GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record: March 2003

3/31
In the week since a State Supreme Court judge overturned a revision of the city's term limits law, potentially making the City Council speaker and five of his colleagues lame ducks, City Hall has been buzzing with one question: Whodunit? (NY Times)

3/30
In Bronx politics these days, it's all in the family. Consider the borough's ruling clan, the Riveras. Jose Rivera is Bronx Democratic chairman and a state assemblyman. His son Joel, 24, earns $111,700 a year as a City Council member and its majority leader. Joel's mom, Ivene Galarza, is the $75,638-a-year district manager of Community Board 6. Another son, John, works in the borough's marriage license bureau, making $50,000 a year. And a daughter, Naomi, is trading her $61,880-a-year job as the borough president's special events coordinator to be co-deputy chief of the Bronx Board of Elections. The Riveras are the most obvious example of an evolving political culture in which a handful of families wield outsized influence in the city's poorest borough. (Daily News)

It may be time to hang up on Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum's official help line. With the rollout of the city's new 311 line, operators on Gotbaum's help line - which costs $320,000 a year just to staff - have been rather lonely. (Daily News)

3/29
The Bloomberg administration yesterday joined the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, in appealing a State Supreme Court ruling on a revision of the city's term limits law, even though the mayor had initially vetoed the measure. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg prayed and pleaded yesterday with dozens of Muslim worshipers in Queens, urging them not to view the city's fight against terrorism and the nation's war with Iraq as anti-Islamic. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg has suggested that firefighters can get a 3% to 4% raise - if they change their work schedule to exclusively 24-hour shifts. The move would save the city millions of dollars by reducing the head count and curtailing some overtime. (Daily News)

3/28
Offering the first overall price tag on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's ambitious effort to reform New York City public schools, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein said yesterday that it would cost as much as $250 million to impose a new standard curriculum and to hire thousands of new parent coordinators and reading and math coaches, a plan the mayor says will help transform a failing education system. (New York Times)

The City Council isn't one of Albany's top-spending lobbyists after all. On Wednesday, the Temporary State Commission on Lobbying listed the Council as the seventh-highest spender last year, to the tune of $895,754. (New York Daily News)

3/27
The New York City Council approved a budget for itself yesterday that includes cuts of just 1 percent, at a time when all city agencies are being asked by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to endure far steeper reductions. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg named Frank J. Macchiarola, the former schools chancellor and the mediator who settled the recent Broadway musicians' strike, to lead the commission to study a switch to nonpartisan elections and other changes to the City Charter.(New York Times)

3/26
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told City Council yesterday that budget cuts could force him to close eight engine companies and lay off some temporary civilian workers. (New York Times)

The Rent Guidelines Board must decide this spring how much rents can rise in regulated apartments in the city. But the board has been unable to begin work because five of the nine seats on it are vacant. (New York Times)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller yesterday proposed that buildings taller than seven stories be required to undergo anti-terrorism inspections and that owners of the buildings pay the cost. Property owners denounced the plan as a "secret tax." (Daily News)

City Councilmember James Davis yesterday called on City Council Speaker Gifford Miller to drop his appeal of a State Supreme Court decision that could force Miller to leave office at the end of the year. The court ruled that the council overstepped its authority when it modified the city term-limits law to enable Miller and five other incumbent members to serve another term. (Daily News)

In advertisements in two Chinese-language newspapers, City Councilmember Alan Jennings proclaimed his love for a Chinese folk dancer and criticized his estranged Taiwanese wife for not accepting him because he is black. In the ads, which included a photo of Jennings with a woman he identified as his girlfriend, Jennings called himself a "councilman with a Chinese heart. Defending the ads yesterday, Jennings said,"If you are questioning the ad, then you are really saying there is something wrong with a tall and dark handsome guy who happens to have a Chinese girlfriend. That is sick." (Newsday)

While Councilmember Alan Jennings has some solid accomplishments to his credit and is popular with his constituents, his unpredictability has dismayed some of his colleagues. (Newsday)

3/25
A City Hall inauguration ceremony last night for Pedro Espada Jr., the former state senator elected in February to the City Council in a special election, became a boisterous rally for the state's Independence Party, which helped him win the nonpartisan race. (New York Times)

The city has agreed to scale back a large increase in the fees it charges for sidewalk cafés, a decision that comes just as eateries prepare for the city's pending smoking ban. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued yesterday to urge New Yorkers to support American troops in Iraq, while reassuring city residents that they should go on with their lives during the war. (Newsday)

3/24
Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued yesterday to urge New Yorkers to support American troops in Iraq, while reassuring city residents that they should go on with their lives during the war. In his weekly radio address and during a visit to a Bedford-Stuyvesant church, Bloomberg all but sent a message to anti-war protesters. "Now that the fighting is under way, I don't think it matters whether a week ago you favored or opposed launching this effort to disarm Saddam Hussein," he said in his address on WINS 1010. (Newsday)

Despite the war in Iraq and fears of terrorism at home, Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to urge New Yorkers to go out and enjoy the city. The mayor took his message to a church in Brooklyn Sunday morning, telling parishioners the increased security under the city’s wartime “Operation Atlas” should be reassuring. He said he will do whatever he can to prove the city is safe. (NY1)

If Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, is worried that last week's State Supreme Court ruling on term limits has left him and five fellow council members facing a December departure from office, he is not showing it. Standing in front of a packed audience at a luncheon given by a software networking group in the Brooklyn Marriott on Friday, Mr. Miller was giving his best shot at boosterism, speaking of the many reasons the business executives in the audience should invest in New York City's technology industry. (New York Times)

3/22
Michael R. Bloomberg is the mayor of New York City. But several times yesterday, he was also like thousands of other residents of the city, forced to peer down into the darkness of the subway tunnel, heart sinking slightly at the lack of a bright yellow light. Mayor Bloomberg, who generally prefers a low profile to omnipresence, has made a point in the last few days of constantly being in the public eye, apparently in an attempt to set an example of how he thinks New Yorkers should be living. (New York Times)

3/20
In a ruling that could transform the city's political landscape, a State Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn yesterday overturned a revision of the city's term limits law, potentially making the City Council speaker and five of his colleagues lame ducks. If the decision is upheld on appeal, it would prevent the speaker, Gifford Miller, and the five others from running for re-election to a two-year term in November. (New York Times) (Daily News)

Former Black Panther and City Councilman Charles Barron said Wednesday that he will run for mayor in 2004 because "too many white men are in power in New York, which doesn't reflect our growing diversity. The new majority, people of color, should have our chance to lead ... away from war and budget deficits," Barron (D-Brooklyn) told Newsday. Barron said he will run on a platform of diversity, education and creating jobs. "We now have structural racism ... where we are not represented in the network," Barron said. "We deserve our fair share of goods and services that for too long have been disproportionately distributed. Diversity in leadership benefits whites as well." (Newsday)

3/18
The city's Campaign Finance Board is requesting $20 million in city funds to pay for this year's races for City Council. All 51 Council seats are at stake this fall. Candidates will run for an abridged two-year term under the new district lines approved last month. No citywide or boroughwide office covered by public campaign financing is up for election in November. (Daily News)

The former president of the New York City Housing Development Corporation, Russell A. Harding, was charged in an indictment unsealed yesterday with using hundreds of thousands of dollars of the agency's money for vacation travel, gifts and parties for friends and for other personal expenses. (New York Times)

One of New York's most influential labor leaders said yesterday that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had harmed his talks with the city's unions by warning that layoffs will be necessary even if he wins $600 million in labor concessions. (New York Times) (Newsday) (Daily News) (New York Post)

3/17
Mayor Bloomberg vetoed a bill yesterday that would make it easier for welfare recipients to attend college. (Daily News)

The mayor lit into the Bronx jury that awarded $51.1 million to a man who was shot by an off-duty cop after he wielded a gun. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city will reorganize how it delivers HIV/AIDS services, creating greater accountability by having all agencies report to a single coordinator. (Newsday)

3/14
Vincent Gentile has defeated Rosemarie O'Keefe in the special election for a Brooklyn City Council seat. The tally of absentee and other paper ballots showed Gentile beating O'Keefe by 31 votes. The Board of Elections said that the result is likely to be certified on Tuesday. The two candidates were the front runners of a special election held on February 25; each had 30 percent of the vote. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post)

New York City will become the national model for meeting the federal government's goal of slashing new HIV infections in half by 2005, Mayor Bloomberg pledged yesterday. Bloomberg said New York will be among the first cities to widely implement a state-of-the-art blood test that determines whether HIV-positive people have been infected within the last six months. The test will provide "invaluable information" for prevention planning, he said. The city also will continue condom distribution and syringe exchanges. (Daily News)

New York City may not meet its July 2004 deadline for bringing back glass recycling, city officials said yesterday. The city suspended the recycling of glass and plastics in July as a budget-cutting measure, leaving only paper and metal recycling in place. Although the city still plans to resume the recycling of plastics in July, a joint task force of the Bloomberg administration and the City Council has concluded that the deadline may not be feasible. Although the task force has not signed off on a final report, a working draft declares, "This reinstatement should not occur until such time as the city is able to adequately address the problem of glass breakage and contamination of the mixed recyclable stream." It also said the city needed to find better markets for used glass. (New York Times)

3/13
A bill on lead poisoning has been stalled in the City Council for a year, even though more than half the council members support it. A report to be released today suggests that large campaign contributions from the real estate industry may be holding it up. (New York Times)

Some 3,500 classroom staffers - including nearly 1,200 teachers - could be laid off under the city Education Department's latest doomsday budget scenario. The school hit list, submitted to City Hall yesterday, would be in addition to the estimated 2,700 teaching jobs already at risk because of threatened state budget cuts. (Daily News)

The City Council voted overwhelmingly yesterday for an extension of state rent control laws until 2006, but a top Albany legislator says he's not ready to tackle the issue. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) thinks affordable housing is important, but "right now, the priority is the budget," spokesman Mark Hansen said. (Daily News)

After five months of back-room wrangling, the City Council yesterday passed an anti-war resolution - with a third of the body strongly opposing it - after an emotional debate. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York Post)

3/12
The curtains went up again on Broadway last night after Mayor Bloomberg brokered a dramatic end to a financially bruising four-day strike by musicians. (Daily News) (New York Post) (New York Times) (Newsday)

Using unusually harsh language to criticize the state government, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stood with more than a dozen leaders from around the state yesterday and called on Albany to reduce the Medicaid burden on local governments. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post)

After months of behind-the-scenes wrangling, the city council in the place hardest hit by terrorism is prepared to approve a resolution opposing a war with Iraq, an action already taken by some 125 other city councils across the nation. The anti-war resolution became entangled in the politics of fine print almost immediately after it was drawn up last October, due in large part to the city's unique position as a symbol in the war on terrorism. (Newsday)

The city's rent-regulation laws - which expire next month - cleared the first step to renewal yesterday. The City Council's Housing and Buildings Committee voted yesterday to extend the regulations until 2006. The 9-1 vote is expected to be ratified by the full council today. The committee also voted to ask Albany to give more housing control to the city. (New York Post)

Unlike Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller is not zipping his lips on the prospect of war in Iraq. "I don't believe that going to war at this time is good for America," Miller (D-Manhattan) said yesterday. (Daily News)

Eighteen hours, three news conferences and several cups of coffee. That is often the life of the person in charge of New York City. It was that way Monday evening and on into Tuesday, a time that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hinted during the campaign he might shy away from. But it is the sort that ultimately defines him in the collective eyes of the city he runs. (New York Times)

3/11
A recent lawsuit filed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to overturn the New York City's predatory lending law has stunned fair-housing advocacy groups and angered some members of the city council, including Speaker Gifford Miller. (Newsday)

3/9
An effort by one of the most liberal council's in the country to condemn a war against Iraq has become quite an adventure. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg has ordered city commissioners to draw up lists of how many workers they would lay off to make ends meet -- the first time he has asked for such detailed plans. (Daily News) (New York Post) (New York Times) (Newsday)

3/8
Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, yesterday jumped into the politically charged debate over how to save eight firehouses in jeopardy of being closed by the mayor, announcing a four-point plan that includes finding corporate sponsors for the firehouses and hiring more firefighters. The plan, developed by Mr. Miller and other Council members, would not only keep all eight firehouses open, but would trim nearly $14 million from the Fire Department's budget. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg is ready to unveil his new school at the historic Tweed Courthouse - but principals are grumbling that the mayor's pet project wastes students' time. Classes of third-graders are set to arrive at the downtown Manhattan showpiece in the next 10 days for two-week stints learning about city history. (Daily News)

3/7
The Bloomberg administration has proposed a broad restructuring of the city-state agency overseeing the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, city and state officials said yesterday. The plan would give the city more authority over the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site and billions of dollars of federal recovery money, they said. (New York Times) (New York Post)

Maybe it is the protracted budget headache. Or perhaps he is feeling afflicted after losing what City Hall denizens estimate to be about 15 pounds. Add tanking poll numbers, grief over his list of top-performing schools and $1-million-an-inch snowstorms, and what New York has is a very cranky mayor. Yesterday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg publicly demonstrated what some of his aides say has been days of edginess and sniping emanating from the center desk of the bullpen in City Hall. (New York Times)

The retiring chairman of the Campaign Finance Board took a parting shot at Mayor Bloomberg yesterday, urging the billionaire not to use his wealth to such great advantage when he runs for reelection. "I think it would be a good idea," the Rev. Joseph O'Hare told reporters after his 224th and final board session since its creation in 1988. "But on the other hand, I understand his reasons if he did not." (Daily News)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller is hosting a reception for Gerry Adams, the leader of political wing of the Irish Republican Army, The New York Sun has learned. Mr. Adams was barred from the Oval Office at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, but he is listed as the guest of honor on invitations to the City Council’s “Irish Heritage Celebration” next Thursday. (New York Sun)

3/6
Election Day was a little more than a week ago, but there's no winner yet in a special City Council race in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Wednesday, the race between Rosemarie O'Keefe and Vincent Gentile entered phase two: the paper ballot count. It's a tedious process in which lawyers for each candidate and commissioners from the Board of Elections sit at a crowded table reviewing nearly 600 paper ballots. (NY1)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that his administration would most likely grant a permit to the organizers of last month's antiwar protest who have asked to march through the streets in another demonstration planned for this month. Yesterday, Bloomberg appeared to be reversing the position he took last month, when the city refused to grant a permit to the protest organizers to march past the United Nations, citing security risks. (New York Times)

3/5
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has no backup plan for raising $1 billion if Albany does not impose a commuter tax, a top administration official said yesterday. "At this moment, I think we're in the mode of not taking 'no' for an answer," Mark Page, the city's budget director told a City Council hearing. (New York Post)

City Comptroller William Thompson said yesterday that Mayor Michael Bloomberg should scale back his commuter tax proposal because Albany will probably not approve his plan to tax commuters at the same rate as city residents. Thompson made this assessment as City Council began hearings on the mayor's preliminary budget plan and heard little that was encouraging. (New York Times)

A NY1/Newsday poll finds many New Yorkers dissatisfied with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Forty-three percent of city dwellers surveyed said they disapproved of the job the mayor is doing -- 2 percentage points more than in the opinion poll by Quinnipiac University released last week. Just 39 percent of those polled from Feb. 27 to March 2 indicated that they approve of the job the mayor is doing, while 18 percent were undecided. (Newsday)

Deputy Mayor Marc V. Shaw last week became City Hall's highest paid official when Mayor Michael Bloomberg increased his salary by 16 percent. The mayor says Shaw is "worth every penny of it." (New York Times)

3/4
The Bloomberg administration yesterday sided with the Democrat-led state Assembly in support of a bill that would give women easier access to the "morning after" emergency contraception pill. (NY Post)

3/3
The ghost of Uncle Junior Soprano seemed to haunt Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday at a St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens that welcomes gays and lesbians. (NY Times) (Daily News)

3/2
The battle over the official papers of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has ended quietly more than a year after he left office. A City Council panel finally reached agreement last week with Mayor Bloomberg's administration on a bill to tighten city control of mayoral and other official records. At the insistence of Bloomberg, the bill doesn't require Giuliani to immediately return the more than 2,000 boxes of his mayoral records that were transferred to a private Queens warehouse just days before he left office on Dec. 31, 2001. (Daily News)

Recession-rattled city leaders are grappling with a grim fact of civic life: When your predecessors borrow billions, you must either defuse the debt bomb or watch it explode. That's the prospect facing Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council as fiscal experts warn the city against allowing long-term debt to reach crippling proportions in the next few years. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg refused yesterday to explain in any detail his decision to grant a top aide a 16 percent raise at a time when the city is mired in a fiscal crisis and labor unions are being warned to not even ask for salary increases. On Bloomberg's order, Deputy Mayor Marc V. Shaw recently received a raise that makes his salary $194,999 a year, up from the $168,700 earned by the city's other deputy mayors. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

3/1
The city's municipal labor unions warned yesterday that Mayor Michael Bloomberg was heading for a collision with them if he continued to insist that they agree to $600 million in concessions as a condition for holding wage talks. (NY Times)

The Bloomberg administration's financing plan for redeveloping the far West Side of Manhattan is every bit as ambitious as the network of parks, subways, cultural buildings, commercial towers, housing and stadiums it plans to build there. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg made it the law yesterday - behave at Little League and other youth sports events, or you can be permanently banned. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg says he wants to run again in 2005. But if that doesn't work out, the billionaire's already got a backup plan: setting up a foundation to give away his money. (Daily News)

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor, said he wants people to view him as something other than rich. (NY Times) (NY Post)

Click here to see The Record for February