Pay Dirt

• With impeccable timing he would likely disavow, Governor Spitzer made his first judicial appointment yesterday — picking Theodore T. Jones Jr., an African-American judge from Brooklyn, for the Court of Appeals (the highest in our state's counterintuitive hierarchy). Jones, by the way, is the guy who threw Roger Toussaint in jail after the transit strike. [NYT]
• We knew that if we stuck with the story of the Joseph Bruno probe, it would eventually get interesting. Pay dirt! The state GOP leader had hung out at Rachel's, a West Palm Beach strip club, on his businessman friend's dime. Dear Feds: More of this and less murky real-estate deals, please. [NYDN]
• Speaking of: Real-estate data is infinitely malleable, but here's an upbeat nugget that's hard to misinterpret — property values in New York City rose 19 percent in 2006. That, if you still want to talk about a "cooldown," is double the gain of 2005. The bad news: Taxes will jump in July. [Newsday]
• Scientists are struggling to rescue dolphins stranded in shallow waters near East Hampton; four cetaceans have died and fifth was "euthanized." Long Island has been reporting bizarre dolphin behavior all month long, triggered by the freakishly mild winter (coming, by the way, to a bitter end with tomorrow's cold snap). [amNY]
• And, not so fast, Jay-Z: While Beyoncé's mom is already sewing Nets' uniforms, the team may first end up in Newark. Mayor Cory Booker is making a play for the franchise, offering to house it temporarily until its New Jersey contract runs out. In other news, Frank Gehry unveiled plans for "Miss Newark." [NYP]