You're always hearing about how Albany is broken and dysfunctional and doesn't work like any other legislative seat. And people are always saying that like it's a bad thing. It occurs to us this morning, however, that maybe it's not. Maybe Albany's dysfunction is refreshing: As Eliot Spitzer is siccing both the state attorney general and Albany County's D.A. on Joe Bruno for what the steamroller is alleging is Hevesian misuse of state aircraft and state troopers, Bruno isn't firing back with any of that "my distinguished opponent" crap. Here's the Senate leader yesterday, as quoted in the Times:
[Spitzer is] an overgrown rich spoiled brat who has tantrums all over the place [and is] too temperamental to be the chief executive of 19 million people. [He] does not understand that he is not a dictator, he is not a tyrant, he is not a king. I grew up in the toughest part of Glens Falls, next to the boxcars, where kids would come up to you when you weighed 90 pounds and they weighed 120 and just punch you right in the mouth just because you were Italian, O.K., or just because you lived next to the boxcars, or just because they felt like it. That’s how I grew up, O.K.? So swing away.
• Crime is drastically down so far this year, with the city on track to set a record in 2007: the fewest murders since the police began keeping track in the sixties. An NYU prof credits an NYPD program that sends crowds of rookie cops to bad neighborhoods — and those rookie cops would be the ones they're now paying $25k. [NYDN]
• Is Joe Bruno the Alan Hevesi of the sky? The state's top Republican is under investigation for allegedly steering state contracts to associates; now Spitzer is threatening to look into Bruno's use of state aircraft — and police escorts — to fly to fund-raisers in New York City. [NYP]
• Those new New York City condoms hit 100 of New York's 325 senior centers last week. The remaining 225 centers — save for seven apparently run by prudes — will get their rubbers this week, along with pamphlets on HIV prevention. [NYP]
• Bloomberg's new noise code went into effect yesterday. See, isn't the city nice and quiet now? [NYT]
• And A-Rod's wife wore a tank top to yesterday's game bearing the words "Fuck You" on the back. Perhaps it would have been better to convey this message at home? [NYP]
• 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.
Michael Moore may support Al Gore for president. A theater in the HBO building was named for former network chief Michael Fuchs, and Fuchs gave a weird, bad, awkward speech at the ceremony. Jerry Seinfeld is very excited about his upcoming Bee Movie. 50 Cent is very excited about playing a drug dealer opposite Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in his upcoming movie. A lot of racehorse owners are not pleased with Eliot Spitzer's plan for Aqueduct to be government-run. David Burke took home $10,000 after beating Bobby Flay and Sam Talbot in a poker tournament in Aspen. Jimmy Fallon wants to lose weight. "Utter pandemonium" broke out, says a "Page Six" source, after Debra Messing, Mike Nichols, and other guests were rained upon during the Public Theater's premiere of Romeo and Juliet in Central Park. (Actually, we thought it was pretty fun.) Ian Claus dedicated his first book to Chelsea Clinton.
• As Mayor Bloomberg continues to deny that he's running for president, the Times reports that his top aides have been testing that scenario for the last two years. Just a coincidence! [NYT]
• With mere hours left until the legislative session ends, Governor Spitzer is leaning on Shelly Silver to consider congestion pricing. Spitzer's bold step: to "discuss creating a commission of experts." Ooh, effective! [NYS]
• In Episode 4,387 of the McGreevey soap opera, the ex-gov filed new papers with a New Jersey family court — to dismiss Dina Matos's charge that his coming-out had traumatized their daughter. [NYP]
• Despite some politicians' calls for a rent freeze, the Rent Guidelines Board has recommended increases "between 2 and 4.5 percent" (in other words, 4.5 percent) on New York's stabilized apartments. [amNY]
• And a guy goes on the lam for violating probation, gets tracked down by U.S. marshals right here in Manhattan, fights the arrest, breaks his arm, and goes to jail. That the guy is a close friend of Bernard Kerik's shouldn't be much of a shock. [NYDN]
• Faux firefighter Peter Braunstein will be sentenced today at noon, and our short citywide nightmare shall be over. Oh, jeez, will he write a book in jail? Clemency! [amNY]
• The Matos-vs.-McGreevey matter keeps getting more colorful. Now Dina Matos is claiming her ex-husband is sabotaging not just her book sales but her charity work as well. Fellow fund-raisers snip that she's "taken her eye off the ball." [NYP]
• The New York State Restaurant Association is suing, mostly on behalf of fast-food franchises like McDonald's and Burger King, for the right not to disclose calorie count on the menus. They're crying Big Government. [Crain's NY]
• City Comptroller William Thompson is about to become housing activists' darling: He thinks the recent property-tax cut should trigger a rent freeze in stabilized apartments. [NYDN]
• And Eliot Spitzer is apparently ruining Albany's nightlife. Not through regulation, mind you; it's just that his staffers are more coffee-shop people than bar people. Figures. [NYT]
After college, Chuck Schumer picked a girl over a scholarship. 50 Cent is really rich. Gay activists don't like John Travolta in the Hairspray movie because he's a Scientologist, not because of his performance. Brian Grazer is getting divorced. Eliot Spitzer banged his head on the trunk of his car. Rufus Wainwright defends Anderson Cooper's lifestyle and choice of gym. Maggie Gyllenhaal might come to Broadway as Nellie in South Pacific. Kevin Spacey partied at Lotus. Lily Allen put on a bad show at the Roseland Ballroom, then she hung out with Josh Hartnett. At Graydon Carter and Anna Wintour's party for Nicholas Coleridge's A Much Married Man, Ron Perelman thought the book was about him.
It seems like only yesterday Governor Spitzer was against legalizing medical marijuana. Granted, we were a bit puzzled as to why. As New York's Geoffrey Gray reported last summer, candidate Spitzer's campaign staff had long been in talks with the pro-ganja lobby, and the man himself isn't a stranger to the substance. (He has fessed up to smoking while a student at Princeton, "with pride, at the time.") Now that even the stodgy Connecticut legislature is hip to palliative pot, however, Spitzer's making another about-face: Word is he might be signing legalizing legislation within the next two weeks. Getting the bill through the State Senate should be a breeze — even Joe Bruno, who's a cancer survivor, supports it. But what's with the indecisiveness, the lack of focus, the erratic lurches from pragmatism to paranoia and back? This is not like our Eliot at all. Hell, if we didn't know any better…
Medical Pot Weeds Way Thru Albany [NYDN]
Related:Spitzer Chokes on Pot Deal [NYM]
• The fallout from Sunday's Puerto Rican Day parade included 208 arrests, a huge increase from last year's 50 or so. The police insist all but ten of the arrested were "gang members." [NYT]
• First Connecticut was on the brink of legalizing medical marijuana; now New York is, too. The legislation may be heading for the governor's desk within ten days, and Spitzer, who earlier opposed the idea, now says he's open to it. [NYDN]
Remember "On Day One, everything changes"? Or "I am a fucking steamroller"? Or "Push too hard and we'll push back"? Halcyon days, all of them! How young we were! As the legislative session draws to a close — there are two weeks left — the Times' Empire Zone blog catches Eliot Spitzer in an unusually wistful mood. "In an ideal world," admits the guv, "I'd like to have a repeat of January and February." Instead, the Albany he set out to revolutionize has backslid into its usual pattern: It will either approve a heap of unrelated issues in one sitting and call it a year, or it won't. It's the sort of thing to depress a steamroller. Which is why, perhaps, it's telling that the governor's schedule for tonight includes a stop at Joe Bruno's horse farm for dinner. Could the Spitz want to make nice with those he pissed off, so as to get things done? Maybe. But we hope they're just going to re-create the spirit of late January by yelling at each other across the table.
As Legislative Session Wanes, So Does Leaders’ Momentum [NYT]
Eliot Spitzer made his reputation as the so-called Sheriff of Wall Street. So it's more than a bit surprising that the governor now wants to streamline and somewhat rein in the financial world's cops. Yesterday, he created the Commission to Modernize the Regulation of Financial Services — or, put another way, a commission to change the same regulations he imposed, as A.G. Chuck Prince — the Citigroup CEO who inherited the scandal-plagued colossus from semi-disgraced Sandy Weill — will sit on the commission; so will Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. What gives? Well, "excessive litigation" is one kink that needs ironing out, says the Times. A swarm of regulators with overlapping jurisdictions is another (the insurance, state, and banking departments as well as A.G.'s office all currently act as Wall Street watchdogs). But mostly, it's this: The finance industry is the state's biggest cash cow, and Eliot Spitzer is the state's governor. And so the sheriff rides into the sunset.
Now, Spitzer Is Warming to Wall St. [NYT]
• Channel 7 is back on the air after a Sunday-night fire at its Upper West Side headquarters forced the staff to flee the studio. No victims, but the Live With Regis and Kelly set is kaput. [NYDN]
• It doesn't take extraordinary political perception to guess that Governor Spitzer and the Senate majority leader Joe Bruno hate each other; leave it to the Times, however, to treat it as an odd-couple comedy setup: "Mr. Spitzer’s eyes pierce. Mr. Bruno’s wink." [NYT]
• The Circle Line, which runs ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, has unveiled a noiseless electric vessel complete with a "solar sail." It will be operational in a year and a half, provided the whole green vogue doesn't blow over. [AP via WCAX]
• New Jersey is launching an Office of Nutrition and Fitness, the nation's first; the Garden State leads the nation in obese children under 5 (a stunning 17.7 percent). [NYP]
• And who's paying for the slimming of N.J. kids? Well, maybe you: Governor Corzine is considering a tax hike that will put the end to the state's famously low gas prices and institute more toll roads. [amNY]
• Eliot Spitzer doesn't just want DNA samples from all convicts and parolees. He also wants automatic HIV tests for all rape suspects, in a bill that's dividing Albany, where some Democrats see testing "by virtue of indictment" as a slippery slope. [NYT]
• Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is quickly turning into a tiny local version of Tom DeLay: First came the strategic purge of a community board, now he's in hot water for accepting a free cruise on Queen Mary 2 after lobbying Cunard to dock the ship in Red Hook. [NYP]
• Accounting assistant could be a pretty lucrative job, provided you're ready to (a) steal and (b) go to jail. Eileen Koranteng, for instance, parlayed said gig at Riverdale Country School into both a $500,000 windfall and fifteen years behind bars if convicted.
• Chuck Schumer has Lyme disease! The senator is receiving treatments after he was bitten by a deer tick in the Hudson Valley. In an odd coincidence — this is not a joke — he's proposed a $100 million research grant to study the disease. [WNBC]
• And in a first that doesn't bode well for the future of the Postal Service, Saks Fifth Avenue's shoe department got its own Zip Code: 10222-SHOE. Nice PR move, but we're not sure Saks is ready to embrace the yo-mama-so-fat- she-has-her-own-Zip-Code jokes. [amNY]
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]
A mere five years and eight months after September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center's insurers have finally agreed to pay out Larry Silverstein's claims. (And you thought the check from when your apartment was robbed took a long time to arrive!) Governor Spitzer announced a settlement yesterday between Silverstein and the seven insurance companies that tried to stiff him. So after all this wrangling, how huge is the gap between the amount Silverstein originally sought and the compromise sum? A measly $130 million — less than 3 percent of the total $4.6 billion the developer will receive. To think that this was one of the main issues slowing down the reconstruction at ground zero is, in instant retrospect, revolting. But both Silverstein and Spitzer put on gentlemanly performances yesterday; Silverstein offered a "very, very deep thank-you." Another thank-you is probably being muttered by the Port Authority, which will help itself to a chunk of the settlement as a part of its earlier deal with Silverstein. And perhaps by the rest of New York, which might one day actually see something built on the site.
WTC Insure War Is Over [NYP]
One of the more interesting ideas coming out of the Spitzer-era Albany is the former A.G.'s keen interest in a massive DNA database as the tool for fighting crime. Right now, New York State has DNA info from 250,000 criminals on file; the first part of Spitzer's proposal would increase that total by 20 percent by giving the ol' cotton swab to every prisoner, parolee, and probationer. Phase Two would involve harvesting DNA from just about anyone convicted of anything, including misdemeanors. Much like Bloomberg and his congestion-pricing initiative, the governor seems to be looking to London for inspiration. Great Britain, which swabs all arrestees, has the world's most extensive DNA database with over four million samples on hand (that's 6 percent of the Isles' population, including some children under 16). It seems to be working there, too — Gotham Gazette has collared some impressive stats on DNA-related convictions and exonerations. But, still, if Alberto Gonzales were behind this plan, wouldn't we all be a little terrified right about now?
The Move to Expand DNA Testing [Gotham Gazette]
It was a good week to consider one's legacy, as the world's most beautiful women Scarlett, J.Lo, Cameron, et al. descended on the Met decked out in some of the world's shiniest dresses to honor a long-dead, but once terribly important, French designer. Mayor Bloomberg spent the week giving high marks to himself, for fulfilling campaign promises. But he denied that he was seeking immortality in Albany by gunning for Eliot Spitzer's job in 2010. (State Republican chief Joseph Bruno's insistence notwithstanding, Mayor Mike said any reports of Albany envy were "totally made up.")
• Six men from New Jersey and Philadelphia are charged with a bizarre plot to attack Fort Dix with assault weapons; this time, the Feds seem to have all the necessary goods on the plotters, including tapes of weapons training (in rural Pennsylvania!). [NYT]
• A huge chunk of Albany's political elite, from Eliot Spitzer on down, are poised to align themselves with Hillary Clinton in the '08 race. Lieutenant Governor David Patterson, Andrew Cuomo, Shelly Silver, et al are all in; Spitzer will announce from Statehouse steps this noon. [amNY]
• Mike Bloomberg is not exactly kind to the city's parkers (who can forget "Stop griping"), but at least he's fair: The mayor's annoyed with municipal workers who whip out government car placards in non-emergency situations, and wants to kill the perk. [NYP]
• Noticed a rash of nasty labor disputes at big-name restaurants lately? So has the City Council. A new bill, to be introduced today, would empower the Health Department to crack down on eateries with labor and wage violations. Bring on the (inflatable) rats! [MetroNY]
• And, teams of sewer workers — with names like the Tallman Island Turd Surfers and the Bowery Bay Bowl Busters — have competed in the twentieth annual Olympics of Sewage Treatment. The Bowery Boys won and will move on to the state finals. That is all. [NYDN]
• Mayor Bloomberg says he may run for governor in 2010. The reasoning: He is allegedly angry at Spitzer for trying to "run the city," so he may as well wrest the state from him. Does this mean people will finally stop bugging Mike to run for president in '08? [NYP]
• We told you the Giuliani campaign is going to be filled with moments like this, and, boy, does the man deliver: Just as Rudy got comfortable saying he "hates abortion" on the trail, out pop his donations to Planned Parenthood — six of them, all made while he was mayor. [amNY]
• The Daily News drops an interesting statistic: There are 250,820 fugitives currently on the lam in the state of New York. Of course, almost a quarter of them are "various drug offenders," which calls into question our drug laws rather than their lackadaisical enforcement. [NYDN]
• In a wire item none of our local papers deemed fit to print, the AP reports a faulty pipe that has spewed millions of gallons of sewage into the Hudson is finally fixed. We knew our Hudson River Raw Tea tasted a little off this past weekend. [WHDH]
• And Christopher Hitchens's evening at the Public Library last night, in support of his atheist screed God Is Not Great, was originally billed as a debate with You, the audience (how Web 2.0!). Then how did he end up debating the Reverend Al Sharpton — and, God, why? [Empire Zone/NYT]
In a one-home version of PlaNYC 2030, the state's first lady, Silda Wall Spitzer, is turning the governor's mansion fashionably green. The 39-room Queen Anne was built in 1875, and, as you might imagine, it isn't a model of energy efficiency. The planned $650,000 renovation — the state will pick up a third of that, just as it would if you were to green up your mansion — actually doesn't sound all that drastic: a few solar panels, a switch to electric mowers and hybrid vehicles throughout the property (no word on what will power the steamroller), and, um, new lightbulbs. The goals are similarly modest: halving the greenhouse-gas emissions from the mansion and reducing its yearly electric bill, which the AP places at $86,000, to a mere $60,000. (The nation's most currently notorious utility bill, Al Gore's, is $30,000.) We like the Spitzers' realism, but one is left wishing for something a little more inspirational. Shouldn't a truly green governor, like, grow his own wheat and make electricity? We know, we know: Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno must be tying his hands.
Governor's Mansion To Become Greenhouse Model [AP via amNY]