The Record: February 2003

Nearly two-thirds of city voters believe Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to place tolls on the East River bridges is a bad idea, a new poll revealed. The Quinnipiac University poll found that 61 percent of city voters oppose charging a fee for single-occupant cars heading into Manhattan, a congestion-busting proposal that is being tried in London. But Bloomberg's controversial commuter tax proposal - imposing a levy on people who work in the city but live outside it - won rave reviews from city voters. An overwhelming 73% said they support reinstating the tax. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has hired 10 community-based groups to help run 17 new neighborhood reform schools for rowdy and dangerous students deemed too disruptive for "mainstream" high schools. The "New Beginnings" programs will be located in neighborhood settings, but not high-school buildings. They will operate during the day rather than in the evening, as earlier suggested. (New York Post)

Private bus lines, serving about 250,000 riders daily, are expected to raise fares, city officials and company executives said. The hike could be announced as soon as next Friday, a day after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to raise its own rates. The city Department of Transportation makes the decision on rate hikes for the private lines. A public hearing about the proposed fare hikes has been scheduled, for 10 a.m. March 24 at Spector Hall, 22 Reade St., in Manhattan. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked city agencies to draw up plans to cut their budgets again -- this time by as much as 9.5 percent. The cuts would be needed, the administration says, if municipal unions do not agree to some $600 million in concessions. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Democrats won two races for State Assembly. In the Bronx, Michael Benjamin was elected to the seat vacated by Gloria Davis, who resigned a month ago and pleaded guilty to bribery charges. And in Brooklyn, William F. Boyland Jr. was elected to succeed his father. (New York Times)

Pedro Espada Jr., a thorn in the side of Bronx Democrats, returned to public life last night, winning a City Council seat just four months after losing his State Senate seat. (Daily News )

City Council candidate Vincent Gentile, who angered Mayor Michael Bloomberg by using a photo of Bloombergis townhouse in a campaign leaflet, was deadlocked with the mayoris preferred candidate, Rosemarie OiKeefe, in a special election last night. (New York Post)

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and other department officials did not show up for a City Council hearing yesterday on police handling of the February 15 demonstration against a possible war with Iraq. (Daily News )

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will send a monthly e-mail message to constituents with his report on what is new in city government. The content of the debut issue, sent to 20,000 people who subscribed through the city's Web site, was not much different from the mass mailings by elected officials and local governments around the country. (New York Times)

The City Council is set to vote tomorrow on an anti-war resolution. The precise wording was still being debated last night, but it is expected to stress that war against Iraq should be "a last resort." (Daily News)

Hundreds of vacant lots that the city has sold at auction since 1996 remain empty and trash strewn, according to a report released yesterday by New York Acorn, an advocacy group. The report, which was released at a City Hall news conference, called for a moratorium on future city land auctions. (Daily News)

More than 1,000 volunteers fanned out across the city early today to count the homeless as part of a controversial city plan to gather information about those who live on the streets. (NY Post)

Unless city officials appeal to state lawmakers for relief, New York City homeowners will receive tax bills this June 12% higher on average than their December bills - and a whopping 37% higher than last June's. This new increase - for one-, two- or three-family homes - is required by state law. Rising home values account for about a third of it. Blame the rest on last year's 18.5% tax rate hike.(NY Times)

The budget has been cut four times, but essential services have not yet eroded, according to statistics released by the Bloomberg administration yesterday. The administration's preliminary Mayor's Management Report, a report card on city agencies, covers the first four months of the fiscal year, which began in July, and sets goals for the coming year.(New York Times) (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg was 20 minutes into his weekly radio show yesterday when he learned of the Staten Island refinery fire - offering listeners a rare, on-air glimpse into how swiftly City Hall reacts now to breaking disasters.(Daily News)

A city councilman found himself in a firestorm yesterday by suggesting an anti-war resolution hasn't been passed by the council because many Jews feel it's "not in the best interests" of Israel.Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) made the comment during an interview Thursday on Brian Lehrer's popular WNYC radio show.(NY Post)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has come up short so far in his efforts to win savings from the city's unions, told city commissioners yesterday that they might have to cut their budgets further if the unions balked at new concessions. The mayor is counting on $600 million in union savings to balance next year's budget, money that could be saved by asking city workers to pay part of their health insurance costs, instituting a longer workweek, or creating a less generous pension plan for future workers, among other ways. But the suggestions have gone nowhere so far.

So yesterday Mr. Bloomberg tried an unspoken threat of sorts to jumpstart the bargaining process. First he gathered all the city's commissioners at Gracie Mansion to warn them that if the unions did not agree to the savings, it would fall to city agencies to cut the $600 million from their budgets. Because the agencies have already cut their expenditures of city funds by $2.6 billion, more cuts could require layoffs.(New York Times) (Daily News)

A week after being removed from a committee as punishment for voting against an increase in the property tax, City Councilman James E. Davis lashed out yesterday at the Council speaker, Gifford Miller, who had stripped him of his seat on the Cultural Affairs Committee. Councilman Davis, a Brooklyn Democrat, said that if he was not reinstated to the committee, he would sue the speaker within two weeks. (New York Times) (New York Post)

The City Council will hold oversight hearings next week about the allegations by organizers of Saturday's massive anti-war rally that police used excessive force that led to injuries to some 30 protesters, council officials said Thursday. (Newsday)

The City Council will hold oversight hearings next week about the allegations by organizers of Saturday's massive anti-war rally that police used excessive force that led to injuries to some 30 protesters, council officials said Thursday. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg got needled again yesterday, but this time, it was his idea, as he kicked off a citywide campaign to have thousands of emergency rescue workers vaccinated for smallpox in the event of a bioterrorism attack. (NY Post)

A state plan to replace 32 elected community school boards with parent-dominated councils got the thumbs-up from Mayor Bloomberg yesterday. (NY Post)

Labor leaders Wednesday backed a controversial City Council anti-war resolution, arguing that the Bush administration has not justified a possible attack on Iraq. (Newsday)>

Whistle-blowers in city government won new protections yesterday under a bill signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg. The law expands the definition of a whistle-blower to include not only mayoral-agency employees, but also those who work for other elected officials and in such quasi-city agencies as the Health and Hospitals Corp. and the Off-Track-Betting Corp. (NY Post)

The rough outlines of a political face-off between Gov. George E. Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver took shape today as Mr. Silver repudiated the centerpiece of the governor's plan to solve the state's fiscal crisis: securing billions of dollars in tobacco settlement money. (New York Times)

In an amicus curiae brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the City Council argued that affirmative action is important to city children's pursuit of higher education. "It is an extraordinary assault on a policy which has strong acceptance across the country," Speaker Miller said. The case in question involves the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy. Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to review a lawsuit seeking to overturn the policy. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 1. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg played host-in-chief in Times Square, greeting tourists and New Yorkers unfazed by terror warnings who were snatching up discounted theater tickets. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg gave a lukewarm thumbs up yesterday to a Ground Zero plan that leaves bare The Pit where the recovery effort took place. Bloomberg expressed a personal preference for the Daniel Libe-skind plan, though he added that he didn't "feel strongly about it." Still, he's the first official to state an opinion publicly since the two finalists were announced Feb. 4. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has not been challenged in anywhere near the same way as Mr. Giuliani, who faced the terrorist attack, a subsequent spate of anthrax illnesses and a daily onslaught of bomb threats and the like. Still, Mr. Bloomberg's wartime persona has begun to emerge in the last week, as he was forced to confront federal warnings of a possible new terrorist threat to the city.(New York Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sought to turn the tables on the political establishment, releasing a report card surveying his own performance in office - then challenging other politicians to do the same. (New York Times)

City officials announced seven appointments yesterday to a panel to examine the politically explosive issues of how to cut the Fire Department's budget and which firehouses might be closed. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg urged jittery New Yorkers to buck up yesterday - and stop worrying about terror attacks. "You have to have some courage here, for goodness sakes." (Daily News)

As state and city leaders spoke out yesterday to reassure New Yorkers beset by terror fears, police took new steps to avert another devastating attack. "There are no specific threats to New York City," Mayor Bloomberg said. "We live in a dangerous world. The bottom line is you don't have any significant risk to your life as long as we do our job," the mayor said at a Police Headquarters press conference. (NY Post) (NY Sun) (Newsday)

World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein told Mayor Bloomberg yesterday that a City Hall proposal to take over his insurance billions is unworkable, sources told The Post.(NY Post)

With the city in full-throttle terror alert, New Yorkers may wonder where Mayor Bloomberg will be this weekend. Tough luck. It's still none of your business. Bloomberg - who turns 61 today - said he's not changing his policy of keeping his private time private. (Daily News)

The City Council yesterday voted to override Mayor Bloomberg's veto of a bill that will ban cell-phone use in theaters and at public performances. (NY Post) (Daily News)

Telling the umpire he needs glasses is one thing, but the City Council wants to strike out at hecklers who get out of control at kids' sporting events. Under legislation approved yesterday, players, parents, coaches and spectators who become violent or unsportsmanlike during Little League and other youth sports programs could be ejected from games - and permanently banned from future ones.(Daily News)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will brief City Council members today on how he chose the 208 "top-performing" schools that won't have to follow the city's new curriculum. (Daily News)

Republican state Chairman Alexander "Sandy" Treadwell met with the City Council's GOP leader in an effort to end an intraparty feud with Mayor Bloomberg. (NY Post)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller yesterday punished the three Democratic members who voted against the 18.5 percent property-tax hike by yanking them from several committees. (NY Post)

Council Speaker Gifford Miller pleaded the cityis case in Albany. Unlike the mayor, he criticized Governor George Patakiis budget for hurting New York City and begged for help. About 20 council members accompanied him on the trip. (Newsday)

In his campaign for City Council, Former State Senator Vincent Gentile is trying to appeal to voters in his Brooklyn district by tweaking Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his wealth and criticizing the recent hike in the property tax. iUnlike our billionaire mayor, Vinnie Gentile knows how hard it is to make ends meet,i reads a mailing from Gentile, one of five candidates to fill the seat vacated when Martin Golden was elected to State Senate. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg was irate over City Council candidapte Vincent Gentile's use of a picture of the mayor's Upper East Side townhouse in an anti-tax-hike mailing. Bloomberg's spokesperson, Ed Skyler, said it was wrong for the mayor's townhouse to be shown for security reasons. The mailing criticized Bloombergis increase in the property tax, which has become a major issue in the City Council campaign. (New York Post)

The city budget cuts were discussed in local terms Tuesday as Queens community leaders complained about the impact on their neighborhoods. (Newsday)

In the last year, the Bloomberg administration has undertaken an expansive and ambitious renovation of City Hall, a landmark and the oldest City Hall in the nation still used to harbor a mayor. (New York Times)

When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Friday that he was heightening security across New York City in response to reports that terrorists might be planning to attack America, he urged New Yorkers to go about their business. For Mr. Bloomberg, that apparently meant taking a quick weekend trip to Florida. (New York Times)

The story of Michael R. Bloomberg, secret agent, is expected to play out in federal court in Manhattan today when the mayor testifies about how, in 2000 before he became mayor, he helped officials build a case against a man who prosecutors say tried to extort money from Mr. Bloomberg's media company. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took the unusual step of offering New Yorkers a report on his campaign promises yesterday, listing those he fulfilled, explaining those he failed to accomplish or postponed and, in a few cases, suggesting that a promise was not such a great idea to begin with. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York post)

Mayor Bloomberg refused yesterday to intervene in a contract dispute with workers at city-funded day care centers, despite the threat of a walkout tomorrow. Citing the city's financial straits, the mayor said the workers were "looking to the city to get them a very fat increase" and called it "just not a realistic possibility." (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg's rubber-stamp Panel for Educational Policy bounced back yesterday for the first time since it was formed in July. In the first sign of dissension, two members voted against plans to install a uniform reading and math curriculum in most city schools - the cornerstone of Bloomberg's education overhaul plans. (Daily News)

For five years under former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, the city's Correction Department operated a little-known foundation that took in and spent some $1 million. Department brass filled the foundation's bank account with rebates from tobacco companies on cigarettes bought with taxpayer dollars and sold to Rikers Island inmates. The highly unusual arrangement apparently allowed the money to be spent outside rules that govern public expenditures. But where did the money go? (Daily News)

In the midst of a financial crisis that has resulted in soaring taxes and gutted programs, government records show City Hall is financing a fleet of nearly 1,500 gas-greedy sport-utility vehicles. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he's closely watching London's plan to charge drivers who enter the city's business district during rush hour - and noted it's been suggested for New York. (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg has finally put the old Board of Education headquarters at 110 Livingston St. up for sale. (NY Post)

One day after City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) proposed a commission to study the possibility of New York City seceding from the state, Bloomberg called the idea a nonstarter. (Daily News)

Just as he often shuns the words "commuter tax" for his plan to impose a charge on suburbanites, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recoiled Friday from calling his demands for cost savings from unions "givebacks." (Newsday)

The majority leader of the State Senate, Joseph L. Bruno, said yesterday that he might allow New York City to raise the income tax on its residents and put tolls on the East River bridges, but that he remained opposed to taxing commuters who work in the city. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post) (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a push Thursday for two bills he wryly suggested would reduce the city's liability in slip-and-fall lawsuits without affecting the incomes of trial lawyers. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum denied their very public feud yesterday - and teamed up to push legislation designed to save the city money on lawsuits. (Daily News)

The Bloomberg administration made its first contract offer to the city's largest union, District Council 37, yesterday, and reiterated that it would not grant raises unless they are financed by productivity increases. (Daily News)

The controversial ban on cell phones in movie theaters and performance spaces moved closer to becoming law yesterday, despite objections from Mayor Bloomberg. (New York Post)

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Braun said on Tuesday that the city must release transcripts of interviews with firefighters about the way the department handled the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The decision came in a lawsuit filed against the FDNY by The New York Times over the records, after the department refused to release the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. (Daily News)

State Supreme Court justice ruled yesterday that the system of compensating private lawyers assigned to represent the poor in New York City courts is unconstitutional, and he ordered that the city and the state more than double the hourly rate the lawyers are paid. (New York Times)

The commission charged with redrawing City Council districts is set to vote today on a new set of lines that gives more power to the city's Hispanic and Asian voters, but still largely protects City Council incumbents. Under the plan, the city will add two districts with Hispanic majorities - one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. It also increases the number of heavily Asian-influenced districts to four from two by changing the parameters of one district in Brooklyn and one in Queens. But the Bloomberg administration fell short of its goal to create three new "fair fight" districts - districts that would have increased the chances of Republicans being elected. (NY Times)

The Bloomberg administration made its first contract offer to the city's largest union, District Council 37, yesterday, and reiterated that it would not grant raises unless they are financed by productivity increases. (NY Times)

A City Council panel is set to vote today to override Mayor Bloomberg's veto of a bill banning cell phone use at the movies and certain live performances and setting a $50 fine for violations. (Daily News)

Council Speaker Gifford Miller took a decidedly tough approach in his State of the City Address, accusing both Gov. George E. Pataki and President Bush of cheating New York City out of billions of dollars. (New York Times) (New York Post) (Daily News)

The three men who wield the most power in Albany reacted cooly yesterday to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plea for the state to help the city out of its current fiscal crisis.(New York Times)

The five New York City Republicans in the State Senate promised Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday that they would support a reinstatement of the commuter tax. However, Governor George Pataki continued to oppose such a tax, saying it would have ia very,very negativei effect on jobs. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg got somewhat contradictory advice from leaders in Albany yesterday. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, a Republican who again expressed opposition to Bloomberg's call for a commuter tax, said the mayor needs to "work harder, be more creative, be more imaginative" in coming up with a plan to fix the city's fiscal woes. On the other side of the aisle, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, said the mayor must stop protecting Governor George Pataki, who has proposed substantial cuts to the city's education and health-care systems. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a bet. He still thinks that Governor George Pataki ultimately will come around and help the city out of its fiscal woes and so apparently believes that bad-mouthing the governor at this point could do more harm than good. (Daily News)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller is expected to sharply criticize Albany and Washington for not doing more to help New York City when he delivers his state of the city speech today. (Newsday)

When Mayor Bloomberg addresses the state Legislature tomorrow, he'll try to hammer home a distinct message: If you hurt the city, you hurt the state. (Daily News)

Plainly put, Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg are not behaving the way New Yorkers expect them to. Just two days after Mr. Pataki delivered a budget address that allocated little more than crumbs for New York City - ignoring Mr. Bloomberg's call the day before for billions of dollars in help from Albany to close the city's budget gap - the two leaders acted more like fraternity brothers than elected adversaries. (NY Times)

Standing next to Gov. Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg continued to push yesterday for a commuter tax and tolls on East River bridges - despite the governor's public opposition. (Daily News)

The squawking began at City Hall yesterday over the doom-and-gloom budgets proposed by Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki. Groups of elected officials and their supporters took turns vowing to fight a variety of cuts outlined this week. (Daily News)

City borough presidents plan a trip to Albany early next week, intent on persuading Gov. George Pataki to restore millions in proposed state budget cuts they say will devastate New York City. (Newsday)

Click here to see The Record for January