The Record: October 2002

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)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council could reach a compromise that would bring passage of both a living wage bill and a tougher ban on smoking. Under the possible deal, the mayor would agree to a revised version of the living wage bill and the council would approve the ban on smoking in all bars, restaurants and private clubs. (Daily News)

City Council members are quietly floating modifications of Mayor Bloomberg's tough indoor-smoking bill in hopes of reaching a compromise. Sources said that while most council members are ready to ban smoking in bars, there is not agreement on other parts of the Bloomberg bill, which also applies to outdoor cafes. (New York Post)

City Council members said yesterday that they had negotiated a scaled-back version of a living wage bill that would require some city contractors to grant higher pay to more than 50,000 employees, including home health aides and day care workers. Council members agreed to delete provisions that required a higher wage for employees at companies that receive city subsidies to operate or renovate office buildings, including several investment banks. The council also deleted provisions setting a minimum wage for employees of business improvement districts and office buildings in which city agencies rent several floors. (New York Times)

Repeaters -- amplifiers that allow police and fire radios to penetrate thick walls and tall buildings -- could become standard equipment in high-rise buildings, under a bill being developed by two City Council members. (Daily News)

The City Council Public Safety Committee Tuesday approved legislation that will ban people convicted of assault, several misdemeanors or domestic violence from purchasing a rifle in New York City, officials said. The bill is believed to be the first in the nation to ban someone with a misdemeanor conviction from purchasing a firearm, according to City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., a cosponsor of the measure. The bill now goes to the full council. (Newsday)

The latest plan to bring public toilets to long-suffering New Yorkers met the opposition at a City Council hearing yesterday. The proposal by the Bloomberg administration would grant a franchise to a single company to design, install and maintain bus shelters, newsstands, news racks, benches and automatic public toilets. Supporters say that it would reduce clutter and coordinate the appearance of the city's streets, as well as provide a financial incentive for a private company to maintain the structures while generating revenue for the city. But opponents took on everything from what should be in the proposal to who should build the structures and how they should look. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is Americaâs richest politician, aspiring politician or public official, according to a list compiled by Forbes magazine. With an estimated worth of $4.8 billion, Bloomberg beat out two Rockefellers, including Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Rockefeller who placed second with $1.2 billion. Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano placed third on the list, with a worth of $1.1 billion. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Scrambling to cope with New York's most severe budget crisis in decades, City Hall late yesterday imposed a new hiring freeze and demanded deeper spending-cut plans from heads of its already hard-pressed municipal agencies. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget office has sent a notice to agencies demanding 2 percent spending reductions -- beyond a 7.5 percent cut already being extracted. (New York Times) (Newsday) (Daily News) (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council are nearing a compromise on the controversial "living wage" bill, which would slash costs to the financially strapped city. The original proposal sought to set a minimum $9.60-an-hour pay scale for employees of contractors doing business with the city. Bloomberg officials warned that would cost $100 million and unbalance the budget. (New York Post)

The City Council has quietly begun reviewing the Rikers Island political scandal and may take public action within months, officials said Monday. The Council inquiry follows probes by the Department of Investigation and the Bronx district attorney into allegations that correction officers were improperly sent to do personal work for bosses and help Republican campaigns. (Newsday) (Daily News)

Amid an ever-deafening drumbeat about service reductions, municipal layoffs, new tolls and higher taxes, council members have been discussing, researching, drafting, refining and soon may even be voting on dozens of measures intended to re-engineer urban life. In this there-ought-to-be-a-law school of governing, class is suddenly, intensely in session. In recent months, council members have produced a flurry of measures aimed at alleviating noise, making life easier for parents and ridding surfaces of graffiti. Some would ostensibly make the city safer. Just this week, Councilman Tony Avella of Queens introduced a bill that would require the city to place stop signs or other traffic-control signals at the end of every pedestrian overpass, while Councilmen David I. Weprin of Queens and Albert Vann of Brooklyn proposed a ban on toy guns that can be stained or colored to look real. The lawmakers cited a recent police shooting of a man in Bedford-Stuyvesant who was wielding a fake gun. (New York Times)

Hundreds of illegal pay phones have been hauled away in a citywide crackdown. In 2001, the city removed 66 pay phones for permit violations. But this year, they've carted away nearly seven times that number - a whopping 448 phones. (New York Post)

That the air has gone out of the stock market balloon is no secret... But what that means for New York, economically and fiscally, is only now becoming clear. And the picture is ugly... In April, May and June, New York State's personal income tax collections fell by 26.8 percent, compared with those from the same stretch of 2001, according to an analysis released last month by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany. Personal income taxes account for almost two-thirds of state revenues. (New York Times)

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg has launched her mission to get philanthropists and volunteers to help the city's public schools. "It's great; people have been welcoming," said Kennedy Schlossberg, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's new director of corporate and strategic partnerships. But the high-profile recruit is not starting from scratch. There is already a built-in network of donors and volunteers who contribute money and time to city students. Although it's not as extensive as Klein would like, there's plenty of star-power for Kennedy to build on. Billionaires Bill Gates and George Soros and the Carnegie Corporation recently contributed a combined $30 million to open two dozen new, smaller high schools. (New York Post)

After making doomsday threats of layoffs and ugly tax hikes, Mayor Bloomberg took his first swing of the budget ax yesterday -- letting it fall on more than 100 sanitation workers. The 103 layoffs at the closed Fresh Kills landfill -- the first real municipal downsizing in a decade -- could be a dire sign of things to come. Bloomberg suggested yesterday that further staff reductions would be virtually unavoidable. And he singled out for likely downsizing the city's Police, Fire, Education, Sanitation and Correction departments -- five critical services that together account for most of the city's payroll, he noted.(Daily News)

Michael R. Bloomberg, the candidate, was firmly opposed to raising taxes, arguing they would "destroy this city." Mr. Bloomberg, the mayor, changed his tune only slightly after he was sworn in, saying tax increases were still anathema, largely because they could never get approved in an election year. But now, the mayor has all but conceded that new taxes -- whether property, personal income or commuter -- are coming. And he has referred to other ways of raising the city's revenues, like tolls on the East River bridges and increased fines and summonses for certain violations. (New York Times)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday promoted the notion of installing a new toll-collection system that would operate without booths on local bridges, displaying an enthusiasm he generally reserves for all things technological.The idea of collecting tolls on the four city-owned East River bridges has been slowly gaining momentum as a way to help plug a $5-billion-to-$6-billion hole expected in next year's budget. Gov. George E. Pataki has said he is opposed to tolls on the bridges, but Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday that it was his job to try to convince the City Council and the State Legislature "if we wanted to do certain revenue-enhancing things." (New York Times)

Chancellor Joel Klein plans a major shakeup at the blunder-prone School Construction Authority, including slashing more than one-third of its staffers. As many as 200 employees at the SCA's Long Island City, Queens, offices could lose their jobs this fall, with 100 or so more cuts next year. (Daily News)

A day after a government commission released its first draft of a new map of City Council districts, an alternate plan favored by the Bloomberg administration surfaced. The existence of the second plan suggested that the often-competing agendas of the ethnic groups, community representatives, voting rights advocates and elected officials with something to lose or gain in redistricting would not be easily resolved. (New York Times)

The Bloomberg administration is drawing up tentative plans for layoffs in the city's workforce, an administration official said Thursday. šNo one wants to do it, but it may be necessary,Š the official said. Both city and union officials said they doubt anything concrete will be announced prior to next month's elections. Under an prior early retirement agreement, the city is prevented from laying off employees of many unions until January. (Newsday)

After months of public hearings and private wrangling, a government commission took a first stab yesterday at a new map of City Council districts, redrawn to reflect a decade of population shifts in New York City's neighborhoods, and the underlying ethnic politics. (New York Times)

Businesses that were in the World Trade Center should get more money than other businesses from a program granting relief from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, a group of officials, including City Councilmembers Alan J. Gerson and Domenic M. Recchia Jr., said yesterday. (New York Times)

The growing stir over a possible increase in bus and subway fares reached the floor of the City Council yesterday as members approved, 50-0, a resolution asking the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to document the need for any rise. (Newsday)

The Bloomberg administration is seriously considering a plan to sell or lease the city-owned East River bridges to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as part of a plan to impose tolls that would help both the city and the authority with budget problems. (New York Times)

In the aftermath of Mayor Bloomberg's crackdown on noise, the Daily News decided to find out how loud the city is with a state-of-the-art decibel meter, recording day and night in a variety of locations and circumstances. The results showed it is loud enough, depending on the sound and duration of exposure, to cause heart palpitations, headaches, loss of concentration, stomach problems, irritability, loss of sleep and temporary loss of hearing, according to doctors and officials at the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg suggested yesterday he might watch the St. Patrick's Day parade from inside a pub if organizers bar his guests from marching with him. He said he'd apply the same standard to St. Patrick's Day as he did to last week's Columbus Day march. (Daily News) (New York Post)

If the City Council passes a law banning cell phones in theaters, there'll be no one to enforce it, a top city official warned yesterday. Christopher Ward, city commissioner of environmental protection, said his agency has about 40 inspectors to enforce both noise and air pollution codes - and he's not about to send them out looking for impolite cell-phone users. (New York Post)

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein yesterday announced that he's launching a citywide campaign to gather public input on how to overhaul the school system. (Daily News) (New York Post)

Why we're headed into a fiscal crisis, how similar it is to the 1970's, and what will it mean to the average person - i.e. "The quality of municipal services is about to head south - while taxes, fees, fines, tolls, tickets and nuisance charges are expected to head north." (Daily News)

At the American College of Trial Lawyers convention at the Waldorf-Astoria yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg attacked trial lawyers for what he said was their contribution to the city's budget woes.

After praising lawyers for taking on cases in New York City pro bono after Sept. 11 last year, Mr. Bloomberg proceeded to blast them for New York's growing problem of annual tort judgments against the city, which rose to $557.3 million last year from $165.7 million in 1990.

Often, the mayor and lawyers for the city say, the plaintiffs are fully responsible for their injuries, as with the cases of people who jump in front of subway trains to attempt suicide, but survive, and later sue the city. ("Idiotic!" said Mr. Bloomberg. "Unaffordable!")

"The importance of decreasing what amounts to a half-billion dollar tort tax on New York City cannot be overstated," Mr. Bloomberg told an audience of 800 lawyers. "If, for example, we could cut that $560 million in half, we could pay the salaries of 5,000 more teachers or firefighters." (New York Times)

Two gay elected officials Friday blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to march in the St.Patrick's Day parade despite a ban on homosexual groups. In a two-page letter, City Councilwoman Christine Quinn and state Sen. Tom Duane, Manhattan Democrats, called the mayor "hypocritical" and urged him to reconsider his decision. (Newsday)

Is Fernando Ferrer running for mayor again in 2005?

"It isn't something that I am actively promoting, but people are asking me to run again ... of course I am delighted," said the former Bronx borough president, who lost a famously divisive Democratic runoff in last year's mayoral election. "There is always a chance I will do anything, but right now I am committed to what I am doing."

What Ferrer is doing these days is serving as president of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a small think tank that promotes social change using the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement as a model. The institute recently launched a nonpartisan voter registration drive... What kind of job is the current mayor doing?

"September 11th has had an impact on how public officials are treated ... they are now given wider latitude and support," Ferrer said. "To Bloomberg's credit, he has lowered the temperature from the love of debate on almost everything in this city." (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering a property tax hike between 5 percent and 25 percent to help close the city's massive budget gap. Property taxes are the only taxes the city can adjust without approval from the state. They are also the single largest source of revenue for the city, bringing in $8.6 billion last year, according to the Independent Budget Office. A hike of 5 percent would mean $430 million more for the city, and a 25 percent raise would bring $2.15 billion. A 10 percent hike -- which is though to be most likely -- would ease the budget gap by $860 million. (NY Post) (Newsday) (NY1)

Momentum is building in the City Council for a $1 billion property tax increase this year, half a dozen council members said yesterday. While it is too early to tell how big any increase would be, a growing number of lawmakers have resigned themselves to the fact that higher property taxes will be in the mix of revenue raisers in the new budget. The idea of raising property taxes isn't new. Council members privately discussed boosting them last year at a time when the mayor was publicly opposing such tax increases, according to three lawmakers. (NY Sun)

The race in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to succeed Angel Rodriguez, who pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case and resigned in August, has been notable not only for the candidates' similarity on the issues but also for the distance they have sought to place between themselves and the former councilman. The nonpartisan special election on Nov. 5 has narrowed to three candidates. One is Sara M. Gonzalez, the executive director of Hispanic Young People's Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that offers after-school and tutorial programs. Ms. Gonzalez, 53, is also the chairwoman of Community Board 7 in Sunset Park.

Another is Edward Rodriguez, 32, president of Community School Board 15 and a lawyer in the office of the state attorney general. Mr. Rodriguez, who is on leave from his state job, is not related to the former councilman. The third is George Martinez, 28, Democratic Party district leader and a political science professor who runs a citywide reading program for the Police Athletic League. Mr. Martinez also ran for the Council seat last year. Javier Nieves, an architect who was an assemblyman from Sunset Park in the early 1990's, was removed from the ballot after Ms. Gonzalez challenged his nominating petitions. (New York Times)

The city's pension bill could climb by as much as $1 billion a year, further complicating the city's budget crisis, Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned yesterday. (New York Post) (Newsday)

A City Council subcommittee rejected a proposal yesterday to build 73 units of permanent housing in East Harlem for the formerly homeless. Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the vote, saying such projects are needed if the city is to solve its homeless crisis. But Manhattan politicians said the proposed site was not suitable because the area is already saturated with shelters, institutional housing and clinics serving the homeless, mentally ill and drug addicts. (New York Times) (Daily News)

There will not be a conventional school but some form of student instruction will take place in the newly renovated Tweed Courthouse, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday. (Daily News)

The city's welfare centers are failing to provide translated notices and interpreters to food stamp applicants who speak little or no English, scores of demonstrators contended Monday. (Newsday)

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans last March to move the Department of Education to the Tweed Courthouse, he said he would put a school on the first floor "so that all of the administrators every day get reminded why they have jobs." But that plan was apparently not set in stone. This week, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will meet with Bloomberg to discuss options for the space, only one of which involves putting a traditional school there, officials said. All the proposals would bring schoolchildren into the building frequently, they said. (New York Times)

There was no Columbus Day parade where Mayor Bloomberg was yesterday, unless you count the sumptuous show of Italian food that marched across his table as he broke bread in the Bronx with "Sopranos" stars Lorraine Bracco and Dominic Chianese. (Daily News) (Newsday) (New York Times)

Most of the city's 250,000-person work force faces a likely double whammy - a tax increase that would erode take-home pay and a municipal spending squeeze that would limit pay raises. So municipal unions are beginning to make the case for different avenues to plug the city's massive deficit next year, including raising taxes on wealthy New Yorkers. (Newsday)

What is Mayor Bloomberg up to? Must every thought that crosses his mind be expressed publicly? Must every constituency a leader needs to govern effectively be offended? New York is accustomed to the outsize candor of its mayors. With a common flair for supercharged rhetoric, Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani always seemed to say exactly what they thought. Still, if you looked carefully, it seemed that a shrewd political calculation lurked behind their bursts of truth talking. Bloomberg, on the other hand, seems to say and do what he thinks is right without any regard for the political consequences. (Daily News Editorial)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday defended higher parking fines -- and a new policy of lesser breaks for violators with excuses -- as a way to unclog traffic. (Newsday)

With a "bada bing, bada boom," Mayor Bloomberg withdrew from the Columbus Day Parade yesterday - just before a federal court ruled he couldn't bring along two actors from "The Sopranos." "If my friends can't march - and people that I think have done things for this city - then I'll find some other ways to celebrate the Italian heritage that we have in the city," Bloomberg declared on his weekly WABC radio show. (NY Post) (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg went in front of the City Council yesterday to testify in support of his proposed law to ban smoking in restaurants, bars, and other indoor public spaces. Hecklers both supporting the proposal and against it lined the steps outside of City Hall and the room where testimony was given by both sides for eight hours. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

City Councilman Charles Barron will jet off to the troubled African nation of Zimbabwe tonight for a controversial factfinding trip - with just one other Council member going along. Barron (D-Brooklyn) had predicted a dozen Council members would accept President Robert Mugabe's offer of an all-expenses-paid, week-long trip to the famine-racked nation. Faced with an outcry over Mugabe's crackdown on opponents and violent seizure of white-owned farms, Councilman James Davis (D-Brooklyn) is the only other Council member who agreed to go. (Daily News)

City officials yesterday offered their most frightening warning about the city's dire finances, saying New York is facing its worst budget crisis ever - even compared with the near-bankruptcy in the 1970s. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post)

"Morning after" pills that help prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex are available at only about half of city pharmacies, according to a City Council report released yesterday. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has invited Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior on the HBO show "The Sopranos," and Lorraine Bracco, who plays Dr. Jennifer Melfi, the psychiatrist, to march in the city's annual Columbus Day Parade on Monday. But the organizers of the parade, the Columbus Citizens Foundation, are displeased about this turn of events because they think the television show is bad news for Italians. (NY Times) (Daily News) (NY Post) (Newsday)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now opposing legislation that would require companies doing business with the city to provide domestic-partnership benefits to employees. But when he was running for mayor last year, Bloomberg's campaign told Empire Pride Agenda that he would support such a move as long as it exempted religious groups. (New York Post)

Yesterday Schools Chancellor Joel Klein outlined his plans to nearly double the number of city high schools over the next few years. Klein said that he can create up to 200 new schools by not only building new locations, but dividing existing big schools into several smaller ones. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg made it clear yesterday New Yorkers could be walloped with a double whammy next year: a subway fare hike as well as higher taxes. (Daily News) (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg has agreed to let city firefighters stage a rally Friday to press for a new contract - but they won't be doing it in Times Square. stead, the United Firefighters Association will have to demonstrate for higher pay and better benefits from another location - possibly Central Park. (Daily News)

Shortly after Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in January, he pledged to make accessible thousands of pages of historically important documents that were quietly removed from City Hall by the Giuliani administration. But the Bloomberg administration has released little in response to a months-long effort by The Associated Press to gain access to portions of the Giuliani archives. (Associated Press)

Several City Council members are pushing a proposal to convert the city's 12,000 yellow cabs from gasoline vehicles to cars that use cleaner-burning alternative gas. Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) will introduce a bill this week that requires medallion owners replacing cars to do so with vehicles that are powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) or other gas-electric hybrids. (New York Post)

The cuts are coming... City agencies are mapping ways to slash services. Taxes are heading higher. New fees will surface as old one rise. Municipal unions expect to be squeezed for givebacks...After Election Day on Nov. 5...subway and bus fares...are expected to jump to $2... (Newsday)

Mayor Bloomberg might want to consider moving to Staten Island. The mayor's upscale Upper East Side neighborhood ranks among the highest in violent crimes in the city. Nearly 3,700 major felonies - which include rape, robbery and assault - took place during fiscal 2002 in the mayor's police precinct. Times Square had the highest number - 5,688. So where's the safest place to live? On the southern tip of Staten Island, according to figures published in the Mayor's Management Report. There were only 457 violent crimes in that area. Those figures do not include murders and non-negligent manslaughter, which are counted separately. (New York Post)

It's easy to underestimate Gifford Miller, the 32-year-old speaker of the New York City Council. But then, an understanding of the dynamics of power -- specifically political power -- has long been a special gift of Miller's. It's one factor in his amazingly swift rise to Council speaker, where as leader of the government's legislative branch, he is widely regarded as the second-most powerful elected official in New York, just below the mayor. The other factor has been Miller's singular talent for never appearing too hungry, too ambitious or too driven. Five years ago, as a rookie Democratic council member, he tended to be portrayed as an affable, if ineffectual, son of privilege -- basically a joke,'' in Miller's own phrase. But today, his colleagues in government are beginning to reassess practically everything about him. (New York Times Magazine)

Looking far richer but feeling a bit emptier than it has in generations, a thoroughly refreshed Gracie Mansion is beginning its third century cast in every familiar role - historical museum, ceremonial hall, civic showpiece, high-level lodging and government meeting place - but one. Home. (New York Times) (Daily News)

The Bloomberg administration blasted the Uniformed Firefighters Association yesterday for organizing a rally seeking higher pay one day before 50,000 firefighters from around the world attend a massive memorial service in New York. (Daily News)

In the war on West Nile virus, the city's health department, acting on reports from field workers and complaints from the public, tickets property owners who have been told to remove standing water and don't. (NY Post)

The city is turning a deaf ear to Mayor Bloomberg's noise crackdown amid the Big Apple's usual cacophony of blaring horns, hissing steam pipes, roaring buses, screeching trains and ear-splitting sirens. (NY Post)

The city is closing lower Broadway next week for a fake ticker-tape parade - and inviting all New Yorkers to join in - as part of an elaborate video presentation to capture the 2012 Olympics. Starting tomorrow and for two days afterward, crews will be filming mock torchbearers in landmark locations such as Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the United Nations and the New York Public Library. But the highlight comes Monday, when downtown Broadway from Beaver to Pine streets will be shut intermittently to traffic for a "spontaneous" ticker-tape parade starting at 11 a.m. (NY Post)

Bloomberg suggested on his weekly radio show yesterday that the omnipresence of Starbucks branches may lead the city to build fewer public restrooms. Discussing the difficulties of building public facilities, the mayor said, "And there is the argument there's enough Starbucks that'll let you use the bathrooms." (NY Post)

Mayor Bloomberg last night said he opposes a bill before the City Council that would force contractors who do business with the city to provide domestic-partner benefits. He told gay and lesbian New Yorkers at the Empire State Pride Agenda's annual dinner that the city was too small to force contractors to effect social change. (New York Post)

Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg announced a program to tackle the quality-of-life problem most vexing to New York City residents - barking dogs, screeching car alarms, hideous music blaring from cars and drunken bar patrons who share their feelings with everyone on a block at 3 a.m. (New York Times) (Daily News) (Newsday)

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein is planning a top-to-bottom review of the New York City school system that will map strategies for improving curriculum and instruction, community involvement in the schools and even the system's structure, people who know details of the plan say. (New York Times) (Daily News)

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller - who has coyly refused to back Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking in all city restaurants in bars - made a written pledge to support similar legislation last year. (Daily News)

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday not only defended the firing of a top housing official caught on an extended smoke break - but declared defiantly that he was the one who ordered it. (New York Post)

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he won't rule out reducing the size of the police force, noting the city's budget crisis will force every agency to do "more with less." But Bloomberg, speaking at a press conference, reiterated his commitment to maintaining New York as "the safest big city in the world." (New York Post)

While he considers a commuter tax and increases in the property and income taxes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday he is against taxes that target the rich. The billionaire mayor said that such a tax could drive people away and that there are not that many really wealthy people anyway. (New York Post)

The City Council may not approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking in all city bars and restaurants. The members' objections reportedly are not so much to the substance of the measure as to the way Bloomberg has pushed for it -- and perhaps also to his overall method of dealing with the council. (New York Times)

As he promotes his smoking ban, Mayor Bloomberg has already spent $1.1 million on ads outlining the ill effects of secondhand smoke. (Daily News)

Robert Swinton, the deputy director of the Office of Facility Planning in the Housing Authority, may have fallen victim to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's antismoking crusade. Swinton was fired yesterday after the New York Post reported he went outside for a total of 69 minutes before lunch to smoke. Four other employees face disciplinary hearings.Authority employees are limited to two 15-minute breaks a day. (New York Post)

Merchants who sell spray paint and permanent markers to minors would be subject to steeper fines under an anti-graffiti bill that is to be introduced in the City Council. The law would increase the fine for repeat offenders to $1,000 or a year in jail or both. Currently, retailers face a $500 fine or three months in jail. (Newsday -- Associated Press)

In an ambitious attempt to liberate Manhattan from traffic congestion, the Bloomberg administration will try to turn 10 Midtown streets into express routes by banning turns from them during weekdays when traffic is heaviest. (New York Times) (New York Daily News) (Newsday)

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced a new agreement with the New York City teachers' union yesterday to use most of the extra 100 minutes a week that teachers are working this year for instruction. Under a previous plan, half of the time was to be used for teacher training, and the extra instruction was being delayed until November. (New York Times) (Newsday) (Daily News)

Facing yet another steep budget deficit, the Bloomberg administration has signaled that it is no longer opposed to tax increases, and the debate at City Hall has shifted to which taxes should be raised and by how much. (New York Times) (Daily News)

A new multimillion-dollar Asian culture and performing arts center modeled after the Lincoln Center would anchor Chinatown, attracting tourists and boosting the economy, according to a community-based plan announced Monday at City Hall. (Newsday)

Sanitation officials plan to start handing out fines to violators of the city's new recycling rules. The new regulations were supposed to go into effect today, but were delayed to give people more time to get used to the new regulations. (Daily News)

Penalties for many parking offenses go up today - to as high as $105 from $55. The violations that will cost more include parking in front of a fire hydrant, double-parking, jutting into an intersection and taking up space in a bus lane. (Daily News)

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