GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record

Click here to see The Record for February

1/31
In his first State of the City speech, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to rebuild from the World Trade Center attack, said the city workforce would have to be cut because of the budget gap and promised some new initiatives, including a central phone number, 311, that New Yorkers could use to call city agencies. However he received his biggest applause when he repeated his pledge to eliminate the central Board of Education and all 32 community school boards. The mayor said he would not increase taxes and that closing the multi-billion dollar city budget gap would not be painless. He did not offer specifics on where he would cut. That is expected when Bloomberg releases his budget on Feb. 13.

In his address, Bloomberg also repeated his plan to pursue the 2012 Olympics, called for reform of state tort laws, and announced plans for new waterfront projects, a Latino and Puerto Rican cultural center and a recreational path encircling Manhattan. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday)

Previous mayors have spoken of abolishing the Board of Education but seen their dreams die in the State Assembly. However, there are signs Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be making progress in his drive to eliminate the board and the 32 community school boards. Few believe Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will make a total turnaround and eliminate the board. So, other possibilities are being discussed, including expanding the Board of Education to 11 members, a majority of whom would be appointed by the mayor, or creating a new commissioner of education who would report directly to the mayor. Whatever emerges, Assemblyman Steven Sanders, chairman of the Assembly's Education Committee, said, "It is likely that at the end of this process, the mayor of the City of New York will end up with greater influence and responsibility over public education." (Daily News)

Three leading Democrats, including former Mayor Ed Koch, yesterday announced their support for Governor George Pataki's reelection campaign. One of the three, Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson II, pastor of the 4,000-member Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, said he was backing Pataki because the state Democratic Party has not handed its nomination to State Comptroller Carl McCall, who is African-American. McCall will face former Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo in a primary in September. The three Democrats, who also included State Senator Olga Mendez of the Bronx, appeared with Pataki at a midtown news conference yesterday. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg hailed the decision by American Express to return to its headquarters at the World Financial Center, saying he would use his American Express card and other city residents should too. (New York Times)

1/30
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's performance as mayor is likely to be measured in large part by his success at leading New York City to a consensus on what should happen with the World Trade Center site, and the pace and quality of the subsequent rebuilding. But it will not be easy. As it turns out, Mr. Bloomberg has more authority to suspend alternate side of the street parking regulations than in determining the course of what happens on the tract of land just south of City Hall. (New York Times)

City Council members have submitted dozens of bills and resolutions are up for consideration, many of them submitted by new members who have only recently learned where their offices are. (New York Times)

Roberto Ramirez, who has been chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party for the last seven years, announced yesterday that he would step down from that position effective Sunday. Mr. Ramirez, who is 51, said that he planned to start a political consulting firm, practice law and look for opportunities to teach at the college level. The executive committee of the party will meet on Monday to select the new chairman. They are expected to elect Assemblyman Josù Rivera, who has been a political mentor to both Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Ferrer. (New York Times)

Former Mayor Giuliani wants to raise a hefty $20 million to fund an extensive library and urban center at a "leading" city university, an aide revealed yesterday. (New York Post)

1/29
Tonight is not the most convenient of evenings for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to go to Washington, given that tomorrow he is to deliver the first of his annual addresses to the City Council - arguably his most important speech since taking office. But Mr. Bloomberg's presence at the State of the Union address is just the most visible among many recent moves he has made to establish aggressive lobbying on Capitol Hill to put New York City's needs front and center with the nation's lawmakers. (New York Times)

He is also lobbying in Albany, asking state lawmakers yesterday to help his terror-scarred city balance its budget - arguing that what's good for the city is good for the state. But Bloomberg balked at the idea of reimposing the commuter tax on those holding jobs in the city. (Daily News)

In an unprecedented move, several City Council members plan this week to introduce a resolution condemning former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his last-minute baseball-stadium deals. It is believed to be the first time there has ever been an attempt to publicly rebuke a former mayor for deeds in office. "He knew the city was in a financial crisis, yet he was fiscally irresponsible to enter into an agreement that commits hundreds of millions that could be used for Head Start programs, police and fire protection, health care to the poor," said Councilman Allan Jennings. (New York Post)

The White House nominated yesterday a top aide to Gov. Pataki to head the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's office, the federal prosecutor for Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. Roslynn Mauskopf, a Manhattan assistant district attorney from 1982-1995 and the state inspector general since then, would replace Alan Vinegrad if her nomination is confirmed by the Senate. (Daily News)

1/28
Mayor Bloomberg heads to Albany today with a wish list that includes mayoral control of the city's school system and a larger share of Gov. Pataki's proposed $88.6 billion budget.Bloomberg's first official lobbying trip to the state capital comes as the city faces a $4 billion budget deficit and struggles to recover from the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks. (Daily News)

Last month, as he left office, Giuliani orchestrated deals and appointments that irked his critics and may eventually be reversed by his own successor, Michael Bloomberg, a fellow Republican. As the clock ticked on Giuliani's tenure last month, the mayor named friends and loyalists to city boards. JoAnna Aniello, mother of his friend and chief of staff Tony Carbonetti, was elevated from a senior manager post in the Housing Authority to a $154,372-a-year seat on the agency's board of directors. Bruce Teitelbaum, a Giuliani political adviser, was named to an unpaid four-year seat on the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation board. Nine other Giuliani appointments -- to the boards of ethics, zoning appeals, city planning, landmarks preservation, and the municipal art commission -- have been held up by Bloomberg, pending further review.To far greater controversy, Giuliani also worked out an 11th-hour agreement advancing his goal of arranging new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets at about $800 million apiece, with the city covering half the cost and the state kicking in infrastructure funds. Giuliani had dozens of cartons of government records, keepsakes and audiotapes moved to commercial storage space under the control of an institute -- named after him -- that he incorporated recently. (Newsday)

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has appointed two new deputy commissioners with no experiencing policing New York City but with a combined 70 years of experience sneaking spies into foreign countries, landing soldiers on foreign shores and navigating the bureaucratic back alleys in Washington where policy and politics intersect. Driven by the compelling realities of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, the unprecedented appointments are a sign that Mr. Kelly has set out to reshape the department and its culture, seeking to create what some police officials are calling a model for the 21st-century law enforcement agency. The goal of the changes, simply put, is to meet the singular challenge of seeking to prevent - while at the same time preparing for - future terrorist attacks.(New York Times)

Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, plans to go to Albany today to ask the State Legislature to reinstate the commuter tax, Council aides said yesterday. For more than 30 years, the tax was levied on people who worked in the city but lived elsewhere to pay for the city services they used. In 1999, the Legislature repealed the tax. Now, with the city facing a huge deficit, some officials say it could use the $360 million to $500 million a year that the tax would generate.(New York Times)

Political heavyweights ranging from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Sen. Charles Schumer are descending on Manhattan's famed silk stocking district in coming weeks to influence a battle over an open state Senate seat on the Upper East Side. At stake is not just one vote in Albany. The seat, formerly held by Republican Roy Goodman, is one of the Republican Party's last toeholds in Manhattan. Party leaders want to show that, despite the Democrats' 2-to-1 registration edge in the district, they can still win local elections in the city. The stakes are equally high for the Democrats. An open seat in a swing district is rare, and it gives Democrats a chance to whittle down the Republicans' 35-24 edge in the Senate. The race pits Assemblyman John Ravitz, a moderate Republican from the Upper East Side, against Democrat Liz Krueger, an antipoverty advocate who lost to Mr. Goodman by fewer than 200 votes less than 16 months ago. (Mr. Goodman resigned earlier this month to become president of the United Nations Development Corp., a city-state agency.) (Crain's New York Business)

Brooklyn's new borough president, Marty Markowitz, received nearly twice as much public funding as his nearest competitor did in last fall's election. And last week, Markowitz returned $150,000 in unused funds to the city's Campaign Finance Board.(Daily News)

1/27
As the center of gravity for New York State's population slips farther from the towns and farmlands upstate, the Republicans who control the State Senate, angling to keep their seats, plan to expand the chamber to 62 districts from 61. They have not yet made that plan public, and already there are cries that carrying it out would be illegal. The problem is that determining what is allowable is akin to divination, and the answer is tangled in a legal thicket that prompts even experts to shake their heads and mutter, "Only in New York." The one thing that appears certain is that the method of redrawing New York's legislative districts will land in court, just as it did in 1992, 1982 and 1972, and several times in the 1960's.(New York Times)

The state Legislature is expected to unveil a draft of the once-a-decade redistricting plans for all legislative and congressional districts next month. Queens, whose population grew since the 1990 census, will likely pick up two new Assembly seats, and speculation about them abounds. Though the seats don't even exist yet, a slew of potential candidates are lining up support, attending redistricting seminars and raising money. Part of the excitement stems from the election last year of Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona), the first Latino Council member from Queens, and John Liu (D-Flushing), the city's first Asian-American Council member.Many expect history to repeat itself because the largest population growth has been in those communities - 18 percent of the borough is Asian-American and nearly 25 percent is Latino. (Daily News)

1/26
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday named Adrian Benepe, a veteran of serving the city's green spaces, to succeed Henry J. Stern as commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Department¸Mr. Benepe, a registered Democrat who was born and raised in Manhattan, first worked in the department at 15, collecting trash and mopping locker rooms, he said. His career started in earnest after college when he joined the agency's urban park ranger program. After holding a number of different positions at the agency as well as jobs at the Municipal Art Society and the New York Botanical Garden, he became the Manhattan borough commissioner for the department in 1996. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg personally contributed a whopping $705,750 to the New York Republican Party in October, a month before his election victory. (New York Post)

1/25
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg expressed reservations yesterday about a controversial plan in Gov. George E. Pataki's state budget proposal to help the city school system raise $204 million, which some officials hope could be used to pay higher teachers' salaries. At the same time, the mayor, who plans to testify at budget hearings in Albany on Monday, did not rule out the possibility of instituting a 30-cent city tax on cellular phones, as outlined in the budget proposal . Under Mr. Pataki's plan, announced earlier this week, the state would authorize a bond sale to pay the city $204 million in reimbursements for school aid the city has complained it has been owed for years, and the state would pay the interest and principal on the bonds. "We can use as much help as we can get from the state," Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday at his regular news briefing. "Whether the $200 million really solves the problem, it is a one-time event, and to use it to fund something where we'd have a problem the following years is something that you've got to think long and hard about." (New York Times)

Rudy Giuliani's power grab of all of his papers from his eight-year term is beginning to attract criticism from various fronts - including Mayor Bloomberg. His aides hinted that they were uncomfortable with Giuliani's move because it could restrict public access to the documents. "Anything that makes it more difficult to get information is unfortunate," Bloomberg said yesterday. The treasure-trove of documents - including World Trade Center files, 6,000 files of photos and negatives, audiotapes of cabinet meetings, e-mails and telephone logs - were transferred to a private storage facility instead of the city's Municipal Archives Department, and eventually will be housed in a new Giuliani library. (Daily News)

A Brooklyn judge named Victor I. Barron got himself into the biggest judicial corruption case in New York in years, according to the Brooklyn District attorney, Charles J. Hynes. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg will put his skills as a host to the test this weekend when he welcomes more than 200 of the nation's mayors to the city for a conference on economic security.The U.S. Conference of Mayors decided to hold at least part of its national meeting in New York to show support for the city after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Daily News)

The Democratic state convention, expected to be an early test of strength for the party's two high-profile contenders for the governor's nomination, will be held in late May in New York City, official said Thursday. The party's newly elected state chairman, Herman Farrell, said that given the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers, the city became an obvious choice for the gathering. (Associated Press)

1/24
Mayor Bloomberg will play host to a $15,000 a ticket fund-raiser for Governor George Pataki at the mayor's East Side townhouse on February 6. President Bush is scheduled to attend the party, billed as a small reception, which is expected to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Pataki re-election campaign. (New York Post)

The planned fund-raiser for Governor Pataki at Mayor Bloomberg's home reflects a number of political realities and hopes. President Bush, who rarely tried to conceal his distaste for New York before September 11, is undoubtedly happy to oblige a politician who can raise large sums of money for his party. The governor, in turn, will probably look to Bloomberg to help deliver New York City to him in the November election. And Bloomberg, a Democrat for most of his life, needs to burnish his Republican credentials because several conservatives around the state have been unhappy with his Democrat-filled administration and somewhat left-leaning policy pronouncements. Bloomberg faces a roughly $4 billion budget gap that he hopes the state will help fill and has myriad needs that he would like Washington's assistance with as well. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday named Kevin Sheekey special adviser to the mayor. Sheekey, former chief of staff for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, worked for Bloomberg as a lobbyist and political adviser at his company in Washington and played a key role in his campaign for mayor. (New York Times)

Parks Commissioner Henry Stern is mounting a behind-the-scenes campaign to keep the post in the Bloomberg administration and has enlisted former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the fight. So far, Mayor Bloomberg has filled almost every top position in his administration -- except parks commissioner. Stern has already served in the post under two mayors, Giuliani and Ed Koch. (New York Observer)

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly yesterday named George Grasso, currently deputy commissioner of legal matters, as his first deputy commissioner, the number two post in the department. The Latino Officers Association and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement had sent Kelly a letter opposing Grasso's promotion. The organizations objected to his involvement in civil rights lawsuits involving their groups and members. Kelly also named Frederick Patrick deputy commissioner of community affairs and Assistant Chief Nicholas Estavillo chief of patrol, making him the highest-ranking uniformed Hispanic officer in the department. Patrick was commissioner of juvenile justice in the Giuliani administration and executive director of the community relations task force formed after the police torture of Abner Louima. (Daily News)

1/23
Two veteran political operatives from the Queens and Bronx Democratic organizations began working yesterday as special advisers to Council Speaker Gifford Miller. Kathy Torres, the former executive director of the Bronx County Democratic Committee and right-hand aide to Chairman Roberto Ramirez, and Matt Malarkey, who has close ties to Queens Democratic leader Thomas Manton, will each receive $125,000 in the newly created positions. Both Ramirez and Manton supported Miller in his bid to become council speaker, and the appointments of the operatives illustrate the enormous clout the party leaders are wielding in City Hall. (New York Post)

As Mayor Bloomberg's new deputy mayor for operations, Shaw must come up with ways to cut that much money - by far the largest budget gap the city has ever faced - from next year's $40 billion spending plan. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg shelled out another $1.6 million of his own money to cover transition and inauguration costs - including hefty salaries to top campaign aides and pricey hotel accommodations for his transition chief. (Daily News)

James Hanley will remain in the crossfire as commissioner of the mayor's Office of Labor Relations, Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday. (Daily News)

1/22
Mayor Bloomberg veered sharply away from former Mayor Giuliani yesterday - warmly celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with the Rev. Al Sharpton. "Thank you for inviting me, pleased to come," Bloomberg told the overflowing crowd at Sharpton's Harlem headquarters. "I would hope that you invite me for each of the four years that the voters of the City of New York have given me, and I'll be pleased to come every time," the mayor added. (New York Post) (Daily News)

Mr. Bloomberg kicked off his first King Day celebration as mayor yesterday with appearances at six celebratory events in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, in what could have been read by many in attendance as a clear signal that African-American leaders of all political stripes were once again welcome at City Hall. Among Mr. Bloomberg's first actions was to welcome back to City Hall former Mayor David N. Dinkins, a Democrat who did not support Mr. Bloomberg's campaign. Nevertheless, he called Mr. Dinkins "a friend of mine who has been an adviser to me and whose judgment I respect." Mr. Bloomberg did not resist the opportunity to take a subtle dig at his predecessor, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, asking Mr. Dinkins: "Do you recognize the place? Has it changed a lot? It's been so long." (New York Times)

Shut out from a committee chairmanship, City Councilman Oliver Koppell blamed it yesterday on the influence of Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez. "I don't blame Roberto. I would have expected him to be opposed to my becoming a chairman," said Koppell, who has long feuded with Ramirez. "I'm disappointed the speaker [Gifford Miller] went along with this. County leaders should not have this kind of influence on the City Council." (Daily News)

In the three weeks since he has been in office, Mr. Bloomberg says, he has taken the subway to work all but one day, with little fanfare or attention, generally only in the company of two large men with curly wires going into their ears and a couple of hundred other citizens of his city who have crammed themselves into his car on the Lexington line. Mr. Bloomberg's press secretary says that it is so, and probably the best indication that it really is true is the way the mayor responds when asked whether he enjoys riding the subway. He looks at the questioner as if he has asked about an invasive dental procedure. " `Enjoy' isn't quite the right word," he says. (New York Times)

Fifteen years after going to prison and leaving politics in disgrace, former Bronx political boss Stanley Friedman is backing candidates again - donating $12,500 to campaign war chests. Friedman, now a Staten Island hotel manager, has opened up his checkbook to eight politicians and two political action committees over the last three years, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro (New York Post)

1/21
Mayor Bloomberg has decided to march in this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade, ending speculation he might sit out the politically charged event because of its ban on gay groups. (Daily News)

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz got 200 calls criticizing his decision to remove a portrait of George Washington from his office, and some of the "old white guys" whose portraits currently hang on the walls of Borough Hall. (Daily News)

1/20
To reward the Democratic party bosses of Queens and the Bronx for making him the new City Council Speaker, Gifford Miller doled out spoils to both boroughs. To Queens:
*Committee or subcommittee chairmanships to each of the 13 Queens' Democrats, with St. Albans Councilman Leroy Comrie also named majority whip.
*Three of the most important chairmanships. Comrie got the rules committee, David Weprin snagged finance and Melinda Katz nabbed land use.
*Of the $471,500 in Council bonuses, known as lulus, Miller threw nearly a third - $146,000 - to Queens members.
*And, in what might be the best measure of power, Queens landed 11 of 26 committee chairs. No other borough received more than six. (Daily News)

With the new leaders of the City Council committees selected, the most populous borough, Brooklyn, emerged as the biggest loser while Queens maintained a strong share of its long-held dominance, and Ramirez's Bronx allies gained some plum posts.There are other shifts. The number of women fell from 17 to 12, the number of Republicans dropped from six to four, and the age of most members fell, as expected with the ejection of senior leaders. And two daughters and two sons of last term's council took over the seats of their parents, including Peter Vallone Jr. of Astoria, son of the former speaker. (Newsday)

Though Bloomberg has been the city's chief executive for only three weeks, distinct differences already are emerging between him and his outsized predecessor, Rudy Giuliani. Bloomberg is more personable, more relaxed, willing to cede the spotlight that Giuliani often soughtŸOne rode the subway twice in eight years, the other pledged to do it every day. A Giuliani aide dismisses this kind of contrast as "silliness.. You need to go through some important moment before anyone can talk about your style - the adoption of a first budget, the first State of the City address." Bloomberg's first big decision is likely to come next month, when, on Feb. 14, he will unveil his first budget - a document that will have to spell out how he intends to cut a whopping $4 billion from the city's $40 billion spending plan for next year. (Daily News)

Dennis Rivera, president of New York City's giant health care workers' union, organized a rally in Albany where his union's members hailed Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican. His union, 1199/S.E.I.U., New York's Health and Human Service Union, endorsed the Republican running for a State Senate seat on Manhattan's East Side. He urged his union's members to do everything they could to ensure that Joseph L. Bruno, a Republican, remains majority leader of the State Senate.By embracing Republicans in such a visible way, Mr. Rivera, widely seen at the most powerful union leader in the state, has scrambled the odds in political campaigns across the state. (New York Times)

1/19
Mayor Bloomberg will restart contract talks with the city's teachers union as early as next week. (Daily News)

Some members of the Bloomberg administration were displeased to learn that Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani had made several appointments to boards and commissions just weeks before leaving office, people in the administration said yesterday. The most lucrative appointments - to the city's three-member Housing Authority Board - were awarded to JoAnna Aniello, the mother of Anthony V. Carbonetti, who was the former mayor's chief of staff, and Earl Andrews Jr., whom Mr. Giuliani reappointed. The third member's term has not yet expired.Each was appointed on Dec 24., less than two weeks before Mr. Giuliani left office, and will receive $154,372 annually for their service (New York Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that he would attend a celebration of Martin Luther King's Birthday at the Harlem headquarters of the Rev. Al Sharpton's political organization, an event that has in the past attracted numerous politicians and officials but was never attended by Mr. Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani. (New York Times)

1/18
The Republican and Democratic Parties officially nominated their candidates last night in the State Senate race to succeed Roy M. Goodman, a Republican who has represented the 26th District on the East Side of Manhattan for 33 years. Last night, the Republicans chose the Manhattan Assemblyman John Ravitz as its candidate. And the Democrats nominated Liz Krueger, the former director of the Community Food Resource Center. Ms. Krueger came within 200 votes of defeating Mr. Goodman in 2000. Mr. Goodman resigned recently. (New York Times)

Voters in central Brooklyn will head back to the polls Feb. 12 to fill the Albany seats vacated by Marty Markowitz and Al Vann. Former Democratic district leader Carl Andrews is being challenged by Frances Purcell in the race for the State Senate seat that was held by Borough President Marty Markowitz for 23 years. Four candidates are seeking the Assembly seat held for 27 years by Vann. Former Democrat Councilwoman Annette Robinson is vying with former county GOP chairman Arthur Bramwell, Liberal Richard Taylor and Libertarian Sam Sloane for the seat. Vann was elected to replace the term-limited Robinson on the Council. (Daily News)

Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group yesterday criticized billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg for giving huge bonuses to campaign staff just before they became his city aides.But Bloomberg, who revealed Tuesday that he gave out $850,000 in bonuses to 11 campaign aides - most of whom joined his administration - said, "Well, it was my money, it was not public money. So, you know, that's what I did with it." (Newsday)

Despite the city's cash crisis, the City Council is pumping $60,000 into new executive-style leather chairs. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg, after campaigning for a legislative candidate yesterday morning, found himself discussing his daughter's job hunt, the press and the budget shortfall with straphangers on another subway ride to work. Making good again on his promise to use mass transit, he squeezed onto a downtown No. 6 train at 77th Street at 8:15 a.m. (New York Post)

1/17
Council Speaker Gifford Miller yesterday gave all Democratic members from Queens committee or subcommittee chairs, including two of the most powerful, Finance, which went to David Weprin, and Land Use, which went to Melinda Katz. Queens Democratic leader Thomas Manton, who watched from the balcony, had backed Miller for speaker. The Bronx, whose Democratic leader Roberto Ramirez was also a Miller supporter, had a good day as well. It received several committee chairs, and the number 2 position in the council hierarchy, majority leader, went to Bronx member Joel Rivera. Former Council Speaker Peter Vallone had held that position himself.

In total, Miller gave out 42 leadership posts with a total of $464,000 in stipends, known as "lulus." While creating more of these positions than had existed in the previous council, Miller also cut many of the individual stipends so that the money would be spread more evenly among more members. Overall, Miller trimmed the "lulu" budget by $18,000 or 3.7 percent. (New York Times) (Daily News)

Two weeks into his mayoralty, Michael Bloomberg is offering big clues as to how his priorities may differ from those of his predecessor, Rudolf Giuliani. Mayor Bloomberg has expressed an interest in reinvigorating areas of government that were dormant under the Giuliani administration, like the city's Human Rights Commission, and he is expected to try to give broader authority to the Health Department. (New York Times)

As the new chair of the City Planning Commission, Amanda Burden will become the city government¬s voice in planning the future of lower Manhattan. But more than that, her appointment is one of the clearest indications to date where Mayor Michael Bloomberg may stand in the complex, high-stakes public debate over how best to commemorate and rebuild. And it seems he may be on the side of the planners and dreamers, not the big business interests. However it remains unclear how much say Burden, or anyone else in city government, will have over what happens in lower Manhattan. (New York Observer)

1/16
Mayor Bloomberg made six new appointments yesterday: Andrew Alper was named president of the Economic Development Corporation; Michael Carey will serve as a special assistant to advise the mayor on capital construction projects; Robert Walsh will head the Department of Business Services; Amanda Burden was chairwoman of the Planning Commission; Lindsay Eason will become sheriff; and Kenneth Podziba was reappointed as the head of the Sports Commission. (New York Times)

Gifford Miller, the speaker of the City Council, is planning to cut the stipend given for his post by about 25 percent, officials said yesterday, and wants to trim both the range and the dollar amount of other stipends paid for positions like committee chairman or majority whip. Last year, the speaker earned $39,500 in addition to the regular $90,000 salary. Mr. Miller is expected to take a cut of about $10,000, an official said. Other positions brought an extra $2,500 to $29,000 last year; under Miller's plan, officials in the leading roles would get less money for stipends, which would be spread around more evenly among the posts, the official said. (New York Times)

Michael Bloomberg gave out large bonuses to campaign staff on December 31. The payments were part of a final check-writing spree that pushed Bloomberg's campaign spending record onto even higher ground - $72.2 million, not including the $877,000 he shelled out while exploring whether to run. (Daily News)

Katherine Lapp was appointed the new executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (New York Post)

1/15
Michael Carey, son of former Gov. Hugh Carey, will be named a special assistant to Mayor Bloomberg today as part of a group of appointments to bolster the administration's economic-development team. (New York Post)

There are about three dozen standing, sub- and select committees through which the business of the City Council is conducted, and leading them carries varying degrees of prestige, power and cash. So while the council members, whether motivated by personal ambition or constituent need, are jockeying for positions, the Democratic Party leaders, special interest advocates and other elected officials are also weighing in, lobbying Mr. New York City Council Speaker A. Gifford Miller and his advisers on behalf of particular candidates for particular posts.
But there are only so many leadership posts to go around. Interest is highest for running the Land Use or Finance Committees, the two most powerful panels. Those positions are likely to go, respectively, to Melinda Katz and David Weprin, both of Queens, Democrats said. Among the competition for Education, for example, is Eva S. Moskowitz, an education expert who is one of Mr. Miller's most loyal and long-term supporters. (New York Times)

Queens faces problems as varied as rising unemployment and looming budget cuts, Borough President Helen Marshall said yesterday.To tackle them, she called for the creation of task forces, assemblies or committees that would focus on those issues and others, including quality education, cultural diversity and business development. During her first briefing with reporters since she was sworn in as borough president on Jan. 3, Marshall offered a dollop of new initiatives mixed with a large dose of last year's campaign promises. (Daily News)

Mark Green, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in November, has been named a distinguished visitor at New York University's School of Law, a university spokesman said yesterday. "The appointment is based on his career in public interest law," said the spokesman, John Beckman.Green will advise budding lawyers on possible careers in public service. (Newsday)

Roster At City Hall - Who had the job under Giuliani, who has it now under Bloomberg (Politicsny.com)

1/14
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver visited City Hall yesterday and said that he might be open to the possibility of reinstating some form of commuter tax if his colleagues in the State Senate would go along. The tax was levied for more than 30 years on people who work in the city but live elsewhere, to help pay for the city services that they used. It was repealed in 1999. The repeal has cost the city $360 million to $500 million a year, money the city could now use to close its looming budget deficit. Mr. Silver, who supported repealing the tax in 1999, said yesterday that he would entertain the idea of reimposing it if the money collected were set aside and dedicated for a specific purpose, like repairing the subway lines that were damaged in the Sept. 11 attack or paying for police and fire services. (New York Times) A spokesman for state Senate Republicans immediately dismissed the idea. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he agrees the City Charter should be changed so the public advocate is no longer next in line to the mayoralty - an idea floated by the new public advocate herself. ( Daily News)

New Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is yanking down the portrait of a British queen who has rankled residents because she profited from slavery. Marshall plans to remove from Borough Hall the picture of Queen Catherine of Braganza, believed by many to be the borough's namesake. (New York Post)

Profile of Dennis Walcott, 50, who brings a sophisticated and shrewd understanding of New York City government and politics to his new job as deputy mayor for policy in the Bloomberg administration. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's selection of Walcott is seen as a wise and inspired pick by an impressively diverse cross section of New Yorkers. The pick has caused many to look more respectfully at Bloomberg, particularly in the African-American community, but also among educators. (Newsday)

1/13
With most of his major appointments in place, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's top staff is about two-thirds white - similar to the early Giuliani crew - despite the new mayor's hints of greater inclusion. It is also about two-thirds male, and heavy on Democrats and commissioners drawn from former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration. In many ways Bloomberg has done what Giuliani predicted last month as transition plans were drawn up: replace the top echelons at City Hall but keep holdovers further down in the hierarchy. At the top, he has installed a mix of business colleagues, academics, nonprofit veterans and political operatives. (Newsday)

The battle for speaker had been a bitter, behind-the-scenes contest, and by several accounts, the Queens Democratic organization Tom Manton runs had delivered as many as 20 of the 26 votes needed to make Gifford Miller speaker. Now, rumors are flying that Queens will get the lion's share of committee chairmanships, including all the key ones, such as finance and land use. ( Daily News)

In addition to reaching out to many of the same people whom Giuliani loved to vilify - liberal Democrats, union leaders and social service advocates - Bloomberg is saying and doing things that seem to be lifted right from their playbooks. ( Daily News)

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum said she's not interested in taking over City Hall - and plans to explore changing the rules so a special election could be held more quickly in the event of a mayoral tragedy. (New York Post)

Marty Markowitz, the new borough president of Brooklyn, who started as a tenant activist in Flatbush and served 23 years representing a central Brooklyn district that is 90% African-American and Caribbean-American in the state Senate, promised to do more than offer a concert on every corner. He spoke with pride of his record of delivering services for his district. "And now I want to do that for all of Brooklyn," he said. Markowitz said he had four items atop his agenda: "Housing, economic development and job creation, education and building on the spirit of Brooklyn ."(Daily News)

Two of our lawmakers, Reps. Charles Rangel and Carolyn Maloney, both of Manhattan, each introduced more than 40 bills and resolutions, on topics from trade and taxes to health-care and criminal-sentencing laws. But more than a third of the state's 31-strong congressional delegation sponsored 10 or fewer bills in 2001 - the first half of the 107th Congress, which continues until the end of this year. Propping up the pack was Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Queens), who introduced just one bill last year - a brief resolution about civil unrest in Jamaica. ( New York Post)

While the novice mayor has been surprisingly at ease in his first two weeks in government - including his City Hall press conferences - he's made some very noticeable slips of the tongue. Bloomberg began his inauguration speech by thanking the "distinguished and honest guests." He has praised the firefighters who "heroically and selfishly" rushed into the buildings, called Governor Pataki "a great mayor for the last eight years," substituted Herald Square for Times Square, and gotten the names and duties of his commissioners confused. He also mistakenly referred to City Comptroller Bill Thompson as Bill Perkins, who is a member of the City Council. (New York Post)

1/12
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said that cuts to the city's budget would begin with his office, but apparently he was not referring to salaries for his top aides. Although the mayor will only be earning a dollar a year for his public service, his top aides will receive the same salary that Rudolph W. Giuliani's advisers did at the end of their term, salaries that Mr. Giuliani had raised as much as 50 percent. Four out of five of Mr. Bloomberg's deputy mayors will receive $168,700 a year. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg ordered the Board of Education and other city agencies to prepare plans to slash their construction budgets by as much as 25 percent over three years to help balance the city's books, officials confirmed yesterday. Such a cut - if enacted - would cripple the school system's plan to alleviate overcrowding in crammed school buildings in Queens as well as other parts of the city ( New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has named Verna Eggleston, an out lesbian who is the former executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, New York's leading Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender youth advocacy group, as Commissioner of the city's Human Resources Administration. HRA, with roughly 10,000 employees, is responsible for a broad swath of the city's social service delivery system, including AIDS services, welfare and welfare to work, food stamps, Medicaid, home care for people with disabilities, and programs to combat domestic violence.
Given the criticism that the HRA under Giuliani faced in progressive communities, several leaders in the lesbian and gay and AIDS communities were cautiously upbeat about the agency's prospects under Eggleston's leadership, though one, State Senator Tom Duane, explicitly warned of the downside she faces. "I hope that the new Mayor is going to be more sympathetic to the people in need and at risk," Duane said. "If that's the case, then I think that Verna will be good. If not she's going to have to take the blame." (LGNY)

Mayor Bloomberg has put a hold on eight appointments Rudy Giuliani made in his final days - including three members of the Conflicts of Interest Board, all former federal prosecutors with whom Giuliani worked in the 1980's. Other appointments put on hold: Adam Barsky, Giuliani's former budget director, to the Civil Service Commission, and Joel Miele, Giuliani's head of environmental protection, to the Board of Standards and Appeals. ( New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to end a lawsuit he filed years ago in which he was to face a lawyer's grilling Friday about his media empire's inner workings. (Newsday)

1/11
New mayoral appointments:
Kate D. Levin, an assistant professor of English and theater at City College of the City University of New York, as commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Linda Gibbs, a deputy commissioner at the Administration for Children's Services, as the city's head of the Department of Homeless Services.
Betty B. Wu, a manager at his private company, Bloomberg L.P., to lead the Department of Employment.
Ester R. Fuchs, a professor of political science at Barnard College and the director of the Center for Urban Research and Policy at Columbia University, as a special adviser for governance and strategic planning.
Mayor Bloomberg reappointed Richard T. Roberts, a former housing commissioner under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, as chairman of the board of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs 11 hospitals and 85 community clinics and serves one in six New Yorkers. The mayor recommended Dr. Benjamin K. Chu, senior associate dean at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, as the next president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation. The choice of Dr. Chu will need the approval of the corporation's board. (Newsday) (New York Times)

Barely a week into his mayoralty, it is far too soon to know what type of tone Mr. Bloomberg will ultimately set at City Hall. But the early indications are that it will be quite different from Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's. For the first time in years, deputy mayors roam the halls, making chitchat with City Council aides, reporters and people who are waiting patiently to be taken up for a job interview. At news conferences, Mr. Bloomberg stands back and lets his commissioners do their own talking, and permits them to do radio and television interviews
Mr. Bloomberg has already welcomed to City Hall elected officials, advocates and others who have been more or less barred from the west wing for the last eight years, in ways symbolic and material. Officials from his administration have met with groups that work with the homeless, eagerly hearing them out. "It was like night and day over there," said Mary Brosnahan Sullivan, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. (The New York Times)

Manhattan Democrat A. Gifford Miller spent his first day in the powerful City Council speaker's post chatting with the mayor and interviewing colleagues for vacant committee seats. A steady stream of council members paraded through the speaker's City Hall office from 1 to 7 p.m. yesterday to plead their cases for the remaining chairmanships, according to council sources. The posts each come attached with a staff member and lucrative stipends ranging from $2,500 to $29,000. The members were each given 15 minutes with Miller to discuss their qualifications and the needs of their districts. (Newsday)

Swearing-in ceremonies are being played out - with some variations - from Staten Island's north shore to the South Bronx in a seemingly endless stream. With four new borough presidents and 38 new City Council members taking office at once, New Yorkers have never seen as many in a single monthlong period. Although all the newly elected politicians were sworn in with far less pomp in the city clerk's office before the end of December, as required by the City Charter, nearly all of them also scheduled some big event for the citizens whose votes they will need for re-election in only two years. ( New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg is trying to block Andrew Eristoff from becoming Manhattan Republican chairman because he supported pesky GOP rival Herman Badillo for mayor. (New York Post)

The city's Campaign Finance Board yesterday fined Alan G. Hevesi, the former city comptroller, along with several other candidates in last year's elections for accepting improper campaign contributions. Mr. Hevesi's fine, by far the largest, was $10,980. Other candidates with new fines: Mark Green ($1,620), Peter Vallone ($720), Willie Colon ($2,500, for skipping a public debate) (New York Times)

Just a week after he left office, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's new company, Giuliani Partners - a consulting firm for turning around failing businesses - is up and running in a swank high-rise office building in midtown. It's in a suite of newly renovated offices at Ernst & Young, the accounting firm Giuliani has teamed up with to form his new company. About 12 to 15 people, all former City Hall employees, work in the new firm. (Daily News)

1/10
Gifford Miller, 32, of Manhattan was unanimously elected as City Council speaker yesterday. The new Council also adopted changes in rules which, although, they do not go as far as some new members had wanted, would take some power away from the speaker. (Newsday)

Until recently, veteran City Hall reporters did not take Gifford Miller seriously. But now the young Council member from the Upper East Side is the most powerful Democrat in New York City government and the cityÂs most senior elected official. His selection as speaker is a major sign of the sea change that has taken place in New York politics. (New York Observer)

When new welfare commissioner Verna Eggleston was 9 months old, her father walked out on the Bronx family of seven children, and her mother turned to public assistance. But how much and for how long the family was helped by Aid to Families With Dependent Children depends on who is telling the story. Ms. Eggleston, 45, who describes herself as an African-American Republican with conservative views, said her mother left welfare after "a short time." But her mother, Dorothy Eggleston, 76, said she received family assistance for 17 years. The details of such a family's life are charged with political meaning, now as the city faces the first test of its welfare overhaul in a recession.

Commissioner Eggleston, who most recently directed the Hetrick-Martin Institute in Manhattan, a social service agency serving gay young people, is almost unknown among veterans of the welfare debate. As an African- American Republican, she is also a bit of an enigma in the world of social services. (New York Times)

George Grasso, the Police Department deputy commissioner for legal matters, is considered a front-runner for first deputy commissioner, the number two position in the department. But Blacks in Law Enforcement, the Latino Officers Association and the Gay Officers Action League are trying to block the appointment. Grasso has had somewhat difficult relations with members of some minority groups, and in a letter, leaders of the three organizations said Grasso ›has not displayed the ethical grounding necessary for such an appointment." (Daily News)

Charles Hynes was sworn in yesterday for his fourth term as Brooklyn district attorney. (Daily News)

1/9
East Side Councilmember Gifford Miller will be elected as Speaker of City Council today and has the main say in making appointments to 43 committee chairmanships and leadership posts, 20 of them carrying annual stipends of $10,500 to $29,000 above the regular Council salary of $90,000. (Daily News)

Lost in the drama surrounding Gifford Miller's anointing is a campaign by the upstart Fresh Democracy Council to weaken the speaker's powers that appears to be losing steam. However, it appears the status quo will be maintained. (Newsday)

If Mayor Bloomberg owes few people for his election, very few people outside of Mr. Bloomberg's small circle owe the new mayor very much either. (New York Times)

The city's term limit laws managed to push four borough presidents and dozens of City Council members out of office. But in the week since their terms expired, many of the former borough presidents and council members have managed to avoid unemployment. (New York Times)

1/8
Manhattan's Gifford Miller nailed down the coveted post of City Council speaker yesterday with a boost from the Queens and Bronx Democratic bosses. Yesterday, Miller's three main rivals for the post endorsed him in a show of unity two days before the formal vote to name a speaker. (Daily News) Gifford Miller, 32, has developed a reputation as a nonstop worker with a razor-sharp mind. He is said to have wanted the post of speaker virtually since the day he came to the Council in a special election in 1996 and to have worked diligently and widely, but always cordially, to get it. (New York Times) "Political experience is what matters," Miller said. "I may be on the younger side, but I happen to be the senior elected official in the City of New York. I've spent six years serving on the City Council." Miller, who is married to his college sweetheart, Pamela, has a 1-year-old son and a second child on the way. He will replace Rudolph Giuliani as City Hall's biggest Yankees fan. Miller, who was born to a wealthy Upper East Side family, attended elite private schools before enrolling at Princeton, where he received a political science degree. His father, Leigh, served in the State Department in the 1960s, while his mother, Lynden, designed gardens. Both were active in Community Board 8 and are committed Democrats. (Newsday)

Mr. Miller pledged to run a more open Council. His priorities would be those that have often been voiced during this political season: trying to plug the city's budget deficit while improving its schools, creating affordable housing and helping the elderly. (New York Times)

New mayoral appointments:
Mark Page, who was deputy director under Mayor Giuliani of the Office of Management and Budget, as director.
Patricia L. Gatling, formerly first assistant district attorney of Brooklyn, as chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission.
John Feinblatt, the director of the Center for Court Innovation, as the city's criminal justice coordinator.
Roberto Velez, the former commissioner of probation, as the chief administrative law judge of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.
Michael J. Handy was reappointed as director of the Office of Veterans Affairs. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made it clear yesterday that he did not share former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's vision for new baseball stadiums for New York City in the near future, saying that Mr. Giuliani's project would not be given priority this year. "At the moment, everybody understands that given that the lack of housing, given the lack of school space, given the deficit in the operating budget, it is just not practical this year to go and build stadiums," Mr. Bloomberg said. (New York Times)

1/7
City Councilman Gifford Miller of Manhattan appears to be leading the race to be the next Council speaker. Miller got a major boost yesterday when a chief rival, Harlem Councilman Bill Perkins, pulled out of the race for the city's second most powerful job and endorsed him. The upper East Sider has also secured the support of Democratic leaders in Queens and the Bronx as well as many labor unions. But Harlem Council member Phil Reed and Brooklyn Council member Angel Rodriguez both insisted they were still in the race. Council members will vote to select a new speaker Wednesday. In return for supporting Miller, Perkins is said to be in line for the Council's majority-leader post, Queens Democratic leader Thomas Manton has reportedly secured the powerful finance chair for Queens Council member David Weprin, and Bronx party leader Roberto Ramirez may have won a key land-use committee chairmanship for a Bronx council member. (Daily News)

Three borough presidents were sworn in yesterday: newcomers Adolfo Carrion in the Bronx and James Molinaro in Staten Island and reelected Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. Carrion said at a reception that the city should not spend money on new baseball stadiums. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg said if his daughter and sister joined city government for little or no pay, it would be no different than if he had a wife serving as first lady. (New York Post)

1/6

During his campaign for mayor, Michael Bloomberg was a friend to almost everyone: unions, members of minority groups, Democrats and Republicans. But, as soon as he became mayor, the mood changed and Bloomberg began talking about pain and sacrifice. Bloomberg still has not revealed a plan for how to cut $4 billion out of next fiscal year's budget and has not appointed a budget director. Cuts, however, could include asking city employees to pay part of their health-care costs, persuading the state to cover more of the cityÂs Medicaid costs, increasing productivity and, probably above all, slashing city services. (Daily News)

In his first days in office, Mayor Bloomberg has kept at least one promise: He is taking the subway. With his subway rides, as with the creation of a new, open-style office operation for himself and top aides, and even with the installation of two aquariums at City Hall, Bloomberg has seemed determined to demonstrate his sense of purpose, restless drive and individuality. Beyond symbolic gestures and image-building, precisely where that will carry him and the city is only beginning to take shape as he tries to address the cityÂs grave financial situation and rebuild lower Manhattan. (Newsday)

The Bloomberg era, at less than one week old, has already been marked by a funding fight with cops and firefighters, charges of blatant nepotism and the sad death of a homeless man who froze under the Gowanus Expressway. But Bloomberg should not be surprised. His predecessors also ran into controversy in the very early days of their administrations. (New York Post)

The appointment of Dennis Walcott as deputy mayor for policy is the best thing that could have happened to Schools Chancellor Harold Levy, according to some observers of public education. Walcott is a former member of the Board of Education and a friend of LevyÂs and has worked with the chancellor on education issues. LevyÂs contract expires in June. (Newsday)

Bloomberg L.P., the mayor's financial information company, donated 35 Bloomberg terminals to the city for use by members of the mayor's staff, creating a product placement that would make any marketing director salivate. But while Bloomberg and his company will receive no direct financial advantage from the city's use of the terminals, the donation reveals how difficult it will be to separate Bloomberg from the company that bears his name. Bloomberg is awaiting a ruling from the city's Conflicts of Interest Board on how to treat his vast personal wealth, including his 72 percent stake in Bloomberg L.P., a privately held company that is worth several billion dollars, during his term as mayor. Few municipal or state governments have ever had to address the question of such large potential conflicts of interest. (New York Times)

Emma Bloomberg, daughter of the mayor, wants a job at City Hall and thinks she deserves one. And she is urging her father to seek a waiver, if necessary, to city ethics rules barring a "public servant" from helping a close relative get "financial gain" or "private or personal advantage." (New York Post) 1/5
Raymond Kelly, returning to the police department for his second stint as commissioner, will create a high-level position within the department to oversee the city's response to threats of terrorism and will develop a policy to make the city's homeless shelters safer. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg said the police have the right and even the duty to keep people from sleeping on the streets but added that he would try to make the cityÂs homeless shelters safer so people with no other place to stay will be more willing to use them. (Daily News)

1/4
The Democratic members of the incoming City Council gathered yesterday to discuss rules changes, but left four hours later without any agreement. Several members want rules changes to strip power from the council speaker before a council leader is even chosen. After four hours of deliberation, the group had only touched on a handful of issues, including equitable budgeting for all districts. The members did not agree on whether to vote for the changes on Wednesday before the election of speaker or conduct the election first. (NY Post)

Governor George Pataki on Thursday scheduled special elections for Feb. 12 to fill what is expected to be seven vacancies in the state Legislature. They city vacancies include: the 26th Senate District in Manhattan, which is being vacated by Roy Goodman; the 20th Senate District in Kings County, vacated by Democrat Marty Markowitz, the new Brooklyn borough president; 56th Assembly District, vacated by Democrat Al Vann of Brooklyn, who has been elected to the New York City Council; 60th Assembly District, vacated by Democrat Eric Vitaliano of Staten Island, who was elected a civil court judge. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg may have run afoul of city ethics rules in his plan to hire his daughter and sister for city jobs. The city Conflicts of Interest Board said its rules forbid any "public servant" from using his position to get "financial gain or private or personal advantage for a close relative." (NY Post) There may also be a plan to hire them for a dollar a year in order to keep the budget down. (Daily News)

1/3
In his first full day at the office, Mayor Bloomberg directed all city agencies to tell him how they would cut 5 percent to 20 percent of their budgets. Bloomberg is asking the Police and Fire departments and the Board of Education to identify cuts ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent. All other departments are to identify cuts of up to 20 percent. (Daily News)

As he begins to tackle the city˜s $4 billion budget gap, Mayor Bloomberg has warned labor leaders that hard times are ahead and has said he might postpone some capital projects. However, Bloomberg said he hoped to avoid layoffs. (New York Times)

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver blocked Mayor Giuliani's efforts to abolish the Board of Education. And there are already strong indications he will try to thwart Mayor Bloomberg's bid to do the same. (Daily News)

Steven Sanders, the Manhattan Democrat who heads the State Assembly Education Committee, said yesterday that the Assembly would almost certainly not allow the abolition of the Board of Education. Sanders is on a panel appointed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to study mayoral control of education. While the panel has met only once, Sanders said that abolishing the Board of Education would probably not be among its recommendations. The Legislature and governor have to approve any changes in the structure of school systems. (New York Times)

Saying that he wants to make his watchdog agency more independent, Mayor Bloomberg has appointed Rose Gill Hearn, a federal prosecutor, to head the city's Department of Investigation. The department has been criticized in the past for being too cozy with City Hall. Hearn most recently served as the deputy chief of the criminal division and supervisor of the crime control strategies unit of the U.S. attorney˜s office in Manhattan. Bloomberg also appointed Yolanda Jimenez, former deputy police commissioner for community affairs, as commissioner of the city˜s new Office to Combat Domestic Violence. (Newsday)

The 47 Democrats on the City Council will meet today to consider changes in Council rules that would somewhat reduce the power of the speaker. The changes have been proposed by a group of newly elected members calling themselves the Fresh Democracy Council. The meeting was set up by Councilmember Phillip Reed, a candidate for speaker. The three leading contenders are Bill Perkins, Gifford Miller and Angel Rodriguez. Councilmembers will select the speaker Wednesday. (New York Times)

In his second stint as police commissioner, Raymond Kelly faces the threat of another terrorist attack, the loss of many veteran police officers and low morale among police who complain that their pay is too low. (Daily News)

Like many new employees, Michael Bloomberg spent his first full day on the job trying to figure out his office phone. But he also conducted six live television interviews, ordered city agencies to figure out how to cut their budgets and attended his first wake as mayor. (Newsday)

1/2
With his very first speech, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg began yesterday to confront one of the great complications that faces this new mayor: how to at once prepare the city for tough times ahead without driving its nervous citizens and business leaders into abandoning a city in distress. In what aides said would be the predominant message of the administration for a while to come, Mr. Bloomberg talked at once about the difficult times New York faces, but tempered it with a bright view of the city's future. "Throughout our history, New Yorkers have always made the sacrifices necessary to achieve a better tomorrow," Mr. Bloomberg declared in the heart of his speech. "And there will be a better tomorrow." (New York Times)

New York City's top three elected officials took their oaths of office yesterday, promising to repair the city's economy, fix the school system and create housing for working families. "As we tackle the financial challenges before us, we should not abandon our values or our priorities," William C. Thompson Jr., the new comptroller, said in his inaugural address. "We must be mindful of not sacrificing our long-term health to meet short-term needs." Precisely how the City Council and the Bloomberg administration will do this remains to be seen. For the fiscal year beginning in July, the city faces a $4 billion budget gap - nearly 10 percent of the entire budget.
The comptroller's office and the office of the public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, were already facing budgetary troubles before Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in his inaugural address, challenged them to reduce their staffs by 20 percent. Mr. Thompson and Ms. Gotbaum both suggested that it would be nearly impossible to perform their basic functions if they accepted the mayor's challenge. ( New York Times)

Principles of Accounting? In their inaugural addresses, Michael Bloomberg identified himself as the 108th mayor, William C. Thompson Jr. as the 42nd comptroller of New York City. In what we hope is not a symbol of things to come, they are counting differently. The mayor is excluding all four "acting mayors" because they served without being elected. He is also often counting the same mayor several times, if the man's terms were not consecutive. For example, Fernando Wood is counted as both the 73rd mayor (serving from 1855 to 1858) and the 75th mayor (1860 to 1862). Comptroller William Thompson, however, counted D.D.Williamson just once, though Williamson served three non-consecutive terms in the nineteenth century, losing twice in-between to Alfred A. Smith (who is also only counted once). Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has an easier time of figuring. She is only the second public advocate, after Mark Green. However (see her essay in Gotham Gazette), she argues that John Pintard in the nineteenth century, who was called the "City Inspector," was really "the city's first public advocate." So does that make her the third one? (Gotham Gazette)

City Comptroller William Thompson's lively father stole the show yesterday - swearing in his son with a confident wish that he'll be mayor someday. "Billy, if you do your usual good job, if you listen to your father, and if God spares my life, eight years from now I want to be back up here," said William Thompson Sr., a retired state Appellate Court judge, at yesterday's swearing-in ceremony on the steps of City Hall. The elder Thompson snagged the biggest laughs of the day, repeatedly calling his 48-year-old son "Billy" and beaming that he was filled with naches - the Yiddish word for pride.
"Yes, there are liabilities in having your father swear you in," the younger Thompson sighed when he stepped up to the podium. (New York Post)

With next Wednesday scheduled for the election of a City Council speaker - the second most powerful job in City Hall - council members said yesterday that last- minute political shifts had created a three-way race for the position. Bill Perkins, a Democrat from Manhattan, has recently emerged as a contender for the job, after he received the endorsements of several elected officials, including former Mayor David N. Dinkins and Charles B. Rangel, the congressman from Harlem. The other major contenders are Angel Rodriguez of Brooklyn and A. Gifford Miller of Manhattan. ( New York Times)

1/1
Michael Rubens Bloomberg swore to "faithfully discharge the duties of the mayor of the City of New York, in the City of New York, to the best of my abilities, so help me God" before a sea of cheering, chilly revelers in Times Square. "It's all yours," outgoing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told Bloomberg, the 108th mayor of New York, shaking his successor's hand, embracing him and kissing him on the right cheek (Daily News). The highly symbolic celebration, the first such ceremony in Times Square, was intended to assure New Yorkers that the city now, in Mr. Bloomberg's hands, was a safe one (New York Times).

On his last day in office, Rudolph Giuliani did five television interviews before 8 a.m., held his regular morning staff meeting, attended a firefighter's funeral and a graduation ceremony for new firefighters, cut a ribbon at a new police station in Central Park, and rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. And, for one last time, he stood in front of charts and surrounded himself with police officials to talk about the drop in crime on his watch (New York Times). For the last time as mayor, Rudy Giuliani descended the steps of City Hall last night in a celebratory swirl of bagpipes - then marched straight to church and on to a viewing stand overlooking Ground Zero (Daily News).