GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record: January 2003

1/31
What Mayor Bloomberg wants - and what Mayor Bloomberg gets - are two very different things when it comes to Gov. Pataki's new budget. Nearly $2 billion different. The governor's spending plan, unveiled Wednesday, provides only $439 million in net aid to the cash-strapped city, much of which will not recur in future years, according to a Citizens Budget Commission analysis. (Daily News)

Now that Gov. George Pataki has rejected Mayor Michael Bloomberg¹s top budget requests, Bloomberg begins a journey across a political minefield in an effort to fend off a triple threat: more cuts, taxes and debt. (Newsday)

With its new plan to rein in the state's ballooning Medicaid budget, the Pataki administration has dealt a severe blow to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who is seeking relief from the city's growing health care costs.

Rather than absorb $200 million of the city's $4 billion annual Medicaid budget, as the city requested, Gov. George E. Pataki, in his new budget proposal released Wednesday, is asking each county to increase the portion they pay to hospitals and clinics under the Medicaid program. In exchange, the state would pick up their drug costs. (New York Times)

1/30
Staying true to his anti-tax pledge, Gov. Pataki delivered a $90.8 billion budget proposal yesterday that comes down hard on the city. Pataki gave the cold shoulder to Mayor Bloomberg's sock-the-commuters tax plan. But without raising taxes, the governor had to use other measures to close the state's $11.5 billion budget gap.(Daily News) (NY Post)

Gov. Pataki's message to Mayor Bloomberg yesterday was clear: It's every man for himself. The 30-minute speech was devastating to the city. There was no commuter tax. No East River tolls. Just deep cuts in state education and Medicaid funding for the city. (Daily News) (Newsday)

Pataki bluntly rejected as "job-killing" Bloomberg's biggest bid for state help - a potential billion-dollar income tax on non-residents who work in the city. (Newsday)

The first meeting of Mayor Bloomberg's Human Rights Commission was disrupted last night by several Jewish protesters who claim one of its members is linked to terrorism. (NY Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg questioned yesterday whether the Police Department's 911 operators and supervisors needed more training, as the city continued to explore why a supervisor mishandled a call for help from a Bronx teenager who disappeared with three friends in Long Island Sound. (NY Times) (Daily News)

Former Mayor David Dinkins will be able to clear up $200,000 in old campaign debts after the City Council passed a tailor-made law for him yesterday. (Daily News)

The City Council yesterday approved a new "whistleblower" protection law for workers who expose their bosses for gross mismanagement or abuse of power. (NY Post)

1/29
Mayor Bloomberg proposed another $551 million in cuts in city agencies yesterday, but said he still needs help from Albany and from city unions to balance the city’s $44 billion budget. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post)

The city has hired 300 traffic agents to issue 1.7 million additional tickets in an effort to raise $69 million and keep Police Department staffing at current levels. (Daily News) (New York Post)

The mayor is also planning to hike a variety of fees, including the rates for metered parking spaces in midtown and the cost of a marriage license. (New York Post)

Five Republican state senators yesterday challenged Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to eliminate community school district offices and replace them with 10 “regions.” The legislators, generally considered Bloomberg allies, say Albany must approve any plan redrawing district boundaries. The five lawmakers represent areas where most schools perform well. Some parents in such communities have said they do not want their districts expanded to include neighborhoods where schools are not as good. (New York Post) (New York Times) (Daily News)

At least a dozen top officials have left the school system since Joel Klein became chancellor last summer, prompting some to fear the schools have lost too many people who know the complexities and history of the system. (New York Times)

A Sanitation Department official said yesterday that the Bloomberg administration's plan to stop hauling trash one truck at a time could cost nearly twice as much as originally estimated and take another six years to put in place. (New York Times)

The city will ban smoking in jails effective April 1, Corrections Commissioner Martin Horn announced yesterday. Horn told City Council the ban could result in edgy prisoners and that guards would have to seek out contraband cigarettes. The corrections officers union is considering filing suit in an effort to stop the ban. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will reverse a ban on firecrackers during the Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown that begins Saturday, city officials said. There have been no firecrackers at the celebration since 1997, when the Giuliani administration refused to make an exception to the city's ban on fireworks (New York Times)

1/28
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki prepare to release their plans this week to close multibillion-dollar budget gaps, they are coming into conflict about how New York State should go about helping New York City. (NY Times)

A day after Gov. Pataki offered another one-time cash infusion to help the financially strapped city, Mayor Bloomberg stressed that only "repetitive" revenues can really protect services. (NY Post)

New fee hikes and more spending cuts are expected in Tuesday's crisis budget proposal by Mayor Michael Bloomberg - while suspense builds over if and how the state, nation and unions might help in the year ahead. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein named their 10 top superintendents yesterday - nine women and one man - to head a new, streamlined chain of command. (Daily News)

Two city parents launched a class-action lawsuit against Schools Chancellor Joel Klein yesterday, claiming they've been denied the right to transfer their children out of failing schools or obtain tutoring services under a new federal law. (NY Post)

The city has backed off plans to shut senior citizen centers to help solve the city's fiscal crisis, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. (Daily News)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's campaign war chest has been fattened with $33,000 in donations from a Brooklyn real-estate mogul who has been profiting handsomely off the city's homeless. (NY Post)

1/26
Fights often break out when borders are contested. And there are many borders - political, ethnic, geographic - that are involved in the city's proposal to redraw the two City Council districts that meet in Bushwick and Ridgewood at the Brooklyn-Queens border. Other redistricting disputes have erupted around the city, notably one that centers on whether to include Chinatown in the district that covers the Lower East Side, and the city's Redistricting Commission, which is to hold additional public hearings on its plan next month, will continue to grapple with them. (NY Times)

1/25
The City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, said yesterday that financial statements from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority appeared to show that it had several hundred million dollars in surplus money that could be used to fill its projected budget gap and defer a fare increase for at least another year. Transit officials immediately denied that any such surplus existed, saying that the money - about $670 million shown as extra assets on its 2001 balance sheet - is almost completely committed in a variety of ways, from paying debt costs to buying spare subway parts to providing change for token clerks. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg suggested yesterday that the current single-rate system of bridge tolls is headed for the scrap heap. (NY Post)

City Hall and the City Council should have more say in the development at Ground Zero, council members said yesterday. The plea for more input came after a report that "steering committee" had been chosen to select an architect and site plan for the World Trade Center site - with only one city representative. Members of the council's Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee asked the council's lawyers to find out what jurisdiction it has over rebuilding - in the hope of a larger role. (NY Post)

A top aide to Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday the city will stick with its choice of a universal reading curriculum - despite criticism from an adviser to President Bush. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg is so intent on a second four-year term that's he's prepared to spend $100 million to ward off possible challengers. (NY Post)

A day after Mayor Bloomberg told New Yorkers he "truly" understands their pain in these tough economic times, the billionaire showed his true colors: Bermuda pink. On the mayor's weekly WABC-AM show, co-host John Gambling invited the mayor yesterday to sing the island's praises during an on-air commercial for a Bermuda-bound cruise - and the mayor was happy to oblige. (Daily News)

Councilman James Davis (D-Crown Heights) is demanding that stations remove the R-Kelly, a Grammy Award-winning crooner, from their play lists until child pornography charges in Illinois and Florida are resolved. (Newsday)

1/24/03
Plagued by gloomy poll numbers and an intransigent economy, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg acknowledged in his State of the City address yesterday that his administration's decision to impose an 18.5 percent property tax increase had enraged many New Yorkers, and he expressed sympathy for those forced to sacrifice. Bloomberg laid out a modest agenda for the second year of his mayoralty, one that is heavily dependent on fiscal help from Albany and Washington. He again called on labor unions to provide concessions or live without pay increases, and he raised the specter of layoffs. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York Post)

The State of the City message was notable for what Mayor Michael Bloomberg left out. The annual address, mandated in the City Charter, offers mayors the chance to paint a broader vision rather than delve into specifics. So many questions were left for another day. Some may be answered Tuesday when Bloomberg unveils his annual executive budget proposal. (Newsday)

In his State of the City speech, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave more details yesterday of his aggressive plan to market New York City as a luxury brand, an address for which companies should be willing to pay a higher price. (New York Times)

1/23/03
Mayor Bloomberg yesterday defended the city's plan to recruit 1,000 volunteers to go out in the middle of the night next month to try counting the homeless in Manhattan. (NY Post)

Gov. Pataki yesterday handed a budget boost to Mayor Bloomberg, announcing the Port Authority will pay the city $500 million to settle a long-running dispute over leases for Kennedy and La Guardia airports. The plan received cool - even dismissive - responses from aides to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post) (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to impose tolls on now-free East River bridges is "very likely" to be enacted, the mayor's budget chief predicted yesterday. (NY Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that he supported efforts by universities to achieve racial diversity on their campuses. (NY Times)

1/22
City and state officials are finally very close to a deal to buy Governors Island from the federal government for a nominal sum, a city official reported yesterday. The officials have been negotiating the details of the transfer with several federal agencies since last spring when President Bush agreed that the former military base would be turned over to the city, primarily for use as a campus of the City University of New York. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was greeted with boos yesterday at the police academy graduation ceremony. The reaction ws an apparent response to earlier threats by Bloomberg to lay off some of the recruits because of the city’s budget woes and to the modest pay increases given members of the department. The department and the city are still talking about how to cut 3 percent from the police budget, but last week, the mayor said he would not further reduce the number of police officers. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

The transit workers union vote on their tentative contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, reached last month, is expected to be counter today. (Daily News)

Transit union officials are expressing confidence that union members will approve the tentative contract reached last month. A dissident faction has fought for the pact's rejection because of the removal of a no-layoff clause. (New York Post)

Oliver Seabrook, the brother of Bronx City Councilmember and former State Senator Larry Seabrook, has been on the payroll of Correctional Services Corp., a Florida company linked to a bribery scandal. Former Democratic Assemblymember Gloria Davis of The Bronx pleaded guilty to bribery earlier this month and said the company gave her regular free, chauffeured rides from her home to Albany and back in a successful effort to influence her actions. Larry Seabrook said yesterday that he did not remember whether he had ever received free transportation from Correctional Services. (New York Post)

1/21/03
Kicking off a round of labor negotiations that is expected to be the toughest since the 1970's fiscal crisis, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has angered the city's unions by insisting that he will not grant raises unless they are financed by increased productivity. (New York Times)

The once-stalled talks to transfer control of Ground Zero to the city have sprung back to life - with a price now under serious discussion, sources told The Post yesterday. Under the deal being considered, the city would trade the land it owns under Kennedy and La Guardia airports to the Port Authority in return for the PA giving the city the Ground Zero property. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have a beef about childhood obesity, but a youth-oriented city agency is branching out, all the same, into burgers and fries. The Parks Department plans to let Wendy’s open a franchise in a former comfort station in Keltch Park in the Bronx, an unapologetic parks commissioner told Newsday. "It’s probably not the city’s role to tell people what to eat,” Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in an interview. “We leave it up to people. (Newsday)

Looking for new homes to play ball, the Mets and the Yankees are stepping up to the plate for Gifford Miller - ponying up campaign cash to the bulging $1 million war chest of the City Council speaker. Campaign Finance Board filings show that along with the Yankees and the Mets, Miller has a lot of friends in high places who have given him money. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg's plunging popularity has Democrats daring to dream. From City Council Speaker Gifford Miller to former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, potential challengers are emerging - their hopes bolstered by a stark fiscal crisis and a governing style that have made Bloomberg's political honeymoon a fuzzy memory. (Daily News)

1/20/03
For more than a year, Gov. George E. Pataki has been pleading with the White House to shoulder a greater portion of the state's Medicaid burden, but this week, the Bush administration presented state Medicaid directors across the country with a less attractive option: letting them limit coverage of emergency services for the poor. Instead of giving Governor Pataki badly needed revenue to help balance the state's budget, President Bush's policy would give the governor another way to cut back on the cost of Medicaid coverage; those costs have risen because Mr. Pataki, a Republican, has been reluctant to cut services in recent years. The Pataki administration must deal with a Medicaid bill that has grown to $12 billion - roughly the size of the combined budget deficit projected for the current and the next fiscal year, which begins on April 1. Medicaid is the second-largest expense, behind school aid, in the state's $89.6 billion budget. This fiscal year, the state's portion is roughly 34 percent of the $35 billion cost of Medicaid services in the state. Local governments pick up about 17 percent of the cost, and the federal government picks up the rest. Mr. Pataki and other governors have been pressing the Bush administration to increase the federal government's share to more than 50 percent.Instead, the Bush administration ruled that managed care organizations could limit coverage of emergency services for poor people on Medicaid, a reversal of its earlier position. (New York Times)

Two years after the city cracked down on unleashed pooches in city parks, the number of summonses issued against naughty dog walkers has dropped by 31 percent. Parks officials and some dog walkers insist the decrease in violations is because of stiffer fines and a greater awareness of the law - and not the fact that there are fewer parks workers. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg's planned campaign to reduce obesity in children could mean that the McDonald's franchises in three municipal hospitals could get the boot when leases are up."To tell you the truth, if it were up to me, I wouldn't have necessarily contracted with fast foods," said Dr. Benjamin Chu, president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corp.(Daily News)

1/19/03
The city is set to open its new high-tech 311 non-emergency call center next month, but no one seems to know just how much it will cost the cash-strapped city. The 311 center, located at 59 Maiden Lane in lower Manhattan, will cost the city $25 million to get up and running. City officials said half of the $25 million is being spent on capital expenses and the other half will go toward operating costs. But they're reluctant to say how much it will cost to operate annually. Vincent La Padula, senior adviser to Mayor Bloomberg, said it's hard to gauge just how many calls the center will get. He estimates somewhere between 8 million and 12 million a year. Hundreds of operators will field calls from people wanting to report a pothole or file a noise complaint, or even just find out when the Central Park Zoo closes. (New York Post)

The Bloomberg administration is about to activate 311, an all-purpose phone number that will help callers navigate city services and will provide a one-stop complaint center for everything from potholes to loud parties to busted boilers. All this will happen out of a 42,000-square-foot call center on Maiden Lane in lower Manhattan, where, starting next month, about 200 operators will answer questions about city services in 170 languages, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Daily News)

Operators, trained for four weeks in the intricacies of city government and the decorum of speaking to people and figuring out their needs, will have access to a searchable database of information and services. They will also, with the click of a mouse, be able to patch in an interpreter fluent in one of more than 170 languages, officials said.They will be prepared to give out general information about agencies and to log some specific service requests (complete with a tracking number). But they will also refer callers to other departments for more specialized help, like getting detailed tax advice or becoming a foster parent. Operators will automatically route emergency calls to a 911 operator. Callers can also find out basic information like which parking rules are in effect for a particular day. New Yorkers will also be able to gain access to the system through mail, e-mail, fax and the Internet. (New York Times)

11/18/03
Homeless families with kids will now get only one crack at rejecting permanent housing offered by the city, under a deal signed by the city and lawyers for the homeless yesterday. Until now, homeless families have been able to repeatedly turn down apartments. The deal announced yesterday sets a framework for resolving pending litigation on the plight of homeless families. It creates a special master panel of three prominent civilians to resolve existing and future disagreements between the city and homeless advocates without resorting to court action. (Daily News) (New York Post) (New York Times)

Breaking ranks with Gov. Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg threw his support yesterday behind a lawsuit seeking to shake loose more money from Albany for city schools. The city will file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the nonprofit Campaign for Fiscal Equity's efforts to force the state to increase funding for city schools. (Daily News)

One day after Gov. Pataki reconfirmed his opposition to a commuter tax, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he remains optimistic that Albany will help solve the city's fiscal crisis… Bloomberg is seeking permission from the state to impose an income tax on people who work in the city but live outside it... Bloomberg said he's confident Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) ultimately will come up with the money the city needs. "Will they always come through the way I want? No, probably not. But will they be there when the city needs them? I think the three of them will - and it's my job to bring them along," the mayor said. (Daily News)

City Council members blasted the MTA yesterday for "misleading" straphangers about its projected budget gap just as it prepares to raise fares to as much as $2. "The gap isn't nearly as large as New Yorkers were led to believe," said Councilman John Liu (D-Queens), chairman of the council's Transportation Committee. "We need to figure out how much of that remaining $1 billion gap is also true." (New York Post)

New Yorkers give Mayor Bloomberg little credit for what even his strongest critics concede is an impressive docket of accomplishments during his first year in office. (New York Times)

Merely a year into what some consider the fluke mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg, city Democrats like City Comptroller William Thompson, Fernando Ferrer, and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller are quietly stepping up activities that could position them for a run at City Hall in 2005. (Newsday)

1/17
After reviewing the Police Department's latest budget proposal, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that there would be no layoffs of police officers during this year's budget negotiations. The mayor had asked the department last week to cut expenses by 3 percent, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had said that it would be difficult to do so without layoffs. Bloomberg said that layoffs may still be a possibility in the future if the police union does not agree to productivity improvements. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott Thursday outlined a proposal to replace the city's 32 community school boards with "parent engagement boards." Only parents with children attending a school in the particular district would be able to sit on the boards, and parents themselves would choose the representatives, not voters. The proposal is part of a larger goal, announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday, to streamline administration and get parents more involved, by offering both access and support. (Newsday) (Daily News) (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg will ask a judge today to change a court order that requires the city to provide shelter to all homeless people. The mayor wants Justice Helen Freedman to allow the city to bar parents from shelters for 30 days and place their children in temporary foster care if the parents reject other housing. Negotiations have been taking place around the clock to see if a compromise could be reached before today's hearing. Michael Cardozo, the city's top lawyer, declined comment on the talks. But Steven Banks, a Legal Aid Society lawyer working on behalf of homeless advocates, said the two sides were negotiating. (Daily News) (New York Post)

You talk, you walk. That's the message Mayor Bloomberg delivered yesterday to city employees who leak information to the press. "You cannot run an organization if every conversation, while you are formulating policy or having normal discussions, is out in the open," he said. The mayor's comments came six days after he began a senior staff meeting by announcing he would fire any city worker - from janitors up to deputy mayors - guilty of an unauthorized leak to the press. (Daily News)

1/16 - Mayor's Education Plan:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an ambitious plan yesterday to impose rigorously centralized control over the New York City school system and its teachers, wiping out local districts and requiring a single curriculum for reading, writing and mathematics for all but the top-performing schools. In outlining his most detailed vision yet for improving the city's 1,200 public schools, Mr. Bloomberg said he would separate budget and operations from instruction, ending the system under which district superintendents oversee both. Instead, the mayor will replace the 40 district superintendents with 10 regional superintendents, who will only oversee instruction, and 6 "support centers," which will handle budgeting, hiring and other administrative functions.Working under the 10 regional superintendents will be 100 instructional supervisors, each overseeing 10 or 12 schools. (NY Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (NY Post) (NY Sun)

No mayor of New York has ever staked his record on the education of the city's children. Yesterday Bloomberg said his entire mayoralty should be judged by his record on education. (NY Times)

Likening his vision for education to the civil rights struggle, Mayor Bloomberg didn't shy away from making the connections for his audience. (Daily News)

Joel Klein will be setting the curriculum at 1,000 city schools. (NY Post)

School districts have for better or for worse been the heart of New York City's educational system. They were what in many cases defined neighborhoods, creating a mental map of good and bad places to live. (NY Times)

Parents, teachers, politicians and former chancellors who lived through that three-decade education experiment expressed little nostalgia at its passing. But even those who have, historically, been among the system's harshest critics expressed hope that the mayor would not concentrate too much power and decision-making in the education department's new Tweed Courthouse headquarters. (NY Times)

Employees at the nearest local school board took it in stride - even though their jobs are set to change drastically. (NY Post)

City Council members Wednesday began tackling the issue of what to do about day laborers - the immigrants who wait on street corners around the city for work. (Newsday)

1/15
Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday vetoed a bill passed by City Council that would have banned the use of cell phones at concerts, plays, movies and other performances. The mayor said the use of phones during such events is rude but could be better stopped by iless formal meansi than a law. The sponsor of the measure, Councilmember Phil Reed, said he would try to get the council to override the veto. (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller yesterday called layoffs of police officers iunnecessary and also undesirable,i making it unlikely any police would lose their jobs. The layoffs are seen as unnecessary partly because so many police are leaving the force of their own volition. (New York Post)

City Comptroller William Thompson and several other fiscal experts cautioned yesterday that the city should not expect Albany to help New York City out of its fiscal troubles. (Daily News)

Council Speaker Gifford Miller has amassed $1.1 million in campaign contributions, laying the groundwork for what some suspect will be a run for mayor in 2005. (Daily News) (New York Post)

In the wake of several attacks in city parks, some City Councilmembers and parks advocates yesterday called for a separate Compstat crime tracking process for the parks and urged that the Police Department take over direct supervision of the parks enforcement patrol officers now largely assigned to quality-of-life crimes. Police Department spokesperson Michael O'Looney and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe rebuffed the ideas. (Daily News)

Two Republican City Councilmembers walked out of a dinner given by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, angered that the mayor said he would support Democrats who voted late last year to hike the property tax. The two Republicans, James Oddo and Andrew Lanza, voted against the increase. The dispute is another indication of a rift between the mayor, who switched to the Republican Party shortly before running for mayor, and the party, many of whose members disagree with his tax hikes. (New York Sun) (Daily News)

01/14
New York City is poised to resume recycling plastic this summer and save a significant amount of money thanks to a New Jersey company's bid to pay the city for its crumpled water bottles and deli containers, city officials said yesterday. (New York Times) (Newsday)

City agencies submitted their proposed budget trims to the Bloomberg administration yesterday, but officials refused to detail the reduction plans, which may include the first layoffs of police officers in nearly three decades. (New York Times)

Hoping to soften the way for a new round of budget cuts, Mayor Bloomberg last night wined and dined City Council members, whose votes he will need to pass a budget. The swank dinner at Gracie Mansion came on the same day agency heads submitted plans to shave 3% to6% from their budgets for the fiscal year that begins July 1, when the city faces a yawning $3 billion gap. (Daily News)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein yesterday tapped retired General Electric titan Jack Welch - considered one of the most successful businessmen of his era - as chairman of his new academy to train principals. (New York Post) (New York Times)

01/12
Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg have radically different approaches to dealing with the two toughest issues facing New York this year - the budget shortfalls and how to rebuild Ground Zero. (Newsday)

As Mayor Bloomberg prepares to deliver his second State of the City speech, a look back at his first address on the city's civic health last January shows he has delivered on many of the promises he made then. (Daily News)

Looming layoffs could shrink the NYPD's head count to its lowest level in a decade. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that he might have to hand out as many as 1,000 pink slips. (Daily News)

The New York Police Department, confronting possible layoffs for the first time in three decades, is grappling with two new questions: Can it forestall layoffs by finding other savings? And would a smaller police force be such a terrible thing? (NY Times)

01/11
Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged yesterday that for the first time in nearly 30 years the city might have to lay off police officers to help balance the budget. Bloomberg had told the department, which is already to lose 1,900 officers through attrition by July, to try to cut spending by an additional 3 percent, or about $94 million. (NY Times)

A company offered to pay the city $5.15 a ton for all the tuna fish cans and plastic water bottles New Yorkers could sort. It was the only bid to carry that shimmering, illusive word, written in black ink rather than red: pay. The next closest offer, from Waste Management, the giant disposal company, would require the city to pay $67 for every ton of metal and plastic taken away. Before the program was suspended, the city was collecting about 8,700 tons of plastic and metal for recycling every month. (NY Times)

Bloomberg told his senior staff yesterday that city workers who leak sensitive information to the press - unless they have authorization from City Hall - will be fired, without exception. (Daily News)

Commenting on how former Mayor Rudy Giuliani handled a racist parade incident in 1998, Bloomberg said yesterday that he, too, would have had them fired. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday that the city can't afford to continue to help homeless people who aren't from the Big Apple - even suggesting they "go back to whatever state they came from." (NY Post)

1/10
Hundreds of police officers are patrolling 61 of the city's high-crime areas under a new effort dubbed Operation Impact. The program, which began last Friday and was officially announced yesterday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, aims to reduce violent crime in areas throughout all five boroughs that have not seen the same drop in crime as the rest of the city. Some 800 police officers have been assigned to the 61 hot spots in the city since the initiative began, and they will be replaced by 1,400 graduates of the Police Academy later this month. Police Chief Kelly, who is facing the prospect of having to lay off hundreds of police officers, says the initiative has already decreased crime in those areas by 50 percent. However, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Patrick Lynch criticized the plan for trying to "cover up the fact that there are not enough cops on the street." (NY Times) (NY Post) (Newsday) (Daily News)

City Council members yesterday proposed a plan that would replace 32 elected community school boards with newly appointed advisory panels - selected by them and the borough presidents. The nine-member panels would operate similarly to the current boards that will be phased out in July. The state Legislature - with input from Mayor Bloomberg and others - will soon approve a new structure to allow for local parental input. Council Education Committee Chairwoman Eva Moskowitz (D-Manhattan) said Albany should consider giving council members a role in selecting members to the new panels. (NY Post)

Former Queens councilman Sheldon Leffler was charged yesterday with stealing taxpayer money by filing phony reimbursement claims for his 2001 campaign for Queens borough president. Leffler, 60, was accused of getting an unidentified campaign contributor to write out 38 money orders and two checks for $250 in the names of other people, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said. That allowed the Democrat's campaign to collect $1,000 for each of the $250 contributions under the city's Campaign Finance Board program, which provides public funding for candidates who agree to spending and fund-raising limits. (Newsday) (NY Times)

1/9
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday that he might have to order the first layoffs of police officers in nearly three decades to achieve the additional budget cuts being sought by the Bloomberg administration. (NY Times)

New York City would provide mentally ill jail inmates with treatment and other services when they were released, under an agreement signed yesterday that would settle a class-action lawsuit. For many years, most mentally ill inmates at Rikers Island jail were released without assistance of any kind, or dropped off in Queens with a $3 MetroCard and $1.50 in cash - the routine practice with other inmates. That changed in 2000, when Justice Richard F. Braun of the State Supreme Court granted an injunction in the lawsuit, which had been brought on behalf of seven mentally ill inmates. (NY Times) (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg still believes in a place called Albany. Even though Gov. Pataki all but ruled out raising taxes in his State of the State speech yesterday, the mayor said his commuter tax proposal was still very much alive. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg tried to downplay reports yesterday that he plans to zap local school districts and fire thousands of bureaucrats, as staffers feared their jobs will disappear in a few months. But behind the scenes, City Hall officials and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein went on a tear to find out who revealed details of their Children First education plan, sources said. (Daily News)

The Rev. Joseph A. O'Hare, who has guided the city's Campaign Finance Board since its earliest days, said yesterday that he will step down as chairman when his term expires in March. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg is strongly considering pushing for non-partisan elections in referendum this fall - a move that would significantly help non-Democratic candidates for city office. (NY Post)

Amid demands to put defibrillators in schools after two students died, Mayor Bloomberg has scaled back a plan to put 1,500 of the lifesaving devices in city buildings. The plan was initiated by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2001 at an estimated price tag of $2 million, but Bloomberg has since cut that to $500,000 because of the fiscal crisis. (NY Post)

1/8
The Department of Education plans to fire thousands of employees and strip community school districts of almost all staff and authority in a major overhaul of the school system, sources say. About 2,000 people could lose their jobs. Under the plan, the districts will reportedly exist in name only as schools will be grouped into neighborhood networks of about 15 schools each, with one superintendent in charge of two or three networks. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg sponsored an economic summit yesterday for nearly 100 top business and civic leaders. At the closed-door meeting, Bloomberg unveiled plans to create three task forces to consider "how the city can enhance its competitive position." (Daily News)

At the economic meeting, Bloomberg said the city needs to be more selective in wooing new companies. (New York Post)

During the same session, Bloomberg described the city as a luxury product and said that businesses should be willing to pay more to operate here. He said the city needed to act like a private company and strengthen its brand to market itself better to those businesses that can afford it. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday signed four amendments to existing laws that will stiffen fines for littering, graffiti etchings and illegal posters. The new system will target repeat offenders. (New York Post) (Newsday)

After two students died at city schools in as many days, Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday ordered defibrillators be placed in city schools. Although the law requires that schools have the devices, none apparently do. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking relief from Albany on the cityis rising Medicaid bill and wants to enlist suburban county executives in his campaign. (New York Times)

1/7
The Republican Party tentatively designated New York City today as the site of its 2004 national convention, selecting one of the most heavily Democratic cities in the nation as the place to renominate President Bush in about 18 months. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post) (Daily News)

In the end, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg courted the Republican Party in much the way he has wooed everyone from whom he has sought favors: with fancy treats, snazzy presentations and the aggressive salesmanship honed during his many years in the private sector. (New York Times)

One delicate problem that had to be sorted out before Republicans tapped New York for their 2004 convention was Mayor Bloomberg's sometimes rocky relationship with the White House, GOP sources say. (New York Post)

Less than two months after imposing the largest property tax increase in the city's history, the Bloomberg administration has told most city agencies to find ways to cut their budgets an additional 6 percent for the 2004 fiscal year, which begins in July. (New York Times)

The citypis transit workers union is off the hook for an estimated $5 million the city spent preparing for a possible transit strike last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. (Newsday)

1/6
Days after a police shooting in Harlem involving a pellet gun, two City Council members yesterday announced a hearing on a bill that would strengthen a ban on toy guns.

Introduced in October, the bill would amend a 1998 city law that bans the sale, possession or use of "any toy or imitation firearm which substantially duplicates or can reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm."

The current law specifically targets black, silver or realistic-looking toy guns - but allows those whose exterior is white or brightly colored and shoot water. Now, the law does not prohibit anyone from staining or coloring a transparent toy gun black so that it looks real.

The proposed amendment would eliminate those exceptions. (Newsday)

Giving pedestrians the right of way is about to become a two-way street. Under a new state law - set to go into effect in two weeks - drivers in both directions must yield when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk. (Daily News)

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be a star witness this week in the case of two firefighters and a cop fired over a racial controversy in a Labor Day parade in Queens. The three dressed in blackface and Afro wigs to ride on a float through the nearly all-white enclave of Broad Channel in September 1998, lampooning the dragging death of a black man in Texas that June.

Though off-duty, Firefighters Jonathan Walters and Robert Steiner, both 33, and Police Officer Joseph Locurto, 30, were dismissed for their behavior in the parade. All three sued to get their jobs back. Giuliani is expected to take the stand in the case, which goes to trial tomorrow in Manhattan Federal Court. (Daily News)

1/5
A veteran Bronx Assemblywoman will plead guilty this week to taking a bribe, resign her seat in the Legislature and serve a short jail term, the Daily News has learned.

Gloria Davis is expected to surrender Tuesday morning at the Manhattan district attorney's office, which has been investigating allegations that she took money to steer a $1million construction project in her district to a contractor.

As part of the plea bargain agreement, the 64-year-old great-grandmother will serve a "minimal" prison sentence, probably 60 days, a source said.

A veteran Bronx Assemblywoman will plead guilty this week to taking a bribe, resign her seat in the Legislature and serve a short jail term, the Daily News has learned.

Gloria Davis is expected to surrender Tuesday morning at the Manhattan district attorney's office, which has been investigating allegations that she took money to steer a $1million construction project in her district to a contractor.

As part of the plea bargain agreement, the 64-year-old great-grandmother will serve a "minimal" prison sentence, probably 60 days, a source said. (Daily News)

The plan to ban smoking in jails may be welcomed by those irritated by clouds of secondhand smoke in cellblocks, but some prison guards say removing nicotine from an already tense environment could cause trouble. The move is likely to anger inmates as well as guards. (NY Times)

A City Council member is urging health officials to include Brooklyn in a massive study of people who inhaled the plume of World Trade Center smoke and debris. (Daily News)

1/4
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein plans to hand out report cards to all of New York City's 1,100 principals, and at least 50 have received failing marks, officials said yesterday. (NY Times)

Get better or get out, Mayor Bloomberg told city principals yesterday, a day after as many as 100 had earned F's on the job. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg pumped up the pressure yesterday on the City Council to end the "craziness" of sidewalk slip-and-fall lawsuits, which cost taxpayers $60 million a year. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg wants to sound the last bell for more than 14,000 remaining fire alarm boxes on city streets. (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday defended soaring cable TV rates, telling New Yorkers that if they don't like it, they should try reading a book. (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday that he favors blanket amnesty for illegal aliens in the United States. (NY Post)

1/02
Jails will be ruled "No Smoking" zones as part of the city's tougher anti-cigarette policies.Correction officers and inmates will be forced to go cold turkey no later than March, with new Correction Commissioner Martin Horn poised to make it "one of his top priorities," said his spokesman, Tom Antenen. (Newsday)

The school system is spending more than $2 million a year to rent swanky offices for private consultants - even as it prepares to hand out pink slips to 380 workers today, union officials charge. (NY Post)

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