GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: The Record

The Record: November 2002

11/30
Mayor Michael Bloomberg came into office preaching hard-nosed fiscal prudence. He would be a self-financed nonpolitician whose independence from special interest groups would let him apply strong medicine to the city's fiscal ills, and damn the political consequences. But now the dust has settled on Mr. Bloomberg's first austerity plan, and it looks more like a conventional politician's approach to budget cutting than that of a bottom-line businessman's. (NY Times)

The strategic timing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's crisis-time fiscal actions is coming into sharper focus -- even as their collective success has yet to be determined, budget officials and monitors say. (Newsday)

A new cigarette sales ban has gone into effect in city buildings and - believe it or not - this one wasn't at Mayor Bloomberg's behest. (NY Post)

For most of this year, Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Miller have been on opposite sides of issues, each using his authority to stymie the other. Bloomberg has vetoed Miller-backed bills on predatory lending, term limits and the use of energy-efficient products by the city - all of which the 51-member Council quickly overrode. Miller has used his legislative power to delay one of Bloomberg's pet goals: a bill that would ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other city workplaces. But on large budget issues such as taxes and service cuts, the two have come together. (Daily News)

He's worth $4.8 billion and lives in a $17 million Upper East Side mansion, but when Mayor Bloomberg went Christmas-shopping yesterday, he bought his mother a $19.99 George Foreman grill and his daughter a $9.99 cheese grater. (NY Post)

11/27

Standard & Poor's, a major credit-rating agency, yesterday downgraded the city's financial outlook to negative from stable. The change in the credit outlook could signal a possible future change in the bond rating that would make it more expensive for the city to borrow money. (New York Times) (Daily News)

Correction Department Commissioner William Fraser has resigned and could be replaced within weeks by Martin Horn, the current head of the city Probation Department. Fraser resigned because of a scandal involving the alleged use of correction officers to do personal jobs for department officials, including Fraser, and to run a political operation for Governor George Pataki. (Daily News)

As the City Council considers a number of ideas to close the budget gap, it is looking at a plan to raise the personal income-tax rate, particularly on the wealthiest New Yorkers. (New York Post)

The 107-page plan listing the latest changes in the budget show that there are hard cuts, soft cuts, shifts and postponements. (Newsday)

11/26
The City Council voted overwhelmingly yesterday to raise the city's property tax rate by 18.5 percent and to cut spending by more than $840 million after reaching an agreement with the Bloomberg administration to restore cuts to some key services. (New York Times) (Newsday) (Daily News) (New York Post)

Hours before the City Council assembled yesterday to raise property tax rates nearly 18.5 percent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg hinted anew that personal income taxes may rise next year to reduce a massive budget gap. Pushed on whether other tax hikes are coming, he said: "I think there's no question that they are ... The bottom line is we're going to have to modify the personal income tax." (Newsday)

It is not easy for the handful of Republican councilmen to infuriate both the mayor of New York City and the speaker of the City Council with one swift blow, but yesterday, they managed to do just that. Three of the four Republican council members - James S. Oddo, Dennis P. Gallagher and Andrew J. Lanza - joined three Democrats in opposing legislation that increased property taxes by 18.5 percent and cut more than $800 million from the city's budget. The other Republican, Martin J. Golden, who was elected to the State Senate this month, was not present. (New York Times)

An organization founded by homeless people announced yesterday that it was suing the New York Police Department for what it called a deliberate policy of singling out the homeless for arrest. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a nine-page lawsuit on behalf of the organization, Picture the Homeless Inc., charging that a sharp increase in the arrests of homeless people over the last month reflected selective enforcement of the law as well as a "heartless attack" on the city's homeless population. (New York Times) (Daily News)

Figures released yesterday by the City Council show revenues from the newly imposed tax are expected to generate $133 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30., much less than the $158 million projected by the Bloomberg administration when it imposed the nicotine tax in July. (New York Post)

11/25
The City Council is set to approve a whopping 18% property tax increase today - without hearing a word of testimony from the folks who are going to get stuck with the bill. The public will not be allowed to comment on the tough-times budget package during this afternoon's Finance Committee hearing. The full Council is expected to approve the measure later in the day - again without public comment. "It's not like we haven't heard from the public," said Councilman David Weprin (D-Queens) who heads the Finance Committee. "The public would rather not have a property tax increase." But some civic groups said citizens should be able to take their case straight to lawmakers. "Putting the legality aside, for something as important as the first property tax increase in more than a decade they should have found a way to give the public a chance to speak," said Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group. (Daily News)

City Council members said yesterday it's now up to Mayor Bloomberg to use his negotiating with Albany and Washington to help close the city's budget gap - because they cannot cut any more services. (New York Post)

While eight engine companies have been spared for the moment, the tentative budget agreement reached by Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council calls for millions of dollars in FDNY reductions. Sitting on the chopping block are 49 city engine companies that will be scaled back from five to four firefighters each. This doesn't sit well with the Uniform Firefighters Association, which has repeatedly pointed to an in-house FDNY report from 1987 that says a five-man team is more effective than a four-man team in stretching a hose and battling an interior fire. New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to put up 110 Livingston St. - the home of the Board of Education since 1939 - on the block this morning, administration officials said yesterday. Its sale could fetch between $20 million and $50 million for the cash-strapped city, but the windfall is not expected to come in until fiscal year 2005, which begins July 1, 2004. (New York Post)

11/24
The city's property tax rate, frozen for a decade, will rise by 18 percent on Jan. 1 under an agreement announced yesterday between the Bloomberg administration and City Council leaders. The restored service cuts include $1.5 million to libraries, $2.5 million to maintain 37 daily ambulance shifts and $885,000 to continue providing weekend take-home meals for the elderly. (NY Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (NY Post)

When the last fiscal crisis nearly crippled New York, more than 260,000 people were on the municipal payroll. The city was near bankruptcy, Albany wasn't going to be much help, and President Gerald Ford had, in so many words, told City Hall to drop dead. Layoffs were unavoidable: By 1980, the third year of Ed Koch's first term in City Hall, the head count had been chopped to 195,563 from a never-again seen high of 260,253. Two decades later, the city finds itself in a similar fix. (Daily News)

Cultural and arts organizations across the city - from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to small theaters and museums throughout the boroughs - will all feel the sting of city budget cuts. (Daily News)

11/23
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein abruptly laid off about 70 mid- and high-level employees from Department of Education headquarters yesterday, the first of 550 central administrative jobs being cut as part of a $200 million budget reduction. (NY Times) (NY Post) (Daily News)

But now, as officials spend their weekend wrangling over the details of closing a $1.1 billion gap in the current budget, Speaker Gifford Miller is striding headlong into the biggest minefield of his political career. The Council is planning to vote to raise the property tax next week by as much as 20 percent, a move that has drawn criticism from trade groups, tenants' advocates and ordinary citizens. (NY Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg often turns to his private-sector handbook when he takes on big problems in city government. He plans his moves quietly whenever possible. He tries to control the bargaining conversation with a fast opening serve, and then sits back and waits for his opponent to volley back. And Mr. Bloomberg markets his message for the moment, even if that means tweaking his original positions to conform with a new reality. (NY Times)

As the city explores sheltering the homeless on retired cruise ships, Mayor Bloomberg resurrected the much less luxurious idea of returning them to a closed city jail yesterday. After Bloomberg had homeless families placed in the Bronx House of Detention last summer, the plan was swiftly rejected by the courts as a violation of state law banning the use of barracks-style shelters for families for 45 days or more. (Daily News)

Parents, politicians and education activists gathered on the steps of City Hall Friday to describe how budget cuts imposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg are hurting children in classrooms across the city. (Newsday)

11/22
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority made official at their board meeting what many had already suspected: that subway, bus and commuter rail fares are going up, possibly as soon as April. The cost of a single ride on subway or bus will go up to either $1.75, which would still mean imposing significant reductions in service, or to $2.00, with current service remaining intact. The board said that the fare hike is necessary to close a $1.1 billion budget gap. Earlier proposals to keep the fare at its current rate were tossed out after officials determined that such a move would require large service cuts that would drastically decrease the quality of service. (New York Times) (Daily News) (NY Post) (Newsday)

The City Council is set to okay a property tax increase of 17% or 18%, according to the Daily News. It is believed to be the biggest increase in real estate taxes in city history. The real estate tax hike, as large as it is, is still less than the 25% the mayor asked for in his budget proposal last week. With an 18% increase, the average homeowner's tax bill would go up by roughly $342 a year. It would cost the average co-op owner an extra $483 a year, and the average condominium owner $788 more annually. (New York Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg's approval rating is dropping sharply, a new poll found yesterday. Twice as many voters disapprove of his job performance now as did in July. Overall, the poll found 41% of voters like the job he is doing as mayor, while 46% give him a thumbs-down. That's double the 23% of voters who rated Bloomberg negatively in July - and the first time his popularity has dipped below the halfway mark since he reached City Hall in January. The poll also showed that New Yorkers favor spending cuts over tax increases by a 2-to-1 majority. (New York Daily News) (Newsday) (NY Post)

11/21
The City Council, facing elections next year, plans to scale back the property tax rise from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed 25 percent - and pass the reduced increase as soon as possible. Although Republican Bloomberg waited until after statewide elections to propose a property tax increase, all 51 Council seats are up for grabs next November for a special two-year term, giving the incumbents little incentive to let the issue, which they collectively control, linger. (Newsday)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plans for pulling the city out of its fiscal crisis include borrowing $1.4 billion against expected payments from tobacco companies, and New York State lawmakers are considering similar moves to close the state's own vast deficití The financial plan that Mr. Bloomberg released last week called for selling bonds backed by payments from the 1998 national lawsuit settlement with the tobacco industry, $700 million in this fiscal year and another $700 million in the next. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg's plan to hike property taxes, cut city income taxes and make commuters share the pain adds up to a direct hit on the middle class, according to a study prepared by the Working Families Party for the City Council, based on numbers from the city's nonpartisan Independent Budget Office. The goal of the mayor's approach is to raise $3 billion from suburban commuters by having them pay city income taxes. But a little-noticed aspect of the plan is that two-thirds of the money - some $2 billion - would not go to the city treasury. Instead, it would effectively fund income tax cuts for New Yorkers. Those cuts would, in turn, offset the higher property taxes he wants, Bloomberg has said. But the new study concluded that's true only for high-income New Yorkers, who would see their overall tax bill shrink. Everybody else would actually pay higher taxes. (Daily News)

Firefighters, senior citizens and health-care workers took to the steps of City Hall yesterday to beg Mayor Bloomberg to spare them from budget cuts. "There has to be some kind of give and take here," said Pete Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Part of Bloomberg's plan to close the city's $1 billion deficit - and its $6.4 billion gap next year - is to close eight fire companies. Gorman said that the mayor's promise to not cut spending in the classroom should be extended to the police and fire departments. "To say that some things are sacred is fine, but if police and fire aren't sacred right now, then we're going in the wrong direction," he said. Later in the day, dozens of senior citizens gathered to ask Bloomberg not to close 30 of the city's senior centers. "The age wave has crashed with the budget storm, leaving seniors to sink or swim on their own," said Igal Jellinek of the Council of Senior Centers & Services. Health-care advocates also held a protest to try to protect child-health clinics and other programs. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg's office promised yesterday to undo budget cuts that could force layoffs of teachers at the prestigious Hunter College school for gifted students. "Teachers should never be hit," said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. Walcott insisted that City Hall will honor its promise that budget cuts will not affect classroom instruction. Bloomberg's budget would slash 10 teaching positions at the City University-run Upper East Side school by Jan. 1 and as many as many 18 next fall. Hunter faces a cut of $1.1 million - or 11.3 percent. (New York Post)

Even though honchos of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will not vote today on any of the three plans proposed by transit officials, the board is expected to approve public hearings concerning a fare increase... The board plans to weigh raising the fare to $2 as a way to avoid service cuts. The other options include raising the fare to $1.75, coupled with some service cuts, or leaving the fare at $1.50 with widespread cuts. The talk of a fare increase comes as the MTA faces a projected $663 million deficit next year. (New York Post)

Council Speaker Gifford Miller flexed some muscle yesterday by leading two overrides of Mayor Bloomberg's vetoes. One bill the council wants forces the city to buy appliances only if they have the Energy Star label. They are more expensive, but save money because they often last longer. The other would block companies deemed to be predatory lenders from doing business with the city. The mayor said current laws are more than adequate. Miller disagreed. (New York Post)

A restaurant group is trying to unite Brooklyn and Queens smoking establishments to lobby City Council members to vote against the mayor's proposal to ban smoking. The Brooklyn Queens Restaurant & Tavern Association announced the plan Wednesday in Flushing, where they hope to unite Korean and Chinese business owners to fight the billí.The association's strategy is to unite constituent bar and tavern owners in all 30 council districts in the two boroughs - which is a majority of the council's members. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan would ban smoking in all bars, restaurants and other indoor workplaces. The proposal would be one of the toughest smoking laws in the country if passed as is. "Bars without smoking is a kiss of death," said Sung Soo Kim, president of the Flushing-based Korean American Small Business Service Center. He said about 150 Korean-owned bars, social clubs and saloons - popular among Koreans throughout the city - attract mostly customers who drink and smoke. (Newsday)

Companies that want to do business with the city will have to reveal if they took part in the trans-Atlantic slave trade more than 150 years ago, under a bill introduced yesterday by two legislators. Councilmen Bill Perkins and Robert Jackson, both Manhattan Democrats, said they were spurred to action by revelations that insurance giant Aetna insured slave-holders' interests from 1441 to 1888. (New York Post)

11/20
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority could decide to boost city bus and subway fares to $2. The authority will also consider a smaller hike, or no hike at all, accompanied by service cuts. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday)

By a 4-1 vote, the City Council's Consumer Affairs Committee moved toward a ban on dialing, talking or listening to a cell phone while at the movies or the theater, except in emergencies. Violators would face a $50 fine. The measure now goes to the full council for a vote. (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post) (Newsday)

The City Council wants to save the eight firehouses the mayor is seeking to close. (Daily News)

The possible increase in the property tax will affect renters as well as New Yorkers who own their homes. If landlords are hit with the 25 percent tax increase proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, they will try to pass it along to tenants as quickly as possible. (Daily News)

The Parks Department, in an effort to trim its budget, could institute hefty increases in fees, including charges for parking, membership in recreation centers, tennis permits and admission to the Central Park zoo. (New York Post)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes to charge religious institutions and nonprofits $210 per hour for their annual fire inspections. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg¬s proposed budget cuts would reduce the budget for the Hunter College school for gifted elementary and high school students by $1.1 million through next year -- or 11.3 percent. That is more than three times the cut to the city's regular public schools run by the Department of Education and would force Hunter, which is run by City University, to lay off teachers. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg defended Department of Education staff yesterday for skipping a City Council hearing on failing schools, saying the Council asks Chancellor Joel Klein too many questions. The growing rift between the council and the department widened this week when Klein ordered two top deputies to skip a hearing Monday. (Daily News)

11/19
City Council members angrily denounced the Department of Education yesterday after school officials refused to attend a City Council Education Committee hearing during which parents complained about not being able to transfer their children out of failing schools. The committee chairwoman, Eva Moskowitz, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, said the officials had reneged on a commitment to attend the hearing. "It impedes, in a very stark way, our ability to get answers to fundamental questions," Moskowitz said. In the last few months, city and education officials have criticized Moskowitz repeatedly, saying that she has requested information the Department of Education does not have, and that she has not allowed them enough time to get it. (NY Times) (NY Post) (Daily News)

The City Council, which must approve the mayor's budget plan, is balking at the 25 percent property tax increase that Mr. Bloomberg has proposed, and many members would like to restore some of his proposed cuts. But leaders in Albany - who are needed to approve the mayor's proposal to tax commuters, along with initiatives that could save the city several hundred million dollars - say they are concerned that the city is not cutting its budget or taxing itself enough. (NY Times)

Bloomberg said unequivocally that he would like his next job to be the same one he has now. (NY Times) (NY Post) (Daily News)

The City Council is expected to approve a 15 to 20 percent hike in the property tax, sources said yesterday. The vote will come before the end of next week. Mayor Bloomberg has asked for 25 percent, a figure immediately rejected by Council Speaker Gifford Miller as too high. (NY Post) (Daily News)

State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno yesterday stood by his vow to block a plan to impose a mammoth new tax on New York City commuters, even as Mayor Bloomberg said he will still push for its adoption. (NY Post)

Whether East River bridge tolls become reality will ultimately be determined in budget negotiations between city and state officials. But some observers are marveling that the idea, which has been bandied about for decades but consistently proven a political non-starter, generated such little outcry when it was included in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget plan last week. While the plan has been applauded by public advocacy groups, editorial boards and fiscal watchdogs, both Gov. George Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have thrown cold water on the idea. (Newsday)

11/17
Something in the air seems to be changing. Once again, it's not uncommon to feel a vague sense of dread when walking down a shadowy street. Strangers look slightly menacing. The sound of footsteps provokes a sense of unease. It's not as bad as it was a decade ago, when crime was every New Yorker's waking nightmare. But New Yorkers are more fearful these days, and that is odd, given the city's dropping crime rate. (NY Times)

The percentage of people who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits is at the highest level in two decades. In New York State, 156,000 people have also used up the additional three months of temporary unemployment benefits that Congress authorized in March; that program expires at the end of December. While New York has by far the largest number of people who have run out of temporary benefits, nationally there are about 1.5 million, according to the federal Department of Labor. (NY Times)

Like other super wealthy New Yorkers, Bloomberg would gain more from his proposed income tax cut than he would lose in higher property taxes. (Daily News)

If Mayor Bloomberg's proposed 25 percent hike in property taxes goes through, he could end up forking over nearly $60,000 a year for his lavish Upper East Side mansion. (NY Post)

The financial blueprint that Mayor Bloomberg unveiled last week was City Hall's Plan A: A combination of severe service cuts and steep new taxes, with hopefully a few gifts from Albany and Washington. If Bloomberg miraculously gets everything he wants - from a 25% property-tax hike to a hefty new commuter tax to almost $1 billion in new expense cuts - then the city's $7.5 billion deficit over the next 20 months would disappear. But even the mayor, an optimist by nature, isn't counting on a miracle. So, what's Plan B? At the moment, there appears to be only one answer: massive cuts to city services. (Daily News)

11/16
Mayor Bloomberg found himself facing an irate New Jersey resident yesterday when he told radio listeners that suburban property values are dependent on the strength of New York City. (NY Post)

Concerns are mounting over the severity of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed service cuts and property-tax hikes amid regional crossfire sparked by his sweeping hard-times budget proposal. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg quietly ordered city agencies this week to slash capital budgets by 30 percent - possibly affecting everything from building new schools to bridge reconstructions. Administration officials said yesterday that no projects underway would be halted. The money typically goes to pay interest on construction bonds spread out over several years. Some future projects would, however, likely be delayed. (Daily News)

Mr. Bloomberg, who enjoyed almost no labor support when he ran for mayor, may actually find himself in a better position than his predecessors in negotiating with unions, said labor officials, budget experts, and former and current mayoral aides. (NY Times)

As Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg lobbied yesterday for his proposal to raise taxes and cut services to close this year's budget gap, City Council leaders - the ones who usually rail about what cuts must be restored - were relatively quiet, seemingly resigned to the essence of plan. (NY Times)

11/15
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's new budget plan calls for almost $1 billion in cuts to services throughout the city, a 25 percent increase in property taxes, and the extension of the city's personal income tax to those who work in the city but do not live within the city. Facing a $1.1 billion budget gap for this year and a $6.4 billion deficit for next year, the service cuts proposed include closing 32 senior centers, the elimination of 2,500 day care slots, closing eight fire companies, and reducing the overall city workforce by 8,000 employees by 2004. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg's First Quarter Budget Update and Financial Plan (PDF format) (NYC.gov)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller said that he would fight the 25 percent property tax hike proposed by the mayor, although he acknowledged that some sort of increase would likely still be necessary. (New York Post)

Finance Committee Chair David Weprin lost 10 pounds and got a haircut after the City Council passed the $42 billion budget earlier this year. But what about that projected $6.4 billion deficit the city will find it has in the next fiscal year unless a few drastic fiscal makeovers are undertaken? (New York Times)

11/14
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called yesterday for a sizable new income tax on commuters who work, but don't live, in New York City, setting the stage for almost certain conflict with some of the state officials whose approval he would need to impose it. Bloomberg wants to raise the property tax rate by as much as 25 percent. To mitigate that increase, he is proposing a cut in the city's income tax rate. But, in a major departure, Mr. Bloomberg wants to apply the tax to all workers in the city - even if they live elsewhere. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York Post)

A bitter dispute over higher wages for firefighters was resolved Wednesday with a proposed package that would give them a 10 percent retroactive increase for the two years they worked without a contract. (Newsday) (New York Times) (Daily News) (New York Post)

At least a half-dozen candidates are lining up to run for a City Council seat in Brooklyn Ż even though no election date has been set yet. The election, which is likely to be held in February, will be to fill the unexpired term of Martin J. Golden, a Republican, who was elected to the State Senate this month in a hotly contested election. (New York Times)

The City Council is considering adding etching acid to the list of graffiti tools - such as spray paint and indelible markers - that can't be sold to minors, officials said yesterday. Vandals use etching acid to scar subway windows with their tags, or graffiti names. (Daily News)

11/13
Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce plans to cut roughly $215 million in education spending when he outlines a battery of budget cuts later this week, city officials said yesterday. (New York Times)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is set to slash at least 200 administrative jobs this school year to help ease the city's budget crunch, sources said yesterday. (Daily News)

Ten senior citizen centers could be closed under budget cuts proposed by the Department of Aging. Under the plan, the department would reduce the number of meals it serves seniors and save $2 million to $4 million a year. But one high ranking city official said the mayor might not approve the plan. ˝If that is the best the Department of Aging can do, they've got a problem," one City Hall insider was quoted as saying. (New York Post)

The City Council yesterday held hearings on a bill proposed by the Bloomberg administration that would make owners of commercial properties and apartment buildings -- and not the city -- liable for accidents on sidewalks outside the buildings. The law would exempt one-, two- and three-family homes. The city also wants to change the way records of potholes and cracks are kept. Several City Council members suggested that administration really wants to reduce the number of cases against the city by making them much harder to file. (Daily News) (New York Times)

The City Council held another hearing yesterday on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed smoking ban as the bill's chances for passage before the end of the year appeared to fade. The mayor and council were reportedly unable to reach a compromise on the measure, and Councilmember Christine Quinn said she doubts the bill will pass this year. (New York Times) (Daily News)

11/12
City officials said yesterday that lawmakers would almost certainly not vote today on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking in all public spaces in New York, meaning the measure might be overshadowed by the budget issue. Bloomberg views the smoking bill as the most important piece of municipal legislation he has sought since taking office, and he had hoped to have the bill wrapped up by the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 21. But passage is now considered highly unlikely by that date, as the bill will now take a back seat to the intensifying budget negotiations taking place between the mayor's staff and the City Council. (New York Times)

The personal income tax could be the next major revenue source to draw the gaze of elected officials grappling with the city's massive budget gap, City Hall sources said yesterday. (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg has a novel new argument for why New Yorkers won't flee higher taxes - they've got no place else to go, since most states are facing similar fiscal woes. "Every municipality, every state, has got the problem," he noted recently. "I don't think people are as likely to say, 'Well, let me go elsewheres because taxes might go up here and aren't going up there.'" (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he believes that New Yorkers understand the depth of the city's budget crisis and are prepared to "take the pain and get on with it." (NY Post)

11/10
The Bloomberg administration is quietly accelerating a crackdown on New York City's night life industry, using existing city regulations to restrain clubs, bars and restaurants that flout laws, and formulating new policies for how the industry is monitored. The city is also considering changing its 76-year-old cabaret laws, which ban dancing in any place without a license. (NY Times)

The city is owed nearly $2.4 billion by deadbeat debtors, including real estate interests, slumlords, doctors, drivers, health insurers and highly profitable corporations. The amount - more than twice the city's current budget deficit - represents unpaid corporate and property taxes, parking tickets, fines against restaurants and other businesses, and penalties owed by landlords for code violations. (Daily News)

New Yorkers are going to see some sort of a property-tax increase by the end of the year - but hopefully not the whopping 25 percent the mayor is suggesting, City Council members said yesterday. (NY Post)

11/9
Now's a good time to stock up on quarters because more neighborhoods could soon get Sunday parking meters. Sources said the city Department of Transportation wants to expand the program launched earlier this year that placed 3,600 meters on the East Side and 1,000 on the West Side as a revenue-raising measure. (NY Post)

More than 300 parents, chanting and wielding signs at City Hall, urged Mayor Bloomberg to restore nurses to parochial schools. About 300 nursing slots have been left empty in the parochial schools as part of the Health Department's attempt to meet the 7.5 percent budget cut mandated for all city agencies. (NY Post)

With the city facing a fiscal crisis, Mayor Bloomberg reassured New Yorkers yesterday that New York's bid to land the 2012 Olympics wouldn't cost taxpayers a cent. Technically, the mayor's comments are somewhat misleading. The official Olympic venues will be paid for by TV rights, ticket sales and sponsorship revenues. But there are big-ticket items - non-Olympic venues essential to the city's Olympic plan - where taxpayer money would be used. Those include expanding the Javits Center, expanding the No. 7 subway line, constructing platforms to build an Olympic Stadium and developing an Olympic park along Manhattan's West Side. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg's upcoming slash-and-burn budget proposal closely resembles a worst-case contingency plan released this spring. David Weprin, chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee, said he has seen the mayor's plans, and they look "very similar to the contingency cuts,"adding that some of them are exactly the same. (Daily News)

A back-room compromise to water down Mayor Bloomberg's anti-smoking bill is dead for now. The City Council will hold a second hearing Tuesday on the tough measure, which would ban smoking in all bars, restaurants and other workplaces. There have been some discussions to allow fully enclosed smoking rooms in bars and nightclubs. But Tuesday's hearing will not consider any weakening amendments to the bill, said Councilwoman Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), head of the Council's Health Committee. (Daily News)

City Council leaders expressed tentative support yesterday for a property tax increase, but only as part of a package that would include other taxes and what they consider to be the right spending cuts. (NY Times)

11/8
The Bloomberg administration is seeking an immediate increase in the city's property tax rate § the first in a decade § as it struggles with an ever-growing budget deficit. (New York Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller said yesterday that he planned to put Betsy Gotbaum, the public advocate, back in the big chair that lords over the Council Chamber, just days after voters approved a City Charter amendment removing her from it. (New York Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

The City Council unanimously approved a union-supported bill yesterday that would raise wages for more than 50,000 workers employed by agencies that have city contracts to provide day care, home care and help for people with cerebral palsy. (New York Times) (Daily News)

11/7
Mayor Bloomberg raised the possibility of turning his smoking bill into a ballot question yesterday, offering voters a chance to stamp out smoking in city bars and restaurants themselves. Bloomberg said his first choice still would be to persuade the City Council to pass his anti-smoking bill, but he added, "If I were to fail, I guess you can consider [a ballot question]." (Daily News) (NY Post)

Just one day after elections, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has ordered district superintendents to whack their budgets by 10 percent, sources said yesterday. The edict from Klein's office comes just a week after he and Mayor Bloomberg announced they were slashing 600 jobs - or one-third of all positions - from the city's bloated school-construction departments to boost accountability and save tens of millions of dollars. Klein made clear he wants the cuts made in district offices - not in the schools. (NY Post)

As members of the U.S. Olympic Committee visited New York for the first time since they selected it to compete for the 2012 Summer Games, city officials reiterated their pledge to spend no taxpayer money on the games. "This will be a games basically done with private money," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday. "And the reason it works is that New York is such a media capital. This will be an Olympics that will generate an enormous amount of sponsorship and television revenue." (Newsday)

The 2012 Olympics would not only promote development on Manhattan's West Side but would prove to be "one of the great successes of history," Mayor Bloomberg predicted yesterday. (NY Post)

11/6
Sara M. Gonzalez last night won the three-way race to replace former City Councilman Angel Rodriguez of Brooklyn, who resigned this summer and later plead guilty to federal bribery charges. With 98 percent of districts reporting, Gonzalez led with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Edward Rodriguez with 30 percent and George Martinez with 26 percent, according to unofficial returns. (New York Times)

New York City voters yesterday approved a change in the City Charter that would alter the rules regarding succession if the mayor is unable to serve. It would require that a special election be held within 60 days. Until now, it could take as long as 15 months for such an election to be held. The measure, backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also transfers the responsibility for presiding over City Council meetings from the public advocate to the City Council speaker. Betsy Gotbaum, the public advocate, fought the proposal, seeing it as an attack on her office. (New York Times) (Newsday) (Daily News)

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum last night vowed to continue fighting the change in the City Charter approved by voters yesterday, saying it may violate the federal Voting Rights Act. (New York Post)

In the wake of Carl McCall's failed bid for governor, the Democratic Party in the city finds itself stung by election results - and split over who is to blame and who should lead it. Even before the polls closed, there was private discussion of whether U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton may begin playing a bigger role in the local organization. ( Newsday)

11/5
Mayor Bloomberg wants a few good men and women to be on the Intrepid this Sunday - and become mentors to the city's foster children. From 300 to 500 foster children will pair up with adults for a day of food, music, games, and arts and crafts. The Administration for Children's Services hopes mentors will make a long-term commitment. Bloomberg walked out of the press conference after reporters did not follow up with any questions about the program. (Daily News)

Chancellor Joel Klein is looking at having superintendents oversee all schools from kindergarten through 12th grade by merging separate community and high-school administrative offices, sources said yesterday. The city Department of Education has a total of 40 superintendents overseeing 1.1 million children. Of those, 33 are community district chiefs that run elementary and middle schools, six are high-school superintendents and another manages special-education schools for students with disabilities. The only reason the separate high-school and elementary-school divisions exist is the 1969 law that established community school districts. (NY Post)

11/3
The U.S. Olympic Committee designated New York City as America's candidate for the 2012 Summer Games. The result not only means that New York advances to a 2005 International Olympic Committee vote, in which as many as a dozen global candidates will compete for the 2012 Games, but also that several major construction projects move to the front burner. Now the Bloomberg administration, Gov. George Pataki and the city's bid committee, NYC2012, must overcome daunting political and financial obstacles not only to make good on promises to build $904 million in Olympic fields, courts and arenas but also to create an estimated $5 billion in new subways, housing and a stadium over the rail yards on the West Side of Manhattan. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post) (Newsday)

As many as 150 of the city's worst principals could get the boot this year in an unprecedented plan to fire the most lackluster leaders. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein plans to do what no chancellor has done before: sack scores of principals who don't make the grade. (Daily News)

11/2
The Bloomberg administration is trying to streamline the city's construction requirements, beginning with a study to determine whether to adopt the International Building Code, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday on his weekly radio show. The city's building code, which has not been reviewed since the early 1990's, is the largest and most complex in the country, officials said, and has increased construction costs. (NY Times)

The Yankees' fading hopes of a new stadium on Manhattan's West Side seemed to get dashed for good yesterday by Mayor Bloomberg. "I think there will not be a West Side baseball stadium," Bloomberg said flatly on his weekly radio show. "Manhattan is just unsuitable - there isn't enough land, there isn't parking, the roads are already overcrowded." (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg has 10 days to reach a deal on his new anti-smoking bill - or risk returning to square one, City Council sources said yesterday. The council scheduled another hearing Nov. 12 on the mayor's proposed legislation to ban smoking in bars and most other indoor public areas. Officials said the council is prepared to give Bloomberg "95 percent of what he wants." (NY Post)

The stirring Tribute in Light that illuminated the World Trade Center site last spring could reappear on Staten Island during the holiday season. Three City Council members from Staten Island want to bring the powerful beams of light to the Fresh Kills landfill, where debris from the terror attack was painstakingly sifted. "Someday there will be a permanent, glorious memorial on this hallowed ground," said City Council Minority Leader James Oddo (R-S.I.). "But for a short while during this most special time of the year, we should allow the light of respect, hope and perseverance to shine brightly." (Daily News)

11/1
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced yesterday that he would overhaul the byzantine system of building schools in New York City by merging the two agencies responsible for construction, cutting 600 jobs in the process. (New York Times) (NY Post) (Daily News) (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday strongly defended his refusal to compromise on his tough anti-smoking bill, saying he won't make any deal with the City Council that endangers the health of a single bar or restaurant worker. Bloomberg's hard-line stance came as a hearing on his controversial bill scheduled for today was scrapped -- signaling a continuing deadlock in negotiations over the measure after talks between Bloomberg and the council broke off on Wednesday. (New York Times) (NY Post)

10/31
The City Council and the Bloomberg administration remained at an impasse yesterday over the mayor's antismoking legislation, as Council officials hastily scheduled a second hearing on the measure for tomorrow. Speaker Gifford Miller has remained noncommittal on the smoking bill, and officials signaled that he would not support it unless the mayor backed Mr. Miller's own pet measure: a bill to guarantee certain workers a so-called living wage, which the administration has opposed. (New York Times)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday stamped out negotiations over his tough anti-smoking bill, refusing to bow to exemptions sought by the City Council. (NY Post) (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg vowed yesterday to sweep the homeless off the street, using police and outreach workers - even as he announced plans to count the city's homeless population. (Daily News)

The city's drought emergency has been lifted, thanks mostly to drenching rainfall during September and October. This means that mandatory conservation measures that we imposed in June, which included restrictions on car washing and on lawn watering, can now be relaxed," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday as he announced that the city's reservoir levels have reached near-normal levels again. Reservoirs have climbed to 68.3 percent capacity - near normal for Nov. 1. (NY Post) (Newsday) (NY Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has had a fairly consistent Albany strategy all year: do not ask for too much state money, do not whine or bully, and praise state officials, especially Gov. George Pataki, at every possible juncture in this election year. (NY Times)

But if the mayor is hoping to parlay this friendly approach into lots of money to ease the city's budget troubles after the election, he may have to think again. The state faces its own deficit. And some fiscal analysts are now questioning whether the mayor's Mr. Nice Guy approach was a good idea, or whether he should have sought more money from Albany in this election year, the traditional time to hand out goodies. (New York Times)

Olympics or no Olympics - Mayor Bloomberg still believes a new stadium on Manhattan's West Side could be built. Bloomberg, who leaves for Colorado Springs tomorrow to deliver the city's final pitch for the 2012 Summer Games, said he favors a massive expansion of the Javits Center complex. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce today the formation of a new agency to streamline the building of schools, a source said last night. The agency will combine the duties of the School Construction Authority and the Division of School Facilities, which employ more than 1,000 workers, the source said. The new agency will have up to 500 staffers, whose mission will be to build schools faster and cheaper. (Daily News)

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