This week's consensus has been that Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan is doomed because the legislature won't act in time to get the federal money, and that the legislature won't act in time because Shelly Silver isn't interested in playing ball. But are things changing? Today's Daily News reports that Silver late yesterday talked with both Governor Spitzer and State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, both congestion-pricing proponents, about the plan (separately, of course). And this morning we had an interesting conversation with Silver's spokesman. "To say he's willing to let this expire would not be an accurate thing to say," press secretary Dan Weiller told us. Oh, really? Hmm. —Alec AppelbaumShelly Un-Congests Snag [NYDN]
Earlier:Does Bloomberg Know His Congestion-Pricing Battle Is Lost?
• Eliot Spitzer admits to the Times that his feud with Joe Bruno has become "ugly" and "eclipse[d] all discussion of policy and legislation." Plus, all the personal attacks are upsetting Mrs. Spitzer, who now regrets her husband didn't go into real estate. [NYT]
• The city is opening 290 "cooling centers" to help New Yorkers beat the heat; "I don't care how strong you are, you should take some precautions," Mayor Bloomberg declared, sounding even more like a testy grandmother than usual. [amNY]
• Now this is getting interesting: The Department of Transportation under Janette Sadik-Khan is trying to hire Danish planner Jan Gehl as a consultant (as Daily Intel reported two weeks ago), and now word is that his proposals include banning cars from Times Square. [NYDN]
• At the Phil Spector trial, the judge has allowed in a piece of blockbuster testimony from the producer's bodyguard — who says he's heard Spector say "all women should be shot in the head." [WNBC]
• And a Manhattan psychologist, William Swan, is accused of groping a prospective assistant during an interview and showing her porn to boost her "assertiveness." In an apparent triumph, she's now assertive enough to sue and go to the press. [NYP]
• Hidden among other traffic-reducing measures in New York's application for federal congestion-pricing funds is a doozy: Just Stay Home. One of the proposed changes is "telecommuting as a travel demand management strategy." [Metro NY]
• The Post, firmly on Joe's side in the Bruno-Spitzer battle, reports that Spitzer's aides pretty much begged anyone with a badge to investigate the state senator (including, unsuccessfully, "at least one New York City D.A." — how many of those do we have?). [NYP]
• Despite "experts" insisting that the Bancroft-Murdoch deal is done, the Dow Jones board will be meeting with Ron Burkle today. In the meantime, Journal defections start: A top editor is moving to Business Week. [NYT]
• The first week the new noise regulations were in effect prove one thing: We're a city of nasty little tattletales. The top complaint to 311 — almost half of the calls — concerned not construction clatter or Mister Softee but noisy neighbors. [NYDN]
• And here's a free mobile service that puts Google Maps to shame. Should you ever find yourself lost in the Manhattan grid with nowhere to relieve yourself, mizpee.com will send you the address of the "closest, cleanest" restroom. You know, in case you lose the ability to walk into a hotel lobby on your own. [NYDN]
• 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]
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]