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New Jersey

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Rudy's in the Money (Sorta)

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• Rudy Giuliani came out on top in the second round of Republican fund-raising, becoming the only GOP candidate to raise more dough in the second quarter of 2007 ($17 million) than in the first ($16 million). For comparison’s sake, Barack Obama took in $31 million over the same period. [NYDN]

Smile!

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Any of you spend much time in suburban Essex County, New Jersey, in, say, the last quarter-century? So you know Don's, the big restaurant on South Orange Avenue in Short Hills with the decent hamburgers and the pickle bar and the sticky buns? Remember in what must have been the early-mid-eighties, when they renovated the place with all those head shots of customers happily eating and smiling, which they plastered all over the walls and on the menus? Yeah, well, apparently they're now projecting basically the same thing on the side of the GE Building, as this summer's public-art exhibit at Rockefeller Center. "Monument to Smile," by Agnes Winter, launched last night. What's Up With Those Smiles? [NYT, second item]

New Jersey and You: Skinnier Together

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• 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]

Never Fear, Corzine's Here

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• Is New Jersey governor Jon Corzine a superhero? He's back to work today, just a few weeks after breaking a leg, eleven ribs, his collarbone, his sternum, and more in a horrific SUV crash. Three-time acting governor Richard Codey again politely recedes into the background. [WNBC] • Kirsys Rodriguez, a 12-year-old Bronx girl, is in critical condition after catching a bullet in a post-party "dispute": She was trying to flee the gunfire that erupted over somebody's Sidekick. [NYT] • Roger Clemens is back with the Yankees for the rest of 2007, for the discussion-ending $28 million (the Red Sox put up a paltry $18 million). Since the Yanks' starting pitchers have been dropping like flies, he'll start within days. [amNY] • Joseph Oddo, a Virginia-based writer whose pet cause is to draft independent candidates to run for president, ha set his sights on Bloomberg. The Website, DraftMichael.com, handily serves to raise public awareness of, well, Joseph Oddo. [NYS] • And it's not exactly local news, but since Spider-Man has been bugging this city for the last several weeks, the least we can do is report his box office: $148 million for the weekend (a record), $59 million on Friday alone (a record), and $375 million worldwide (a record). Can he go away now? [NYDN]

New Jersey and Stewart Airport, Perfect Together

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• The Port Authority has permission from New Jersey's acting governor to buy or build two new airports outside its normal area of operations. The first one will be Stewart International, 65 miles from New York; next up, Atlantic City? [NYDN] • The plan to open a secular Arabic-studies school in Park Slope is nearly dead in the face of a massive and misguided outcry from parents and media who thought it would be a madrassa; the Sun, for instance, suggested we "break out the torches and surround City Hall to stop this monstrosity." [NYT] • An eBay official is testifying in the Peter Braunstein case to list the items the crazed ex-journalist bid on in preparation for his crimes: firefighter gear, handcuffs, a gas mask, potassium nitrate, a Detroit cop badge, a FDNY sticker, and a camcorder. [WNBC] • A unique surgery healed a Long Island 3-year-old from a case of the permanent giggles doctors dubbed the Joker Face. (It's actually a very rare form of epilepsy, caused by a tumor on the hypothalamus.) [Newsday] • And we're shocked — shocked! — to report an intern scandal in the halls of power. Republican Mike Cole has become the first-ever assemblyman to get officially censured for spending a night in a female intern's apartment. Granted, he was merely watching the NHL playoffs there, with a bunch of other people present, but still. [NYP]

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]

Fairest of the Fair, She Is

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• In a turnaround from yesterday, Miss America will testify as a witness in the eleven court cases she helped build by playing a 14-year-old in a televised Long Island sex-sting op. [WNBC] • The Mets fan who used a powerful flashlight to blind a Braves pitcher has been sentenced to fifteen days behind bars — and a lifetime ban from Shea Stadium — after pleading guilty to "interfering with a sporting event." [NYP] • Speaking of the Mets, Citi Field now has its own Daniel Goldstein: One (and perhaps the only) inhabitant of Willets Point's "Iron Triangle," 74-year-old Joe Ardizzone, is refusing to relocate and make way for the stadium. [amNY] • After losing half his blood and breaking a bunch of bones in an SUV crash, New Jersey governor Jon Corzine requested yesterday to be fined for not wearing a seat belt. Today, he is exactly $46 dollars poorer and, presumably, happier. [NYT] • Here's someone who won't be requesting a ticket: A Queens burglary suspect, fleeing from cops in a stolen SUV, rammed into a bus carrying disabled students. Oh, yes, the apartment he burglarized? A police officer's. [NYDN]

Back and to the Left

A new book by Salon.com founder David Talbot claims that the JFK assassination was the joint work of the CIA and the Mafia. Philadelphia TV reporter Alycia Lane mistakenly sent risqué e-mails intended for NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen to his wife. Pete Wentz wants his new East Village bar, Angels and Kings, to be a place where people can have sex in the bathroom. A lot of bankers can no longer expense meals at Hawaiian Tropic Zone. Alec Baldwin skipped the premiere of his new movie to go to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. Good move: The screening — of a movie in which he plays an estranged father after a messy divorce — would have been awkward. Penélope Cruz bought the wait staff at the Waverly Inn a round of shots. Rosie O'Donnell dropped a subtle hint that she may be headed to CBS. Boy George was arrested in London for keeping some guy chained to his wall. Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields gambled together in Vegas.

Sprung From Cages on Highway 9

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• New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine apologized from a wheelchair for the careless driving that led to his crash. Then he rode home from the hospital, fifteen miles over the speed limit. [NYP] • In the meantime, perennial bridesmaid Richard Codey is easing into his third acting-governor gig in six years — this time, unlike during the McGreevey denouement, without a personal staff and with an elected leader watching over him. [NYT] • Owner Hilly Kristal is having second thoughts about the CBGB-in-Vegas thing, turning down investor after investor because "the focus has to be on new acts, new interesting things." We could certainly use that thinking for, let's see, the last fifteen years of the original CB's. [MetroNY] • After losing two men in a week to freak train accidents, MTA has decided to halt all track work pending a safety review. Workers say that a lack of two-way radios may be to blame. [amNY] • And "as a thank-you to our readers," the Daily News costs 25 cents this week — starting, that is, the exact same day the Post began charging 50 cents again. The extreme-skinflint demographic is theirs! Temporarily! [NYDN]

No Good News

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• It pales in comparison to Virginia, but it shouldn't: A disturbed Queens man killed his mother and two others before killing himself. The mother is said to have called the police seven times seeking protection, the last time minutes before her death. [NYDN] • The Virginia Tech gunman addressed his manifesto to "30 Rockefeller Avenue, NY, NY 10102" — and it still made it to NBC: the one package that would probably be better off lost. [NYT] • Oh, great, look who's coming to Manhattan: JCPenney. The company will open a 150,000-square-foot store in the midtown. A Lower East Side branch is surely to follow by, oh, 2012. [CNN Money] • The Times produces a think piece on the New Jersey Governors Who Speed, interviewing a Christie Whitman staffer and Thomas Kean. The consensus is that speeding is "just part of the culture." [NYT] • And the final bummer on a wretched morning: The Gowanus whale is dead. Surprisingly, not from poisoning; the poor thing struck a "rocky ridge." We suspect suicide. [NYP]

Save the Whale, and the Musicians

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• After Jon Corzine recovers — speedily, we hope — we see a lot of PSAs in his future. Not only was the New Jersey governor not wearing a belt at the time of his crash last Thursday, but the car was doing 91 mph. [NYDN] • Cynthia Greenberg, an activist who claims to have been kicked in the head by an NYPD officer at an antiwar rally, will get $150,000. The city is making the case go away after Greenberg threatened to produce videotape. [NYT] • The German Army has fired the instructor who told his soldiers to imagine scary black dudes in the Bronx before squeezing the trigger. Chalk the victory up to the unlikely alliance of YouTube and Bronx beep Adolfo Carrion. [amNY] • As live-music venue closings reach a critical mass, musicians descended on City Hall yesterday to protest. Turns out guitarist Marc Ribot speaks fluent municipal-ese ("that industry brings hundreds of thousands of tourists," etc.). [Metro NY] • And a baby minke whale has made its way into the Gowanus Canal. As of this moment, it's still navigating the filthy waters, and rescue plans are being drawn up; on a related note, is "Fin City" really the best the Post could do? [NYP]

Everything's Up to Date in Jersey City

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On the off chance you missed today's USA Today, we thought we'd point you to some big news on the front page of America's paper: The model of America's urban future, apparently, is Jersey City. The onetime industrial burg across the Hudson is "clean, green and growing," USA Today says. It's gaining residents, jobs, and office space, and it's got plans for a "mix of loft-style residential condos and rental units, restaurants, clubs, galleries, theaters and artists' spaces" in the so-called Powerhouse Arts District. So Jersey City's up-and-coming and a good place for artists. Who knew? Model of Urban Future: Jersey City? [USA Today] If You Lived Here, You'd Be Cool By Now [NYM]

Après le Deluge

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• Nor'easter weekend scorecard: 400 flights canceled, 1,500 homes left without power on Long Island, and 3,200 National Guard troops dispatched to the flooded areas. [amNY] • New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, injured in a car crash Thursday, remains under sedation at Cooper University Hospital. Corzine broke his left femur, collarbone, sternum, many ribs, and a vertebra. His prospects are good, however, after additional surgery yesterday. [NYT] • Terrible rain and wind didn't stop 200 anti-Ratner activists from making it to a rally protesting planned demolitions at the Atlantic Yards site. The developer is taking out several buildings to create a seven-acre, 1,600-car "temporary" parking lot. [MetroNY] • It's creepy enough that the New York socialite Toni Grossi-Abrams was murdered in Panama and her charred body found in a suitcase. Now the prime suspect in the case is a thrill-seeking Pennsylvania mother whose ex-husband "wouldn't put nothing past her." [NYDN] • And in more Americans-abroad mischief, a Beacon School teacher is in trouble after taking his history class to Cuba for a spring-break trip. Cuba is still illegal for Americans to travel to, of course, and students face a $65,000 fine each. The principal claims, unconvincingly, that she hasn't heard about the trip. [NYP]

Imus Scandal Claims Another Casualty

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• New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is in critical condition, and on a breathing tube, after a serious car crash sustained on his way to moderate Don Imus's meeting with Rutgers basketball players. Early reports say an out-of-control driver caused Corzine's car to swerve and hit a guardrail. Richard Codey is acting governor for the moment. [NYT] • It took a mere day for the other shoe to drop: CBS has fired Don Imus after about 30 years (and countless slurs) on the air. And now the talk-radio world is a safe and happy place again, of course. [NYP] • Turns out New York City is not just a ravenous consumer of bootleg DVDs but also a major factory of them, so videotaping films off the screen, which used to get you fined a measly $250, is now a misdemeanor with jail time attached. [IHT] • More scary housing stats: There have been 554 foreclosure auctions in New York City between January and March, up 56.5 percent from last year's fourth quarter, as folks begin defaulting on loans. [Prime Newswire] • And Governor Schwarzenegger — he of the Hummer fleet — is in New York teaching us about the environment. Okay, fine, California did pass a groundbreaking emission-reduction law and refuses to buy coal-derived electricity. Still: annoying. [NY Metro]

Gee, Man

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• Friendly fire from fellow FBI men killed an agent in the middle of an operation in Readington, New Jersey. The Feds were taking down a gang of armed bank robbers, one of whom escaped and remains on the loose. [NYP] • David Bistricer of Clipper Equity, the thwarted would-be buyer of the Starrett City housing megacomplex, is back. This time, he cobbled together a camera-ready coalition: a lobbyist with Spitzer connections, an architect, and two black ministers. [NYT] • More awesomeness from Rudy Giuliani's traveling road show: The presidential candidate began a stump speech in California with a Godfather impersonation, then referred to his wife as "a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction." Yeah, he's a shoo-in. [amNY] • Geese are driving ducks out of Central Park, so the city is bringing in border collies to drive out the geese. Before we make a "who's going to drive out the dogs" joke, let's pause and reflect on the fact that there's a company called Geese Police Inc. on the city payroll. [NYT] • And a strong contestant for the dumbest con ever: An unemployed Brooklynite siphoned off $3.6 million from a city account at JPMorgan Chase (by rigging up 604 individual electronic transfers), spent it through Jewelry TV, then tried to pawn the baubles for cash. [NYDN]

Jersey Jackals

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• The Times reveals that the Garden State has been regularly raiding its own state-worker pension fund, funneling billions into other government projects. Given the size of its public sector, disaster looms; New Jersey, we thought better of you. [NYT] • Activists in East Harlem faced bulldozers in a dramatic, and failed, showdown over a community garden. The site, on 110th and Fifth, is being cleared for the future Museum for African Art — and, of course, a luxury condo tower. [amNY] • The Giuliani campaign, God's gift to tabloids, has turned to Rudy's international-policy experience: "I've probably been in foreign lands more than any other candidate" as a private consultant, he assured New Hampshire and hinted he'll hit Iraq next. [NYDN] • The Knitting Factory, the Tribeca music institution, is promising not to go the way of Tonic, Sin-é, CBGB, and many others: Should the rent skyrocket when its lease runs out, the club will try buying the whole building. [MetroNY] • And midtown's old-money hangout/tourist trap '21' Club has even longer arms than previously thought: It just stopped the Pittsburgh Pirates from naming a stadium sports bar "Club 21." Because otherwise the two would be indistinguishable. [NYP]

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

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• We were kinda hoping this wouldn't come out until, say, a week before the primaries, but take it away, Times: Rudy Giuliani was briefed on Bernie Kerik's unsavory dossier, including the commish's possible mafia ties, in 2000. Then Rudy made him the city's top cop. [NYT] • New Jersey governor Jon Corzine has already picked a side of the Dem roster for 2008: He's officially endorsing Hillary. (The State Senate president, Richard Codey, is a John Edwards man.) This is not insignificant considering N.J.'s extra-early primary date. [WNBC] • Long Island police are investigating nightmarish scenarios after severed limbs "with pink toenail polish" washed up in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester. There's also a torso in a Wal-Mart suitcase, and revolting details galore for the curious. [Newsday] • Since we're reminiscing about Rudy, how about a big fat Catholic controversy around a work of art? Cosimo Cavallaro is planning an Easter exhibit of an anatomically correct (of course) chocolate (of course) Jesus (of course), and he swears the timing is coincidental (yeah, right). [NYDN] • And meanwhile a polyester-resin security guard named Artie, installed in the lobby of a Uniondale office tower, causes no controversy whatsoever. Probably because he's inedible. [NYT]

Corzine, Former Girlfriend Just Want to Be Friends

Corzine's GF
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine used to date (famously) union leader Carla Katz of Communications Workers of America Local 1034. Now, according to the leaders of five other locals, that relationship is ruining their chances at a better contract. But instead of accusing Katz of being the governor's puppet, other union leaders think she's too tough, that "there was probably no contract that was acceptable to her," one of them told the Times. Besides that, Katz's peers believe that she tried to negotiate directly with Corzine away from the bargaining table. The theory is that Katz wants her union cred spotless because she's accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Corzine in tuition bills and mortgage forgiveness. While the passion may be cold — the couple insists they broke up in 2004 — the financial heartstrings are still attached. And that's why Katz is in trouble whatever she does. If she caves, she's accused of accommodating her ex-boyfriend. If she takes a hard line, it seems self-serving. And when it's all over, Katz still gets to explain how her $100,000 salary pays for a $1 million condo. In the meantime, listen closely: That sound you hear is Nora Ephron writing her next romantic comedy. Peers Say a Union Leader Compromises Contract Talks [NYT]

Going Postal

20070316heds_small.jpg • So, yesterday's Village gunman was an ex-Marine and, um, a journalist: he wrote for the Mohave Valley Daily News, a newspaper so small that even its Village-gunman coverage comes from AP. Also, he was a stringer for the Wall Street Journal. [MVDN] • The suspense is killing them: New Jersey is moving its presidential primary to February 5 from February 26 (a year after moving it up from June). So are 25 other states. Oh, let's just have the damn thing right now. [NYT] • A sick nurse exposed an astonishing 700 patients to tuberculosis at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Anyone who's been in the maternity, nursery, or psychiatric wards between November and February are well-advised to swing by for a free test. [NYP] • We Only Fly When it's Nice Out: In what is fast becoming an expected occurence, the temperature drops, a little snow comes down, and JetBlue cancels 215 flights, almost all of them to or from JFK. [amNY] • And, this is the lameness that transpires when the U.S. Postal Service tries to do something fun: mailboxes painted to resemble Star Wars' R2-D2, coming to Times Square. "It's not Jabba the Hutt, honey, it's a tourist." [NYDN]

Jim McGreevey: Here, Queer, Used to It, and Protesting

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Is Gay American Jim McGreevey ready to become a gay activist, too? It seems possible after his appearance at a gathering last night at the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in the West Village. Irascible author-activist Larry Kramer, 71, was speaking on the twentieth anniversary of his speech launching ACT UP, the way-gay, street-theatery activist group that goaded major improvements in AIDS policies before lapsing into its current, barely-there incarnation. With predictable dudgeon, Kramer assailed Hillary Clinton, saying that, when it came to payback for her gay supporters, she "is cockteasing us, just like her husband did." He then called for "a new gay army with gay leaders, fighting under a gay flag."