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Dirty Jobs

20070314heds_small.jpg • The grand jury in the Sean Bell 50-bullet shooting case is about to start deliberations; there's a fear that, should it fail to indict the cops, some unrest may erupt. You know things are shaky because Bloomberg found the time for an Al Sharpton meet-and-greet. [amNY] • In the meantime, a police shootout in Harlem ended with a plainclothes officer wounded and the suspect dead. (In a separate incident, two other officers were slashed with a knife while serving a subpoena.) No justification of the Bell business implied, but … a tough job, this. [WNBC] • Since we're apparently the kind of city where people punch 85-year-old women in the face, we might need a special law against punching 85-year-old women in the face. A new Albany proposal suggests a penalty hike for attacking anyone over 70. [NYP] • The Health Department may deny that it's been on a rampage ever since the rat video, but even the Times cites the "furious pace" of closings: 94 places shut down in twelve days. [NYT] • And, Bernie Kerik has rejected a deal with the Feds that included him doing some light time for his impressive litany of still-alleged transgressions: tax fraud, conspiracy to eavesdrop (hi Jeanine!), and mortgage fraud. So, on to a trial then? Excellent. [NYDN]

Good Grief

• Hundreds of people, not all of them Muslims, attended the Islamic funeral ceremony for the nine children and a mother who perished in the last week's fire. Mayor Bloomberg quoted the Koran; strangers offered to rebuild the house and pay for the funerals. [NYT] • The newly berserk Health Department shut down Union Square's Coffee Shop after finding 120 violation points. The department's management, meanwhile, denies a concerted crackdown, saying inspectors are told to "adhere to current policies." That's a crackdown. [WNBC] • The indefatigable Clipper Equity, whose $1.3 billion Starrett City bid was killed to the applause of every authority imaginable, is back with a new offer: same price plus ironclad "proof" it won't raise rents. How will it make money, then? Why, build more housing on the property. [NYP] • Here's a good moral-compass exercise: Try to work up some compassion for Jeannie Kraph, who says she's being muscled out of her Williamsburg rental. Kraph has been paying $150 a month in rent for the last 50 years. [amNY] • And Al Sharpton does nothing to disprove his supposed jealousy of Barack Obama (cited in the Post) by fuming to the usually Al-friendlier Daily News about senator's "nerve." "I want to know his position on police brutality!" He loves it, Rev. [NYDN]

Cops Broke, Case Open

20070312heds_small.jpg • We've lost count of the "milestones" in the Second Avenue Subway saga, so forgive us for not sharing in the MTA's glee over the news that a construction contract signing is imminent. Key phrase: "The third groundbreaking ceremony will be the charm, MTA officials said." [amNY] • Despite eyewitnesses, a sketch, surveillance footage, and tons of tips, Queens cops have been unable to nab an ostensible human being who mugged a 101-year-old (and punched an 85-year-old in the face). [NYP] • Possibly related: So strapped for cash are NYPD recruits, reports the Daily News (whose new site design is lovely), that the Police Academy is offering them a $500 credit card. As opposed to, say, a $500 pay raise. [NYDN] • The Roxy, the cavernous disco–skating rink on 18th Street, shut its doors in style Saturday — with a gay bash that attracted 4,000 and lasted until Sunday noon. The building — suddenly a neighbor to Frank Gehry's NYC debut — will, naturally, be "redeveloped." [NYT] • And, Fred Thompson (Manhattan D.A. Arthur Branch on Law & Order) is mulling a presidential run. He spent more time in the Senate than Obama (1994 to 2003). [WNBC]

The Perfect Firetrap

• Yesterday's lethal Bronx fire was a perfect storm of human error: faulty wiring, two dead smoke alarms, no fire escape, the tenants' panicked attempt to deal with the flame themselves, and a tardy rescue truck. [NYT] • Look who's back in business: Former mayor Ed Koch will head a commission that will review, and help reform, the state comptroller's office. Also on the commission: Tom Suozzi, the would-be Spitzer, and the AFL-CIO chief. We're getting serious "shadow government" vibes. [amNY] • Mathieu Eugene, who beat nine opponents for a City Council seat, is demanding a revote. Despite his decisive victory, Eugene can't take office: He flouted the residency requirement by living in Canarsie before the election. Meanwhile, leaderless East Flatbush shockingly does not descend into anarchy. [NYDN] • In a Law & Order–worthy case of creative definition of jurisdiction, the Manhattan D.A. is indicting a Brazilian congressman, Paulo Maluf. Maluf has never been in New York, but his money sure was: $11.6 million of it, all allegedly stolen and funneled through a Fifth Avenue bank. [MetroNY] • Speaking of Law & Order: The community-board meeting on renaming a midtown intersection the Jerry Orbach Corner turned into meta-farce when Sam Waterston showed up to address the surly board. The vote ended in hung jury. [NYT]

The Bronx Was Burning

• A brutal fire in the Bronx engulfed a four-story house filled with immigrant families, killing eight children and one adult. Witnesses relate terrible images of children tossed out of the windows in a last-ditch attempt to save them. A basement space heater is cited as the cause. [NYT] • A Barack Obama fund-raiser scheduled for tomorrow in midtown has caused what the Daily News terms a "ticket-buying frenzy." The $100 event at Grand Hyatt will be aimed at "younger people" — for the moneyed elders, there's a $1,000-a-head reception at the same hotel, but earlier. [NYDN] • Know those ubiquitous, slightly nagging TV ads telling women to vaccinate against the human papillomavirus? Funny thing: None of the city's STD clinics and immunization centers have the vaccine. [MetroNY] • And now he's a lawyer: George Pataki is joining Chadbourne & Parke, a law firm housed in 30 Rock, as a consultant on environmental issues. Wait, wasn't he supposed to be running for president? [NYP]

Strike Two?

20070307heds_sm.jpg • Mere months after the cabbie-mollifying rate hike, the City Hall is, once again, getting taxi drivers riled up. Bloomberg's plan to stick GPS (no navigation, just tracking) and a camera into every cab has many calling for the first strike since 1998. [MetroNY] • The drive to rename (or, as the City Council calls it, co-name) the corner of 53rd and Eighth Jerry Orbach Way has run into a tough community board that opposes such things on principle. How tough? They already shot down Guy Lombardo Place. [NYT] • A prominent, albeit imaginary, Lower East Sider has been viciously murdered today by a sniper's bullet while exiting a courthouse: Marvel has killed off Captain America, né Steve Rogers. First Libby's guilty and now this. [NYDN] • And, per gleeful L.A. Times reprint in West Virginia's Charleston Daily Mail, "Despite New York City Council decision, the n-word [is] still being used." And we're fairly sure that somewhere in Charleston, despite the state's common law, anal sex is still being had. [Charleston Daily Mail]

Bring Me the Head of Raymond Kelly

20070306heds_sm.jpg • "I want his head chopped off" is normally a figure of speech. Not so for Rikers inmate David Brown Jr., who offered an undercover cop $15,000 to behead Commissioner Kelly and bomb the police HQ. All allegedly, of course. We don't want the guy after us. [NYP] • Rudy Giuliani, still incomprehensibly a "front-runner," found himself in California defending new wife Judith from angry stepson Andrew. Just a short preview of what the primary season will look like. [NYDN] • Immigrants protest squalid conditions in front of their freezing Lower East Side tenement: No, it's not 1914. It's 2007, and the new landlord's angling to evict rent-stabilized tenants. [MetroNY] • Your forecast for the day: 30 mph winds with a chill of nine degrees below zero. This is the rare time we're actually proud of typing this at home. [amNY] • And you know what the worst thing about kids' vocabulary contests is? It's seeing the newspaper ledes lunge for ten-dollar words ("Billy Dorminy was perspicuous, talking about poecilonyms") as a "funny" exception to our usual writing level. Oh, and felicitations, Billy. [NYT]

Parts and Labor

20070305heds_small.jpg • New Jersey governor Jon Corzine has acknowledged giving "large gifts" to union boss Carla Katz, whom he dated shortly before running for the office. How large? Well, the words "tuition bills" and "mortgage forgiveness" come up. [NYP] • The city is on what the News gleefully terms "pervert alert," as a whopping 64 sex offenders who had claimed to be living in NYC housing projects turn out to be unaccounted for. (Giving cops a bogus address is a misdemeanor in itself.) [NYDN] • RightRides, a ride-home service for women who'd rather not walk alone at night in troubled neighborhoods, is giving volunteers camcorders to film their walks; eerie first-person views of deserted streets are intended as evidence but accidentally double as compelling video art. [MetroNY] • We knew Chuck Schumer was a bit of a compulsive camera hog, but we had no idea why: Turns out the senator's Rosebud is a triumphant quiz-show TV appearance in 1967, wherein 16-year-old Chuck helped his James Madison team defeat Flushing High. [NYT] • And it's on: White Castle versus Mayor Bloomberg! The slider chain, as well as its buddies Wendy's and Quiznos, are pulling all nutritional info from their menus in defiance of the new NYC law mandating just the opposite. The reason is, supposedly, lack of space, and we're far too classy for a rat-as-ingredient joke. Or are we? [All Headline News]

The Starrett Sale Is Dead!

• That $1.3 billion Starrett City deal? Yeah, not gonna happen. The Housing and Urban Development secretary is blocking the sale of the subsidized enclave to Clipper Equity. The deal's vocal opponents included Bloomberg, Cuomo, Spitzer, Schumer, Clinton, and, apparently, God. [NYDN] • Meanwhile, the demolition at the future Atlantic Yards site begins in earnest, with Ratner aiming the wrecking ball at twelve buildings on Pacific, Flatbush, Vanderbilt, and Dean — all within next week. Is it good-bye, weird Guyanese JRG Fashion Cafe? [NYP] • The dancing-rat drama is far from over. In fact, it's amping up: After its initial gaffe, the Health Department came down like a hammer on three more joints (this time, for variety's sake, Pizza Huts) owned by the same franchisee; the parent company, Yum Brands, then voluntarily closed ten more. [NYT] • And dentist Lawrence Rosenthal is suing Cory Lidle's estate for $7 million dollars, because the Yankee's fiery death had inconvenienced him. This, mind you, is the same Rosenthal of the BadDentist.com infamy. Litigious, much? [amNY]

American Graffiti

• The City Council has approved — 49-0 — a symbolic ban on the N-word; the ban carries no penalties but already seems to be in effect, seeing that not a single publication covering it can bring itself to print the slur. [Newsday] • And on the same day, a man pleaded guilty to scrawling "anti-Semitic slurs" — also unspecified — on cars parked near a Queens synagogue. City Council, get bannin'! [amNY] • The Splasher, an anonymous culprit who defaces street art with violent handfuls of paint, has earned a chin-scratching Times profile. As expected, at issue is the line between "respectable" graffiti (Banksy, Swoon) and Splasher's vandalism. Or is it art? [NYT] • OMG Madonna's collection at H&M! We're more than a little perplexed why this is front-page material to the Daily News, so feel free to point out some sort of Mort-Madonna link we've accidentally missed. [NYDN] • And in a particularly bizarre round of Mad Libs, a 46-year-old dominatrix … was busted for weapons possession … in a $3 million Bedford Hills mansion … owned by an Orthodox rabbinical school. [NYP]

But How Does He Feel About Trans Fats?

• In the no-brainer firing of the year, the Health Department has divested itself of the inspector who gave a passing grade to the famously ratty KFC–Taco Bell. The shuttered place, meanwhile, became a locus for some fun public art. [NYT] • Underreported amid the possible culprits of yesterday's Wall Street carnage — China, Cheney — were horrendously timed technical glitches at the NYSE: At some point, trades were done via paper tickets. [NYP] • Add a federal investigation to the list of JetBlue's headaches: The U.S. Transportation Secretary is calling for an official look-see into the recent snowstorm stranding of passengers on the JFK tarmac. American Airlines will get its own probe for a similar incident in Austin. [amNY] • The Thurmond-Sharpton Roots-on-acid miniseries continues to play out: The senator's biracial daughter, Essie Mae Washington Williams, is reprimanding the reverend for "overreacting," saying "[my father] did many wonderful things for black people." [NYDN] • And meet Gerard Mortier, new director of the New York City Opera, whose farewell production on his previous job was a staging of Die Fledermaus with cocaine, incest, suicide, and Nazis. Welcome!!! [CBS News]

Edward Egan, Landlord

• Cardinal Egan made parishioners cry when he pulled a brusque landlord trick to get rid of a tenant. He summoned the pastor of the crumbling, doomed Our Lady of Vilnius for a meeting, then ordered guards to shutter the church while the priest was out. Smooth. [NYP] • Hey, you know where else we can fit a 50-story condo tower? Before you come back with something obscene, here's where: South Street Seaport. If built, it will be the first building of its sort to the east of the FDR Drive. [amNY] • Hizzoner rarely makes us remember that he's a Republican, but one reliable reminder is his distaste for garish court settlements. The city just tried to cap the awards to the victims of the 2003 ferry crash at $14 million, citing a dusty maritime law. A federal court said no dice. [NYT] • Just days after reports that the westward extension of the 7 line was in jeopardy, the MTA has thrown the $35.8 million contract open to bids. The city is forking over $2.1 billion. Until the next time we hear that it isn't. [MetroNY] • And a Queens man was arrested for selling porny versions of copyrighted costume characters, including Barney and Scooby-Doo, to furry fetishists. In the words of the News, "Kinky Costume Caper Crushed." (Weak. The Post would have gone with all Ks.) [NYDN]

Poor Joe Bruno

• We've heard some incriminating things about Joe Bruno, Albany's top Republican, lately; he's been enmeshed in some fishy investments and nepotistic dealings, and the FBI is all over him. Now comes the most shocking revelation: All this hustle and the dude isn't even rich. [NYT] • The Health Department on the shuttered KFC–Taco Bell that became one of West Village's main attractions this past weekend for its scampering rats: "It doesn't look like the inspection that was done … met our standards." What do you mean? There's not a drop of trans fat on these babies! [WNBC] • Apparently state senators were serious about protesting the $1.3 billion sale of Brooklyn's subsidized enclave Starrett City to an -private equity group. After the obligatory photo ops glad-handing the residents, they're actually trying to pass a bill that will block the deal. [NYP] • More grief for JetBlue: Last night's relatively light dusting of snow caused the now-extra-cautious carrier to cancel a whopping 68 of today's flights. Yeah, we'd be unloading that stock right about now, if we had any. [AP via CBS News] • And how can you tell someone's got a touch of Oscar envy? James "King of the World" Cameron will hold a press conference in New York today — to declare that he has found Jesus's grave. [amNY]

Caffeine Is It!

• City Councilman Simcha Felder has either great timing or way more power than we thought. Two days after he embarked on a public crusade to get caffeine content included on food labels, Coca-Cola did what he wanted. [AP via Newsday] • Ooh, a big twist in an otherwise uneventful election! Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the new councilman elected to replace Congresswoman Yvette Clark, has to prove that he actually lives in the district before he can legally take the seat. [NYP] • A five-judge state appeals court has unanimously upheld the constitutionality of New York's long-in-the-tooth Cabaret Law. (A lawsuit claimed that the dancing ban in bars and clubs infringes on free expression.) At least there are no plans to beef up the silly rule's enforcement. [MetroNY] • NYU's College Republicans got exactly what they wanted — scandal and press — when they staged a "Catch the Illegal Immigrant" game on campus. (The objective was to spot a student with an "immigrant" tag for a $50 reward.) The event drew 300 angry protesters instead. [NYDN] • And André Balazs isn't the only one bringing Beaver back to New York. For the first time in 200 years, the actual North American beaver is setting up camp in the Bronx River, a testament to a recent, $15 million cleanup. [NYT]


• The Post stokes Giuliani's presidential fire by reporting that the ex-mayor leads Hillary 48 to 43 percent nationwide and ties her in "blue states" (including New York). Don't ever stop printing those, lest he change his mind! [NYP] • Four gay couples have already not-quite-married in New Jersey, which on Monday became the third state in our fair country to offer civil unions. (Why just now and not Monday? There's a 72-hour waiting period.) In Asbury Park, the mayor officiated. [WNBC] • Here's a nice little companion item to yesterday's report that Manhattan workers take home twice the national average in wages: They also, according to a strangely balanced-sounding statistic, pay 47 percent more in taxes. [MetroNY] • Having solved every problem that has ever plagued the State of New York, the Assembly turns its attention to the inadequate enforcement of the "pooper scooper" law within the city. Apparently, a $50 to $100 fine is not enough of a deterrent to the cash-rich Manhattanites (see previous item). Would a $250 one help? [amNY] • Dr. Denton Sayer Cox, a onetime prominent physician who treated Andy Warhol, is hospitalized himself after a stranger beat and burned him with an unknown chemical in his Upper East Side triplex. Police allege, and the News relishes, a gay pickup gone awry. [NYDN]

Wanna Buy the Freedom Tower?

• Guess what Port Authority is going to do with the Freedom Tower once the construction is over? What every owner of a half-built property dreams of doing: Flip it. By its completion in 2011, the skyscraper may be up for sale, say Spitzer and Corzine. [Metro] • Meet Mathieu Eugene, the City Council's newest member and the first Haitian to fill the seat. Eugene won a low-profile, low-turnout special election in Brooklyn after his predecessor, Yvette Clarke, moved on to Congress. [NYP] • Busta Rhymes, on trial for kicking a fan and beating up a former chauffeur, rejected a deal that would land him in jail for a cred-building six months. The alternative: probation, anger management, and two weeks of lecturing kids about violence. [NYDN] • In New York, we wage our war on Christmas all year round — and we're winning it, too. The U.S. Supreme Court washed its hands of the Brooklyn-filed case that challenged the citywide ban on school nativity displays. (Menorahs and Islamic crescents, however, are totally okay). [FoxNews.com] • And in New Jersey, a similar battle with a techie twist: A public-school history teacher is in hot water after a student taped him proselytizing ("If you reject [Jesus], you belong in hell," etc.) and saying that dinosaurs were on Noah's ark. [NYT]

Viva Sullivan County

• Governor Spitzer has approved a "Las Vegas-style" gambling den in the Catskills. The Mohawk tribe will run it, despite the casino being 400 miles away from its reservation, and the state will get a 25 percent cut. That is, if environmentalists and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior get on board. [NYT] • Call us twisted, but we love watching JetBlue continue to flagellate itself over last week's stranding of its JFK passengers; the CEO of the formerly cuddly airline is scripting a my-bad TV ad and proposing a "customer bill of rights" that will financially penalize JetBlue for such things. [NYDN] • The Brooklyn District Attorney's office seems eager to reinvent itself as a telenovela. An ADA was suspended for allegedly passing witness info to her boyfriend, a defense attorney; that's one day after a female investigator was accused of a dalliance with a jailed mobster. How soon before evil twins show up? [NYP] • Next up for Bloombergian rezoning: the Garment Center. Crain's predicts "a flurry of buying and selling." Luxury condos? Actually, no, just newer and better offices. Whew. [Crain's] • And you can always rely on the City Council for an offbeat ordinance proposal. Today, the honor goes to Councilman Simcha Felder, who wants warning labels on coffee. [amNY]

Scientific Proof: Manhattanites Are Superior to Queens Residents

• As home sales slump in other cities, New Yorkers, wallets fat with Wall Street's big year-end bonuses, kick off 2007 with a surge in purchases of everything from tiny studios to whoppers like a $2.5 million home "in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn," the Times overexplicitly reports. [NYT] • Who's slimmer, Manhattanites or folks from outer Queens? Likely the former, according to a new Columbia study finding that New Yorkers who live near lots of stores and subways have lower body-mass-index levels than do those from more suburban parts of the city. [Medical News Today] • From Teaneck to Asbury Park, hundreds of gay couples show up at town halls in New Jersey today as the state becomes the third to offer civil unions. [NYP] • Bill Clinton "stands in" for his wife at an Albany summit of state black and Latino lawmakers, many of whom stay mum on whom they'll back for the Democratic presidential bid, HRC or her duskier rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. [NYDN] • Mary's Fish Camp, Artisanal, and, yep, good old Eisenberg's are among the venues offering the twenty best sandwiches in New York City, from fancy-shmancy grilled-cheese redos to old-fashioned egg salad. [amNY]

Parking Wars

• A riot is brewing — or, more likely, the tabloids are picking up some easy populist points — over Mayor Bloomberg's failure to lift alternate-side parking rules during this week's snowstorm. [NYDN, amNY] • Guess which single mayoral action is "tragic and misguided", and will "degrade societal standards" — the smoking ban, LES rezoning, the 2012 Olympic bid? Wrong: it's those damnable free condoms, according to Cardinal Egan and Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio. [NYP] • We all know about the sex-offender registry, but what does one do with homeless sex offenders? Suffolk Country found one, vaguely medieval, solution: put them in trailers that are periodically rotated around the county. [Newsday] • MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry is even richer than we (and the IRS) knew: In addition to a jaw-dropping salary of $1.28 million a year, Lowry has been getting millions through a murky tax-exempt trust set up by the Museum's benefactors. [NYT] • And in parting, this, from today's OMG-straight-men-can-cook "trend" profile in the News : "I'm constantly bringing wild game back to my apartment, and my girlfriend and I sit outside and pluck it." Don't we all?[NYDN]

Not Leavin' on a Jet Plane

• 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]