• It’s down to the wire — the deadline for the legislature to approve Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing plan is today — and the still-unbowed mayor is pulling out all stops: Yesterday, he campaigned for it in three churches, fer chrissakes. [NYT]
the morning line
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]
State Comptroller Says the Horse Can’t Do
New State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s “Review of the Financial Plan of the City of New York” is not a fun read, but it’s as exuberant as a PDF from a .gov source can get. Tax collections are “far beyond the City’s expectations.” Surplus time all around! Plus, “conservative economic assumptions” lowball robust revenue forecasts for 2007. Our attention, however, was drawn to the travails of one city-related public authority floundering among all that splendor: the Off-Track Betting Corporation. Turns out the OTB’s on a bit of a cold streak owing to “significant fiscal stress” and “rising expenses.” By the end of 2006, it was down to $18 million in cash, which it swears will be enough to sustain operations in 2007. Notably, DiNapoli doesn’t endorse that assessment, instead citing unnamed officials. And so the OTB is left in the unenviable position of actually waiting for its own horse to come in.
Review of the Financial Plan of the City of New York [Office of the State Comptroller]
in other news
Comptrollergate Ends With a Whimper
Worth noting only because it seems to be the end of this saga: Alan Hevesi was sentenced Friday by an Albany judge. The former comptroller had already pleaded guilty last year to a felony fraud count for using state employees to chauffeur his wife (and, if we recall correctly, hang out with her, and help her with physical-therapy exercises, and so on). You’ll remember that Hevesi had previously quit his job despite handily winning reelection, paid back some $206,000 to the state to cover the cost of those employees’ salaries, agreed to never again run for public office, and submitted his DNA to the state’s criminal database. So what was the judge’s final blow to the fallen politician? A $5,000 fine. Seems a bit anticlimactic, no?
Given a Fine, Hevesi Praises His Successor [NYT]
The Penitent [NYM]
the morning line
DHS Now Officially Full of Shit• The federal formula used to allot New York its pitiful share of anti-terrorism funds has been officially discredited. A new GAO report says — in as many words — that Homeland Security officials lack methods to assess risk. Actuarial math aside, failure to classify the Empire State Building as a landmark was a bit of a giveaway. [NYDN]
• In related news, the Empire State Building is America’s favorite piece of architecture, according to the American Institute of Architects poll. The White House is number two. [WNBC]
• Meet Tom DiNapoli. As New York’s Chris Smith reported yesterday, state legislators reneged on a deal with Governor Spitzer and installed the assemblyman as the new state comptroller. On the upside, according to the Times, DiNapoli is apparently the nicest guy in Albany. [NYT]
• The plot thickens in the Long Island fake-cop case. The con man in question not only wore fake uniform and a prop badge; he owned a car complete with a siren, maintained the cop identity 24/7, and shook down criminals for a living. [NYP]
• And it’s official: The bankrupt Air America now belongs to real-estate mogul Stephen Green, brother of Mark. The price tag on the voice of the American Left? $4.25 million. We assume they threw in The Nation. [amNY]
it just happened
Governor Eliot Spitzer just concluded an angry press conference in Albany — his public response to today’s rebellion by the State Legislature, which voted to make Long Island state assemblyman Tom DiNapoli the new state comptroller. Spitzer scored plenty of rhetorical points — calling DiNapoli’s selection “an insider’s game of self-dealing” that “confirms the public’s worst image of what this Legislature does when given discretion,” and ripping Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver for “a lack of integrity.” He also tried to contrast the palace intrigue of the comptroller choice with the “public vote” yesterday that sent Craig Johnson to Albany to fill a State Senate vacancy.
the morning line
Steamrolling in Our Time
• Ladies and gentlemen, your new catchphrase for the day: “I am a fucking steamroller.” If we are to believe the Post exclusive, this gem was uttered by none other than Governor Spitzer — in response to a GOP assemblyman who complained about being shut out of the legislative process. [NYP]
• Albany Democrats, who apparently didn’t get the above memo, are, in the delicate Times phrasing, “leaning toward reneging” on their deal with Spitzer that lets him hand-pick the Hevesi replacement. [NYT]
• The White House has approved $25 million in aid to combat lung diseases and others in 9/11 first responders. And to think all it took was five and a half years, and the Dems pretty much parading a dead cop around the State of the Union address. [NYDN]
• Guess who’s about to sign a lease for $50,000 square feet at Lincoln Center vacated by the dear old Tower Records? T. J. Maxx, that’s who. And so, suburbia encroaches one step closer. [Crain’s]
• And the Landmarks Preservation Commission has bestowed its blessing on three heretofore unprotected sites, thus saving them from, you guessed it, a fucking steamroller: two Harlem churches — one built by the architect of St. Patrick’s — and the awesomely named Horn & Hardart Automat-Cafeteria Building. (Now, sadly, a drugstore). [amNY]
early and often
As Testimony Starts, Spitzer’s Comptroller Pick Faces Questions About His Old JobBill Mulrow, the down-to-earth public-private finance whiz, will be the first of — count ‘em — seventeen hopefuls testifying in Albany today and tomorrow in hopes of filling Alan Hevesi’s sullied shoes as state comptroller. But as Mulrow was preparing his opening remarks last night, he was also planning to address questions that have been raised about his former employer, Gabelli Asset Management, a Rye-based mutual-fund company that has been plagued by recent scandals, investigations, and a $100 million shareholder lawsuit.
A campaign adviser to his close friend Eliot Spitzer, Mulrow has a polished resume and is widely considered by politicos to be the Spitz’s top choice to replace Hevesi, especially because of Mulrow’s private-sector experience. But there are many — including some of his competitors for the gig — who want to know what funds he worked on while serving as a senior vice-president at Gabelli and about his association with his embattled former boss, the charismatic and well-known money manager Mario “Super Mario” Gabelli.