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Con Ed

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Two More Hurt at Deutsche Bank

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• Things keep getting worse at the Deutsche Bank building: Yesterday a worker for the sinister John Galt Corporation "lost control" of a forklift on the 23rd floor, from which it tumbled 200 feet to the ground, crashing through the roof of a shed and sending two more firefighters to the hospital. [NYT]

A Brooklyn Cyclone?

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To recap: Every subway line was at some point today affected by the rain, and at midday the majority of lines were still in bad shape, according to Sewell Chan at the Times' City Room blog. Buses were packed, commuters were pissed, and, in a delightful little detail, the MTA's press office was hugely understaffed because all but one of its employees were stuck trying to get to work. There were major delays at all three airports. Four thousand Con Ed customers lost power. A woman was killed in what the Times is calling a "storm-related car accident" on Staten Island. And, perhaps most fascinating, there may have been a tornado in Bay Ridge. No fun. (But amazing photos.) Flooding Cripples Subway System [City Room/NYT]

756*

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• Juror Bloomberg is back at his day job — and he's brokered a deal with Albany that will require more developers in more neighborhoods to include low-income housing in their projects. Spitzer's likely to sign. [NYT]

Mr. Ethics, Meet the Ethics Board

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• The newest chapter in the fast-developing Spitzer scandal: The State Ethics Commission, which definitely has subpoena power, has joined the State Senate in requesting the documents from the Bruno investigation. Not looking good. [amNY]

How Now Dow Jones?

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• Thirty or so Bancrofts are converging on a Boston Hilton today to discuss whether they'd like some more money. (Actually, spread across the clan, the estimated $500 million in profit a Dow Jones sale would bring doesn't sound like a staggering amount.) [NYT] • Councilman and former Black Panther Charles Barron (he of the "Sonny Carson" avenue-renaming idea Bloomberg called "the worst ever") announced he's running to replace Marty Markowitz as the Brooklyn beep. Should be a lively campaign, as they say. [NYP] • In rapper-arrest news, Lil Wayne and Ja Rule have been picked up on separate (!) gun-possession charges in busts an hour apart. [WNBC] • Midtown businesses that lost money to last week's steam-pipe blast will not see a red cent from Con Ed — not even restaurants that lost their supplies to spoilage when the power was cut. Some are threatening to sue. [NYDN] • And the Yankees beat the Devil Rays 21-4 last night, which both tabs agree puts the team in the "21 Club." Yuk yuk yuk. [NYDN, NYP]

It Came From the Steam Tunnels!

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Last night's explosion was an impressive display in itself. But equally impressive was the way it tied up seemingly the entire East Side, with trains not running and people everywhere gawking. This is our favorite picture of the gawkers — the crowd massed in front of the iconic Public Library building, all stopped and looking in the same direction. If this were a still from some fifties-era cheesy sci-fi film, that's exactly what everyone would look like as they watched the flying saucers land. Earlier: Grand Central Explosion Kills One, Wounds 30, Inconveniences Thousands

Grand Central Explosion Kills One, Wounds 30, Inconveniences Thousands

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So it was a steam pipe that exploded last night near Grand Central, and the fallout from it includes one death (from a heart attack), more than 30 injuries (two critical), and, in the words of the Times, an "unnerved" Manhattan. "There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure," said Mayor Bloomberg. This is a surprisingly wan consolation: With infrastructure that allows for the occasional midtown geyser strong enough to rip pavement, flip a truck, and half-swallow a car, who needs terrorists? Witnesses described the epicenter, on 41st Street and Lexington Avenue, as looking strangely primordial, with flames flickering inside the rupture and boiling brown muck bubbling around its edges. There's a YouTube video already, of course, and the inevitable idiotic comments. Bush did it! LOL!

The Thrilla in Albany

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• The battle royale between Joe Bruno and Eliot Spitzer — and maybe, a little bit, the Albany Times Union — continues to heat up. Now the embattled State Senate majority leader says he'll activate a senate committee to investigate the guv — and start issuing subpoenas. [NYP] • Another week, another power outage: About 2,500 Upper East Siders lost their electricity again last night, this time after an underground fire. Blacking out 10021 twice in ten days can't be good for business. [Reuters] • Turns out that while he was preparing to decamp the GOP, Mike Bloomberg was privately bombarding the state Republicans with messages of support — including pledges to back some Dem-targeted senators' 2008 campaigns. Now that's triangulation. [NYT] • The new noise regulations have barely gone into effect, and already dozens of businesses have been busted — including a Mister Softee truck caught blasting the jingle in a residential area. [amNY] • And the Statue of Liberty is increasingly unlikely to make it onto the modern "seven wonders of the world" list currently being compiled. As the massive poll draws to a close with over 90 million votes cast, the poor green thing is languishing at the bottom, with the likes of the Kremlin and Stonehenge. [NYDN]

Bloomberg Calling

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• People are receiving anonymous, computerized telephone polls asking if they'd support a Bloomberg run for the presidency if he spent $1 billion of his own money on it. When asked if the poll was conducted by Bloomberg, aides in his office refused to confirm or deny it. How very diabolical! [NYDN]

When the Lights Go Down in the City

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• Yesterday's power outage lasted for less than an hour, but it closed down subway lines and affected about 385,000 people on the East Side and the Bronx. Con Ed doesn't know what caused it, and the mayor, naturally, shrugged it off as a "minor inconvenience." [NYP]

Swimmer Stranded*

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Yes, the blackout yesterday sucked. But it could have been worse: You could have been trying to get home to Westchester. *Yes, yes. This used to be headlined "Rabbit Stranded." It was early and we were tired and we mixed up our Updike and our Cheever. Sorry.

First Blackout of '07!

Okay, a week or so without electricity in Queens is one thing. But now we're hearing that there's an outage on — gulp! — the Upper East Side this afternoon. The Con Ed Website says nothing, but we've received two three unconfirmed reports. Plus the lights in the office dimmed for a second like twenty minutes ago, and we think we just heard a fire truck going up Madison. That's good enough for us. UPDATE: Yup, various local news sources say there's an outage across a swath of the Upper East Side (though different sources say different swaths), that parts of the Bronx have lost power, too, and that subway service is affected on some if not all of the Lexington Avenue lines, and maybe on the E and/or V as well. UPDATE 2: Sewell Chan, naturally, has the most comprehensive info. "An explosion this afternoon at an electrical substation in the Bronx has knocked out power to 136,700 customers in the Bronx and Manhattan and disrupted subway service on several of the city’s busiest subway lines — the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 and E and V lines on the East Side and the D line in the Bronx — according to officials with the city government and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority," he writes. There's also apparently some trouble with the D and with Metro-North trains into Grand Central.

Who's Causing Con Ed's Rate Hike? Ratner! Spitzer! Everyone!

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New York's electricity bills, already the nation's highest, are about to go up again — probably not by the proposed 17 percent, but definitely enough to be felt. What does that mean? Blame for everyone! Con Ed says it needs the dough to improve infrastructure and maintain its "high level of service reliability," which is a pretty good joke, especially in Queens. But the company is also blaming big, grid-taxing city projects — for instance, Atlantic Yards. Needless to say, anti-Yards activists are thrilled. "Hey New York, Bruce Ratner is going to increase your Con Edison bill," begins the latest Develop Don't Destroy missive. Oh, and it's also Eliot Spitzer's fault, says Con Ed; the governor won't build new power plants. Who else is to blame? You, of course. Can't you turn down the A/C already? Con Ed Planning an Electric $hock [NYP] Ratner Will Increase Your Electric Bill. Shocking. [DDDB]

Go West, Young Man

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• 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]

A Win for London: Green Electricity

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We've learned from this week's magazine that London's got a construction boom now — an interesting construction boom — plus an immigration influx, great theater, "a civic boldness," and plenty of good food. And here's one more accomplishment for our once-Dickensian rival across the pond: London is perhaps greener than New York, today producing more than twice the renewable energy we do. This news came at the latest PlaNYC 2030 forum, held at NYU yesterday, where electricity experts confirmed that New York's power supply will fail to meet demand by 2012 unless more buildings start generating and reusing their own electricity. And why don't we?

Not Leavin' on a Jet Plane

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• 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]

State Regulators Make It Official: Con Ed Sucks

• Con Ed might want to change its slogan from "On It" to "In It." State regulators, in what even the Times calls "a devastating condemnation," place full blame on the utility giant for last July's Queens blackout. (Even better: Regulators determined Con Ed also lied about the number of affected customers.) [NYT] • In a Dickensian tableau of class inequality, an Upper East Side antiques dealer is suing a homeless man — for a million dollars! — for loitering in front of his windows and obstructing the view of the wares. Be sure to catch the A-grade Post prose ("dingy socks, soiled shoes and layers of odorous old clothing"). [NYP] • Carlton Ingleton, a well-known local sculptor who taught art at Medgar Evers College, is dead after a violent confrontation with his son. Cops say the artist was beaten to death "with a pipe and a hatchet." The son, Carl Assawa, is undergoing psychiatric evaluation after attacking police officers while in custody. [amNY] • Mayor Bloomberg's expectedly upbeat State of the City speech — the state of the city is "alive with hope" — included a novel law-enforcement initiative: Crime witnesses and victims will be able to send camera-phone pictures straight to 911 operators. Also, the property tax goes down 5 percent. [NYDN] • Also on the hopeful techy note: OMG Internet over power lines! "Broadband over power lines is coming to New York, says the City Council's technology commission. Get ready for Web-enabled toasters, blenders, and hair dryers. [GG]

Con Ed Terrifies East Village Bargoers

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For once, it wasn't a bar that caused an Alphabet City noise disruption; last night the culprit was Con Ed's East River Generation Station at 14th Street and the FDR Drive. Around 11 p.m., the plant began issuing dozens of deafeningly loud blasts of steam every fifteen seconds or so, and imbibers around the neighborhood decided it was a good time to step out for a ciggie and make sure the world wasn't coming to an end. A disheveled man who was awoken by the blasts held his cell up in the air so a friend could hear the ruckus. "You don't know what it is, but you like it," a woman chirped at her excited dog, while someone else likened the steam puffs to those of a volcano. "This hasn't happened once in 25 years," said a woman bedecked in eccentric chinoiserie as she retreated into an Avenue B apartment. "If that thing blows up, we're all fucked." (A transformer at the station did explode, causing a fire and a blackout, in 2002.)