy, I am confident that the department and the city will be well served by Martha Stark," Bloomberg said Monday in a statement. Stark, an attorney, held senior management posts in the Department of Finance from 1990 to 1993. She has worked as an assistant law professor at Baruch College and taught graduate courses at Hunter College. She grew up in Brooklyn and is a graduate of New York University School of Law. (Associated Press)

In the State Senate race on the East Side of Manhattan, The New York Times endorses Krueger; the Daily News, Ravitz; New York Post, Ravitz

2/11
Warning it would be "dysfunctional," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday that he won't ask state lawmakers for a revival of the commuter tax."We cannot raise taxes now," he said. "You will just drive people away‡I think it [the commuter tax] was one of those things that went away in an election year, and it's not likely to come back in an election year," (Daily News)

Believing they've now got a friend in City Hall, members of the City Council are moving to reinstate programs that didn't stand a chance under Rudy Giuliani - including free dental clinics, a task force to explore reparations for the descendants of slaves buried in the African Burial Ground, and unused funds allocated for the poor. (New York Post)

In the confusion of competing interests at City Hall, every mayor needs a trusted aide who will serve his interests first, without doubt or hesitation. For Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that person is Patricia Harris, the city's deputy mayor for administration. Harris has played a crucial role in Bloomberg's professional and political life. Among the few top appointees who knew Bloomberg before their job interviews, Harris best understands the mayor's priorities, plans and weaknesses, associates say. (Newsday)

2/10
Grappling with a massive $4.5 billion budget gap, Mayor Bloomberg plans to ask Albany and Washington for a wish list of cash infusions and changes when he unveils his spending plan this week. Bloomberg will look for $750 million in savings by pushing for long-dreamed-of goals like tort reform and a host of federal and state reimbursements. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg - trying to quell criticism that he skipped FDNY services since getting to City Hall - yesterday gave an emotional eulogy at his first official funeral for a fallen firefighter. (New York Post)

The two candidates for the 60th Assembly District on Staten Island stress similar themes to voters as they campaign throughout the borough. Both want to limit and control local development and to persuade Albany to give the city's public schools more money. The district's voters, meanwhile, are known for their political independence.The election, to be held Tuesday, is to determine the successor to Eric N. Vitaliano, a Democrat, who was elected to serve as a Civil Court judge. The Republican nominee, Matthew Mirones, operates a company that makes prosthetic limbs. The Democratic nominee, James Hart, is an official of the plumbers' and pipefitters' union. (New York Times)

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's political committee was paid $158,000 last year for renting its vast list of contributors who gave money to his short-lived U.S. Senate campaign, federal records show.Friends of Giuliani collected more than $23 million from thousands of donors across the country, breaking fund-raising records, before he dropped out of the race in May 2000.Giuliani ended 2001 with $2.5 million in his political account, money he could use if he decides to seek office again. (Daily News)

2/9
Mr. Bloomberg has been sprinkling quips and one-liners through news conferences, speeches, and brief remarks to the dozens of groups that he drops in on each week. At times, his wit comes off as insensitive. On Thursday, asked what he planned to do to city officials who abuse the flashing lights and sirens in their cars, he replied tartly: "I don't know. We'll shoot them. What do you think is going to happen to them?".. The city's giant budget gap is often his favorite comic fodder. [Warning: Despite the reporter's valiant efforts, these jokes do not translate well into print.] (New York Times)

2/8
Bloomberg added his voice to the heated special election to replace State Senator Roy M. Goodman yesterday, saying a vote for Liz Krueger, the Democratic candidate, to represent the East Side of Manhattan, was a "wasted vote" because the State Senate is controlled by Republicans. The Krueger campaign was also accused of push polling and distributing fliers labeling Ravitz as a "Pat Buchanan Republican." (New York Times)

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has talked of a possible run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, announced plans Thursday to visit New Hampshire and Iowa - two key states for any candidate running for the White House. A press release issued by his National Action Network on Thursday said Sharpton would be visiting New Hampshire and Iowa as part of a "getting to know you tour." (Newsday)

Reacting to inquiries into the conduct of at least five State Supreme Court justices in Brooklyn, the state's top judges appointed a new administrative judge yesterday to oversee the problem-plagued court in the city's most populous borough. State Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said his deputy, Ann Pfau, would replace Michael Pesce as the borough's top judge. (Newsday)

2/7
The special election on the East Side of Manhattan to replace former State Senator Roy M. Goodman has become a dizzying campaign filled with celebrity political appearances, daily news conferences and strategies to get voters to the polls on Tuesday. (New York Times)

Bloomberg's decision to forgo City Hall's customary corner office - and require his deputy mayors to work with him in the open bullpen - is emerging as one of the new administration's most novel, and some would say quirkiest, traits. (Daily News)

The City Council hired Forrest R. Taylor as chief of staff, Thomas L. McMahon as general counsel and senior policy adviser, and Eric Laneas as special counsel. The City Council members will soon have new chairs that cost $932.45 each. (New York Times)

2/6
The Bloomberg administration is looking to corporations and other private donors to help the city. To encourage this, Mayor Bloomberg would offer corporate naming rights for areas in city parks and loosen the restrictions governing business improvement districts, which supplement city services, to encourage their expansion across the city. And he plans to begin a personal campaign to enlist wealthy donors, foundations and corporations to direct their largess toward the city, officials said. (New York Times)

Developers and financiers will attend tonight®s fund-raiser for Governor Pataki®s re-election campaign at Mayor Michael Bloomberg®s East Side townhouse. Tickets to the event, featuring President Bush, are $15,000 a person or $25,000 a couple. Those in attendance are expected to include Peter Kalikow, George Klein, Arnold Fisher, Sam and Richard LeFrak, Douglas Durst, Jerry Speyer, former Rep. Bill Paxon and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. (New York Post)

The guest list. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg has named Andrew Salik, the Department of Transportation's Manhattan borough commissioner, construction coordinator for lower Manhattan. Salik will be responsible for making sure that work around Ground Zero is coordinated to minimize traffic congestion, (New York Post)

Mark Green yesterday assailed the man who defeated him for mayor, saying that Michael Bloomberg had failed to produce a single new idea since he took office and had followed a safe route that accounted for his political popularity to date. "He's picked the low-hanging fruit," Green said. That remark prompted the mayor's spokesman, Edward Skyler, to respond, "Speaking of low-hanging fruit, I think sour grapes are on the menu." (New York Times)

Despite switching to the Republican Party, State Senator Pedro Espada of the Bronx said he may seek re-election on the Democratic line as well. Espada®s South Bronx district is overwhelmingly Democratic. If Espada tried to run for reelection as a Democrat, he could expect a party-backed challenger in the September primary and a legal challenge in court, election law and political experts said. And some speculate that Espada does not want the seat as either a Democrat or Republican, but is really interested in carving out a district for his son, Pedro G. Espada, who lost his bid to be re-elected to the City Council last November. (Daily News)

2/5
In a stunning defection, Sen. Pedro Espada yesterday became a member of the state Senate Republican majority after switching his enrollment from Democratic to the GOP. (New York Post)

Assembymember Jose Rivera was elected chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party on Monday. "I intend to be the leader of all the Bronx," Rivera, 65, said after the party's executive committee elected him unanimously to replace Roberto Ramirez. (Newsday)

Firefighters are growing increasingly angry that Mayor Bloomberg has not attended a single FDNY funeral since he was sworn in. Their fury came to a head last weekend, when they saw pictures of Bloomberg attending a Groundhog Day celebration on Staten Island on Saturday morning - the same day as a funeral for a Queens firefighter who died Sept. 11. (Daily News)

Longtime New York City councilmember Herb Berman, who lost a bid to become city comptroller last year, said Monday he is going to work for Republican Gov. George Pataki as a special assistant, and will help him in his campaign for a third term. (Associated Press)

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The concern in Democratic circles has intensified in recent weeks because of the course of the special election campaign on the Upper East Side to replace State Senator Roy M. Goodman, a Republican who retired to take a job in the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The competition between the Republican, John Ravitz, and his Democratic opponent, Liz Krueger, has provided abundant daily evidence of the tenuous cohesiveness of the traditional Democratic coalition. A succession of organizations that normally support Democrats, from labor unions to gay rights groups, have endorsed Mr. Ravitz, responding to promises and pressure from Republicans who control the Senate. Several Democrats suggest that what is taking place now, in advance of the Feb. 12 vote, offers a preview of the gubernatorial campaign. (New York Times)

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Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president who made an unsuccessful run for mayor last year, has accepted a job as president of the Drum Major Institute, an organization tied to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The institute, founded in the 1960s, organizes civil-rights forums and provides grants and internships. It aims to address the issues of poverty, discrimination and racial segregation in school systems, Ferrer said. (New York Post)

At $15,000 a plate, the megabucks soiree that Mayor Bloomberg is hosting for Gov. Pataki on Wednesday - with President Bush as a special guest - has become such an exclusive event, it's no longer about the cash. Republican insiders say there have been offers well above the asking price to get on the invitation list - which is limited to about 40 people. (New York Post)

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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has hired his daughter Emma and his sister, Marjorie Tiven, at no cost to the city, after receiving clearance from the city's Conflicts of Interest Board, he said yesterday on his new weekly radio program. During the program he also joked about the firing of thousands of city workers. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg had a rocky debut yesterday as co-host of his mayoral radio show - actually making a joke about firing "thousands of people." Co-host John Gambling asked Bloomberg on the WABC-AM call-in program whether he was taking notes on the phone calls, most of them from New Yorkers griping about mundane problems. "Not only will I," Bloomberg lightheartedly retorted, "I've got a whole staff here - thousands of people working for the city that are about to be fired so I can make the 20% cut. But before they go ... they are going to make these notes." Bloomberg was referring to the 20% budget reduction he has imposed on his office and urged department heads to emulate. Several members of the City Council criticized his remarks. (Daily News)

There are more than 54,000 New York Police Department parking permits in circulation, which allow their bearers to park where others cannot. But starting in a month, the city intends to cut back their availability by up to 30 percent, according to Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall. The Transportation Department has no plans to curb the reissuance of permits for disabled New Yorkers (who use 12,000), the press (2,000), clergy (600) or nonprofit groups (4,000). ( Newsday)

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Several City Council members are trying to form their own commission for improving lower Manhattan. They are pushing for a nine-member panel, appointed by the council and Mayor Bloomberg, to coordinate "all activities necessary to aid affected businesses remaining in the city." The proposal was introduced Wednesday by Allan Jennings (D-Queens). Jennings said the council "has no input, and neither does the State Assembly, in the commission the governor appointed. "So [it] is making decisions without input from constituents. We have to do something," Jennings said. (New York Post)

The clock ran out yesterday on Mayor Bloomberg's pledge to cut his office staff and expenses by twenty percent within 30 days, and while the new mayor said he would stick by his promise, he asked for more time. "If we don't hit it this week, it will be by the middle of next week, but we will make roughly the one-month deadline," Bloomberg said. "I said it, and I meant it." Bloomberg would not give specifics yesterday on how he would cut his budget. But part of his solution is expected to rely on reassigning special employees attached to his office. (New York Daily News)

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