So Mayor Bloomberg finally caved in the face of the collective fit thrown by some 9/11 victim relatives, who demanded the sixth-anniversary ceremonies be held in the pit at ground zero and only there. The Port Authority will now contort to allow the mourners to, as the mayor said in a statement, "descend the ramp in a single-file stream that keeps moving into a limited area … and then to ascend back to street level." We can understand why Bloomie gave up — nobody wants to be the villain, and how bad would pissing off 9/11 widows look in, say, some sort of national campaign?
• Andrew Cuomo, getting a feel for this whole crusading-A.G. thing, is asking the legislature to grant his office broad jurisdiction and subpoena powers. Our new awesome conspiracy theory: He gets the state GOP to empower him by promising them Spitzer's head — and then subpoenas Bruno! [NYS]
This week's Village Voice — yeah, we're a day late, but, be honest, it's not like you've read it already — carries a cover story by Voice vet and professional Giuliani antagonist Wayne Barrett titled "Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11." In it, Barrett examines a speech the former mayor delivered in Maryland two months ago, arguing that he had the most and best terrorism-fighting experience of any candidate for president. But Barrett isn't buying Giuliani's claims; in fact, he says they're a bunch of lies. How so?
City Hall and the 9/11 families are fighting over the site of the upcoming sixth-anniversary commemoration, and the negotiations have now devolved into truly embarrassing haggling. Somehow, each concession manages to sound even more pathetic than the one before. To wit: Today's Daily News reports that Mayor Bloomberg has backed away from his initial suggestion to move the ceremonies to a nearby park (it's sort of tough to do it on ground zero itself, given that the thing is a giant construction site); he's now offering a compromise location with a view of ground zero. The families say they'll take the matter to federal court on First Amendment grounds if they have to.
• The Albany County D.A., P. David Soares, announced yesterday that he will review Cuomo's findings regarding use of state police by the governor's office. Spitzer, sounding more Zen by the minute: "I welcome it, I accept it." [amNY]
• Families of 9/11 victims are upset — are the families of 9/11 victims ever not upset? — because the city plans to commemorate the attacks' sixth anniversary in the small Zuccotti park. Instead of, you know, in the middle of a giant construction site. [amNY]
The International Association of Firefighters has long hated Rudy Giuliani. He didn't give New York's Bravest adequate equipment before 9/11, the union has always said, he was insufficiently concerned with their safety during cleanup after 9/11, and he didn't let them search ground zero long enough for the remains of their brethren. Worst of all, they argue, he's built a persona — and a thriving presidential campaign — by appropriating firefighters' heroism as his own. Yesterday the union put out a campaign-style video, attacking Giuliani for his failings. “He was running on his 9/11 leadership, and it was lacking,” FDNY deputy chief Jim Riches says in it. "He was not the hero of 9/11.” And there's lots more like that.
• Breaking news! After a comprehensive study, the MTA can now tell you that numbered subway lines are overcrowded, and that Lex lines often run behind schedule. (Who knew?) Apparently there's nothing officials can really do about it, as those lines are already operating at capacity.
• So some TV show had its finale last night? Depending on whom you believe, the ending was either terrible ("Chase will have to live with what he did last night," says Stasi in the Post), simply mediocre ("It didn't end," says Bianculli in the News. "It just stopped"), or a near-ideal conclusion to the series ("a perfectly imperfect finish," according to Heffernan in the Times). We're just wondering: How many people started calling Time Warner, convinced their cable had gone out? [NYP, NYDN, NYT]
• The city's medical examiner has, for the first time, directly tied a death to 9/11 dust, thus making Felicia Dunn-Jones the 2,750th victim of the attack. The decision's potential impact is, obviously, enormous. [NYDN]
• Yesterday's human chain around Stuy Town, apart from serving up a mini-flashback to Hands Across America, had a specific purpose: to repeal the law that allows landlords to deregulate apartments once the rent hits $2,000. [Metro NY]
• The city is closing its high schools for pregnant girls, sixties inventions now beset with "abysmal test scores [and] poor attendance" (in one hair-raising example, a quilting class was being passed off as geometry). [NYT]
• After facing suits for a few knee-jerk post-9/11 arrests, the city reached a deal with the New York Civil Liberties Union to stop pestering photographers and filmmakers operating handheld cameras on the street. No permit is now needed. [amNY]
• And an infamous distributor of pirated Web content has been sentenced to five years for a real-world crime of, well, blowing up a portable toilet. It's like when they got Al Capone on tax charges, except not. [NYP]
Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani whose campaign is based on his reputation as "America's Mayor," the hero of 9/11 is famous for a lot of things. Letting bygones be bygones is not one of them.
Thus Giuliani is blaming an old aide turned adversary Jerry Hauer, the city's first director of the Office of Emergency Management, for the much-criticized decision to locate the emergency command center at 7 World Trade Center instead of a site in Brooklyn. After terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers, 7 WTC burned and collapsed, and the 23rd-floor command center was rendered useless.
"Jerry Hauer recommended that as the prime site and the site that would make the most sense," Giuliani claimed this week on Fox News Sunday. "He recommended that site as the site that would be the best site. It was largely on his recommendation that that site was selected."
• Oh, no! Gay-marrying New Paltz mayor Jason West, not yet 30 and the closest the upstate hamlet has to a national celebrity, has been defeated by an ex-ally, 514 to 379. West reportedly alienated the town with a "heavy-handed" governing style. Well, he is a puppeteer by trade. [NYT]
• This should keep conspiracy theorists occupied for the next decade: A laptop with "sensitive" 9/11 info, including photos of newly unearthed human remains, has been stolen from a medical examiner's SUV parked next to ground zero. [NYP]
• Bloomberg's Spanish is improving. The mayor, whose tenuous grasp of the language was a reliable joke for years, delivered a ten-minute speech in Spanish during his Mexico visit and even took questions. [amNY]
• The Daily News catches Con Ed in a bizarre practice: The utility giant is hiring limo drivers to guard electrified grates and manholes. The drivers (sorry, "site-safety personnel") simply park next to the stray-voltage area and sit there, sometimes for days. On it, indeed. [NYDN]
• And some New Jersey children tuning in to the Disney Channel were exposed to an accidentally aired bit of hard-core porn this week. The program they thought they'd see? "Handy Manny," about "a bilingual Latino handyman and his talking tools." The cable company, Comcast, had no comment. [WNBC]
• The mayor will use Earth Day to unveil a barrage of housing, transit, and environmental proposals. In the spotlight today: a charge for drivers to enter midtown, a cabbies' dream and car commuters' nightmare. [NYT]
• Governor Spitzer is requesting FEMA aid, including disaster unemployment relief, for twelve counties hit hard by the weekend's nor'easter. New York City is in line for some federal funds as well. [WSTM]
• Albany, meantime, is proposing the so-called Paw and Claw Tax (on pet food, natch), with the money going toward shelters. The tax would apply to "dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits and birds." Your ferret is now a bargain. [NYS]
• Tom Cruise, whom the Post now dubs "the diminutive Scientologist," hit Chelsea (an easy joke there) to raise funds for his questionable sauna-and-vitamins program for 9/11 emergency workers. Reporters were banned. [NYP]
• And it took two fumbling attempts for the NYPD scuba team to tow the departed Sludgie the Whale from Gowanus to his final resting place in Jersey City. Deadpanned one detective by way of equivocation, "This was my first whale." [WNBC]
There's news today of what must be a first in cathedral art: A Dutch bishop yesterday blessed a new stained-glass window for Sint Jan cathedral in Den Bosch, a city 50 miles south of Amsterdam, that includes a photographic image of an airplane headed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. (Click here for a full image of the window.) "It was an assignment by the church to make a stained glass window that was related to the spirit of this time," artist Marc Mulders said on his Website, where he explained that the pane represents hell on earth. We can understand that rationale, we guess, but we're less convinced of its artistry. Looks like bad Hieronymus Bosch. —Tayt Harlin9/11 Pane in Church Blessed [LAT]
Something about a tragedy, no matter how private, reduces us all to children clamoring for consolation and closure. Consider the bizarre criticism raining down on Mayor Bloomberg today, for failing to drop his obligations and stay in New York in the wake of yesterday's Bronx fire. Instead, Bloomberg flew to Florida, as previously scheduled. "I don't know what can be more important in Miami," said Assemblyman Ruben Diaz — and, as it turned out, nothing was: Questions about the fire hounded the mayor at every turn there. Today's Post, in its typically loaded lede, cites "critics" wondering "whether he's fulfilling his role as the city's leader."
• Jet Blue, the generally beloved low-cost carrier, made a lot of people's shit lists last night: It stranded hundreds of JFK passengers on the tarmac — on immobile planes — for up to ten hours. On Valentine's Day. Let's hope, at least, some romance bloomed in the forced close quarters. [amNY]
• The Daily News is issuing a Cesar Borja mea culpa. The paper that had lionized the late cop the most says it had no factual basis for calling him a "volunteer" (he wasn't) or implying he had rushed to the WTC site on 9/11 (he didn't). [NYDN]
• In a development the Post — and just about only the Post — finds "shocking," it turns out Hillary Clinton had signed a $200K contract with a consulting firm headed by a prominent South Carolina politician days before said politician endorsed her. [NYP]
• That classic New York boogeyman — stray sidewalk electricity — is back. This time, the victim is a pet. Not even twenty minutes of mouth-to-mouth CPR could save the terrier named Boston Bob, apparently electrocuted when he stepped on a manhole cover. [NYDN]
• And speaking of classic boogeymen: Apparently, Son of Sam's apartment in Yonkers is a bit of a tourist destination — with a Times profile that eerily smacks of a real-estate listing. ("Apartment 7E, a studio with sweeping views of the Hudson River …") [NYT]