The Record: July 2002

Some parents and school officials yesterday attacked Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to move the district school superintendents from their districts to the Tweed Courthouse next to City Hall. The mayor's aides said the idea was to increase accountability, but critics said the the superintendents would be too removed from the schools they oversee. And some parents said the move would curtail parental involvement in the school system. (Daily News) (Newsday)

Schools chancellor-to-be Joel Klein began reaching out to minority leaders and others yesterday as the Reverend Al Sharpton and City Councilmember Charles Barron threatened to try to block his appointment in Albany, which must approve it. Klein won over Brooklyn Assemblymember Roger Green, chair of the Black, Puerto Rican and Latino Legislative Caucus, state Comptroller Carl McCall and Harlem Councilmember Bill Perkins. The mayor, meanwhile, said the city was "lucky" to get Klein. (New York Post) (Newsday)

In selecting former prosecutor Joel Klein to be his schools chancellor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg named a man who has the qualities that the mayor admires most. (New York Times)

Republican Governor George Pataki yesterday wooed national Democrats, trying to convince them to hold their 2004 national convention in New York City. (Daily News)

Since becoming mayor, Michael Bloomberg has certainly changed the mood of the city for the better. But the latest budget news suggests he has hired Arthur Andersen as city accountant. Just three weeks after reaching a budget agreement for the fiscal year that began July 1, Bloomberg announced he was asking all agencies to come up with plans by September to achieve 7.5 percent cuts. He revealed that his budget had sprung a billion-dollar leak. If Bloomberg had requested the kind of cuts he is now proposing, the City Council would almost certainly have balked. Will it now? (Village Voice)

Joel Klein, a publishing executive and a lawyer best known for leading the antitrust prosecution of Microsoft, was appointed yesterday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the first chancellor of the reconfigured New York public school system. (New York Times)

Despite a law protecting them, workers are reluctant to report corrupt co-workers because the city's watchdogs have failed to make them feel comfortable blowing the whistle, a City Council report charges. Workers at nine out of 14 city inspector general offices supervised by the Department of Investigation weren't aware of the whistleblower protection law when phoned by researchers, according to the study to be released this week. The law shields workers from retribution for reporting corruption by superiors. City Councilman Eric Gioia, who heads the Oversight and Investigation Committee, said the Russell Harding scandal at the Housing Development Corp. may have been uncovered sooner if city workers had felt safe dropping a dime on their bosses. "There were clearly red flags there and someone should have felt comfortable coming forward," Gioia said. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg, for months, mostly kept quiet about his wishes for the World Trade Center site. But when he did speak, he stirred things up. His comments last month about a memorial - that essentially, less is more - upset many relatives of victims of the attack. Then, after being briefed on the initial designs for the 16 acres, but before the plans were released to the public, Bloomberg gave them a lukewarm review and said that he would be submitting his own ideas. Bloomberg's criticism gave added weight to subsequent criticisms of the plans from architecture and design professionals and the general public. Most recently, the mayor began to push for more housing at or near the site. City Council members have been largely ignored in the redevelopment process, though not for lack of speaking out. When rebuilding officials testified at a Council hearing early this year, they were peppered with questions about the ethnic makeup of the development corporation's board, which at the time consisted of nine white men and two women, one of whom is African-American.The Council also has pushed for recognition of problems visited on Chinatown and the Lower East Side after Sept. 11, which led to the expansion of grant programs in those neighborhoods. (New York Times)

Former Mayor Ed Koch always wanted a fourth term - and now he appears to have gotten one. It's called the Bloomberg administration, which increasingly has become a landing pad for Koch veterans who are finding their political talents and tendencies suddenly back in vogue in City Hall almost a generation later. (Daily News)

The city must provide translated election materials and language help to Korean-American voters in Queens this fall, federal officials said yesterday.Under the Voting Rights Act, a county must translate election materials if more than 10,000 of its voting-age citizens don't speak English very well and are fluent in another language. The city already is required to provide language assistance in Spanish and Chinese. In Queens, the Korean population - concentrated in Flushing and Bayside - surged 26.6% to 62,130 in 2000 from 1990, and jumped 24% citywide to 86,473, according to the census. (Daily News)

City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Long Island City) held the bat steady for 6-year-old Joshua Chavez as he prepared to take a whack at the ball. Although the park surrounding Joshua's Queensbridge Housing Development Complex has four renovated baseball fields, he had never held a baseball bat before. Joshua and more than 30 other kids practiced at Queensbridge Park yesterday for today's opening of the first Long Island City youth baseball league. Due to the efforts of Gioia, 100 kids from the Queensbridge and Ravenwoods public housing developments will participate in the 10-week league. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's commission to study the elimination of partisan elections in New York City met yesterday evening for the first time and laid out an ambitious schedule for the 44 days it has left until it must make its formal proposals. In that time, which includes all of August and Labor Day weekend, the Charter Revision Commission said, it would hold public meetings in all five boroughs and study the implications of nonpartisan elections for voter turnout, campaign finance, the city's old voting machines and the federal Voting Rights Act. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid homage to the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have died in wars during the islandŇs long, often-conflicted relationship with the United States. Under a scorching sun outside the seaside capitol in San Juan, Bloomberg spoke before tens of thousands of people as a representative of President George Bush at ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the constitution establishing the island as a commonwealth. (NY Times) (Newsday)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that talk of moving some of the New York Stock Exchange's operations from Wall Street to Westchester made little business sense and would play into the hands of the terrorists who attacked Lower Manhattan. (NY Times) (NY Post)

Just over a month ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and members of the City Council, all smiles, crowded into the rotunda of City Hall to announce an amicable agreement on a $42.3 billion city budget that avoided layoffs, raised few taxes and restored $175 million in services at the Council's request. Now the city's budget makers are going back to their drawing boards. (NY Times)

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum yesterday fired yet another salvo at Mayor Bloomberg, criticizing his Charter Revision Commission for trying to move at warp speed. The commission, which meets for the first time today, will have only 44 working days to study nonpartisan elections and the change in succession should anything happen to Bloomberg. Gotbaum is not pleased the panel is considering removing her office from the position of first in line to succeed the mayor and instead giving the position to an unelected top mayoral staffer. (NY Post)

With six weeks until public schools reopen, another contender for chancellor has bitten the dust. Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive of the Cleveland schools and a former superintendent in New York City's system, was interviewed by the mayor Saturday. But she said yesterday she accepted the invitation only as a courtesy and wasn't offered the job. (NY Post)

The city has declared war on diplomatic parking scofflaws. The Bloomberg administration has begun notifying foreign officials that it will begin towing next month, hoping to pierce the shield of diplomatic immunity behind which scofflaws often hide. Bloomberg officials said they decided to get tough after State Department officials backed out of a deal that would have allowed the city to enforce local parking laws against diplomats. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a series of steps yesterday to reform the Buildings Department. The city will streamline its procedures, institute tougher screening for new employees and audit the work of department personnel. (New York Times) (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday urged city workers to accept a buyout package or face possible layoffs. The city is offering early retirement incentives and buyouts to an undetermined number of employees. Bloomberg indicated that layoffs from the roughly 260,000-person city work force would be a last resort but refused to rule them out. (New York Post)

The mayor has raised the specter of layoffs of city employees as the administration seeks $225 million in savings from city labor unions. The layoffs could be used as leverage to secure the money. Last month, the unions agreed to $275 million in pension savings, but that was only a little more than half of what the administration has sought.

Lillian Roberts, executive director of District Council 37, the city's largest municipal union, said yesterday it was premature to ask city agencies to consider staffing reductions. "We understand there is a budget crisis," Roberts said in a statement. "But we want every single private contract and civilianization program reviewed before any city employee's job is put in jeopardy." (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised the specter of layoffs this week just as his administration enters a crucial phase in negotiations with the city's labor unions. The city must reach a new contract with its largest union, District Council 37, whose contract expired June 30. The police are also negotiating a contract. Some fiscal experts said they believed that the mayor, in hinting at layoffs, was seeking leverage to use in the many labor talks that his administration faces. (New York Times)

The City Council Committee on Government Relations voted 9-0 yesterday to revamp the term-limits law so City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and seven other council members can serve a full eight years in office. The measure is expected to win easy passage from the full council today. The eight members are limited to six years in office primarily because they were elected in special elections. The mayor has not taken a position on the bill. (New York Post)

The Bloomberg administration is considering appointing Robert B. Tierney, a former counsel to Mayor Ed Koch, to run the Landmarks Preservation Commission. He would replace Sherida A. Paulsen, who has been the commission's chairwoman since April 2001. Since Tierney has more corporate and legislative experience than architectural expertise, his pending appointment is seen as a sign that the administration is seeking someone to run the agency as a regulatory body rather than a person who makes aesthetic judgments about buildings, a city official said. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg hinted yesterday that he might resort to layoffs to ease what he now calls a "budget crisis," and his administration has taken the first step by inviting city commissioners to consider layoffs to cut the city payroll. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg lambasted the City Council yesterday for meddling in the Queens bus strike - saying lawmakers were trying to "pander for votes." Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) and 36 of his members are preparing to introduce a resolution at tomorrow's session prodding the mayor to give the striking drivers pension and job security guarantees. (Daily News)

If you are caught playing your radio too loudly in Times Square, selling ice cream while parked in a Harlem crosswalk or dumping your kitchen trash in Prospect Park, your ticket does not just go to City Hall to be processed. It goes to Ghana. Just days after the tickets are written out on New York City streets, they are scanned and sent as digital photographs to computers in a small office in downtown Accra, Ghana's hot and crowded capital. (NY Times)

The City Council readied a resolution yesterday aimed at assuring the 1,500 picketing bus drivers that they won't be replaced in the event their companies are. The resolution, which already has the backing of 37 of the council's 51 members, including the council speaker, Gifford Miller, represents an attempt to remove the biggest remaining obstacle to resolving the strike that has affected more than 100,000 Queens bus riders. (Newsday)

Drought-weary New Yorkers have to keep conserving water - even though city reservoirs appear to have gotten their fill over the last few months. The city's reservoirs, which can hold nearly 600 billion gallons of water, have recently risen at a rapid rate and are now at approximately 84 percent capacity. But that number is still a staggering nine percent behind the DEP's desired level for this time of year. (NY Post)

A new breed of money men has emerged at City Hall - and it's all because Mayor Bloomberg insists on paying his own way. An unprecedented flow of cash is being poured into the campaign coffers of key City Council members because billionaire Bloomberg doesn't accept campaign donations. (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday said he'd like to see more housing - and less office space - at Ground Zero, after six designs for site called for massive commercial buildings. (NY Post)

From the beginning, it seemed that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki would transcend the institutional acrimony that has defined the relationship between New York State's most powerful leaders for decades. But in recent weeks, Mr. Bloomberg has made several moves that demonstrate a clear independence from the governor, at times in ways that almost seemed intended to annoy him. The governor's staff members, perplexed by the mayor's candid remarks, have at times contacted City Hall to express, at least in one case, "amazement, bordering on consternation, with some colorful language," said one city official who took that call.

Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg announced his first seven appointees to the newly created Panel For Educational Policy, a panel that replaces the Board of Education. The ethnically diverse set of appointees from a mix of different professional backgrounds includes three who either currently have or have had children in the public school system. Unlike the Board of Education, the members of the new panel lack policy-making authority, and will instead advise the school chancellor, who will be the mayor's eighth appointee to the panel. The borough presidents will each select one appointee to fill out the thirteen-member panel. (New York Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday told the state Financial Control Board that he's planning to slash an additional $1 billion in spending to ease the city's financial crisis. Every city agency has been ordered to prepare to cut another 7.5 percent from its budget, the mayor said, less than three weeks after the start of the new fiscal year. Even if the additional reductions are fully implemented, the city will face a crisis because the deficit next year could reach "between $4 billion and $6 billion depending on the performance of the economy," Bloomberg warned. (New York Times) (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg's strong comments about the Ground Zero plans mark one of the few times he has used the bully pulpit to drive the agenda on a major issue. (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg - backed up by the U.S. Olympic Committee - yesterday angrily denied a report that the city is out of the running for the 2012 summer games. He was responding to a story in The Washington Post yesterday that said Washington-Baltimore and San Francisco have emerged as favorites to snag the U.S. nomination for the 2012 games. (NY Post)

With the city facing a major budget crunch, 40% of voters favor placing tolls on all East River bridges - nearly double those who would rather see higher taxes or higher transit fares, a new poll found. If they got to choose which city tax to raise: 35% of voters polled said raise property taxes; 30% said raise sales taxes; 21% said raise income taxes. (Daily News)

As the skittish stock market threatens to further deplete New York City's finances, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signaled yesterday that his administration might move to modify the city's month-old $42.3 billion budget sooner rather than later. Mayor Bloomberg noted at a news conference that the city had already forecast large deficits for next year and the following year, and said that the volatile stock market could throw those projections off by a billion dollars in either direction. (New York Times) (Daily News)

An array of good government advocates and others yesterday supported changing the city term limits law to remove a technicality that limits some councilmembers to fewer than the usual eight year in office. Eight members, including Council Speaker Gifford Miller, would be affected by the change, which is being backed by 46 of the 51 council members. (Daily News) (New York Times)

Striking Queens bus drivers remained on the picket line today after their union rejected a deal yesterday to end the labor dispute. The city had offered to lend the Transport Workers Union $2 million to boost health care benefits in exchange for getting the buses rolling again.Health care costs had been the No. 1 negotiation point in the month-long strike, but yesterday union members demanded job security, too. "At this point the strike continues," TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint said after a union meeting in Flushing. (Daily News)

From brownstone apartments in Park Slope to Shea Stadium in Flushing to restaurants in TriBeCa, New York City Council members are already focused on gladhanding and posturing, drinking and dining. In the process, they are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for their re-election campaignsâ One reason for this flurry is that campaign finance rules, whose first deadline for filing disclosure statements for the 2003 election is today, include an incentive for substantial fund-raising this year, consultants say: potential candidates can spend up to $40,000 this year that will not count against the election-year cap of $300,000. So it is just common sense to start dialing for dollars now. (New York Times)

It was two years ago, while he was Staten Island borough president, that Guy V. Molinari vowed to have nothing further to do with local politics. But that decision to steer clear of local politics seems to have come to an endâ.On any given Saturday morning, Mr. Molinari, 73, can now be seen at shopping centers and in neighborhoods, campaigning door-to-door on behalf of various Assembly candidates. He has held discussions with Republicans seeking State Senate seats as he contemplates making endorsements. On most weekday evenings, he makes telephone calls on behalf of candidates he has already endorsed.(New York Times)

A complicated story of political infighting in the Bronx, that includes lawsuits and counterlawsuits over the Democratic Party's expulsion of State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. for declaring his love for Albany Republicans. If he manages to remain on the Democratic line, the senior Espada will face Raysa Castilla in the Sept. 10 primary. A Dominican lawyer, she officially launched her candidacy for Espada's Senate seat on Friday, with Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion praising her public service background. (Daily News)

At a rare Saturday news conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg breezed through several topics yesterday, including charter revision and the future of the World Trade Center site. Manhattan. Bloomberg said that he had seen the six preliminary plans for the future of Lower Manhattan, to be released Tuesday, and called them "a start." Bloomberg also addressed the question of charter reform, leaving open the possibility that he would use part of his personal fortune to pay for advertising to drum up support for his proposals. (New York Times)

Declining to embrace any of the six preliminary plans for the World Trade Center site, Mayor Bloomberg pledged yesterday to submit his own redevelopment ideas. "I did see the six that they are going to propose -- it's a start," Bloomberg said yesterday, clearly underwhelmed. Asked whether he had a particular liking for any of the six rebuilding plans set to be released on Tuesday, Bloomberg shot back: "No!" "I don't think they are specific plans where you should look at them and say, 'Okay, we're going to build that one.' That's not the case. They are conceptual ideas to get you to think," he said. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued to call for changes to the City Charter yesterday and acknowledged he was considering using his own money to promote his plans. "It's not the world's worst idea," Bloomberg said of using part of his fortune - as he did when running to win City Hall - to publicize his ideas. He quickly added: "I don't have any plans to do so at the moment." Bloomberg's proposals include an amendment to the City Charter that would provide for replacing a mayor who vacates the job with a mayor-appointed deputy. (Newsday)

Many city residents, long accustomed to mixing their discarded metal, glass and plastic in a blue trash bag, showed signs of confusion during the first two weeks of the city's scaled-down recycling program, officials said. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg promised that his new schools chancellor would be in place "long before" school opens -- offering his most optimistic timetable yet. The mayor pledged yesterday to make the pick before school opens Sept. 5 because he knows how eager the public is for education reform. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday named 13 members to a panel to institute nonpartisan city elections -- and it included the lawyer for radical activist Lenora Fulani. (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg plans to name members of a 13-person charter revision commission as early as today. It is expected that the commission will look at amending the city charter to eliminate party primaries in favor of nonpartisan elections and to permit the mayor to pick his or her own successor in case he or she dies or becomes incapacitated. (Daily News) (New York Times)

Responding to New Yorke rs who have been mowed down by speeding cyclists, Mayor Bloomberg yesterday signed into law a measure slapping a new $100 fine on bicyclists caught pedaling on the sidewalk. (NY Post)

The City Council took its first official step yesterday toward rewriting a term limits law that has been approved twice by voters, with the introduction of a bill sponsored by 46 of its 51 members, including the speaker, Gifford Miller. Proponents of the measure, which would define two consecutive two-year terms as one full term, say that the change is in keeping with the spirit of the restrictions because it applies them more evenly. As the law stands, some Council members are limited to six years, rather than eight like most elected officials, because the Council's terms periodically run in sets of two shorter terms to accommodate redistricting in the wake of the census. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed several bills into law yesterday to help the city balance its budget by raising fees on cellphones and regular telephones, changing the way the city calculates its business tax, and offering early retirement to some city workers. All the measures were part of the $42.3 billion budget agreement that the mayor and the City Council entered into last month. (NY Times)

Former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas, one of the top contenders to head New York City schools, has instead accepted a job running Philadelphia schools. The withdrawal of Vallas and the sparse field of other candidates prompted speculation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg may select as chancellor the man he has charged with finding someone to fill the post, Nathan Leventhal, although mayoral spokesperson Ed Skyler rejected that possibility. Leventhal served as president of Lincoln Center, as a deputy mayor in the Koch administration and as housing commissioner. (Daily News)

With the withdrawal of Paul Vallas from consideration for New York City schools chancellor, there are few outward signs of progress in the search for someone to head the city schools just two months before classes are to resume. Names being touted as possible candidates include Barbara Byrd Bennett, the chief of Cleveland schools; Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami, who served as health and human services secretary under President Bill Clinton; Carmen V. Russo, the chief executive officer of the Baltimore schools; and Arlene Ackerman, former superintendent of schools in Washington. But few of the names being circulated seemed to be going anywhere. (New York Times)

Florence Finkle, a former Manhattan prosecutor who won convictions against corrupt police officers, will be named today as director of the civilian agency that investigates police misconduct. She will head the Civilian Complaint Review Board at a time when city is fighting, over police union opposition, to give the board expanded power to prosecute cases. (Daily News)

Allies of City Council Speaker Gifford Miller will introduce a bill today that will change the city term-limits law to allow Miller and seven others incumbent councilmembers to serve two more years. Technicalities in the law limit the eight members to serving six years because they were originally chosen in special elections. Most members can serve eight years. (New York Post)

A City Council committee yesterday debated five resolutions related to the Middle East, including one that would close the Palestine Liberation Organizationës Manhattan mission and another calling on the council to take an őeven-handed approachŐ to the conflict. The committee did not, however, vote on any of the measures. (Daily News) (New York Post)

In his six months on City Council, Charles Barron of Brooklyn has created controversy. (New York Times)

A City Council committee is to hear testimony today on five resolutions on Mideast bloodshed that are competing, emotionally charged and non-binding. In one of the proposed resolutions, Bronx Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, a former state attorney general, along with a dozen council co-signers, urges the Bush administration to move to close the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Manhattan because of suicide bomber attacks on hundreds of civilians in Israel. At the same time, Councilman Charles Barron (D-East New York) and six other council members called in their own proposed resolution for ˝an even-handed policy in the Middle East and a halt to the killings of innocent Palestinians and Israelis." (Newsday)

City school construction projects prompted 208 complaints over the last school year - from the theft of student penny jars and classroom snacks to contractors bringing booze to the job sites. Nearly one in every three complaints filed with the School Construction Authority - which oversees school construction and repairs - were from neighbors who said blasting and other noises jarred them awake. (NY Post)

The city's online Parking Hall of Shame - an Internet list of the worst parking scofflaws - was supposed to serve as a modern-day scarlet letter, embarrassing deadbeats into paying up. It hasn't. Two years after the Finance Department launched the Web site, the city's list of its top 10 worst deadbeats is virtually unchanged. The list has helped the department collect $19,000, a mere pittance of the overall debt owed the city. (Daily News)

Just six months into the first year of the city's term-limits law, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller has marshaled considerable support among his colleagues to roll it back and give him and seven other council members an extra two years in office. If successful, the change would alter a measure that was approved twice by voters and that in a single, historic swoop remade local government, replacing more than two-thirds of the City Council with newcomers and all of the top elected officials in the city. Proponents of changing the law insist that they do not want to do away with all the restrictions, but instead want to apply them more evenly. As the law stands, some council members are limited to six years, rather than eight. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg's search for a new schools chancellor has run headlong into a reality check - the limited pool of people willing to do the job. After two weeks, the formal search process has yielded interviews of at least 10 candidates, seven rejections and a realization that the mayor's deadline for finding a new chancellor by the end of the month may have to be extended. Aides said yesterday a more realistic timeline for replacing Schools Chancellor Harold Levy would be the end of August. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that he's "sympathetic" to the Transit Authority's budget crunch - a sign that suggests a $2.00 subway fare could be on the way. "A 33-percent raise would be substantial, but I just don't know the economics," the mayor said Wednesday. "I am sympathetic to any agency, but the fact of the matter is we have services that cost money and somebody's got to pay for them." The comment from the mayor came in response to a reporter's question, and officials say there is no formal plan to raise fares at this point. MTA officials had said in October that the damage to the city's transit system caused by the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center left a $3.7 billion hole in their budget. (NY1)

Some of the city's cooling centers offer nothing but hot air. The Daily News visited four centers in Harlem yesterday and found that two lacked air conditioning. Their employees didn't even know they were on the list of cool spots. A third center hadn't drawn a single customer in two days, and the fourth had served only one. The city's Office of Emergency Management has opened 300 supposedly air-conditioned cooling centers for New Yorkers seeking relief from the heat, listing them on its Web site and through a toll-free telephone line. (Daily News)

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver yesterday gave the New York City schools an additional $37 million from his discretionary fund. The money represents the final installment of the $200 million that Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he needed to avert cuts to classroom programs. The money is part of the deal that gave Bloomberg control of the schools, but some experts says the schools still face a fiscal crunch for the year beginning July 2003. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would not appoint an interim Board of Education to serve while the U.S. Justice Department reviews the law giving control of the schools to Bloomberg. (New York Times)

Republican James Oddo said yesterday that he would introduce a bill to amend the term-limits law to enable all council members to serve for eight years. The current law limits council members to two terms in office, which is normally eight years. But because the city is about to redraw the lines of its council districts, eight council members, including Speaker Gifford Miller, will be forced from office after less than their full terms. (New York Times)

Though today marks the start of a new budget year at City Hall, many of the players are focused on potentially volatile skirmishes over term limits, the redrawing of council district lines and a proposal by the mayor to bring about non-partisan city elections. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg officially takes the reins of the city's school system today - no pomp, no circumstance, just some high hopes and plans for a lot of hard work┴Bloomberg was careful to point out that Schools Chancellor Harold Levy is still running the day-to-day operations of the system while the Justice Department reviews recently signed state legislation that transfers control to the mayor. The mayor said he and Levy meet daily. "I don't want to count my chickens, but I'm optimistic that the Justice Department will find nothing wrong," Bloomberg said. (Daily News)

New recycling regulations start today. The pickup schedule hasn't changed, but a few rules have: Sanitation crews will no longer pick up glass and plastic with metal recyclables.Glass and plastic should now be disposed with regular trash. Mayor Bloomberg said any recycling bags that contain metal, glass and plastic will be left at the curb this week. (Daily News)

The price of a pack is now about $7, making New York one of the most - if not the most - expensive places in the country to buy cigarettes. "This may be the most important measure my administration takes to save people's lives," said Bloomberg as he sat next to city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden in City Hall. (Daily News)

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