As New Yorkers welcomed the New Year and counted down the days to the inauguration of a new president, other parts of the dawning political landscape fell into place. Governor Paterson delivered his first State of the State address, warning New York’s situation is “perilous.” Malcolm Smith was elected State Senate majority leader after finally reaching a deal with the Gang of Three.A USA Today/Gallup poll said 45 percent of Americans want Paterson to appoint Caroline Kennedy to the U.S. Senate, while another poll showed only 27 percent of New Yorkers support her (versus 58 percent for Andrew Cuomo).
Eighty-nine sanitation workers cleaned up 42 tons of garbage after the New Year’s celebration. A 22-year-old man with cerebral palsy was left strapped to his seat overnight on a bus parked in Brooklyn; a bus company employee was charged with reckless endangerment. Mayor Bloomberg showed his support for Israel by visiting rocket-attacked cities and getting whisked to a bomb shelter. Bernie Madoff victims cabaret singer Cynthia Crane and her husband, the playwright Ted Story, are being forced out of their 1855 Village townhouse (they plan to hang him in effigy at their moving-out party).
Two New York-based MTV reality shows debuted: The City, and its poorer cousin, The Real World: Brooklyn. The maple-syrup smell returned to upper Manhattan and Queens. Computers running the state’s unemployment system were overwhelmed by as many as 10,000 requests an hour on the first business days of the New Year. At a ceremony introducing the Yankees’ $180 million man, Mark Teixeira, the first-baseman admitted it was his wife’s call to come to the Bronx. And Jennifer Avila and Carlos Sanchez of Sunnyside became the first couple married in the city’s new marble-and-bronze municipal wedding chapel, two days before Army enlistee Sanchez shipped out for basic training.