• The New York region has the nation's widest gap between rich and poor, new Census figures show, with the richest fifth of Manhattanites earning $351,333 a year to the poorest fifth's $8,855. We expect the revolution imminently. [NYT]
• It's down to the wire — the deadline for the legislature to approve Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan is today — and the still-unbowed mayor is pulling out all stops: Yesterday, he campaigned for it in three churches, fer chrissakes. [NYT]
Worth noting only because it seems to be the end of this saga: Alan Hevesi was sentenced Friday by an Albany judge. The former comptroller had already pleaded guilty last year to a felony fraud count for using state employees to chauffeur his wife (and, if we recall correctly, hang out with her, and help her with physical-therapy exercises, and so on). You'll remember that Hevesi had previously quit his job despite handily winning reelection, paid back some $206,000 to the state to cover the cost of those employees' salaries, agreed to never again run for public office, and submitted his DNA to the state's criminal database. So what was the judge's final blow to the fallen politician? A $5,000 fine. Seems a bit anticlimactic, no?
Given a Fine, Hevesi Praises His Successor [NYT]
The Penitent [NYM]
ALBANY, Feb. 5 — The Legislature plans to renege on a deal it had with Gov. Eliot Spitzer and select a lawmaker as the next state comptroller on Wednesday, officials said, and at least one Democratic county chairman wants Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli to get the post.
• So who's to blame for yesterday's sulfuric odor across Manhattan that today has tabloid headline writers gleefully trafficking in fart puns? The leading version is an emission from a swamp across the Hudson. New Jersey, we thought better of you. [NYP]
• A security guard employed at the Office of the State Comptroller in Albany is being charged with exposing himself to two 13-year-old girls this past Saturday — at the office. Kinda puts Hevesi's indiscretions in perspective. [AP via amNY]
• A Bronx mother who had earlier claimed her baby was stolen at gunpoint on New Year's Eve is now suspected of abandoning the 1-month-old in a Dumpster. The cops are frantically searching landfills. [WNBC]
• Meet Stavon Simpson, a slightly less evil mom. According to the D.A., she took the $186,000 life-insurance payout from the dead father of her child — bequeathed expressly to the daughter's education — and decided it would be better spent on a Land Rover and things like the cable bill. Because the most important lesson is confidence. [NYDN]
• And, you still can't get gay-married in New York, but you can get gay-divorced. One half of a feuding ex-couple cited the union's illegality to get out of a separation agreement; in a Solomon-esque decision, a city judge has ruled that the contract stands even if the marriage itself doesn't. [NYT]
• So, with Hevesi out, who's the state's next comptroller? Assembly Democrats get to chose, but Spitzer says he wants someone who is (a) not an assemblyman and (b) not necessarily a Democrat. The stance has blue Albany grumbling that Spitzer seems to distrust the legislature. We wonder why. [NYT]
• It's not every day you see Jews chant "Get back to Iran" at other Jews, but that was the scene in Rockland County last night, as religious protesters set upon members of Neturei Karta — an anti-Israel Hasidic sect. The latter had just returned from the famously bizarre Holocaust conference in Tehran. [NYDN]
• "Non-lethal force" is sometimes a misnomer: A Brooklyn man died last night after being maced and Tasered by the cops. Blondel Lasseque, reportedly a mental patient off his meds, went into cardiac arrest shortly after his actual arrest — but not before sending three officers tasked with restraining him into a hospital. [amNY]
• Esther Elizabeth Reed, 28, stole other people's identities and used them to gain entrance to Harvard and Columbia graduate schools, where she proceeded to study (what else?) psychology and criminology. Investigators are "most shocked" someone could "talk their way in[to]" a grad school. They should have seen our application essay. [NYP]
• And the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting is aggressively lobbying shows like CSI: New York to move production from California studio lots to the actual streets of New York. Angelenos indignantly counter that their NYC is better than the real thing. [LAT]
Dita Von Teese is divorcing shock-rocker Marilyn Manson after just a year of marriage, and it looks like it was his fault. Russell Crowe won't smoke in front of his wife, but he will berate airline stewardesses about the food on a private jet when she's not in earshot. Lindsay Lohan is having her appendix removed; she's also back on the sauce, as long as cameras aren't around. "Page Six" confirms Cindy Adams's report that Jive Records will soon drop Britney Spears, but a Jive spokesman denies it. Cindy also says that Halle Berry may or may not be pregnant. So does the Daily News. Sportscaster Jim Lampley threw his girlfriend against a wall in a booze-and-pot-fueled fury over, uh, deciding what movie to see. Justin Timberlake has had no problem in the love department since breaking up with Cameron Diaz. Richard Gere has a table named after him at an Indian restaurant because he used to bring ladies there back in his bachelor days. Not surprisingly, Alan Hevesi's assemblyman son was not a fan of Eliot Spitzer's State of the State address. Scarlett Johansson might have banned crew members on a music-video shoot from eating in front of her. A former Penthouse Pet turned "real estate agent" was arrested for running a brothel out of her home. Paris Hilton has been dropped from promo duties at the two Club Paris locations in Florida because of truant behavior. Shanna Moakler's new boyfriend is Jenna Jameson's ex. DJ AM has put on twenty pounds since his breakup with Nicole Richie, may get more gastric bypass surgery. Isaac Mizrahi got his nails painted.
• The Public Authorities Control Board gave its unanimous "yes" to Atlantic Yards. In the one change that might somewhat placate borough purists, Gehry's Miss Brooklyn is now scaled down to below the Williamsburgh Savings Bank height. The big loser: Moynihan Station, sacrificed in exchange. [NYDN]
• Alan Hevesi is putting an end to the sorry spectacle his troubles became for the media: The beleaguered state comptroller will plead guilty and resign from office as part of the plea deal. [NYP]
• Just in time for Atlantic Yards: The city has approved a new tax break for developers that encourages them to build more lower-income housing in more areas. The Real Estate Board appears displeased, so Bloomie must be doing something right. [NYT]
• A cover of amNew York explores the outrage! that met the news of the record Goldman Sachs bonuses. (The cited instances of outrage appear limited to a harrumph from one City Council member, and a Post cartoon). [amNY]
• And the police finally I.D.'d the man they found wandering the streets of the Bronx two weeks ago; yesterday, we broke the case by suggesting that the cop-stumping inscription "G-A-R-F-I" on his pajamas might have something to do with the cartoon cat. Today, the NYPD claimed it was "teddy bears," clearly to hide the former incompetence. For shame! [WNBC]
• Goldman Sachs is about to set a Christmas-bonus record by lavishing its employees with $16.5 billion after posting a 93 percent jump in quarterly earnings. Top traders and investment machers will be taking home up to $50 million (per Times) or even $100 million (per Post) each. Well, someone has to buy apartments in that William Beaver nonsense. [NYP]
• It wasn't just driving, you know. A settlement agreement between Alan Hevesi and the AG's office discloses that the state worker who chauffeured Mrs. Comptroller also shopped for her and "helped her rehabilitation from knee surgery" (code for "foot massage"?). [NYT]
• A man stole a delivery truck, tooled around Manhattan sideswiping taxicabs, and finally crashed into the lobby of an Upper East Side building. John Doe was DOA. Some crime just really, really, really doesn't pay. [amNY]
• The News gets results! The paper has tut-tutted City College into stripping the name of Assata Shakur, a militant and a convicted cop killer, from a student center. Of course, it also accidentally re-triggered discussion of whether Shakur was framed. [NYDN]
• The Transportation Department publishes, and Gothamist annotates, a fascinating schematic of which subway lines are taxed to capacity now and which will be by 2030. Alarmingly, in the latter drawing, the Second Avenue line is still not on the subway map. [Gothamist]
The Driving Mrs. Hevesi debacle keeps cruising along. Today's Post reports that the embattled comptroller has received a written invitation to tell his side of the story to an Albany grand jury this Friday, "if he so desires." Hevesi's lawyer had no comment on whether his client would accept the invitation. The grand jury, of course, is the body that might indict the comptroller, and as Steve Fishman noted in this week's magazine, Hevesi's job currently seems more secure than you might think — unless he gets indicted. One fun part of this: It's all awfully polite, isn't it, than Alan is merely being "invited" to talk. For simpler folks, as we understand it, such an invitation usually comes under a less courtly name: They get subpoenas.
Hevesi Given Friday Grand-Jury Invitation [NYP]
The Penitent [NYM]
Eliot Spitzer's New Year's Day inauguration will feature James Brown and Natalie Merchant but not Alan Hevesi. Yes, Beyoncé threw Jay-Z a big birthday party in St. Barts. No, they're not getting married, at least according to Rush & Molloy. John Kerry threw a dinner party for Democratic donors at his Georgetown home, at which he may or may not have shilled for his party's 2008 nomination. Paris Hilton may be engaged to "student" Stavros Niarchos. Tinsley Mortimer's sister-in-law is getting married to the director of Syriana. The reigning Miss Universe, also Miss Puerto Rico, is dating a fellow Puerto Rican. Mandy Moore had dinner with former flame Wilmer Valderrama. The director of scary when-scuba-goes-bad flick Open Water is set to direct another movie about sharks. A lot of people went to go see Annie at Madison Square Garden, and not everyone got in on time. Celebs donate time, company to an auction run by Martin Luther King Jr.'s eldest son. Colin Firth is a picky eater. Lindsay Lohan's former assistant, now Jessica Biel's assistant, was the subject of much of Lohan's vitriol in the rambling e-mail she wrote two days ago. Eddie Murphy and his ex–Spice Girl ex-girlfriend continue to disagree over whether Eddie is the father of her baby, according to "Page Six." (The News has this Murphy-Spice "exclusive," too, worded the exact same way.) Britney Spears bought expensive lingerie, Dakota Fanning bought a dog, and Courtney Love is moving to London. Liz Smith claims John Stamos will be on an upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, based on his affinity for tango. Molly Sims got stung by a bee in Hawaii.
"Without Si Newhouse," Spy punching bag Donald Trump says, "Graydon Carter would be just another overweight editor with bad hair." Eliot Spitzer will likely choose one of four people to replace embattled State Comptroller Alan Hevesi: a Latino, a woman, a banker, or a guy who donated a kidney to his daughter. Both Britney Spears's family and the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services are disturbed by her recent pantyless partying. Did Augusten Burroughs pull a James Frey? The crazy family depicted in Running With Scissors says so. John Mayer made a script suggestion to Kiefer Sutherland regarding 24. Sex blogger Jessica Cutler pulls out of a panel on blogger book deals because she is currently being sued. Pam Anderson and Kid Rock are hosting rival New Year's Eve parties in Las Vegas. NBC honcho Jeff Zucker and the L.A. Times disagree on whether he's about to promote someone. A model confused Charles Barkley with Gnarls Barkley. Wyclef Jean visited Haiti again, wants to open a resort there. Terrence Howard is one of the few black guys who support Michael Richards. East Hampton hotspot Star Room is on sale for $4.25 million. "Page Six" was name-checked on Law & Order. Da-dum. Liza Minnelli recently attended a perverted rock musical. Liz Smith really likes Dreamgirls. Cindy Adams really likes Barack Obama.
• Eliot Spitzer, in his waning days as attorney general, is set to release a "devastating indictment" of Alan Hevesi that will almost surely lead to the comptroller's fast resignation, says the Post. Sources tell the tabloid that the AG report will also serve as the cue for a criminal case. [NYP]
• Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, before departing for Washington, got together with Spitzer for a "two-hour strategy session" to discuss, we don't know, the Giants or something. Pundits tie the bustle to Barack Obama's early presidential "maybe." [NYDN, NYT]
• In a real-estate listing to end all listings, the penthouse triplex of the Pierre Hotel can be yours, ballroom and all. For $70 million. [NYT]
• There's an E. coli outbreak in New Jersey, with about nineteen cases reported. Eleven of the victims had eaten at a Taco Bell in South Plainfield, which has since "voluntarily" closed. That's strange; we didn't know they served spinach. [amNY]
• And, in more before-breakfast news, Health Department inspectors are cracking down on illegal meats. Confiscated recently from various New York stores: armadillo fillets, iguana, cow lungs, "smoked rodent," and — our favorite — "unidentified red meat." [AP via Taipei Times]