As Morningside Heights–educated Barack Hussein Obama recited the (judicially garbled) oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States, it seemed like most of New York’s media, political, business, and Twittering classes had traveled to Washington to witness the historic occasion. Mayor Bloomberg hosted a pre-inaugural dinner for other big-city mayors at the Palm steakhouse, Times columnist Maureen Dowd hosted a jam-packed party at her Georgetown home (Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, and Bill Keller were among those who couldn’t squeeze in), Craft restaurateur and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio saved a cookbook author’s life with a well-executed Heimlich at a charity party, and Good Day New York host Greg Kelly, son of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, helped D.C. cops apprehend a crazed tourist who assaulted a McDonald’s employee during a late-night burger-run freak-out.
Hillary Clinton was confirmed as the new secretary of State on day two of the new administration; New York Fed chief Timothy Geithner, after blaming his IRS oversights on TurboTax, was well on his way to becoming Treasury secretary. Caroline Kennedy surprised Governor Paterson, her friends, the rest of the state, and possibly herself by announcing she wasn’t interested in a Senate seat after all; Paterson announced late in the week that Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand would fill the spot. Recently retired Time Warner chief Richard Parsons was named chairman of Citigroup, which announced it would split itself in two.
Bank of America revealed a $15 billion fourth-quarter loss at its newly acquired Merrill Lynch subsidiary; former Merrill CEO John Thain subsequently lost the position he’d been given at BofA. The state’s strapped unemployment fund started borrowing $90 million a week from the Feds. The even-more-strapped New York Times Company made a deal to borrow $250 million from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú at a whopping 14 percent interest rate. And—after Chesley Sullenberger III became a national hero for piloting an avian-crippled US Airways jet to a smooth landing on the Hudson—the Post declared a war on geese.