Somewhere down in lower Manhattan, city lawyers -- their salaries paid by you-know-who -- are frantically racking up man-hours trying to come up with an argument to support the mayor's notion that he can defund a museum when he doesn't like a painting it hangs. We know these crusades cost money, but we never get a chance to find out exactly how much -- until now. Howard Gotbetter, a First Amendment lawyer, happened to be at the federal courthouse on the day in December 1997 when New York Magazine's case against the MTA over its bus ads (possibly the only good thing in new york rudy hasn't taken credit for) went to trial. His dander raised, Gotbetter decided to sue Giuliani as a taxpayer, claiming the mayor was wasting his money. Before his suit was tossed out of civil court, Gotbetter was able to subpoena Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, the firm the MTA hired, and find out just how much the city was billed. "I just felt the people should know how much of their money was pissed away," he says. The Skadden, Arps tab -- which doesn't include the money spent on the city's own lawyers -- came to $195,868.