GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record: June 2002

6/30
During eight years in office, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a career government employee, proposed putting into private hands one government function after another. But today, six months into the job, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a career entrepreneur, has ditched Giuliani's biggest privatization plans ...Nowhere is the shift clearer than in the current Queens bus strike. Bloomberg favors a takeover of private routes by the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Newsday)

Six months after Bloomberg took office, most observers agree he has picked a team [of deputy mayors] who work together...Not that there aren't factions inside Bloomberg's City Hall....But wariness has grown into camaraderie, most agree, in part because the administration has racked up some wins recently, among them a balanced-budget deal with the City Council and hard-fought control over schools. As one top aide put it last week, "Losing ball teams feud. Winning ball teams don't." (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg's liaison with the 9/11 victims' relatives says she's likely to start easing out of her current role after the first anniversary of the terror attacks. "I'm grieving, too," Christy Ferer, whose husband, Port Authority head Neil Levin, was killed in the World Trade Center tragedy, said in an interview in her office last week. Ferer said her work as Bloomberg's liaison has been a "distraction" from grieving, and that there will come a time when she decides to stop. (New York Post)

6/29
School vouchers will have no place in the city anytime soon, Mayor Bloomberg vowed yesterday. "I'm not going to get involved in the voucher thing for the moment," said Bloomberg, who takes over city schools Monday. "I'm going to do everything I can to make the 1,100,000 kids, whose parents send them to the public school system, get the best education this city can possibly provide, and down the road if the public wants to do something else, we'll take a look at it." His comments came a day after the Supreme Court approved letting parents use public money to pay for private and religious schools. (Daily News)

The city launched a new Web site yesterday that allows job applicants to apply for Civil Service exams through the Internet. Using the site - www.nyc.gov/applyforexams - applicants with an e-mail address and a credit card can apply and pay for Civil Service exams, including tests for police, fire and sanitation jobs. (Daily News)

6/28
Part of the city's recycling program begins on Monday - and homeowners and building managers are just getting the word. The change is simple: Stop putting plastic and glass at curbside for recycling, but keep putting out metal and paper separately. Put the plastic and glass in the garbage, except for those nickel-deposit containers, which still should be returned to vendors. Starting Monday, sanitation workers will leave bags or pails "contaminated" with the wrong materials at curbside, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty warned. (Newsday) (New York Times) (Daily News)

Six months into Mayor Bloomberg's reign, crime in the city is down in most major categories. Murders dropped a whopping 12.6% over the same period last year, putting the city on course for the lowest number of slayings since 1965, when there were 549. In 1990, a record 2,262 people were slain in the city. Robberies also were down, as were felony assaults, burglaries, grand larceny and auto theft. The scorecard is not perfect. Rape was up 5%, with 952 in the city this year, compared with 907 in 2001. The number of shooting victims also was up. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will continue the tradition of mayors before him when he takes his place among marchers at the gay pride parade this Sunday. For a moment there, it appeared that Mr. Bloomberg was going to break with one aspect of that tradition by taking his place at the beginning of the parade route at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street. That would have conspicuously situated him in the center of the crowds of protesters who annually appear in the block surrounding St. Patrick's Cathedral. But within hours yesterday, the mayor's office did an about-face and decided that Mr. Bloomberg would not join the parade until 49th Street, like mayors before him who started south of the cathedral. (New York Times)

6/27
The City Council unanimously approved a tougher law on menacing cyclists who ride on sidewalks yesterday, imposing fines for dangerous biking and striking pedestrians. Under the new proposal, if a cyclist is caught riding on a sidewalk, the offender faces a $100 fine, even if he or she is a first-time offender. (NY Post)

City Council resolutions are usually not the most relevant of actions taken by the City Council, often because they call for actions in jurisdictions where the Council has no authority. But that does not mean they do not cause a lively debate. Witness a resolution proposed by Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn, which would seek clemency from the governor for "political prisoners." These prisoners were jailed during the 1960's and 1970's, often, Barron said, unfairly. Barron's resolution, which was not yet voted on, provoked a loud and rancorous debate yesterday. Tony Avella of Queens said he was offended by Mr. Barron's explanation of the resolution. Madeline Provenzano of the Bronx said she was "appalled and disgusted," and Dennis Gallagher of Queens said it debased the Council. (NY Times)

By a vote of 39-12, the New York City Council voted to support a resolution calling on the state to issue a moratorium on the death penalty. The measure, which has no legal power, sparked strong remarks on both sides of the issue. Queens Councilmember Helen Sears said that although she was an opponent of the death penalty, she chose to vote against the resolution because it was out of the jurisdiction of the City Council and was a distraction from the real work and accomplishments of the body. Supporters said it sent a "strong message" to the governor and the state. (Gotham Gazette)

6/26
The U.S. Justice Department yesterday gave tentative approval to the New York state legislature's redistricting plan that would eliminate two congressional districts, one in Orange and Rockland counties and the other in western New York. A three-judge federal court panel is expected to formally adopt the plan on Friday. (Newsday)

The Bloomberg administration has said it has no objection to a City Council bill that would recognize gay marriages from other states. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg has appointed Katherine Oliver, who served as general manager of Bloomberg Radio and Television International since 1996, to head the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. She will succeed Patricia Reed Scott, who has been commissioner for 15 years. Bloomberg said he hopes Oliver can come up with ways to keep film jobs from leaving the city for Canada. (Daily News)

State Senator Ada Smith clashed with Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday over the mayor's plans to turn a hotel in Jamaica into a homeless shelter. Smith raised the ire of Bloomberg's security detail when she approached the mayor and slammed papers with facts about homelessness on the table in front of him. The guard spoke sternly to the senator who said later, "Well, darling, I get elected just like the mayor. And I have the right to stand up for my community. So if he can't take the heat, he can get out of the kitchen." (New York Times)

6/25
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a longtime Democrat who became a Republican to run for mayor, and who has since worked assiduously to curry favor with his new party, threw his support behind Guillermo Linares, a Democratic former city councilman from Washington Heights who is running against State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman in the Democratic primary on Sept. 10. (New York Times)

6/24
As things seem to be going well this summer for Governor George Pataki - a Republican who has had a history of political good luck during an improbable career that has taken him from the backbench of the State Assembly to the executive mansion - they are clearly not going as well for either of his two Democratic opponents, Andrew M. Cuomo and H. Carl McCall.

Over the past month, both Mr. Cuomo and Mr. McCall have emerged as, whatever their skills, candidates with definite limitations. Again and again, their efforts to engage Mr. Pataki have been overshadowed by their own problems, often self-inflicted, to the frustration of Democrats who think that Mr. Pataki can be defeated.

For Mr. Cuomo, it is an aggressive style and personality that many Democrats say make him unlikable, pointing to polls that show that as many as one-third of New York voters already hold an unfavorable view of him. For Mr. McCall, it is a series of mistakes that have held him up to attack by his opponents, and raised questions about his campaign skills even among his own supporters. (New York Times)

6/23
At the heart of the Bloomberg administration's ambitious new policy to deal with homeless people in New York is an old idea with a whole new life: subsidize more housing and the number of homeless will drop. If the plan succeeds - still a big if - it will move 9,250 homeless families from city shelters to subsidized housing over the next year, nearly triple the number placed this year and well above the 1990 peak. Much of the increase will come from giving more of the scarce subsidized apartments to homeless mothers and children and fewer to other needy people. That change is a significant marker of shifting attitudes in the history of the city's homeless policy.(New York Times)

Work is set to begin early next month on the $16 million, 42-month project to replace the Steinway St. bridge over the Grand Central Parkway in Astoria. The city Department of Transportation outlined its plans for the project at a recent meeting of Queens Community Board 1.The 65-year-old span, which carries 16,000 vehicles a day, has outlived its useful life. (Daily News)

6/22
The City Council voted in a new city budget Friday evening that closes a historically large $5 billion budget gap in part by raising $400 million in new revenues by increasing cigarette taxes, fees on cell phones and fines for parking tickets, while cutting ambulance shifts and reducing recycling programs.

The vote makes official a budget deal first announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Gifford Miller on Wednesday night. That includes no municipal job cuts and maintaining many social services programs. The new budget will go into effect July 1. The unanimous vote, with one of the 51 council members not present, came at about 6:30 p.m. To close the deficit, the city will borrow $1.5 billion, helping push the city into debt. (Associated Press)

The City Council - almost unanimously - adopted a budget last evening for the fiscal year that starts in a little more than a week.... Even though the Council changed only a sliver of the mayor's $42.3 billion budget, the restoration package included at the adoption offered glimpses of the Council's solidifying power structure and some of the members' pet projects.
Bill de Blasio, chairman of the General Welfare Committee, for example, jump-started a successful effort to restore about $24 million to the budget of the Administration for Children's Services to pay for about 3,000 subsidized day care slots. Lewis A. Fidler, chairman of the Youth Services Committee, helped ensure 40,000 summer jobs. Ruben Diaz, chairman of the Committee on Aging, thanked his colleagues for helping keep senior centers open...In many cases the restorations are barely a blip when compared with the size of the overall budget, but they allow certain programs to continue and certain Council members to shore up support or raise their profiles. (New York Times)

The city may have a budget crisis, but City Council members are still doling out millions in "pork" for everything from a doll museum to a dog-owners association, it was revealed yesterday. In a secrecy-shrouded process in which political muscle counts for much, the 51 council members were allocated a minimum $80,000 each in pork-barrel funding as part of their deal with the mayor on the new $42.3 billion budget.
They also got an extra $90,000 apiece for youth and seniors programs in their districts. Those in council leadership positions enjoyed significantly more bucks, although no one will say precisely how much. And each borough delegation also received as much as $190,000 in additional cash for their pet projects...
"Part of the administration's budget strategy is to mollify council members with little items so that they'll be content to leave the major policy decisions to the mayor," Councilmember David Yassky said. (New York Post)

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman has upheld the city's ban on ferrets, ruling in a lawsuit late last week that the city's Board of Health had the right to prohibit ferrets as pets just as it had 150 other animals it deemed wild and unsuitable for city living. (Daily News)

For the first time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday hinted he could give eight City Council members two more years in office - including Speaker Gifford Miller. Council leaders are expected to introduce legislation soon to amend a legal quirk that forces eight incumbents out after six years but gives others 11 years in office.
"I've always basically been in favor of term limits in business and in government," Bloomberg said ... but then added: "Whether we should adjust the current law or not is something to look at down the road." Even if it was a mere diplomatic nicety, as some suggested, the mayor's selection of the word "adjust" was instantly taken at City Hall as a signal shift. (Newsday)

In her first five months in office, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum was practically invisible. But this changed just as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was preparing to renew his assault on the right of the public advocate to succeed the mayor.
Suddenly, Ms. Gotbaum was on the City Hall steps, holding news conferences. On June 14, she promoted recycling. On Monday, she released a report about easing school overcrowding. The next day, she endorsed Guillermo Linares for state senator. This week, she appeared on NY1 News and wrote an opinion piece for The Daily News on the School Construction Authority, and recently she began studiously courting reporters.
Her efforts were not lost on anyone. Experts say that mayoral succession is one of the most profound aspects of the advocate's position, and that taking it away could render the job practically meaningless. (New York Times)

6/21
The estimated gap for next year's city budget has ballooned by $1 billion - to $3.7 billion - officials admitted yesterday, the day after reaching a deal on a new spending plan. (New York Post)

Many advocates expressed relief Thursday that some money was restored to schools, libraries, senior centers, homeless services, day care and summer youth jobs. Major restorations in the budget included, $5 million to senior centers; $24 million to create 3,000 new day care slots; $26 million to keep libraries open 6 days per week; and $3 million for outpatient drug prescription program that pays the $10 co-payment for low-income individuals. There was also $2 million in immigrant initiatives; $4 million for anti-drug and alcohol programs; and $10 million for Summer Youth Employment, coupled with $25 million in state aide, to create 40,000 jobs. Schools had $298 million restored. (Newsday)

On the last day of the legislative session in Albany, the Republicans in control of the Senate and governor's office did not reach agreements with the Assembly's Democratic majority on a host of significant bills. Lawmakers failed to resolve differences over how to reduce the state's lengthy sentences for drug crimes enacted in the 1970's under Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller.

However, they did pass a bill that Mayor Bloomberg had requested to help the city close a $5 billion budget gap. The measure gives the city the authority to raise taxes on cigarettes and telephone service, both wireless and conventional, as well as increases fines for parking violations. The bill also provides money for recruiting teachers and let the city refinance some of its debt. (New York Times)

6/20
Budget Analysis: Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not responsible for the rain. But since he sat down in his bullpen six months ago, most of what he has wished for has come his way. He has gained control of the city's public schools, settled a protracted contract dispute with teachers and cobbled together two major social policy initiatives. Even the drought emergency seems as if it might end, thanks to a series of downpours. By shaking hands with the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, on a deal that largely reflects the budget proposed by a mayoral team this spring, Mr. Bloomberg appears to have scored his latest big victory at a time of great fiscal uncertainty. (New York Times)

Budget Analysis: Michael Bloomberg strode into City Hall as the ultimate outsider, a pinstriped pretender with no experience in the tribal ways of Albany and city politics. Yet the new mayor has racked up three big victories in the past 10 days with school control, a teachers contract and last night's budget. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg is rethinking his ideal schools chief after the corporate bigwigs he wanted for the job made it clear they're not interested, sources said yesterday. The mayor, who wanted a CEO type, has expanded his search to include candidates with experience in government and education, preferably in New York City, several well-placed sources said. (Daily News)

Reparations for descendants of slaves here would be "divisive," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday, shooting down an idea for a city-funded commission to study the emotionally charged issue. The mayor's comment came after Councilmen Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) and Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) held a hearing calling for a commission to recommend compensation for city descendants of African slaves. (NY Post)

Gifford Miller, the 32-year-old Speaker of the City Council, has only been in power six months, but he's already a lame duck. Due to a bizarre wrinkle in the city's term-limits law, Mr. Miller is one of an unfortunate handful of Council members who will be forced out of office on Jan. 1, 2003. But Mr. Miller plans to change that. His allies are now openly saying that he will introduce legislation within weeks to amend the current law to allow members who are facing extinction in 2003 to run for another term. (New York Observer)

6/19
The City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are expected to announce a deal as soon as today on the cityÅs $41.8 billion budget for next year. The agreement reportedly would restore some of the proposed cuts in spending for schools and keep part, but not all, of the cityÅs recycling program for metal, glass and plastic. (New York Times) (Daily News (New York Post)

Former Police Commissioner Richard Condon was appointed special schools investigator yesterday, replacing Ed Stancik who died earlier this year. In making the appointment, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to first change the requirements for the job, which had mandated that the investigator be a lawyer. Condon joined the Police Department in 1957 and was named commissioner by then Mayor Ed Koch in 1989. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will appeal a state court ruling that barred the Giuliani administration from ejecting homeless families from shelters and putting their children in foster care, city lawyers said. The appeal challenges a 21-year-old court decree that obligates the city to provide shelter to every homeless person. The administration has said that it wants freedom from court oversight to achieve the goals of its new homeless policy and that only a few uncooperative families and troublesome single adults would be subject to eviction. But some advocates said evicting families would be unacceptable. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed Steven B. Rosenfeld, a lawyer with Paul, Weiss, Rikind, Wharton & Garrison, as chairman of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board. The board, which interprets and enforces conflict of interest laws governing city employees, has been asked to offer its opinions on whether any of BloombergÅs extensive holdings pose a conflict with his job as mayor. (New York Times)

6/18
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plan to put an amendment on the ballot this November that would eliminate partisan elections in New York City drew criticism yesterday from government watchdog groups, who said that the public should be given more time to study such a fundamental change in the way they elect their leaders. And it opened a rift between Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, and other city officials, who are overwhelmingly Democratic, just when the mayor needs all the political capital and good will he can get to balance a budget with a $5 billion deficit. (New York Times)

The United States Justice Department today approved New York's new legislative district lines, but a federal court blocked the circulation of candidates' petitions to get on the ballot, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday. It is the second time the petition process has been postponed. Lawyers involved in redistricting lawsuits said the court's objections were technical and would probably be easily addressed, but lawmakers said the delay could force them to shorten the petition period and reduce the number of signatures needed. (New York Times)

Congressional redistricting has produced a whole new political landscape in the Bronx.A Queens-based representative, Joe Crowley, will get a major chunk of the borough, while one endangered local congressman will move north across county lines to safer territory - and a primarily Westchester politician is being pushed out of the Bronx into her strong home territory. (Daily News)

Democrat Carl McCall pushed Gov. Pataki yesterday to extend rent control laws, even though they don't expire for a year.(Daily News)

6/17
The Bloomberg administration will appoint a commission to study a possible major overhaul in how New York chooses its elected officials, and to revisit the thorny issue of mayoral succession, according to city officials. During his mayoral campaign last year, Michael R. Bloomberg called for the elimination of partisan elections in New York, arguing that the influence of the Democratic and Republican Parties had a coercive effect on the electoral process, and that political ideology had no place in municipal government. Mr. Bloomberg has also called for a speedier process for electing a successor should the mayor die or become incapacitated, and has proposed that the first deputy mayor - rather than the public advocate - fill that role until a new mayor is chosen.

Since he was sworn in in January, though, Mr. Bloomberg has said very little about trying to change the City Charter, focusing instead on his goal of balancing the city budget and gaining control of its public schools. Having succeeded in assuming greater control over the schools, and with budget negotiations in their final lap, Mr. Bloomberg's administration has turned its attention to the issues of nonpartisan elections and mayoral succession, officials said. Last week, Mr. Bloomberg's corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, sent an e-mail message to senior staff members seeking the names of possible members of a charter revision commission. Some mayoral aides said they were annoyed that the issue was raised before the delicate budget talks were completed. (New York Times)

6/17
Councilmember James Davis (D-Crown Heights) won a $100,000 verdict last week in his long-running federal civil suit against the New York City Police Department, which he had accused of wrongfully firing him in 1998 after his name appeared on the general-election ballot as the Liberal Party candidate for an Assembly seat. (Daily News)

6/16
Though Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pledged to continue building upon Rudolph W. Giuliani's legacy, he has unraveled far more. (New York Times)

Elections for district leader, among the lowliest jobs on the ladder of elective office, seldom attract much attention other than from devotees of politics. But a district leader race in central Brooklyn is creating a stir for its potential impact on the local Democratic Party leadership and the budding prospects of a maverick city councilman. The councilman, James E. Davis, has served as a district leader in Crown Heights since 2000. Last week, Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr., the Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman, said he would try to unseat Mr. Davis in the September election. In doing so, Mr. Norman reignited a long-smoldering feud with Mr. Davis, whose council district also includes Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, and who first stunned much of the political establishment in Brooklyn by coming within a few hundred votes of defeating Mr. Norman in the 1998 Democratic Assembly primary. Last year, Mr. Davis pulled off another surprise, winning an open City Council seat in a seven-candidate race that included a longtime Democratic party stalwart endorsed by the party organization.Should Mr. Davis hold onto his district leader post, it would be an embarrassment to Mr. Norman. (New York Times)

6/15
Fresh from winning control of city schools, Mayor Bloomberg hinted strongly yesterday that he would look for a CEO with strong management credentials as schools chancellor. "It's a turnaround situation," said Bloomberg, slipping into the corporate lingo that often dots his speech. "And nobody without good management skills should get this job." The mayor added that the real challenge is not reinventing how children are taught, but unraveling decades of bureaucratic red tape accumulated by the Board of Education. "It has a management structure that just does not work and has to be changed." (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday the administration intends to revisit the development of public toilets -- long a goal, and a headache, for previous mayors. "The public does have a need, and most other cities, or many other cities, have solved this problem, and we're going to try to work on it," Bloomberg said in his weekly radio interview. (Newsday)

6/14
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday once again found himself defending his words and actions against accusations of insensitivity by family members of victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The most recent episode followed remarks by the mayor on Wednesday in which Mr. Bloomberg said that the development of the World Trade Center site must balance the needs of downtown residents and commercial tenants with the need for a memorial and should not turn the site into "a cemetery." Yesterday, Mr. Bloomberg said his comments were intended to convey that there are likely to be differences of opinion regarding the design and content of a memorial, and therefore decisions should not be rushed. (New York Times)

The City Council debated a lead-paint bill that would amend the current regulations for lead paint in apartments throughout the city. Supporters of the bill say the current lead law amounts to "environmental racism" because it gives property owners too much leeway in correcting chipped lead paint or dust that children can ingest, a problem that disproportionately affects the poor and minorities. Opponents say that it needs to be amended because of "far-reaching fiscal impacts." (Newsday)

6/13
As budget negotiations between the two sides of City Hall sputter along, council members have busied themselves in a parallel process of wheedling and cajoling one another to stand firm on restoring favored services to the city's spending plan.The open management style of the Council's speaker, Gifford Miller, has also contributed to the more spirited activity. During the speakership of Peter Vallone, experts say, the Council presented a far more unified front in its negotiations with the mayor. (New York Times)

Although he played a fairly limited, behind-the-scenes role in creating legislation that gives control of New York City's schools to the mayor, Gov. George Pataki seized the spotlight yesterday by signing the bill into law, with a flourish. The governor's signature came after several months of intense negotiations among Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and others. (New York Times)

In a historic power shift, Mayor Bloomberg formally won control of the city's schools yesterday and promised to immediately begin a search for a new chancellor to "get results" for 1.1 million public school children. "I commit to you today, I will make the schools better," he said. "I want to be held accountable for the results, and I will be." (Daily News)

6/12
The State Senate approved a bill yesterday giving the mayor control of the New York City school system. Governor George Pataki is expected to sign the measure today at an East Harlem elementary school. The fate of the community school boards, however, remains in doubt. (New York Times)

The mayor and the City Council will probably miss today's deadline for reaching an agreement on the city budget. The main problem this time, sources say, is the mayor's plan to suspend the recycling program for cans and bottles. The mayor says the plan is inefficient and costs the city money. The council hopes to keep it. (New York Times) (New York Post)

The school bureaucracy is likely to be cut under the new budget, but Deputy Mayor Marc Shaw said that any cuts would not be to classroom programs. (Daily News)

6/11
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City's teachers' union announced a tentative contract yesterday that calls for raises of 16 percent to 22 percent over 30 months, putting the city in a better competitive position to hire the 10,000 teachers the mayor says it needs by September.

The settlement, while giving the teachers a much larger raise than other city workers have received, will add 100 minutes to the teachers' workweek, time that can be used for instruction or training. The settlement also eases - but not nearly as much as the mayor had hoped - some of the longstanding work rules he wanted changed, like restrictions against assigning teachers to keep order in school cafeterias.

Some education experts say that Mr. Bloomberg's failure to gain more sweeping changes in work rules will limit his ability to improve instruction for the city's 1.1 million children in public schools, even with the recent agreement by state legislative leaders giving the mayor political control of the schools system.

With an annual cost of about $950 million, the teacher raises will undoubtedly complicate Mr. Bloomberg's efforts to erase a projected $5 billion budget deficit. The mayor has often complained that the state has provided only a one-shot infusion of $275 million to help finance recurring raises for teachers. The double-digit raises could also pressure the city to be more generous to the two major municipal unions that remain without a contract, the police and firefighters. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday the city and U.S. State Department are "very close" to a deal that clamps down on scofflaw diplomats who park illegally and owe millions of dollars in parking tickets. he number of cars that are allowed to be parked in official diplomatic parking spots would be dramatically reduced - to 800 from 2,500 - by not renewing diplomatic license plates. The idea is to make the city's 480 diplomatic parking spots available only to those mission and consulate officials who use them for official business. (Daily News)

Rude drivers, late pickups or no service at all were among the chief complaints handicapped riders of the city's Access-a-Ride program expressed at a meeting with local politicians. There are 55,000 registered users of the service, which is underutilized and costs $54 per passenger, twice the national average. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) and City Councilman John Liu (D-Queens), chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee, said they will consider drafting legislation to force the MTA to improve the service. (Daily News)

6/10
Negotiators for New York City's teachers and the Bloomberg administration met for more than five hours yesterday as they sought to reach a new teachers' contract within the next few days. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that he expected a settlement soon, as the final touches are put on a bill in Albany that would give him control of the school system and as he works to reach a budget agreement with the City Council. (New York Times)

6/9
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's management style has been crystal clear from the beginning: he hires people he likes as commissioners, and then pretty much lets them do their jobs. But that style will be seriously tested if he is granted the helm of the nation's largest public school system - something the State Legislature is set to do early this week. (New York Times)

There's no guarantee that the new law giving Mayor Bloomberg control of the city school system will carry over to his successors, since state lawmakers will insert an expiration date. (New York Post)

A redistricting plan approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. George E. Pataki created new political boundaries, shifting one Senate seat and four Assembly seats to New York City - where the population surged during the 1990's - and attracting dozens of candidates. And some of the three dozen City Council members who left office when term limits went into effect last year are eager to get back into public office.The result is that a lot of money is expected to be spent on, and a lot of attention paid to, campaigns for seats that are usually won easily every two years by incumbents. Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr., the chairman of the State Democratic Party, said: "Everybody's looking for places to run, deciding whether this is their time to run, negotiating with people about running. There are lots of new candidates and old candidates." (New York Times)

Voters can make history again by sending the first Latino from Queens to Albany for the newly created state Senate and Assembly seats in Corona and Jackson Heights. Seven candidates, five of them Latinos, squared off in a packed basement of the Jackson Heights YMCA late last month. (Daily News)

This week, Staten Island Councilmember McMahon's committee on sanitation and solid waste will take up several bills that would dramatically increase fines for littering and the unlawful posting of signs or handbills on various public properties or under the windshields of parked vehicles. (Daily News)

6/8
An agreement to put Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in charge of the school system could become law as soon as Monday or Tuesday, three Republican state senators said yesterday. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg put the city's educational bureaucracy on notice: Cuts are coming, and your private offices are going. A day after winning a deal to control city schools, Bloomberg still seemed flush with victory yesterday, spouting ideas in rapid-fire fashion."The first thing is ... no cars for the members of the new board, no staffs, no private offices, no salaries," Bloomberg said on his weekly WABC-AM radio program."I think we have to find a way to spend a lot less of our money on administration and a lot more on teaching," he added. (Daily News)

New York City's financial woes are worse than Mayor Bloomberg predicted - with future budget gaps topping $4 billion unless spending slows, Comptroller William Thompson said yesterday. "Deficits facing the city will be even larger than the mayor anticipates," a report released by Thompson's office says. Bloomberg has predicted a deficit of $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2004, $3 billion in 2005 and $3.5 billion in 2006. But the comptroller's study boosts those numbers dramatically - to $4.1 billion in '04, $4.3 billion in '05 and $4.5 billion in '06. (New York Post)

There is only one precise dollar amount in the hundreds of pages of financial disclosure documents for 2001 that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg provided to news reporters at his accountant's offices yesterday: $122,520,000¡ the amount Mr. Bloomberg gave away last year to more than 540 organizations across the country. But even when you're Mike Bloomberg, whose net worth has been estimated at $4 billion, you win some and you lose some - as the new disclosure documents show. The mayor sold two show horses, Dialogue and Rave, from his prizewinning stable last year, but made money only on Dialogue. ¡He lost more than $500,000 on the movie "Focus," based on Arthur Miller's 1945 novel about anti-Semitism in Brooklyn, which opened to mixed reviews in October. And, like millions of other investors, he lost money on Enron. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg loaned one of Connecticut's biggest tax cheats between $100,000 and $250,000 last year. The billionaire mayor gave the six-figure loan to Gregory Vereschagin, whose daughter is a friend of Bloomberg's younger daughter, Emma. Vereschagin is No.5 on Connecticut's list of top 100 delinquent taxpayers."The mayor was not aware that [Vereschagin] had any dispute with the state of Connecticut regarding past taxes," said Bill Cunningham, Bloomberg's communications director. (Daily News)

6/7
Mayor Bloomberg and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver struck a tentative deal yesterday that will give the mayor control over New York City schools. Under the agreement, which still must be approved by the State Legislature, the mayor would have the power to appoint the schools chancellor and pick eight members of a newly expanded 13-person Board of Education. The mayor would also have the power to select the board of the School Construction Authority, and the chancellor would be able to directly appoint local superintendents. The fate of community school boards remains unclear, as legislators try to come up with a solution that retains parental input as part of the process.

The agreement on school control may also push the city closer to a deal on the budget. The mayor and the speaker indicated yesterday that Bloomberg is likely to restore the funding to schools he had threatened to cut in his budget proposal. Their agreement mandates that school spending can not be reduced unless the city suffers a drop in revenue. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday) Ego bruises, policy disputes and different negotiating styles repeatedly threatened to torpedo a deal, insiders say. Several times during the months of negotiations, an angry Silver was ready to walk away from the table, only to be coaxed back by key aides. Meanwhile, inside City Hall, Shaw and Walcott were pushing Bloomberg - who was growing increasingly frustrated with Silver's uncompromising style and the slow progress of the talks - to keep plugging away. (New York Post) The first of the dominoes may be teetering, as a City Hall insider phrased it, with the latest hints that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is poised to gain control of the school system. Next to fall may well be the citys pact with the United Federation of Teachers, which negotiators say is close but awaiting settlement of the control issue. With that deal, the cost of teacher pay can be estimated, and an overdue city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 enacted. (Newsday)

6/6
Concluding the painful process of eliminating two of New York's seats in Congress, the Legislature passed a redistricting bill today that leaves four incumbents fighting for two seats, in western New York and the Hudson Valley. (New York Times)

Spurning the city Board of Education and stunning many fellow Democrats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday voted against a plan to spend $150 million on summer-school programs. Clinton's vote - which disappointed funding sponsor Sen. Ted Kennedy - was a blow to the board, which had strongly lobbied Congress to win approval of the additional school bucks. Clinton's spokesman said she wants to help schools but believes that adding an education-funding amendment to a supplemental spending bill is wrong. Kennedy's measure was defeated, 60 to 38. (NY Post)

6/5
A deal to give Mayor Michael Bloomberg control of city schools appeared close yesterday as the mayor and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver both showed signs of compromising. The major obstacles to a deal were the city's financial commitment to the schools, the power of a reconfigured Board of Education and the fate of the 32 community school boards. In a key compromise, Bloomberg has agreed in principle to Silver's demand that the city maintain a minimum level of funding to its schools. (Daily News)

The New York State Senate yesterday passed a bill that would abolish the Board of Education and give the mayor control of the city school system. Assembly leaders said the bill had no chance of passage in their house. (New York Times) (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's parks budget slashes 16 percent in direct operating and maintenance costs. He is planning to charge an annual fee of $50 to $75 for adults to use recreations centers and is considering shutting off the lights in parks, something once unthinkable for safety reasons. In addition, Bloomberg cuts the parks capital budget from $321 million to $155 million, then halves it again the next year. (Village Voice)

6/4
Gifford Miller, the exceptionally young new head of the City Council, will be tested in the coming weeks during negotiations over the city's $5 billion deficit. (New York Times)

The NYPD could save more than $15 million a year if it replaced 831 cops with lower-earning civilians in administrative units, Comptroller William Thompson reported yesterday. (NY Post)

Thousands of students are expected to join the protest against school budget cuts at City Hall today - attracted by the unexpected political activism of rappers like Jay-Z, Ja Rule and Fat Joe. (Daily News)

Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik is taking the plunge into New York politics.Kerik plans to campaign for Gov. Pataki and other Republican candidates this year, and he's not ruling out seeking office himself one day, he said yesterday. Top Republicans have approached him about seeking various offices this year, including the seat now held by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx). (Daily News)

6/3
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said yesterday he was through compromising in negotiations to turn over control of city schools to City Hall even as he met last night with Mayor Bloomberg. "We've stopped giving," Silver (D-Manhattan) said before his powwow with Bloomberg. "It's up to the mayor." (Daily News)

Faced with severe trash transport problems, the Bloomberg administration is examining how to revive its dormant network of barge stations along the city's waterfront. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg was anything but bashful when he boasted to Queens Republicans yesterday that "nobody can even remember" his opponent in the mayoral race. (NY Post)

6/2
Imagine a New York where all new car alarms are banned, every parade has to start with an American flag and drivers who motor around with snow on their vehicles get a ticket. These are a few of the proposed laws some City Council members want to become part of city life. So far this year, the new council has passed just a handful of laws, but individual members have introduced 211 other bills - ranging from major policy shifts to silly, go-nowhere ideas that they know will never see the sweep of the mayor's pen needed to sign them into law. (NY Post)

An attempt by B. Thomas Golisano to force Gov. George E. Pataki into a Sept. 10 primary vote on the state's Conservative Party line failed yesterday when Mr. Golisano did not muster sufficient support at the party's state convention in Albany. (New York Times)

6/1
Mayor Bloomberg slammed the powerful teachers union yesterday for bogging down contract talks over how to use 20 extra minutes in a school day. In some of his most pointed language to date, Bloomberg said school management should decide how to use the additional 20 minutes City Hall and the United Federation of Teachers have agreed to tack onto the 6 1/2-hour school day. "Some decisions are appropriate for management and some decisions are appropriate for the employees. And the public wants the school system not run by the UFT," Bloomberg said during his weekly radio address. "The system is supposed to be run for the children, not for the staff," he said. (Daily News)

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