GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002:The Record

The Record: March 2004

3/31/04


The city is seeking new bids from companies to provide it with some $200 million worth of phone services annually, including the 911 emergency phone line. Verizon now provides most of the service. The request for bids was put out before Fridays temporary shutdown of the 911 line in much of the city. The failure apparently resulted from human error by a Verizon employee. (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York Times)

Starting tomorrow, the city will resume recycling glass and restore weekly pickups of recyclable material, including paper, plastic, metal and glass. The program had been cut back in July 2002 because of budget considerations. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein yesterday revealed some of the finances of his Leadership Academy, a non-profit that he founded to train principals. Eight top staff members make an average of $164,000 a year, with chief Robert Knowling getting $250,000 annually - the same salary as the chancellor. (Daily News)

The New York City Leadership Academy, a privately financed training program for principals, will offer signing bonuses and moving expenses in an effort to recruit 40 experienced principals from other districts, its leader said yesterday. (New York Times)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein yesterday appointed Stephen J. Morello, a former press secretary to Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, as director of communications for the Department of Education. (New York Times)

City schools need "at least" $5 billion more in funding to provide students with an adequate education, according to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. (Daily News)

City Council members are proposing legislation aimed at keeping violent video games away from children. (Daily News)

A bill proposed by City Councilmember Michael McMahon would make it illegal to sell, lease, rent or operate a motorized scooter anywhere within New York City. The scooters are already illegal on public streets and sidewalks but can be used on private property. The Bloomberg administration opposes the ban. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Charles De Rienzo, the head of the Port Authority Police Department, has been named deputy commissioner for administration of the New York Police Department. (New York Post)

3/30/04


Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller are a collision course after the speaker released his budget proposal for next fiscal year yesterday. While the mayor is projecting modest revenue gains and property tax rebates for homeowners, Miller envisions a $319 million surplus that would allow for reduction of parking ticket fines, for tax cuts and the reopening of firehouses. (NY Times)

Many educators and elected are officials are complaining that the recommendations by the State Commission on School Reform left more questions than answers. (NY Times)

City officials are already spending the additional $2.5 billion to $5.6 billion in funding proposed by the Commission on School Reform, with ideas ranging from expanding universal pre-kindergarten to offering merit increases to teachers. (NY Times)

Even though the Mayor's plan for a West Side stadium for the Jets is facing heated opposition, Mayor Bloomberg is already talking about going to bat for new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees. (Daily News)

The city is expected to approve the first taxi fare hike in eight years today. The new rates would likely go into effect in May. The initial cost of a trip would jump 50 cents to $2.50 with each additional one-fifth of a mile going up a dime to 40 cents. (NY Post)

Responding to a plea from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association to reopen the six firehouses that were shut down last year, the fire commissioner said "there are no plans to reopen those engine companies." (Daily News)

3/29/04


The City Council plans to propose a budget for next year with about $350 million more in spending than is in the mayor's budget plan. Council officials say the plan includes money to reduce class sizes in the lower grades, to provide tax relief for small businesses and restore cuts to senior centers, libraries, college scholarships and summer youth jobs. (New York Times)

By proposing to spend money to reduce class size in kindergarten through third grade and to increase teacher training, the City Council is telling the mayor that his controversial new promotion policy is not the best to solve the problem of failing students. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post)

One-third of the 51 members of the City Council have not gotten a single bill passed in more than two years, a Post survey has found. Council members have introduced 818 bills and passed 134 laws - a 13 percent success rate - including street-name changes, since January 2002. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that Knicks-Cablevision boss James Dolan, who has not taken a public position on the mayor's plan to build a football stadium for the Jets on Manhattan's west side, has been calling him to try to block the deal. (Newsday)

3/28/04


As City Council speaker, Gifford Miller has a visible pulpit and a built-in constituency of 50 other legislators. But a disparate group of relatively inexperienced council members with wildly divergent agendas have hampered Miller's ability to burnish his image as a powerful speaker who keeps his members in line and the Bloomberg administration on its toes, according to former council staff members, lobbyists and others who work regularly with the Council. (NY Times)

Not since the early 1980s has a mayor of New York set foot in Hamilton Beach, a tiny waterfront neighborhood in Queens sandwiched between Kennedy Airport and the Rockaways. But there was Mayor Bloomberg on Thursday night, fielding questions from 60 people at Reilly's Yacht Club about everything from storm drains that flood to the need for a new local school. (Daily News)

The state's top Democrat is blasting Mayor Bloomberg for not putting the squeeze on Gov. Pataki to get school funding. Sheldon Silver said Bloomberg is too busy "being a good Republican." (Daily News)

3/27/04


Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have each carved out a piece of Manhattan on which to fasten their economic development visions, with one another's blessing. Bloomberg has laid claim to the development of the far West Side. Pataki wants credit for the rebirth of Lower Manhattan. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg scorched City Council Speaker Gifford Miller yesterday for pushing to reopen six closed fire companies, characterizing the effort as a political ploy. (Daily News) (NY Post)

Traffic? What traffic? Residents? What residents? Mayor Bloomberg mocked West Siders' complaints that a new Jets stadium would clog their streets and destroy their neighborhood, sparking outrage among community groups and local politicians. (Daily News)

The city's new proposal for building pay toilets and bus shelters requires the winner to set aside 20 percent of the lucrative ad space for the city and its "marketing partners" - like Snapple - for free, documents show. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg shrugged off a deadlock vote by the teachers union on contract negotiations yesterday, saying the city's always ready to talk. The United Federation of Teachers voted Wednesday to declare an impasse in negotiating a contract to replace the one that expired in May 2003, opening the door to state mediation. (Daily News)

3/26/04


Council Speaker Gifford Miller took a swipe at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday on a particularly touchy issue - the closing of six fire engine companies - all but inviting a confrontation between the two political rivals when the Council unveils its budget plans next week. (New York Times)

The Bloomberg administration will start the bidding today on a $1 billion contract to outfit city streets with 20 self-cleaning pay toilets - not to mention new bus stop shelters and newsstands, officials said yesterday. The request for proposals is a major leg up for a long-clogged plan to bring pay toilets to New York, while flushing out city coffers with $400 million in revenue over the 20 years of the contract. (New York Daily News)

Attorney Catherine Torres, the City Council's highest-ranking Latino, unexpectedly resigned from her post as deputy chief of staff for Gifford Miller Thursday, according to City Hall sources. (Newsday)

3/25/04


The City Council's Finance Committee agreed yesterday to delay for two years the collection of a $44 million property tax surcharge on absentee landlords, in return for the Bloomberg administration's agreement to restore millions of dollars in proposed budget cuts to city services and college programs. (NY Times) (Daily News)

The mayor's ambitious plan for skyscrapers in Downtown Brooklyn ran into an unexpected obstacle yesterday - the slave trade. A handful of residents are claiming their homes - now in the shadow of the wrecking ball - were stops on the famous Underground Railroad, a fabled route used by escaped slaves heading north to freedom in the 1800s. (New York Post)

A move to support the Pledge of Allegiance in the City Council sparked fireworks after Pledge advocate Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) interrupted the proceedings to recite it. (Daily News) (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg, a meat-and-potatoes man, might think he's doing the public a favor by suggesting that restaurant menus include caloric and nutritional breakdowns. (NY Post)

A Queens lawmaker aired some dirty laundry in the City Council yesterday, grossing out colleagues with a bill to ban the sale of used underwear. (Daily News)

3/24/04


The city will launch a sweeping health policy to address preventable disease and death. (New York Times) (Newsday) (Daily News)

The Administration for Childrens Services may have to spend $9.7 million to pay for lead abatement at day care centers, foster homes and other facilities to comply with the new city lead law. (Newsday)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's Leadership Academy, which Klein set up to train principals, has been awarded a $1.2 million Department of Education contract to train parents and parent coordinators. "This is an abuse of public trust and an abuse of power, since Klein is both the head of the DOE and the chair of the Leadership Academy," said Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will allow the assistant commissioner for the citys youth department, Mario Bruno, to run for a State Assembly seat while overseeing major after-school contracts. Bruno has close ties to Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro and is the Conservative Partys candidate to run against veteran Republican Assemblymember Robert Straniere. (Newsday)

Former Mayor Rudolph Giulianis cousin Catherine Giuliani, a former vice president at the city's Economic Development Corporation who now works as a lobbyist, has contributed $1,000 to City Comptroller Bill Thompson. Thompson is considering a run for mayor next year. (New York Post)

3/23/04


Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it is still too early to tell whether acting Deputy Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will get to chop the word "acting" off her title. But in little more than a week on the job, the Brooklyn-born educator has demonstrated a local base of support and a solid reputation. (Daily News)

A battle is shaping up that will affect the future existence of the Emergency Assistance Unit for the homeless and the manner in which New York deals with its homeless population. City officials are frank about their desire to shut down the unit for good. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will more than double the spending on third-graders this summer to help them pass high-stakes exams. The move, part of the new policy aimed at ending "social promotion," also means less will be spent on upper-grade students. (New York Post)

Top education officials seemed caught off guard yesterday by Mayor Bloomberg's pledge of $41 million to help third-graders avoid being held back amid the elimination of social promotion. (Daily News)

Assemblyman Roger Green yesterday was sentenced to three years of probation for submitting false expense vouchers in 2001 and 2002 after accepting dozens of free rides from the city to Albany from a Florida-based prison company that was seeking state contracts. (New York Post)

3/22/04


City Hall reporter Stephanie Gaskell conducted an e-mail interview with Mayor Bloomberg about the impact of his anti-smoking law. Here are excerpts (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said $41 million will be spent on "immediate, focused, personal attention" for third-graders in danger of being held back. And the decision to have a child repeat third grade will not be based on a single test, he noted. (New York Daily News)

3/21/04


Days after pushing through his controversial plan to hold back failing third-graders, Mayor Bloomberg said he's hoping to impose similar tough standards on every grade. (Daily News)

Former Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam - who was ousted two weeks ago in an ethics scandal for helping her husband get hired by the Department of Education - said the city could become a model for the nation in showing how a stricter promotional policy helps raise the performance of struggling students. (New Post)

3/20/04


A year after Mayor Bloomberg stubbed out smoking in all restaurants, nightclubs and bars, officials are calling the ban a success. Health Department officials said yesterday that 97 percent of restaurant, bars and clubs have "substantially" complied with the ban by booting smokers, posting "No Smoking" signs and ditching ashtrays. (Daily News)

As many as 6,000 poor kids could be squeezed out of a summer jobs program this year because officials are upping the cost of the program by adding classes. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared a partial victory Friday while discussing the controversial enactment of his third-grade promotion policy. (Newsday)

3/19/04


Snapple won an exclusive deal to sell beverages in New York City schools and on city property through "a corrupt process," the city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., said yesterday. He said he would go to court, if necessary, to challenge the contract. (New York Times (New York Post) (Newsday)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday sent a letter to legislative leaders in Albany urging them to pass legislation that would strengthen New York State's law against illegal gun sales. Bloomberg is seeking to close a loophole in state laws that keep some sellers of illegal guns from receiving felony convictions. Specifically, he wants to see the state lower the threshold number of guns required for felony convictions and permit prosecutors to aggregate the number of illegal guns sold in multiple transactions in a one-year period. (New York Times)

Two Brooklyn lawmakers who were shocked at the number of missing and tattered American flags in city schools launched a campaign yesterday to bring the Stars and Stripes back to class. City Councilman Simcha Felder and Assemblyman William Colton, both Democrats, started the project by buying 50 flags for Public School 121 in Bensonhurst. (New York Daily News)

Two Brooklyn lawmakers who were shocked at the number of missing and tattered American flags in city schools launched a campaign yesterday to bring the Stars and Stripes back to class. City Councilman Simcha Felder and Assemblyman William Colton, both Democrats, started the project by buying 50 flags for Public School 121 in Bensonhurst. (New York Daily News)

With the train bombings in Madrid fresh in their minds, City Council members grilled city transportation officials yesterday over why they have not put nearly $600 million in federal anti-terror funds to use. Metropolitan Transportation Authority bosses appeared at a City Council budget hearing yesterday, but offered little information about what the agency plans to do with $591 million it received from the feds last summer. (New York Daily News)

It was shamrocks and stogies for some guests at a St. Patrick's Day gala who illegally fired up their cigars during the black-tie event at a Midtown hotel. That took McChutzpah since butt-buster Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki, who signed the state's anti-smoking law, both were seated on the dais at the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick's dinner at the Sheraton New York Wednesday night. (New York Post)

3/18/04


Mayor Bloomberg's preliminary budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 includes $733 million in revenue that may never come in, according to a report released yesterday. The state Financial Control Board's staff report on the city's budget shows the city's financial outlook is improving but "some substantial risks and uncertainties" still exist. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg is asking New Yorkers to pause for a moment of silence today at 7:39 a.m., one week after the deadly railroad bombings in Madrid. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg had only tough love yesterday for failing 8-year-olds held back under his new education plan. "Yes, they may cry a little bit. But children in the third grade cry a lot, and it's part of the growing-up process," Bloomberg said in a radio interview. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg refused yesterday to intervene in a dispute between his caterer and her employees, who say their paychecks are routinely withheld for months. (NY Post)

3/17/2004


Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday defiantly defended his policy to hold back third graders who do badly on a standardized test  and his firing of education panel members who opposed the policy. (Daily News) (New York Times)

The mayor's tactics in his successful effort to win approval of his school promotion policy attracted much criticism and some praise yesterday. (New York Times)

The day after an educational advisory panel approved a controversial proposal to hold back third graders, opponents attacked the legality of the vote, while educators tried to figure out how they would meet the new requirements. (Newsday)

An interview with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein on the new school promotion policy. (New York Post)

City Council members charged yesterday that the mayor wants complete control of a $2 billion school construction fund. (Daily News)

The Bloomberg administration yesterday announced a crackdown on toy guns. (New York Post) (Daily News)

3/16/2004


The Panel for Education Policy approved the plan to hold back third graders who score poorly on standardized tests but only after three members of the panel were fired and replaced. (NY Times) (Newsday) (New York Post) (Daily News)

Facing almost certain defeat in his effort to end almost automatic promotion for third graders, Mayor Michael Bloomberg fired two of his hand-picked appointees to an educational advisory board to ensure that a new policy preventing the promotion of failing third graders passed. (NY Times)

In staging a last-minute coup of the Panel for Educational Policy, Mayor Bloomberg has upped the stakes in his gamble to be judged on one issue: improving education. (Daily News)

Mayor Will March in St. Patrick's Day Parade Despite Gay Ban (Daily News)

Former Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder is considering running against Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. (Daily News)

3/15/2004


A high-ranking Department of Education official said yesterday that it was "very unlikely" that Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein would endorse a proposed compromise to delay for at least a year Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tough new promotion requirements for third graders. (NY Times)

Mayor Bloomberg said he's confident he won't flunk today's test of his controversial plan to end third-grade social promotion - even amid intense last-minute lobbying for votes. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg said the city's subway system was safe from terror yesterday even as Sen. Chuck Schumer called the Madrid train bombings a security wakeup call. (Daily News)

The city needs more building inspectors and stiffer penalties to combat a dangerous jump in the number of buildings being subdivided into illegal apartments, a Queens Councilmember David Weprin. (Daily News)

The mayor said he expects Wednesday's St. Patrick's Day Parade celebrations on Fifth Ave. to be trouble free in a week when all the city is "a little bit Irish." (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg will stand by Department of Correction Commissioner Martin Horn and not march alongside correction officers at Wednesday's St. Patrick's Day Parade. (NY Post)

Insisting he "could care less about being the mayor," City Councilman Tony Avella unofficially threw his hat into the ring yesterday to run for the job in 2005. The Queens Democrat, standing in front of the boarded-up Engine Co. 212 firehouse in Brooklyn's Williamsburg, announced the launch of an exploratory committee to challenge Mayor Bloomberg. (NY Post)

3/14/2004


Facing a critical vote tomorrow night on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to impose tough new promotion requirements for New York City's third graders, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein made an impassioned defense of the policy yesterday but declined to say whether he expected it to be approved by the Panel for Educational Policy. (NY Times) (Daily News)

The mayor's Panel for Educational Policy - long dismissed as a rubber stamp for City Hall - is deeply divided over the policy, which members are to vote on tomorrow. (Daily News)

3/13/2004


After a week of embarrassing setbacks involving the Education Department, New York City officials were struggling yesterday to avoid the rejection of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to impose tough new promotion requirements for third graders.The matter is to be voted on Monday night by the Panel for Education Policy, the successor to the Board of Education. Bloomberg appoints eight of the panel's 13 members, and until now it has been viewed mostly as a rubber stamp for his policies. (NY Times) (NY Post)

The head of the City Council's Education Committee said yesterday she will urge her colleagues to vote down Chancellor Joel Klein's $13.1 billion plan to build and repair schools. The ambitious plan, which would build or lease 90 new school buildings by 2012, contains few details about where new schools will be located and no details on how $2 billion in "school improvement" cash will be spent, said Councilmember Eva Moskowitz. In addition, the plan doesn't detail specific repairs slated for the final three years of the five-year plan, she said. (Daily News)

In the end, the scandal that unfolded this week at the Department of Education illuminated very little about how 1.1 million children are being educated in the public schools. But the incident gave vast insight into the management style of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Unlike his immediate predecessor, who personally oversaw every aspect of policymaking and personnel appointments in government, Mayor Bloomberg has openly delegated the key tasks of agencies to their commissioners. Whenever he hires a commissioner, Mr. Bloomberg says to them: "It's your agency. Don't screw it up." Some of them have the motto hanging on their office walls. (NY Times) (NY Post)

3/12/2004


Visiting Park West High School in Manhattan yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg snapped at an aide when she tried to rush him through the school's tight security. "You're not going to stop the security," barked Bloomberg, anger flashing across his face. (New York Daily News)

The number of contracts awarded without competitive bids by the Department of Education has increased dramatically since Mayor Bloomberg took over city schools, records from the city controller's office show. (New York Daily News)

The Health Department's "smoking police" raided The St. Regis hotel last week after reports that cigars were smoked during a Wall Street bash attended by Mayor Bloomberg, The Post has learned. (New York Post)

3/11/2004


The city Department of Education's top lawyer resigned yesterday, becoming the second casualty in a widening scandal over the hiring of a deputy chancellor's husband without the proper conflict-of-interest clearance. The lawyer, Chad Vignola, announced he was stepping down last night, a day after Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein staunchly defended him. The deputy chancellor, Diana Lam, was forced to resign on Monday night. (NY Times)

Diana Lam, the ousted deputy chancellor of the New York City public schools, said in an interview yesterday that she believed it was largely politics, not a lapse in ethics, behind her abrupt dismissal on Monday. (NY Times)

No one can accuse City Council members of wielding a big budget ax - at least not for themselves. The 51-member body unanimously voted yesterday to give itself a new $45.8-million operating budget - a reduction of $7,165 from its budget a year ago. (Daily News)

Brooklyn's Fulton Street commercial strip is on its way to being named Harriet Tubman Avenue, in honor of the famed abolitionist, City Council officials said yesterday. (NY Post) (Daily News)

A gay and lesbian group has rejected a $50,000 grant from Mayor Bloomberg's office after becoming caught in the middle of a rivalry between the mayor and the City Council. (Daily News)

City Council members introduced legislation yesterday to would require the Education Department to give each city high schooler a voter registration form upon graduation. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg finally met with Veronica Atkins, the widow of the late diet guru Robert Atkins. (Daily News)

3/10/2004


Cash-strapped district attorneys from Manhattan and Staten Island said yesterday they are making more plea-bargain deals with criminals as a way to save money.    In Manhattan, which processed roughly 110,000 misdemeanor cases last year, only about 300 went to trial, according to the Manhattan district attorney, Robert Morgenthau. Of the 10,000 felony cases in Manhattan, about 1,000 defendants faced a jury.    The Staten Island district attorney, Daniel Donovan, could not provide statistics, but he said his assistant district attorneys are so backlogged they have taken to offering plea deals to keep the system from overloading.    In a rare public appearance together, the district attorneys, along with their counterparts from Queens and the Bronx, told a City Council panel that limited resources have forced them to pick and choose which cases to aggressively pursue. (New York Sun)

The city's 311 hotline is expected to handle more than 10 million calls and begin taking complaints over the Internet in the next year, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. (Daily News)

Former President Bill Clinton is not running for mayor of New York because one Clinton in office is plenty - and private life's "a hoot," he said yesterday. (NY Post)

3/9/2004


Deputy Schools Chancellor Diana Lam was forced to resign yesterday in the wake of charges that she improperly tried to get a job in the schools for her husband and then lied to cover it up. (New York Times) (Daily News)

Despite the conflict-of-interest scandal that led to the resignation of top school appointee Diana Lam, City Hall insiders agree that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bond with Chancellor Joel Klein remains strong. Still, Klein's choice Lam to decide curriculum under the mayor-controlled system became a mounting embarrassment for both men. (Newsday)

The city Board of Elections is going to test electronic voting for the first time in next year's mayoral race, leading to concern about possible foul-ups in the city's most important election. John Ravitz, the board's executive director, told a City Council budget hearing that he will introduce the machines in a couple of boroughs first to iron out potential problems. Staten Island is the likeliest test area. (New York Post)

The New York City Board of Elections surprised City Council members yesterday with a request for almost $20 million it says it needs to cope with federal voting changes. (New York Times)

3/8/2004


Mayor Michael Bloomberg kept his distance from New Paltz Mayor Jason West at an inclusive St. Patricks Day parade in Queens yesterday. West called upon Bloomberg to state his position on gay marriage, but at the parade, Bloomberg did little to clarify his stand, saying that the gay-friendly parade was "a chance to say that we want civil rights for everybody." And, he said, if state law was changed to allow gay marriage, the city would enforce that law. (
Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a radio address yesterday that his property tax rebate plan was better than the tax rebate proposal offered by City Council Speaker Gifford Miller. (Daily News)

3/7/2004


Mayor Bloomberg Saturday seemed to back away from an earlier statement on gay marriage. Two day after reportedly saying at a gay media dinner that he thought same-sex weddings should be allowed, the mayor told reporters at a Queens St. Patricks Day parade, "I don't know that I said that." (Daily News) (Newsday)

The emergence of gay marriage as a major issue has led many New York officials to try to hide from the topic or straddle it, doing all they can to be noncommittal without angering the left or the right. Among these officials are Mayor Bloomberg and State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is slated to meet with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein Monday to discuss Deputy Schools Chancellor Diana Lam. Lam, the number two person in the Department of Education, is under attack for allegedly working to get her husband jobs in the education department and then trying to hide the paper trail. (Daily News)

City Councilmembers David Yassky and Eric Gioia have signed on to a lawsuit against ExxonMobil to try to force the oil company to clear up an oil slick off Greenpoint dating from the 1940s and 1950s. (New York Post)

3/6/2004


Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has previously refused to disclose his personal views on gay and lesbian marriage, told 80 journalists at a lesbian and gay fund-raising dinner in Manhattan Thursday night that he favored changing state law to legalize same-sex unions, several people who were there said. (New York Times) (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg came out of the closet on gay marriage and then, to the dismay of gay activists, he jumped back in. At a benefit dinner for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists, Bloomberg said he personally believes gay marriage should be legal, according to eight other dinner guests. But less than 24 hours later, Bloomberg press secretary Ed Skyler said the mayor does not have a "clear opinion on the issue." (Daily News)

"Mayor Bloomberg switched sides on the issue of gay marriage yesterday, first endorsing it, then changing his mind and coming out in favor of civil unions. (New York Post)

The top educator in the New York City Department of Education may have violated conflict of interest laws when she tried to get her husband a job in the school system. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told City Council members Friday that Fire Department will not reopen any of the six fire companies it closed last May despite having $2 million more in its preliminary budget than it did last year. Scoppetta said the extra money will go to updating the city's fire code, hiring operators for the new computer-based building inspection program and paying for a fire company to protect Governors Island. (New York Times)

3/5/2004


The city turned away three dozen gay couples seeking to marry, the day after the state attorney general said that gay marriage was illegal under New York law. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday appointed Joseph F. Bruno, a state judge and former fire commissioner, to head the city's Office of Emergency Management, a small agency whose significance has grown since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He also named Shaun Donovan, a former top federal housing official, to head the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. (New York Times)

To hear Mark Page tell it, New York City's budget glass is most definitely half empty. Yes, the city closed yawning deficits once predicted for this year and next, but numerous trap doors remain. Yes, tax revenues are up, but they will never keep pace with the rising costs of Medicaid, debt service, and pensions and health benefits for city workers, many a result of expensive projects and labor contracts from long ago. (New York Times)

A simple ceremony to name a new commissioner yesterday ended up being an unnerving seminar by Mayor Bloomberg on how the city is "unprotected" against disasters. An aide later said the mayor was not talking about terrorism, but rather snowstorms, floods and other "more mundane contingencies." (New York Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg won a key legal victory yesterday in an ongoing battle with Gov. Pataki to save the city $500 million annually for the next five years. A ruling from the state Appellate Division paves the way for the state to take over $2.5 billion in city debt from the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, a deal hammered out with the state Legislature over Pataki's veto last year. (New York Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg agreed yesterday with exasperated high-school teachers who want to end social promotion and defended his strict new policy of holding back low-performing third-graders. (NY Post)

Mark Green, New York City's former public advocate and failed candidate for mayor in 2001, said yesterday he would not seek the Democratic nomination for mayor again in 2005. (New York Post)

The lagging pace of construction on the two Staten Island Ferry terminals has created unsafe conditions for commuters, City Council members said Thursday. (Newsday)

A vow by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reshape the city emergency management office prompted warnings Thursday from some professionals that his plans could mar agency coordination in big emergencies. (Newsday)

3/4/2004


Weekly recycling will return as of April 1. And for the first time in nearly two years, glass also will have to be recycled, along with paper, plastic and metal.(Daily News)

City Council members questioned Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein yesterday on his new plan to hold back third graders who fail citywide tests, criticizing elements of the plan as well as the Department of Education's efforts to publicize it.(NY Times)

City budget documents show that $106 million in federal transportation funds has been available for buses since at least February 2002 but remains mostly unspent. As of January, an additional $50 million in federal and state money was available.(NY Times)

Lights, camera, action! Mayor Bloomberg made his acting debut yesterday appearing as himself in an episode of "Law & Order."(Daily News) (Daily News)

3/3/2004


The Police Department is planning a $20 million computer center that will help police use information from police reports, 911 calls and other sources to spot crime trends. (Daily News)

The city's top lawyer corporation counsel Michael Cardozo -- once approved a study that upheld the right of gays to marry in New York. Cardozo was president of the New York City Bar Association in 1997 when it issued a report calling marriage a fundamental right that should be available to all couples, regardless of sex. As legal adviser to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, Cardozo has said the city clerk should issue marriage licenses only to heterosexual couples. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will appear playing himself in an upcoming episode of the television program "Law and Order." The scene, showing the mayor at a news conference, will be filmed at City Hall today. (Daily News)

3/2/2004


New York is headed for a Massachusetts-style resolution of the gay marriage issue, with a panel of appointed judges ultimately deciding whether homosexual couples should have the right to wed in the state, legal experts said yesterday. (New York Sun)

The city needs to add more perks to retain the best teachers in its public schools, Council Member Eva Moskowitz said yesterday. ...

"I think that we need a salary structure that doesn’t eat the young," said Ms. Moskowitz, head of the City Council's Education Committee. "If you’re very talented and dedicated, $39,000 in New York City is not a lot of money to live on. And while the pension may be great, you’re not going to get that for some years."

In January, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said 40% of New York City public school teachers leave the system after three years. ...Ms. Moskowitz called for paid maternity and paternity leave for schoolteachers and for perks like parking passes. She also called for smaller class sizes and more funding for the school system. ...

Her remarks came as the Education Department and the United Federation of Teachers are negotiating new contracts. Mr. Klein has proposed an eight-page contract to replace the 200-page contract used for teachers...."Maybe we should be negotiating with Councilwoman Moskowitz," said the president of the teachers union, Randi Weingarten,in a prepared statement. (NY Sun)

New York's Democratic voters go to the polls today, with many less intent on casting a ballot for Senator John Kerry or Senator John Edwards than in lodging a first vote against President George W. Bush, political analysts, pollsters and ordinary voters said. (New York Times)

The Democrat-led Assembly approved a nearly $2 increase in the state's minimum wage yesterday - amid growing signs of support for the hike in the GOP-run Senate. (Daily News)

3/1/2004


Holding signs proclaiming, "Let my people marry" and "Don't deny love," hundreds gathered yesterday at City Hall to beseech Mayor Bloomberg to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. "It is past time that Mayor Bloomberg give the civil rights - the basic fundamental civil right of marriage - to same-sex couples," City Council Speaker Gifford Miller said to applause from a crowd of 300.  Ed Skyler, Bloomberg's press secretary, said later the mayor will not order the city clerk to give out marriage licenses to gay couples - unless the state law is changed. (Daily News)


At least 50 gay and lesbian couples plan to apply for marriage licenses at the City Clerk's office on Thursday morning even as Mayor Michael Bloomberg maintains his defiant no-nuptuals stance. (Newsday)


The cash-strapped city school system has been shelling out $33,000 a month to a Washington consulting firm to help polish Chancellor Joel Klein's public image, the Daily News has learned. (Daily News)


The Bloomberg administration, with an emphasis on technology and efficiency, is directing money into improvements at the [city's welfare offices]. The Human Resources Administration has begun training staff members to be more polite, installing new computers and electronic number boards to speed up response times, and redesigning the centers into color-coded sections - green for food stamps, blue for welfare problems, purple for quick-fix problems - to make sure clients wait in appropriate lines."We heard the people complain,'' said the welfare agency's commissioner, Verna Eggleston, "and we responded.' (New York Times)


ity Council Speaker Gifford Miller says billionaire businessman Mayor Bloomberg needs a lesson in finance. In a radio interview, Miller said Bloomberg's criticism of his plan to cut property taxes by 2% across the board shows the mayor doesn't understand how the real estate levies work. Bloomberg, who has his own plan to give owners of homes, co-ops and condos a $400 rebate, counters that Miller's scheme will benefit the rich. (Daily News)

Click here to see The Record for February 2004