GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record: May 2002

5/31
Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that current School Chancellor Harold Levy will remain at his post until the end of the year. Bloomberg revealed that Levy had said in January that he had no intention of remaining as School Chancellor for the long term. The Board of Education approved the decision yesterday, voting unanimously at the mayor's request to extend Levy's contract to December 31. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday)

Candidate for State Assembly Jeff Gottlieb announced he would not challenge Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn for her Flushing seat. He had hired a political consultant and said he had nearly $60,000 in the bank, but he said he will spend more time with his family and in his other pursuits - president of the Queens Historical Society and aide to Councilman David Weprin. (Daily News)

5/30
Five months after businessman Michael Bloomberg became mayor, the city Conflicts of Interest Board has yet to publicly suggest a sweeping course of conduct regarding his extensive network of private interests. Nor has the board revealed how it may be privately advising Bloomberg on specific potential conflicts. (Newsday)

Arguing that a homeless haven outside a Fifth Avenue church had become a nightly nuisance, City Hall asked the United States Court of Appeals in Manhattan yesterday to lift a ban on using the police force to roust the homeless from the site. The church, the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, allows some 20 to 30 homeless people to spend the night on its steps and perimeter property adjacent to city sidewalks. (New York Times)

Former City Councilman Noach Dear plans to run for the newly created state Senate seat that includes nearly half of his old Council district. (Daily News)

5/29
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he will announce his own plan this week for how the New York City School System should be run. Silver also said that Schools Chancellor Harold Levy deserves to keep his job for at least another year. Silver's plan would let the mayor appoint the chancellor and eight of 13 members on a revamped Board of Education. The board's role would be reduced to overseeing budgets, capital projects and educational policy. Those powers go beyond the purely advisory function the mayor wants. Silver also would phase out community school boards within the next year. (Daily News)

Responding to a report in Newsday yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would be willing to consider Gerald M. Levin, former chief executive of AOL Time Warner, as a candidate for New York City schools chancellor. Meanwhile, the fate of the current chancellor, Harold Levy, remains unclear. His contract, which expires June 30, will be automatically extended unless the board votes on it by June 1. The board has scheduled a meeting for tomorrow. Some officials say the board could allow the automatic extension and let Levy oversee summer school and the opening of school in the fall, then buy out the remainder of his contract. (New York Times)

Republican Party delegates at their state convention voted unanimously yesterday to designate John J. Faso as the party's candidate for state comptroller and Dora Irizarry, the first Hispanic woman to be nominated for statewide office, as attorney general. Each was the only candidate nominated. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Democrat, was a Republican partisan Tuesday at the party's state convention, praising Governor George Pataki, slamming Democratic gubernatorial contender Andrew Cuomo and hailing President Bush as "a great Republican leader." (Newsday)

The Republican Party has failed to give its endorsement to GOP Assemblyman Robert Straniere of Staten Island, who is seeking reelection. Straniere, who will probably face two opponents in the Republican primary, unsuccessfully challenged the party's choice for Staten Island borough president, James Molinaro, last year. Some speculate the party's snub is probably the result of what some party officials saw as Straniere's disloyalty to the GOP. (Daily News)

5/28
As the two-day Republican state convention was opening Tuesday, a statewide poll reported Gov. George Pataki maintaining a 2-1 lead over either of his potential Democratic challengers. The poll, from Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion, had Pataki leading former federal Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, 61 percent to 30 percent, and topping state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, 60 percent to 30 percent, among registered voters. That is statistically unchanged from an April poll from Marist. The 350 GOP convention delegates were to nominate former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso for state comptroller and a former state judge, Dora Irizarry, for state attorney general. The delegates will nominate Pataki and Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue on Wednesday for new terms. (Newsday)

With local and national Republicans making inroads in the Latino community, the Queens Democratic machine is backing a record five Latino candidates, including, for the first time, a Hispanic woman endorsed for a judgeship, Democratic officials said. (Newsday)

5/27
Mayor Bloomberg is closer than ever to making a deal to reform governance of the city's troubled school system. But there is a stumbling block: Sheldon Silver. A profile of the Assembly Speaker. (Daily News)

5/26
Profile of Dora Irizarry, ex-judge of Puerto Rican descent, who is running as a Republican against Eliot Spitzer for state attorney general. (Albany Times Union)

5/25
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the New York Stock Exchange would not dare leave New York City. "In this day and age, if they were ever thinking of moving away, 9/11 must have ended that. Nobody's going to desert New York City at this point in time," Bloomberg declared¡The mayor's remarks came a day after it was reported that his deputy, Dan Doctoroff, had met with exchange officials on May 16 to deliver the bad news that they'd have to ante up $900 million for a new trading complex because the city and state couldn't afford the mega-subsidies being offered last year. Exchange officials weren't talking, but reports said exchange president Richard Grasso wasn't willing to go beyond $600 million. (New York Post)

5/24
The party delegates at the New York State Decmocratic Convention threw their unanimous support behind Carl McCall after his main rival, Andrew M. Cuomo, stunned many of his supporters by pulling out of the convention. Cuomo tried to divert attention from Mr. McCall's moment in the spotlight yesterday by announcing his first television ads, which will begin appearing upstate this week. The advertisements assail Gov. George E. Pataki's handling of the upstate economy and urge the state to hire some upstate companies to handle the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. (New York Times) (New York Post)

Yesterday Alan Hevesi came within five percentage points of winning the designation of the Democratic Party as candidate for State Comptroller. His strong showing was evidence, his supporters said, of a persuasive record of public service and the breadth of his political network. His opponent, Bill Mulrow, started from scratch and won not only the vote, with 52.5 percent, but also the endorsement of 40 of the 62 county leaders, as well as several labor unions, including the powerful hospital workers' union, S.E.I.U./1199. (New York Times)

The commissioners of the New York City Police and Fire Departments said yesterday that for the first time they would exchange liaison officers and carry out specialized training together. The moves, they said, are intended to improve communications between the two agencies, but may also ease the tensions that have long divided some of their members. The effort by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Nicholas Scoppetta, the fire commissioner, was prompted in part by miscues after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, officials said. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is expected to announce the new arrangement next week. (New York Times)

5/23
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has chosen his predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, to lead efforts to attract the 2004 Republican national convention to New York City. The post will let Giuliani act as a booster for the city and position himself for a possible future role in national Republican politics. But Bloomberg is not ignoring the Democrats. Jonathan Tisch, the Loews Hotel chairman and party fund-raiser, and Bob Rubin, Bill Clinton's treasury secretary, are co-chairing City Hall's efforts to win the Democratic convention. Bloomberg is making a major effort to win either or both conventions, arguing it would boost the city's economy and morale after September 11. (New York Observer)

5/22
Leaders of the State Legislature yesterday tried to assign blame for why Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the legislature have so far failed to reach an agreement to transfer control of city schools to the mayor. Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, blamed Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Silver, in turn, blamed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. City hall, meanwhile, said it still hoped an arrangement could be reached. Points of contention include how much power would remain with an expanded Board of Education, the role of community school boards and school funding. (New York Times) (Daily News)

The City Council yesterday met in Samuel F. Dupont elementary school in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn to show its concern about school budget cuts. The school has a leaky roof and flooded basement, but repairs have been delayed because of the city budget problems. (Daily News)

The Board of Education has only 11 days before it must tell Schools Chancellor Harold Levy whether it will renew his contract, which expires June 30. But Levy's fate still appears undecided. Board President Ninfa Segarra said last week that the board would probably extend Levy's contract to June 2003 -- unless the mayor objects. The mayor, though, remains publicly noncommittal. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that the Rent Guidelines Board's plan to raise rents by 2 percent and 4 percent is "somewhat reasonable," but promised to stay out of the deliberation process. The board will take a final vote on the plan on June 27. (Daily News)

5/21
Mayor Bloomberg and the state's top Democrat clashed yesterday over a move by Senate Republicans to give Bloomberg the prize he wants most - control of the city's schools. As the mayor and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to concede their positions, city teachers union President Randi Weingarten declared that negotiations between the two camps had "blown up." State Senate Republican leader Joe Bruno fired the first shot yesterday by announcing legislation that would give Bloomberg power to appoint a schools chancellor, weaken the Board of Education and eliminate the city's community school boards. As the bill stands no chance of passage in the Democratic Assembly, some lawmakers saw it as an attempt to pressure Silver to bend. Board of Ed observers saw it as a sign the negotiations had dissolved into a partisan shoving match. (Daily News)

The rising influence and abundance of small political parties in New York is disrupting the election campaigns of Gov. George E. Pataki and his two Democratic rivals. The minor parties are moving to enhance their power and assure their very existence by playing a highly visible role in the governor's race. What it could lead to, Democratic and Republican officials say, is a November election with well-known and well-financed candidates for governor on as many as four ballot lines, splintering the vote in ways that could greatly complicate the electoral calculations of Mr. Pataki and his Democratic opponents, H. Carl McCall and Andrew M. Cuomo. (New York Times)

A court-appointed referee on Monday submitted a congressional redistricting plan for the state that would increase minority voting strength in at least two New York City areas. Referee Kenneth Bialkin was appointed by a state judge to redraw New York's congressional districts after the 2000 census showed that the state must lose two of its 31 congressional seats. Bialkin's proposal unites the Queens communities of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona and links them to a Hispanic area in the Bronx. This creates a new District 7 with a population that is 47.3 percent Hispanic, 17 percent Asian and 12.3 percent black. State Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn, who will approve or reject Bialkin's plan, has scheduled a hearing on the proposal for 11 a.m. Friday. Cahn appointed Bialkin after several petitioners asked the court to order a fair redistricting plan because state legislative leaders failed to do so. (Associated Press)

The Queens Democratic organization backed longtime party insider Barry Grodenchik for the newly created Flushing Assembly district, which is likely to be Queens' tightest race, one that already has drawn former Council candidate Ethel Chen and businessman Jimmy Meng. (Daily News)

5/20
City officials yesterday sought to quell concerns that the Big Apple's water is not adequately protected - in the wake of claims by a Bronx assemblyman that the system is vulnerable to terrorists. "New Yorkers should be assured that the city has been working with federal and local security experts prior to 9/11, and will continue to review the water supply infrastructure," said Charles Sturcken, chief of staff of the Department of Environmental Protection. Jeff Klein, chairman of the Assembly's Oversight Analysis and Investigation Committee, hours earlier had released a report alleging that city officials were not following security recommendations. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to spend $13 million to create one telephone number, 311, for accessing city services is likely to be put on hold, to save money. (New York Post)

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani defended the Bush administration in the recent crisis that erupted over intelligence before the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings. "I think that from everything that I've seen, nothing so far suggests to me that the federal government - whether we're talking about the Clinton administration or the Bush administration - would have had the kind of information that would have suggested that kind of attack," Giuliani told The Associated Press after addressing the graduating class of Georgetown University's Law Center yesterday. (Newsday)

H. Carl McCall trounced Andrew Cuomo in balloting for the Working Families Party nomination. Mr. McCall and Mr. Cuomo will compete in the Democratic primary in September, but today's result means that both men will be on the November ballot, because Mr. Cuomo is the only serious contender for the Liberal Party nomination, which will be formally decided on June 1. (New York Times)

5/19
With the battle over running the schools nearing the end game, Mayor Bloomberg is on the brink of the greatest triumph of his young administration - or the worst defeat.Will he be the reformist mayor who managed to seize control of city schools from the bloated Board of Education, a goal vainly pursued by every mayor since Ed Koch? Or will he be the billionaire businessman who could not close a deal with the entrenched political forces in Albany, most notably Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan)? "This is his Alamo," said Baruch College political science Prof. Doug Muzzio. (Daily News)

While cautiousness is a wise posture for any front-runner, Pataki's recalcitrance to commit any offense reflects something about this year's governor's race that his campaign would prefer not be discussed: that George Pataki's re-election, though quite likely, is not at all guaranteedÁThreats lurk in demographics. The population of rural upstate areas, once the source of Republicans' most reliable support, has dwindled. Since Pataki deposed Mario Cuomo in 1994, New York has grown more liberal: Enrolled Democrats now outnumber Republicans 5-3. Since 1998, Democrats have won control of the attorney general's office, both U.S. Senate seats and the county executive offices in Nassau and Westchester, two of the state's three most populous suburbs. (Newsday)

This year, despite 18 state Assembly races, seven state Senate contests and a hot gubernatorial contest, tomorrow's annual meeting of the Queens Democratic organization is drawing a big yawn. One reason is that almost all the legislative races have incumbents with good relationships with county boss Thomas Manton, and few doubt who the designees will be. At the top, insiders say, the borough party is likely to back state Controller Carl McCall for governor, businessman Dennis Mehiel for lieutenant governor and former city Controller Alan Hevesi for state controller. (Daily News)

5/18
For several months now, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been trying to wrest control of the New York City school system, first by seeking to abolish the Board of Education, then, when that failed, by demanding that he be able to appoint a majority of its members. In recent weeks, reports from Albany suggest that he was within firm reach of that goal. But now he is holding out for something more. He wants to be able not just to hire and fire the head of the system - the chancellor - but also its middle management, the 32 community school superintendents. What Mr. Bloomberg has come to recognize is that without control over the 32 superintendents, his ability to run the schools is limited. (New York Times)

5/17
The State Assembly and Senate approved a $89.6 billion budget yesterday, 46 days after the April 1 deadline. The adopted budget will provide $1 billion in aid to the city, including $400 million going to city schools. The budget does not give the mayor control of the schools, an issue which will be dealt with in a separate bill. Governor Pataki and Senate Republicans said that the budget, which increases spending by six percent from the previous year, will stimulate the economy and thus prevent the state from having to cut back on services or raise taxes next year. Budget watchdogs and some lawmakers criticized the budget, saying that it depletes the state's savings and relies too heavily on one-time revenues that will be unavailable after this year. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says he'll return to public office someday, and he expects to stay with girlfriend Judith Nathan forever. "If you are asking me to guess about my future, just looking at my past -- I'll be back in public office at some point," Giuliani told TV Guide for its issue on newsstands Monday. He'll be eligible to run for mayor again in 2005, but he played down speculation that he'd run for vice president in 2004 if Dick Cheney were to step down. (Newsday)

5/16
Departing from the welfare policies of his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that his administration planned to provide extensive job training, child care and other programs to help welfare recipients find and hold jobs. (New York Times)

The new $89.6 billion state budget contains almost $1 billion in aid for New York City, giving Mayor Bloomberg nearly everything he wanted to help close the massive city budget gap, officials said last night. (New York Post)

The state budget has been hammered out in secret meetings between legislative leaders and the governor over the last two weeks. The talks have not included rank-and-file legislators, who a day before voting began, still had not seen the details on paper or the actual budget bills. (New York Times)

The latest version of the proposed state budget for next year does not give Mayor Michael Bloomberg control of the schools, but the mayor said he remained optimistic that a deal on school governance would be worked out soon. (Daily News)

The new state budget will allow public employees, including teachers, who are at least 55 years old with 25 years of experience to retire without a reduction to their pensions. The plan could worsen the cityªs teacher shortage. (New York Post)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller has urged Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restore proposed cuts in funding for programs that fight infant mortality. (Daily News)

Bronx cultural officials said yesterday that, although they know some budget cuts are necessary, the mayorªs proposed budget would severely affect their institutions and do the city more harm than good. (Daily News)

5/15

Efforts to give Mayor Michael Bloomberg control of the city's public schools, appeared to have stalled, and negotiations have turned a bit rancorous. Sources said the mayor and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose consent is essential to any agreement, have clashed over how much power the Board of Education would retain and funding for the schools. Silver is reportedly also angry that Bloomberg has not yet reach an agreement on a new contract with the cityªs teachers. (New York Times) (Daily News)

Governor George Pataki has urged Manhattan Judge Doral L. Irizarry of Court of Claims to join the Republican ticket and challenge Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in the November election. The judge did not return phone calls asking her to comment. (New York Times)

Staten Island State Senator John Marchi will face a Democratic challenger in his reelection bid for the first time since 1980. Marchi, a Republican first elected in 1956, has been endorsed by the Democrats since 1980. But this year Democratic county executive board has decided to back the candidacy of Vietnam veterans activist Mike Cocozza. (Daily News)

5/14
Sharply reduced hours, slashed free learning programs and a half-million fewer new books.That's the impact of Mayor Bloomberg's proposed 15 percent budget cut for the city's 213 libraries, according to library officials, who will testify today at the City Council's Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations. (Daily News)

Yet another alarm was sounded yesterday over Mayor Bloomberg's proposed budget cuts.This time, the dire warnings came from nonprofit economic development agencies in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx that say they are losing virtually all their city funding. City Councilman Lewis Fidler said the three economic development corporations will lose a total of $1.5 million in city funds. The agencies help local businesses with technical assistance, funding advice and other support programs designed to help them get started and thrive. (Daily News)

The Police Department will shrink to its smallest size in nearly a decade by December if Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has to put his contingency budget plan in place, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday.The department, which recently hit a peak strength of 40,710 officers, is scheduled to shrink through attrition to 39,110 officers under the mayor's current budget plan. But Mr. Kelly told a City Council hearing yesterday that the force could shrink to 35,825 by December if the city puts its contingency budget plan into effect. That would be the smallest the department has been since July 1993, he said. (New York Times)

Five Brooklyn judges who were accused of ignoring a court rule meant to curb patronage and nepotism have been let off with a private warning by the state Judicial Conduct CommissionÁ The panel decided not to punish them for past infractions - punishment that could have led to public censure or even removal from the bench. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg has gotten a $1 million foundation grant to cover the cost of convening a congressional session in New York to commemorate Sept. 11, Rep. Charles Rangel said yesterday. The Annenberg Foundation is willing to fund the session, which is scheduled for Sept. 6, said Rangel. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg launched a new Web site yesterday offering one-stop shopping for seniors to check if they are eligible for as many as 11 cash-saving programs. The QuickCheck system, asks seniors 28 confidential questions and then determines whether they qualify for food stamps, tax breaks, prescription medicine savings and other programs. (New York Post)

Several City Council members are complaining privately that Council Speaker Gifford Miller designated a staff member as liaison to the Jewish community but didn't do the same for other communities. (Newsday)

New bond-underwriting teams, picked jointly by aides and staffers to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., were announced yesterday in what is perennially a lucrative contract for major firms on Wall Street. Merrill Lynch, which has a 20 percent stake in the mayor's private company, Bloomberg LP, will become one of four firms with the coveted senior manager's role on bonds issued by the Municipal Water Finance Authority and the Transitional Finance Authority. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has adopted a ritual at recent non-political events put together by City Hall: Almost every chance he gets, he gushes about Gov. George Pataki. Yesterday, in the Bronx to explain a program for the elderly, Bloomberg praised Pataki for "an awful lot of programs over the last eight years that really have helped seniors." And last week, at a City Hall event attended by Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela to launch the Tribeca Film Festival, Bloomberg raved that reviving Lower Manhattan has been "an awful lot easier because of everything that George Pataki has done for New York City." The remarks fit neatly into Bloomberg's ripening relationship with the Republican Party. Thursday, he'll host the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual New York City fund-raiser at his Upper East Side townhouse. (Newsday)

5/13
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg does not expect to reach a contract agreement with the teachers' union until he wins control of the city's school system and the state passes its budget, (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg conceded yesterday that some of the city comptroller's dire predictions for next year's ballooning budget gap are about right, including at least a $200 million drop in tax revenue. Last week, Comptroller William Thompson warned that this year's budget hole could balloon by an additional $1.7 billion next year, with municipal spending spiraling upward. (New York Post)

Citing the lessons of Sept. 11, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York City told 3,500 graduates at Syracuse University today that their most important task in life would be to face their fears. "That's what courage is about - it's about managing your fears," said Mr. Giuliani, who was cheered wildly before he delivered the commencement address to a crowd of 15,000 at the university's Carrier Dome. "You're going to have to do it all your life," he said. "I have to do it. You have to do it. If you want to succeed, if you want to be happy, if you want to lead, you have to manage your fears." (New York Times)

5/12
Since taking office in January, members of the City Council members have introduced more than a dozen bills that bump up against free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. Some measures are resubmissions, like the two bills that would limit newspaper vending machines from sidewalks. But other measures, advocates say, signal another attack on residents' and businesses' rights of expression. One bill, supported by 13 lawmakers, would make it mandatory that the American flag be flown at the front of every parade. Other bills would make it illegal to put stickers on pay phones and other structures, limit the size of "For Sale" or "For Rent" signs to six square feet, and bar supermarkets from distributing circulars in plastic bags. (New York Times)

Governor George E. Pataki told supporters today in the gritty river town of Peekskill where he began his political career that the state needed his leadership for the next four years to navigate treacherous economic times."These are uncertain times, but we will meet these uncertain times in no uncertain terms," the governor said as he formally announced his campaign for the third term that, eight years ago, he promised he would never seek. (New York Times)

Sure, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has abandoned Rudolph Giuliani's battles with city teachers, canceled Giuliani's plans for the Tweed Courthouse, and dispersed the decency commission. But Bloomberg has taken a distinctly different approach when he faces questions about public matters more deeply personal to Giuliani. Whenever the former mayor might be vulnerable to embarrassment, it seems, Bloomberg aggressively defends him.Take, for example, Bloomberg's response to reports last week that city detectives guard Giuliani, his girlfriend, his estranged wife, his two children and his mother, at a cost of about $1 million annually. The mayor, who prescribes budget cuts to fill a projected $5-billion city budget deficit, dismissed any suggestion that Giuliani - who reportedly earns $100,000 per speech and is shopping for $5-million apartments - should share the cost of protecting his extended family. (Newsday)

Bloomberg and his City Hall aides deny any Machiavellian method was at work in recent instances where his appointees expressed a more biting public stance on issues than did the mayor himself. In contrast to predecessor Rudolph Giuliani's famous passion for control, the new mayor and his associates say repeatedly that he simply regards the best way to govern as setting a tone and letting the professionals use their judgment. (Newsday)

5/11
The city's employment commissioner told City Council yesterday that her department would take over a federal work force program from the city's welfare agency, underscoring a shift from the Giuliani administration's workfare policy. The commissioner, Betty B. Wu, also told the joint session of the Finance and General Welfare Committees that the city was well on its way toward spending, on job training and placement services, millions of dollars that it had been warned it was in danger of losing. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg broke his silence about the ongoing negotiations over a new teachers contract yesterday - telling the teachers union it shouldn't get a say in how instructors spend their day. Bloomberg opened up about labor talks as City Hall and the United Federation of Teachers tussle over a contract provision that calls for teachers to work an extra 20 minutes a day in exchange for an additional 6 percent raiseÁ The UFT wants to split the extra time in half - 10 minutes for tutoring kids and 10 minutes for "professional development," such as learning a new curriculum. (New York Post)

5/10
New York City's budget shortfall could top $6 billion, which would make it more than a billion dollars worse than Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg projected, according to a report issued yesterday by Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. (New York Times) (Newsday) (New York Post)

The Police Department and municipal agencies overseeing housing, homelessness, foster care, welfare and hospitals will coordinate efforts to try to combat domestic violence in two of the city's poorest neighborhoods, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday. The Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence will launch a pilot program next month in two police precincts with very high numbers of domestic violence incidents, the Soundview section of the Bronx and Flatbush in Brooklyn. (Newsday) (New York Post)

Bronx Republican chieftain Sen. Guy Velella turned himself in to Manhattan prosecutors yesterday on charges of conspiracy and bribe receiving, capping a three-year influence-peddling investigation. Velella, 57, state senator for The Bronx and Westchester, and his son, who are longtime Bronx law partners, were in court with three cohorts - alleged to be a "bagman," a crooked consultant, and a greedy construction-firm owner. All pleaded not guilty to the long-anticipated charges, which carry a maximum of 15 years. (New York Post)

5/9
Over 450 Democratic leaders from New York City to rural areas are supporting Carl McCall's candidacy, while Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to crack 100. (New York Times)

City Hall bloomed with budget protests yesterday, including a brief but noisy sit-in by a dozen activists outside Mayor Bloomberg's bullpen. Earlier, several thousand senior citizens gathered on the sidewalk on the Broadway side of the park to protest proposed cuts that would eliminate seven senior citizen centers and do away with weekend meals for seniors. (Daily News)

Bronx state Sen. Guy Velella is scheduled to turn himself in to Manhattan authorities today on influence-peddling charges, a source familiar with the case said yesterday. Velella, the Bronx County Republican chairman, had been indicted for bribery last month, three sources said last week. (New York)

5/8
At a time when almost all city agencies are seeing their budgets cut, the Human Rights Commission has escaped unscathed. In a strong sign of support for an agency virtually shut down in the Giuliani era, Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to be following through on his pledge to "fight bigotry in any form, wherever it may happen" by defending the beleaguered commission. (The Village Voice)

Brooklyn's five major cultural institutions joined forces yesterday to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget cuts. Under the mayor's budget, institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the New York Aquarium would see their operating budgets slashed by as much as 20 percent. (Daily News)

More than 50 activists spoke out at a City Council hearing in Astoria yesterday to plead against city budget cuts that would affect Queens cultural and social programs. (The Daily News)

A City Council hearing on a resolution addressing the police torture of Abner Louima served as a reminder that the new council includes members with sharply divergent views and interests. Much of the most evident discord has centered on Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron, a black radical, who has become something of a lightning rod for controversy. Complicating the mix are a number of different and shifting alliances within the council. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has created a kind of ³salon° at his East Side townhouse. The cityªs elected officials, commissioners, cultural leaders and others who can help New York covet invitations to dine at the Bloomberg mansion and in the words of Karen Brooks Hopkins, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, "talk about ideas and share ideas with people who care about the city." (New York Times)

5/7
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday defended the Police Department's decision to provide security details for former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, his family, his estranged wife and his companion. A senior police official said the arrangements included as many as two dozen detectives, and put the annual cost at well over $1 million. (New York Times)

Yesterday was the first time that state lawmakers had publicly presented any plan for Congressional districts, and they did so under the threat that as the deadline for candidates to file petitions swiftly approaches, the courts would draft one for them. However, the two plans offered to the special master, Frederick B. Lacey, a former federal judge in New Jersey, were more partisan wish lists than what is likely to be the eventual compromise.The Senate Republicans proposed doing away with two Democratic incumbents, lumping Eliot L. Engel and Jerrold Nadler, both from New York City, into a single district, and doing the same to Michael R. McNulty and Maurice D. Hinchey in the capital region.Assembly Democrats offered a plan that would knock out two Republican seats, pitting Amo Houghton and Jack Quinn against each other in the Southern Tier and Sue W. Kelly and Benjamin Gilman against each other in the Hudson Valley. Mr. Gilman, who has served in Congress since 1972, is considered a likely target, in part because he is a Republican in a fairly liberal district, and in part because he is 79. The State Assembly and Senate are expected, however, to work out a deal that will put one Democrat and one Republican out of a job. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg took aim at landlords and trial lawyers yesterday with a new push to curb the city's million-dollar payouts in sidewalk slip-and-fall cases. "All too often, people file . . . claims for the same reason they buy lottery tickets," the clearly agitated mayor said. Faced with a massive budget gap, Bloomberg tomorrow will ask the City Council to pass a law making landlords, and not the city, legally responsible for sidewalk mishaps in front of their buildings. The law, which could save the city an estimated $40 million annually, would exempt one-, two- and three-family buildings. Under the current law, building owners have to maintain sidewalks, but the city is legally liable for accidents. (New York Post)

The mayor said slip-and-fall cases and other tort claims against the city have ballooned to $557 million a year - more than twice as much as a decade ago. (Daily News)

Domestic workers who testified at a City Council hearing to support legislation that they hope would result in better working conditions in their industry.

The bill being considered by the City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor would require employment agencies that place domestic workers to provide a written code of conduct to employers and to give employees a written statement of job conditions describing the terms of the job. (Newsday)

5/6
Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that "nobody is above the law," and the police commissioner pledged a thorough inquiry into whether police officers tried to stymie the investigation of a fellow officer, Joseph Gray, who killed several members of a Brooklyn family while driving drunk. (New York Times)

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum conceded recently that her office, once a font of near-daily news releases under her predecessor, Mark Green, has gotten off to a slow start - and she blamed Green for many of her woes. "I was left with a mess," Gotbaum said, referring to a budget shortfall she inherited, in part because Green handed out last-minute pay raises to many staffers before he left office in January. "I don't want to blame Mark entirely for it," added Gotbaum, who as public advocate is technically the second-highest elected official in the city. "But there was very little money in the budget. ... And we have gotten off to a slow start." (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg stepped lively in the Cuban Day parade yesterday as thousands of revelers cheered his support of democracy for the Communist island nation. "Cuba may be independent but it is not free," Hizzoner said. "We can pray that someday soon in the future, Cuban people can determine their own destiny." The mayor was flanked by Gov. Pataki and a host of honorees celebrating the 16th annual "La Gran Parada Cubana," which featured 21 floats and scores of marchers. (New York Post)

5/5
Of all the relationships that Bloomberg has tried to forge in his new life as mayor, few are as conflicted as the one he shares with the press. He is, after all, a media magnate who built one of the largest fortunes in the world atop the principle that information and its dissemination should never be hindered. But as a candidate and as mayor, Bloomberg has increasingly gone out of his way to jab at the reporters who trail him around the city, a gaggle whose motives - and intelligence - he often has seemed to question. (Daily News)

5/4
A new broadcast tower - perhaps with a restaurant and an observation deck - is an unlikely prospect for Governors Island, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday. Television executives have circulated an architectural firm's proposal to build a $200 million broadcast tower, modeled on the Space Needle in Seattle, to replace the antenna that used to sit atop the World Trade Center. But, Bloomberg said, "you have problems with airplanes; you're on routes into La Guardia and Kennnedy; there's an issue if you're going to have schools right at the base of it: radiation." (New York Times)

5/3
Mayor Bloomberg and Sheldon Silver, the Democratic Assembly speaker, tried during a long lunch to get closer to a deal that will give the mayor control of the school system. But no agreement had been reached last night, and people involved in the negotiations said much remained to be determined - in particular, whether Mr. Bloomberg would rescind $358 million in proposed cuts to the school system. Mr. Silver has repeatedly said that any agreement handing the mayor control of the schools must include a guarantee that the city will not cut school spending this year. (New York Times)

With just four months under his belt as a councilman, Charles Barron already has fulfilled expectations that he would be the City Council's most combative member. Barron, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn's East New York/Brownsville district, is a former Black Panther and community activist who said when he took office in January, "I'm ready to kick some butt." Already on the outs with Mayor Bloomberg after a major clash last month, Barron got into a skirmish with the chancellor of the City University of New York this week. (Daily News)

Tenants reacted with anger yesterday after Mayor Bloomberg refused to delay a crucial vote set for next week on rent hikes. At stake are increases for 1 million rent-stabilized apartments throughout the city. City Councilwoman Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said it "would be outrageous" for Bloomberg to let the Rent Guidelines Board vote now because it recently lost a member who represented tenants. (Daily News)

5/2
Governor George Pataki reached a tentative agreement with legislative leaders tonight on a state budget that would add about $515 million to state aid for schools and restore cuts the governor had proposed to college scholarships. But the agreement did not settle the question of how to give Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg control over the New York City schools. Those decisions will be left to further negotiations between the mayor and the Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, who has opposed giving the mayor absolute power, lawmakers said. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg appointed a panel of 19 lawyers yesterday to help choose judges. Zachary Carter, former U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, will head the panel, and former state Judge Robert Keating will serve as vice chairman. (Daily News)

The city's Rent Guidelines Board is poised to take a vote on increases Tuesday even though one of its nine seats remains empty. The spot - reserved for a tenant representative - has sat empty for the past four weeks while board members have heard hours of testimony and detailed reports on the city's 1 million rent-stabilized apartments. Tenant advocates, who are pushing the board to consider rent rollbacks or a rent freeze, are worried the board's deliberations will be weighted in favor of landlords if the seat isn't filled soon. (Daily News)

5/1
State Senator Guy Velella said yesterday that he is innocent of bribery. It was reported yesterday that Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office is expected to charge the Bronx Republican leader, his father and others in connection with a bribery scheme in which Velella used his political clout to have millions of dollars in state contracts awarded to a Bronx bridge-painting firm. Velella said he has not been informed of any indictment by the district attorney.

Also expected to be named in the indictment are Velella's 88-year-old father, Vincent, a member of the city Board of Elections; Manhattan and Bronx parking lot and garage chain owner Manny Gonzalez; Hector Del Toro, a former official with the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal and nephew of the late East Harlem Assemblyman Angelo Del Toro, and officials of the bridge painting firm, Keystone Construction. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will today name most members of a 19-person Mayor»s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. Unlike Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Bloomberg has said he will appoint and reappoint only judges approved both by the committee and the city bar association. This was the method former Mayor Ed Koch used to make judicial appointments and was designed to remove such appointments from politics. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that, if he gained control of the city school system, he would raise test scores in three years. To accomplish this, the mayor said he would pay teachers more and improve their working conditions and change rigid work rules. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday signed into law a bill that will add transgender people as a protected group under the city's human-rights law. (New York Post)

Hundreds of immigrants gathered in City Hall Park and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget cuts for public hospitals and adult English literacy programs. The protesters also called for the passage of a City Council bill that would require the city to translate forms and documents into 22 languages ‡ not just Spanish and English. (Daily News)

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