GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002:The Record

The Record: February 2004

2/29/2004


While President Bush's call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning gay marriage may help solidify his conservative base, it has caused political headaches for New York Republicans. Both Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while not openly criticizing the president, have said they don't see any need for such an amendment. (Newsday)


To the three R's of education, Mayor Bloomberg needs to add a fourth - results - to his schools' overhaul or risk botching a subject he has boldly asked voters to judge him on, many say. Nearly 18 months after Bloomberg installed Chancellor Joel Klein, longtime observers see a system defined more by high-profile missteps and union bickering than solid victories. (Daily News)

2/28/2004


Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised another objection yesterday to Council Speaker Gifford Miller's proposal for a 2 percent cut in the property tax, saying that it would benefit the wealthiest New Yorkers - like the mayor himself - rather than the people who could really use the money. (New York Times)


Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Gifford Miller, turned up the budget noise Friday, accusing each other of taking the wrong approach to trimming property taxes. Miller told an audience hosted by Queens Economic Development Corp. in Long Island City that Bloomberg's tax rebate plan "to my mind is a gimmick and not even a particularly good gimmick." (Newsday)


Halfway through his term, Mayor Michael Bloomberg earned barely passing grades for his treatment of the homeless, according to a "report card" issued Friday by the Coalition for the Homeless. (Newsday)


Mayor Bloomberg voiced support yesterday for a major taxi fare hike. The Taxi and Limousine Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing March 30 on a proposal to raise fares by 26 percent and boost the cost of a ride from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan to $45 from $35. (New York Daily News)


Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields urged Mayor Bloomberg to scrap his controversial policy to hold back third-graders who do poorly on standardized English and math exams. (New York Post)


Crime is rampant in some of the city's elementary and middle schools - and levels of danger can reach up to 10 times the citywide average, according to data released yesterday by the Bloomberg administration. (New York Post)

2/27/2004


Straining against the tide of record levels of homelessness in New York, the Bloomberg administration is trying a variety of new approaches to address the problem, many significantly different from those the city has followed for two decades. (New York Times)


Council Speaker Gifford Miller, considered a likely candidate for mayor next year, unveiled his plan Wednesday for a 2% across-the-board property tax cut. Fat cats who own some of the swankiest real estate in town would be the biggest winners. (New York Daily News)


Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a new program yesterday that will convert waste gas at eight of the city's sewage treatment plants into electricity, reducing smelly fumes and saving the city up to 3,000 barrels of fuel oil a year. (New York Daily News)


The City Council will hold hearings into the police shooting of Timothy Stansbury Jr., the unarmed 18-year-old killed on a Brooklyn rooftop. Specifically, the hearings will examine police procedures during so-called vertical patrols, when officers check rooftops for suspicious behavior. (New York Daily News) (Newsday)


The city has scheduled a March 30 hearing that's expected to lead to a taxi fare hike in May. The Taxi and Limousine Commission will seek public comment at the hearing - and probably will vote on a proposal to raise fares by 26% and boost the cost of a ride from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan to $45 from $35. (New York Daily News)


Black leaders last night clashed over Mayor Bloomberg's controversial plan to hold back third-graders who do poorly on standardized exams. (New York Post)


The distraught mother of Timothy Stansbury Jr. broke down in tears at City Hall yesterday, while council members called on federal officials to open a civil-rights investigation into his fatal shooting by an NYPD cop. (New York Post)


Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who opposes President George W. Bush's proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriages, says he'll continue to oppose City Council legislation that would require city contractors to provide health benefits to same-sex couples. (Newsday)

2/26/2004


Speaker Gifford Miller of the City Council proposed a property tax rollback yesterday that would permanently reduce taxes by 2 percent for all city residents and businesses, with larger tax breaks for senior citizens on fixed incomes and the working poor. The proposal was immediately rejected by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but got resounding support in the Council, where Mr. Miller controls the overwhelmingly Democratic membership. (New York Times) (NY Post)


Mayor Michael Bloomberg, pelted with questions about the gay marriage issue, declined yesterday to say whether or not he supports the idea of such unions. But he reiterated his belief that there was no need for the constitutional amendment proposed by President Bush, saying the matter should be left up to states. (New York Times) (Newsday)


The city will spend at least $23 million over the next two years stemming from last fall's Staten Island Ferry crash in an effort to implement widespread safety measures on the boats and in repair costs related to the disaster, officials said yesterday. (NY Post)


Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Correction Department officials Wednesday for censoring a Newsday article from inmates at one jail facility. A visibly irked Bloomberg, whose company employs more than 1,600 reporters and editors, said the Correction commissioner has to decide what he thinks is appropriate for the safety of his employees. (Newsday)

2/25/2004


In his annual address to the city today, Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, plans to call for improving school safety and giving money to teachers for classroom supplies, signaling that he intends to challenge the Bloomberg administration on education, its signature issue. He also will chastise the mayor for not doing more to get additional education money from the state. (New York Times) (Newsday)

In his state of the city speech today, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller will call for giving renters some kind of the property tax rebate similar to what Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already granted homeowners. (New York Post)

Facing what his aides concede is going to be a very stiff re-election battle next year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is quietly retooling himself into something of the political creature he claimed to disdain during the first part of his term. He is working to curry favor with specific constituencies, holds regular news conferences outside Manhattan, is picking his battles a bit more carefully and, most significantly perhaps, has stepped up his political rhetoric. (New York Times)

Responding to President George W. Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday released a written statement saying the issue should be "decided by the states." The issue poses a dilemma for Bloomberg because New York will host the Republican national convention this summer. (Newsday)

Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and former Public Advocate Mark Green, who faced each other in a Democratic primary run-off election for mayor in 2001, have the greatest support among possible Democratic mayoral contenders, according to a recent poll of registered Democrats in the city. Ferrer had support from 26 percent and Green from 23, in a Marist College poll released Tuesday. (Newsday)

2/24/2004


The city has committed to spend more than $12 million so far on costs related to the Staten Island Ferry crash, records show. (Newsday)

2/23/2004


Fernando Ferrer courted homeowners in Queens yesterday, setting the stage for his expected 2005 run against Mayor Bloomberg - who raised property taxes 18.5 percent. Ferrer, who hasn't held political office for more than two years, called a press conference with Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Queens) in Hollis Hills to push a bill that would change the way water rates are set. (New York Post)

In a change from his previously friendly relationship with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the authority for not taking over seven city-subsidized private bus lines in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. (Newsday)

2/22/2004


Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum gave the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg barely-above-average marks on managing the city's schools, saying it must listen more closely to constructive criticism. "I'll give him a C-plus," she said in an interview broadcast Sunday on WNBC-TV's "News Forum." (Associated Press)

2/21/2004

Mayor Michael Bloomberg moved yesterday to yank the emergency lights and sirens out of the cars of 255 city officials, including the heads of some of the largest city agencies. (NY Times) (NY Post) (Daily News)

City Councilman Allan Jennings Jr., whom two former aides have accused of sexual harassment, is facing another complaint, this time from a colleague who said that he threatened her. Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez of Brooklyn reported that Jennings had made the threat in a conversation earlier this month, in which Mr. Jennings read her a passage from the Bible. (NY Times) (NY Post) (Daily News)

Contract talks between the Bloomberg administration and District Council 37, New York City's largest municipal union, accelerated this week after the union's leaders said they might agree to a less generous pension plan for future city workers, union officials said. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that Senator John Edwards was wrong when he suggested on Thursday that Republicans were holding their convention in New York to exploit the Sept. 11 tragedy, and that the city's economy was a shambles. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg has come full circle on bridge tolls. The mayor, a one-time proponent of charging tolls on the four East River bridges, made it clear on
his weekly radio yesterday he's not going to take on the politically touchy issue in the foreseeable future. (NY Post)

City Council members urged New Yorkers to take a break from takeout food delivery tomorrow in honor of an 18-year-old deliveryman slain for $49 last week. After some thought, the lawmakers suggested you pick up the order yourself. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday shrugged off a threat against him made to the city's 311 telephone hot line by a Bronx man police found armed with a gun. (Newsday)


2/20/2004


A coalition of advocacy groups called yesterday for the city Department of Education to set up a vast translation network for the non-English-speaking parents of city schoolchildren. (New York Times)

An Afghanistan-born Bronx man was arrested after he threatened to assassinate Mayor Bloomberg - and police are checking worldwide to determine if he's connected to al Qaeda, a law-enforcement source told The Post yesterday. (New York Post)

Parents will be able to issue report cards on their kids' schools under a proposal eyed by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. (New York Post)

The Campaign Finance Board said that in her successful 2001 run, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields - a potential mayoral candidate in 2005 - violated 11 rules, from failing to disclose subcontractors to taking corporate contributions. It fined Fields $11,869. (New York Post)

Chancellor Joel Klein traveled to Brooklyn yesterday to send another not-so-subtle message to principals that he's counting on them to step up and fix their schools. Klein popped in on students at Public School 189 in Crown Heights to showcase a program that uses the February break to give extra help to struggling students. About 80 students and five teachers were finishing up their third straight three-hour day of reading, writing and math drills. (New York Daily News)

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes defended his record yesterday on prosecuting rogue cops after he was criticized by the Rev. Al Sharpton. (New York Daily News)

2/19/2004

Brooklyn federal prosecutors have launched a civil-rights probe into the case of a white cop who fatally shot an unarmed black teen on a housing project rooftop. In a one-line statement yesterday, U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said her office had begun "a thorough review of the evidence" in the Jan. 24 shooting of Timothy Stansbury, 19, at the Louis Armstrong Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. (New York Post) (Newsday)

When a Brooklyn grand jury on Tuesday declined to indict a police officer who testified that he accidentally shot and killed an unarmed 19-year-old on a housing project rooftop last month, it was following a pattern in such cases set not just in New York City, but around the nation, according to lawyers, academics and experts on police shootings.It is a pattern that in many instances has prompted calls for a review by federal authorities and accusations that state prosecutors work too closely with the police to effectively investigate and prosecute such shootings. That is what has happened in this case, in which Officer Richard S. Neri said he was startled and shot Timothy Stansbury Jr. after they came face to face at a rooftop door. But the failure to bring charges in cases where officers contend they fired by accident also highlights the seeming unwillingness of grand juries to find fault in instances in which officers make mistakes - even deadly ones - in settings where they said they either had reasons to be fearful or appeared to be acting in good faith. (New York Times)

Officer Richard Neri's dramatic 70-minute appearance before a Brooklyn grand jury was the decisive factor that led the 23-member panel not to indict the cop for fatally shooting an unarmed teen on Jan. 24. The cop convinced the jurors he was telling the truth because he was so emotional in his remorse and because there was no one who could contradict his version of the tragedy…(Daily News)

Our city, thank God, is not burning. "There clearly is a different mood in the city," Mayor Dinkins told me yesterday on the steps of City Hall. "I think the reason the mood is different is the attitude and behavior of the police commissioner and this particular mayor." Mr. Dinkins, like everyone else, was grateful that the recent killing of Timothy Stansbury - an unarmed black teenager - by a white cop hasn't sparked the kinds of wrenching racial conflagrations that divided the city in the 1980s and '90s. Mayor Dinkins was also saying, in his ever-tactful indirect way: Thank God that Rudy Giuliani wasn't here to screw things up. (New York Sun)

State Republicans have picked a little-known politician from Orange County to challenge Sen. Charles Schumer, ending a months-long search for a candidate - whom some quickly labeled a sacrificial lamb. But Assemblyman Howard Mills, 39, insisted that he at least had a fighting chance to defeat the popular, hard-driving and well-financed Schumer, saying, "I know about his bank account, but I also know about his record: He doesn't have one." Mills, a pro-death penalty, pro-abortion rights moderate from the town of Hamptonburgh, whose campaign committee has a mere $105,000 to a massive $20 million for Schumer, said: "Since Sen. Schumer went to Washington, he has not been able to deliver what New York needs. (New York Post)

2/18/2004

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum accused top school officials yesterday of conducting a "witch hunt" against school employees who have talked to her office about special education. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s office filed a Freedom of Information Law request against Gotbaum after her office released a report saying there was a serious backlog in special education referrals and evaluations. The report quoted anonymous school employees who charged that school superintendents were under pressure to keep the number of special education cases down. It is considered very unusual for one government agency to file such a request aimed at another agency. (Newsday) (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered a review of all city cars outfitted with lights and sirens to see who really needs the whining, flashing lights and to ensure that they are used only in emergencies. The crackdown comes after WCBS-TV last week saw Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman racing down the West Side Highway with sirens flashing to get to work from her Riverdale home. (Daily News) (New York Post) (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged yesterday that not every city agency has achieved balance in placing blacks in senior management, but he also insisted that "most are doing a reasonably good job." Bloomberg was responding to a report by the New York City chapter of Blacks in Government, which concluded that blacks are severely under-represented in the management ranks of seven agencies and the mayor's office. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has repeatedly said that his bid for re-election in 2005 will be his last campaign for public office. But, despite this, he has dozens of web addresses that would prove useful should he decide to run for something after 2005. These include michaelbloomberg08.us and michaelrbloomberg07.org. (New York Times)

A long-time political opponent of Charles Hynes charged that the Brooklyn district attorney selectively prosecutes his political foes. Brooklyn lawyer Sandra Roper filed a motion in Brooklyn Supreme Court to dismiss a criminal indictment against her. Roper is charged with stealing and withholding property from a client. (New York Post)

2/17/2004

City's Top Legal Deputy to Lose Lights, Sirens Mayor Bloomberg's top legal deputy will lose the lights and sirens on her official car after a TV station caught her city chauffeur using the equipment to speed her to work. (Newsday)

Councilmen In Turf War A planned multimillion-dollar complex for Korean wholesalers has set off a war of words between two Queens Democratic councilmen. (Newsday)

2/16/2004

Scores of New Yorkers are eligible for money to help heat their homes but don't know it, according to a report released yesterday by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. (Daily News)

Bloomberg is rooting for two new stadiums for the Jets and Nets - and has put considerable resources and time into the city's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. It's not that the mayor, who wrote in his 1997 autobiography that he had never been much of a sports fan, has changed his ways. Like almost everything else for Bloomberg, it's about business. (Daily News)

Blacks are drastically under-represented in the top ranks of the Department of Transportation and seven other city agencies, according to a report to be released today. (Newsday)

2/15/2004

The New York Police Department has been holding talks with a wide array of local and federal agencies to plan for "doomsday scenarios," should the city be attacked by chemical or biological weapons. (NY Post)

2/14/2004

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city's health commissioner, has turned out to be an active policy advocate among the city's department heads, the outspoken architect of some of the Bloomberg administration's more controversial policies. (NY Times)

The City Council speaker's chief of staff, Forrest R. Taylor, said yesterday that he would leave the position next month. (NY Times)

Senator Chuck Schumer wants to snuff out Mayor Bloomberg's strict smoking ban. (NY Post)

2/13/2004

A city-sponsored report released yesterday called for significant changes in the way the Staten Island ferry operates, including adding another senior officer to vessels, establishing formal training for ferry workers, hiring a new chief of operations - even increasing the number of lifeboats and rescue craft on board. (New York Times)

Two New York City police detectives and a sergeant have been placed on desk duty and a second sergeant has been transferred in connection with an investigation into corruption accusations in a Queens police precinct, several police officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said last night. (New York Times)

In an abrupt change, the Department of Correction announced yesterday that it had scrapped a four-year-old plan to build a new maximum-security lockdown unit on Rikers Island to house inmates with severe disciplinary problems. (New York Times)

As contract talks resumed yesterday between the New York City teachers' union and the Bloomberg administration, the topic turned from weighty matters of salaries and work rules to the decidedly more humble topic of carpet dust.(New York Times)

The city's Independent Budget Office yesterday proposed adding a 10-cent tax to your latte. The "latte tax" - which the IBO estimates would add $12 million to city coffers every year - was among more than 70 proposals from the office as to how the city could close forecasted budget gaps. (New York Post)

Top cop Ray Kelly yanked the parking permits of police union officials after a vote of no-confidence by rank-and-file cops, sources said yesterday. (New York Post)

What do you do if a co-worker calls you "sweetheart" and puts his arm over your shoulder the first day on the job? Is it sexual harassment if a female boss hits on another woman in the office? These are some of the questions addressed in the Council's new online workplace harassment training. (New York Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg wants to cut city taxes to levels lower than they were when he took office - if the economy cooperates. His remarks drew applause from the 150 people at the Richmond Republican County Committee Lincoln Day Dinner on Staten Island. (New York Daily News)

One of the three new Staten Island ferries will be named The Sept. 11, Mayor Bloomberg announced last night. (New York Daily News)

2/12/2004

City officials unveiled a long-awaited plan yesterday to borrow $3.7 billion to transform the far West Side of Manhattan with an extended subway line, parks and a deck over a railyard where office buildings and a cultural institution could be built. (NY Times) (Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/163654p-143470c.html) (Newsday)

Labor leaders and city lawmakers urged the Bloomberg administration yesterday to abandon its efforts to increase the number of schools that are cleaned and maintained by private contractors. They also called on the city to reopen contract talks with the school custodians' union. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday that he would probably put off making any significant changes to the city's cabaret law this year. He had drawn criticism from bar and nightclub owners who opposed his administration's efforts to replace the law with different regulations. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg wants to dramatically redraw the teachers union contract to include salaries based on classroom performance, a streamlined process to get rid of incompetents, and unpaid suspensions for teachers facing serious charges. (NY Post)

Rep. Anthony Weiner is accusing Mayor Bloomberg of moving to establish a permanent memorial for the victims of the Flight 587 crash in the Rockaways without consulting victims' families. (NY Post)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller is using fridge magnets to affix his name to "311" - even though the city hotline is Mayor Bloomberg's pet project. Making matters worse, Miller (D-Manhattan) had his aides distribute the magnets at a community meeting in Queens Tuesday night - and Bloomberg was the guest speaker. (Daily News)

The mother of slain City Councilman James Davis ripped NBC yesterday for using her son's murder as fodder for the popular crime drama, "Law & Order." (Daily News)

02/11/2004

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is once again slipping into the quicksand created by his citywide smoking ban - not over its existence, but over perceived inconsistencies in enforcing it. The troubles for the mayor began last week when The New York Times reported on a black-tie dinner on Jan. 15 at the St. Regis Hotel where Wall Street big shots puffed away on cigars within smelling distance of the mayor. Mr. Bloomberg, whose ban on smoking extends to every restaurant, bar and hotel in the city, has urged New Yorkers to tattle on those who break the law. The city has issued dozens of summonses. (NY Times)

The Fire Department ranks at the bottom among the nation's largest cities when it comes to hiring women and minorities, according to figures released yesterday at a City Council oversight hearing. The Fire Department is 91.7 percent white, 4.7 percent Hispanic, 3.9 percent black, 0.73 percent Asian, and 0.28 percent women, according to the statistics delivered by the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee. Councilwoman Yvette Clarke (D-Flatbush) called the department's diversity abysmal compared to Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago, which have firefighting forces that are 30- to 50-percent minorities. In addition, women make up 15 percent of the department in Miami, 14 percent in Minneapolis and 12 percent in San Francisco, she said. (Newsday)

Two pro-gun groups that canceled plans to host a convention in the city - citing Mayor Bloomberg's anti-gun views - took some heavy fire yesterday from Hizzoner. "One of the great scourges we have in this city is that too many people have too many guns," Mayor Bloomberg said on WLIB Radio. "And if the NRA or any other group that advocates guns doesn't want to come here - [I] can't help them." (Daily News)

With another round of contract negotiations coming up tomorrow, Mayor Bloomberg took aim at the teachers union yesterday for "running" the schools for at least two dozen years. "And the results ... for some it has been great. But for some, it is something that you and I should be ashamed that we have let it happen," Bloomberg said in an inerview on WLIB Radio. "We cannot continue to turn kids out that never, ever share in what's great about America." (Daily News)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, gearing up to run for mayor, announced yesterday he is hiring a new communications chief as well as a press secretary. Named as the new communications director was Stephen Sigmund, a vice president at the Time Warner Foundation who had previously served as a spokesman for former Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Mark Green. (NY Post)

2/10/2004

It is true that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has never danced on a table at Bungalow 8, at least not that anyone has witnessed. But it is also true that the mayor - who is notoriously sleep-deprived, salty of tongue and once held a party dedicated to the theme of sin - hardly fits the reputation he has earned this year as the big municipal nanny. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he didn't see - or, presumably, smell - any smoking at a fat-cat event for Wall Street executives at the St. Regis Hotel last month. (Daily News) (NY Post) (Newsday)

Parents rebelled yesterday against Mayor Bloomberg's new policy of holding back third-graders who do poorly on high-stakes math or reading exams. Opposition to ending "social promotion" for third-graders exploded during a City Council parent leaders' meeting. (NY Post)

2/9/2004

During his weekly radio address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg once again urged the state to eliminate the sales tax on clothing items costing less than $110. Governor George Pataki opposes repeal of the tax. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Bronx Criminal Court judges will get a promotion and a pay raise as part of a restructuring plan to be announced today. (Daily News)

Brooklyn Republican leaders wined and dined several black clergymen in an effort to increase Republican support in the overwhelmingly Democratic borough before New York hosts the Republican national convention this summer. (New York Post)

2/8/2004

Despite a weak economy, welfare rolls are down from 2002 levels, and many former recipients are staying at their new jobs longer. But despite this, the commissioner of the Human Resources Administration, Verna Eggleston, has provoked dismay and anger among many in the social service and political establishment, and among the mayor's advisers. And many in the city's nonprofit advocacy community complain that the current commissioner is as hard-line as her predecessor, Jason Turner. And can be foggy on details. City Council members, meanwhile, say the commissioner has undermined their efforts to expand training programs and increase the availability and use of food stamps. (New York Times)

2/7/2004

Owners of nightclubs and bars fear that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposals to change the cabaret law could force many of their businesses to close by 1 a.m. - far earlier than the current 4 a.m. closing time. (New York Times)

The mayor defended his administration's plans for a new cabaret law, saying people could stay up dancing and drinking - as long as they did not disturb their neighbors while doing it. (Daily News)

Several black Democrats from Queens joined with Council Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins Friday to say they were sticking with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in his embattled drive for the presidency. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has attracted the ire of many with his anti smoking crusade, was surrounded by cigar smokers - and did not object - when he attended an exclusive gathering at the St. Regis Hotel last month. (New York Post)

Denouncing the new lead paint law passed by the City Council over his veto, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city is not to blame for much of the lead poisoning problem because many immigrant children have been exposed to high levels of lead before they come here. (New York Post)

2/06

As contract talks with the city teachers' union start in earnest today, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is reaching for a prize even bigger than mayoral control of the school system: a scrapping of the 42-year-old, 200-page teachers' contract and its thicket of work rules. (New York Times)

In a bill introduced this week in the City Council, the city would seek the right to place a lien on private homes, condos, co-ops and rental buildings where the owners have failed only to pay their water and sewer bills. Under the current law, New York City residents who fail to pay their water and sewer bills can have a lien placed on their property only if they are also in arrears on their property taxes. (New York Times)

The city's outdated health and AIDS curricula will be overhauled, with sex education probably starting at a younger age, the Bloomberg administration said yesterday. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg's plan to send homeowners $400 tax rebates appears to be paying him big dividends where he most needs support - namely, every borough outside of Manhattan. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg grieved with the family of Army Pfc. Luis Moreno at the Ortiz Funeral Home in Washington Heights yesterday and joined their crusade to grant the Dominican-born Moreno citizenship. Moreno was recently killed in action in Iraq. (Daily News)

2/05

With New York State under a court mandate to provide a "sound basic education" to New York City schoolchildren, the plaintiffs in the case put forward a study yesterday showing that an extra $4.1 billion a year would be needed to achieve that aim. (NY Times) (NY Post)

The City Council pushed through tough new legislation on lead paint hazards yesterday, overriding a veto by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and overcoming opposition from health officials, landlords and advocates for low-income housing. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

The city school system wasted tens of millions of dollars on food contracts in recent years because of flawed bidding procedures, employee misconduct and a lack of proper oversight, according to a report released yesterday by the special commissioner of investigation for the school system. (NY Times) (NY Post) (Daily News)

Despite Mayor Bloomberg's claim that he's "ended corporate welfare," large companies continue to cash in on generous tax breaks while failing to live up to their end of the bargain, according to a new report from a union-backed group. (NY Post)

Under a City Council bill introduced yesterday at Mayor Bloomberg's request, the Finance Department would be permitted to seize one-, two- and three-family homes if the water bill is three years overdue and exceeds $15,000. (NY Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's approval ratings among black and Hispanic New Yorkers have slipped during his first two years in office. (NY Times)

A month after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed sending tax rebate checks to most homeowners, a poll released yesterday found his popularity has improved to the point that New Yorkers are now evenly divided on whether they approve of him. (NY Times) (Daily News)

2/04

City Councilmembers Yvette Clarke and Tracy Boyland said yesterday that they would challenge incumbent Representative Major Owens in the Democratic primary this year. Owens has said he planned to step down in 2006, and many Brooklyn Democrats had expressed interest in running for his seat then. Clarke said she is challenging Owens now because, if elected for a final term, he would be a lame duck and not effective. (New York Times)

A new poll says that former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer would defeat Mayor Michael Bloomberg if the two ran against each other for mayor. (Newsday/Associated Press)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there are simply too few people living on Manhattan's far West Side to seriously challenge his proposal for an 80,000-seat stadium for the Jets. (Newsday)

02/03/04

New Yorkers scrutinizing President George W. Bush's fiscal 2005 budget Monday found a mixed concoction: a doubling of homeland security money and steady funding of transportation projects, but fewer funds for firefighters and police and cuts in public housing assistance. "It ain't good," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn). "Not only does the Bush budget whack traditional urban programs like housing assistance, they are shortchanging us on homeland security needs." The $2.4 trillion budget for fiscal 2005 includes an increase from $725 million to $1.45 billion in overall homeland security funding for "high threat" areas. But those areas are not defined, leading to worries among some New Yorkers that cities with relatively placid histories in terms of terrorism could get funds that might be better directed to places like New York and Washington. (Newsday)

Bloomberg hailed the budget for ditching an old funding formula that wound up distributing more money per person to low-risk places like Wyoming rather than to locales where the threat of a terror attack is high....Man for man and woman for woman, Wyoming (pop. 493,782) did better, with $38.31 per person, compared with the paltry $5.47 in counterterrorism funds spent on each New Yorker. Those funding formulas have been ditched in the new budget. (Daily News)

[H]is proposal did not include a major change that New York lawmakers had been demanding in the federal budget: a strict limit on the number of cities entitled to the money. That means that the best New York can expect to receive is $94 million, a figure that New York lawmakers say would be much higher if the president and Congress agreed to revise the formula and spread the money among fewer cities. (New York Times)

President Bush's proposed budget would give New York City a big boost in counterterror spending and smaller increases for education and other programs, officials said yesterday. In terrorism spending, Bush proposed a big increase for high-threat cities - $1.4 billion, nearly double the current amount, along with budget boosts for the Coast Guard and aviation security. Bush's budget proposal also recommends that the "high-threat" security money should go to cities that have real terrorist threats - something New Yorkers have been pushing for. At the same time, broader programs for first responders are to be cut more than $600 million under the Bush budget - a recommendation that was criticized by New York lawmakers. "The good news is that the president finally wants to send money to where the threat is. The bad news is that he proposes to cut overall funding for first responders," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan). The high-threat program has delivered $250 million to New York in the last two years, but its share dropped last year as more and more cities were added to the list of those eligible for grants. "Washington is listening to us, abandoning it population-based funding schemes and moving more money towards New York City where it's needed," Mayor Bloomberg said. Bush's budget also includes a hike of $23.7 million for special education in New York City and $102 million for Title 1 grants to high-need schools. (New York Post)

President Bush yesterday granted New York City's long-standing demand that federal homeland security funding be allocated to cities based on threat, eliminating a much-criticized formula that gave the city less federal money for each person than the state of Wyoming. The president's proposed $2.4 trillion budget for 2005 also doubles the funding for cities considered to be under a "high threat" of terrorism, to more than $1.4 billion. The announcement came after a year and a half of intense lobbying by the city and three days after a group of New York lawmakers wrote to Mr. Bush asking that he double the funding to cities "in Al Qaeda's bull's eye." "Washington is listening to us, abandoning its population-based funding schemes and moving more money towards New York City where it is needed," said Mayor Bloomberg, who said he is "pleased" with the changes. But congressional Democrats said the budget falls short of meeting New York City's security needs. "The mayor just doesn't get it," said Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York, a Democrat who is considering a run against Mr. Bloomberg for mayor in 2005. "More funding is a start, but the only way it will make a real difference is if we limit the number of cities eligible to get it." The budget includes a 10%, or $40.2 billion, increase in homeland security funding government-wide, and a 7% increase in defense spending. It also makes permanent the Bush tax cuts, while eliminating 65 federal programs and cutting 63 more, in an effort to cut the $521 billion federal budget deficit in half within five years. "I'm confident our budget addresses a very serious situation, and that is, we are at war, and we…had dealt with a recession," Mr. Bush said yesterday. It is unclear whether the Homeland Security formula changes will in the end translate into more cash for New York,because the money is doled out at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. As the department's list of high-risk cities expanded - to 50 this year from seven in 2003 - New York's share of the money has dwindled, to 6.5% of the program's funds, or $47 million, in 2004, from 25% in 2003. Mr.Weiner calculated yesterday that if the list of cities remains unchanged, New York can expect to receive $94 million in 2005 - far less than the roughly $400 million Mr. Bloomberg has requested. Mr. Weiner has introduced a bill that would limit the list of eligible cities to 15. "It wouldn't hurt to have Mayor Bloomberg drop a dime on his Republican friends and try to get the help," he added."You'd be hard pressed to find a city with a Republican mayor that has been hurt this hard - particularly a city that is going to host a Republican convention," he said. ( New York Sun)

Even as Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls the Republican convention a great economic catch, he's facing a political catch -- the feelings of his mostly Democratic electorate. Before an elite business audience Monday, the mayor cautiously altered a note he struck last week when he downplayed his on-stage convention role on WNYC radio. He also implied -- perhaps jokingly -- that he'd cede a keynote slot to his GOP predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, though organizers say that hasn't been decided. (Newsday)

Gov. George E. Pataki on Monday used the capture of a career criminal, charged in a recent string of sexual assaults and robberies on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, to attack Democrats in the State Assembly for ignoring his bill to put those convicted of repeat misdemeanors in jail as felons. (New York Times)

02/02/2004

Mayor Bloomberg wants to merge police, fire and EMS dispatchers into one unit, The Post has learned. (NY Post)

02/01/2004

A small crowd of angry protesters rallied outside a Brooklyn Housing Police station yesterday and called for justice in the cop shooting of teenager Timothy Stansbury - just hours after Mayor Bloomberg quietly visited the embattled officers and gave them a pep talk. (NY Post) (NY Times) (Daily News)

Michael Bloomberg, known for his wealth, is also developing a reputation for stealth. When it comes to his comings and goings as mayor, Bloomberg isn't only mum about weekends in Bermuda, he also keeps silent about weekday forays to Brooklyn and the Bronx. The "Public Schedule for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg," handed out to reporters each evening, bears the city's official seal but it's proven to be a singularly unreliable guide to what the roving mayor actually does each day. (Newsday)

Queens pharmacies offer the lowest prices on five popular prescription drugs, while Manhattanites on average pay the most for those medications, according to a new City Council report. (Newsday)

Click here to see The Record for January 2004