• One actual result of Troopergate (Brunogate? Spitzergate?): The State Ethics Commission passed a new rule preventing officials from using state aircraft unless the primary purpose of their trip is state business and requiring reimbursement for those parts that are not. [NYT]
The Supreme Court decision last week banning so-called partial-birth abortions is causing confusion and apprehension in the city's hospitals. At Bellevue’s Reproductive Choice Unit, for example, unnerved residents circulated stories about the hospital's sordid past, when floors were once full of women who attempted termination on their own. “I don’t think many of us know what partial birth is — it’s not a medical term at all,” said Kiran Chawal, a third-year resident there. “We’ve all looked it up to figure out what they’re talking about. It’s difficult to understand or interpret.”
• Where did that come from? The city now projects a $1.9 billion surplus — its largest ever — for the fiscal year that began in July, citing an awesome real-estate market and "sound management decisions" by the mayor. A City Council member even uttered the words "tax cuts." Keep talking. [amNY]
• The police have identified the fourth man who was in the car on the receiving end of NYPD's 50-bullet hailstorm. There's a chance, they say, that the witness may have run off with a gun; he thus appears to be the cops' last hope to somehow justify the shooting. Meanwhile, survivor Joseph Guzman, shot eleven times, denies from the hospital bed having any weapons (according, it must be said, to Al Sharpton). [NYDN]
• Say hi to the much-discussed taxi-fare hike: "Wait time" is now 40 cents a minute, not 20. Count on a temporary cab shortage, as most cars spend the day in line to get their meters adjusted (earning nothing in the meantime). [Newsday]
• Governor Pataki and Governor-elect Spitzer both came out in favor of downsizing New York's hospitals (we're about to lose five in the city, nine statewide). The only real news in that sentence is Spitzer's pronouncement, as Pataki was behind the whole initiative to begin with. "The commissioners did an outstanding job," the Times quotes Pataki saying — via satellite from, of all places, Kuwait. We didn't know they had an early primary. [NYT]
• And this, from the Department of Unenforceable Ordinances: Starting tomorrow, the City Council will make it illegal to toss rechargeable batteries in the trash. The toxic, cadmium-filled things must go back to the manufacturer for recycling. For the remedy — a $50 fine — to kick in, the violator has to be literally caught in the act, the likelihood of which strikes us as extremely slight. [NYP]
So the big Pataki-pushed plan to overhaul the New York State health-care system is out, and the first order of business is to close nine hospitals statewide — five of them in the city. The doomed hospitals are St. Vincent's Midtown and Cabrini Medical Center in Manhattan, Victory Memorial in Brooklyn, Parkway Hospital in Queens, and Westchester Square Medical Center in the Bronx. They're all plotted on the (somewhat squished) subway map above, so if you live near any of those red Xs, you might want to start taking your vitamins. (Those two Xs in midtown, we must say, make us pleased the company provided flu shots. Thanks, Bruce!)
Code Blue for Hosps [NYDN]
Best Hospitals 2006 [NYM]
• The 2008 battle lines are just being drawn, and already they look ugly. Richard Collins, a principal donor to Rudy Giuliani's political action committee, also turns out to be the main man behind Stop Her Now: a PAC devoted to tainting the presidential prospects of Guess Who. While not illegal, the situation is ever-so-slightly uncouth, especially as Collins has taken to describing himself as Stop Her Now's "chairman." [NYT]
• Seems Mike Bloomberg may actually be overdoing the anti-cop stance after the Queens 50-bullet shooting. The mayor said that the cops should face a Queens jury — a reference to the Albany trial in the Diallo case; the statement didn't sit too well with the officers' families, since there aren't even any indictments yet. Everyone else kinda loves the Angry Populist Mike, though. [NYP]
• The belt-tightening program for the New York State health industry, created by a Pataki-led panel, has finally released its report, and the plan would shut down five hospitals in NYC, eliminating 7,000 jobs. City Hall calls the proposal "reasonable," and Spitzer isn't commenting. The rest of us will try extra hard to stay healthy. [NYDN]
• Not that anyone expected otherwise, but Coney Island's Astroland Amusement Park has been sold to a huge developer, Thor Equities. The original owners, the Albert family, will keep the octogenarian Cyclone. The rest of the park will close after the 2007 season for "renovations," which we somehow doubt include an expanded Shoot the Freak pavilion. [NYDN, amNY]
• And, it wasn't exactly a crocodile in a sewer, but a two-foot caiman in a cardboard box is close enough. The cops found the "feisty," in their words, reptile abandoned on a Brooklyn street. In a lovely touch of local color, its jaws were kept shut via a double-knotted sneaker shoelace. [AP via IHT]
The Census Bureau, as you no doubt read, announced that the nation's population would officially hit 300 million at 7:46 this morning. It's an exciting milestone for the country, no doubt, but it became ever more exciting for us as New Yorkers when a press release arrived with word the magic 300 millionth had been born right here in New York. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center — and, boy, wasn't life easier back when it was just Columbia Presbyterian? — scheduled a news conference this afternoon to introduce this 300 millionth baby, Zoë Emille Hudson, delivered on the Upper East Side. We wondered how Presbyterian got so lucky to get this milestone baby, so we called up the PR contact listed on the press release to ask. A few hours later, someone called back.
Daily Intel: So how do you know you have the 300 millionth?
Hospital flack: Of course we don't know. We just know we had a baby born at 7:46, and that was the time the census had set for the 300 millionth American.
Daily Intel: So was it all a PR event?
Hospital flack: I know that Elmhurst Hospital did something today. I heard Maimonides did something. So that's three in the New York area that all had babies at 7:46. We got some national coverage. CNN was here, ABC evening news was here. I know Good Morning America was going to go down and do something in Atlanta. So there's got to be places all over that had their babies and did stories locally.
Daily Intel: You know, the the Times article today said demographers think the 300 millionth probably happened months ago. Do you have a rival candidate?
Hospital flack: No clue.