Thursday will be bright and cold, with highs just under freezing.
In a scathing critique of the Bloomberg administration’s oversight practices, New York City’s top fiscal watchdog has accused the city’s main agency for economic development of allowing a contract with a construction company to balloon by tenfold in three years to nearly $74 million, and authorizing more than $3 million in dubious payments.
The accusations, leveled against the New York City Economic Development Corporation, are detailed in an audit that is scheduled to be released on Thursday by John C. Liu, the comptroller.
The audit is the latest in an increasingly hostile battle between the agency, which has become a vital vehicle for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s aggressive development agenda, and Mr. Liu, whose office must approve the corporation’s contract with the city every year. [NYT]
Some New York City officials contend that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to alter the way teachers are evaluated would not be as revolutionary as Mr. Cuomo claims. [NYT] (Also see The Daily News.)
The Public School 22 students who sang “Over the Rainbow” to cap the 2011 Academy Awards returned to New York to find milling reporters asking about their reaction to Andy Cohen’s public description of their performance as “awful” and “horrible” on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” [NYT]
In an abrupt concession to community complaints, the Bloomberg administration said Wednesday that it would scrap a plan for a pedestrian plaza on 34th Street in Manhattan that would have banned automobile traffic on the block between Herald Square and the Empire State Building. [NYT] (Also see The New York Post, The Daily News and The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)
Government & Politics
David W. Johnson, who was an aide to Gov. David A. Paterson, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to harassing a former girlfriend, capping a series of events that enveloped Mr. Paterson in scandal and derailed his bid for election last year. [NYT] (Also see The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)
Hospital leaders have supported billions in cuts proposed by Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid redesign team, even though in the past they have proven imposing budgetary opponents. But this year, hospitals have a strong incentive to pursue the cuts: a proposal that limits malpractice cases and could save hospitals about as much money annually as that lost to the cuts. [NYT]
The City Council passed a bill on Wednesday seeking more transparency from crisis pregnancy centers that present themselves as medical clinics but that critics say offer little more than pregnancy tests and counseling intended to steer women away from abortions. [NYT] (Also see The Daily News, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)
People & Neighborhoods
This spring, a team of historians, geneticists, archaeologists and anthropologists will exhume the remains of the Leather Man, who wandered a 360-mile loop through Westchester and Connecticut in the mid 19th century wearing a leather suit he cobbled from old boots, becoming probably the most famous hermit to inhabit these parts. The scientists seek verifiable details of the man’s identity, which is obscured by innumerable and vastly different reports in newspapers and the Leather Man’s own unwillingness to speak. Peter Applebome tells us about the search, and what little is known about the Leather Man’s story, in the Our Towns column.
Dozens of immigrant workers and business owners showed up at a public hearing at the Flushing Public Library in Queens on Wednesday to protest plans by the mayor to overhaul Willets Point by making room for 5,500 apartments, parks, office buildings, stores, restaurants and a hotel. [NYT]
Bill Wurtzel discusses life as a jazz guitarist with Sam Roberts in the Experience Necessary column.
Housing & Economy
Philip B. Schwab, an 82-year-old demolition contractor whose work helped reshape several American cities even as rogue business practices led to indictments and federal prison, is expected to surrender on Thursday to face state tax charges. [NYT]
Alexander Wang’s store has opened in SoHo. Here is the review. [NYT]
Crime & Public Safety
As Twitter, Facebook and other forms of public electronic communication embed themselves in people’s lives, the postings, rants and messages that appear online are emerging as a new trove for the police and prosecutors to sift through after crimes. Such sites are often the first place investigators go. [NYT]
Two teenagers convicted of killing a Queens man whom they overpowered as he slept in his Lexus were sentenced on Wednesday to prison terms of at least 20 years each. [NYT]
A special grand jury in Manhattan has declined to indict a man at the center of a chaotic police shooting case in Harlem last summer in which police officers who were breaking up a block party ended up firing 46 bullets, several of them striking the man. [NYT] (Also see The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)
A heavily armed man who crashed his pickup truck on Long Island and then shot an emergency medical technician who went to the accident scene before being killed by the police, appeared to be on his way to carry out a mass killing, the police said Wednesday. [NYT] (Also see The Daily News, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)