Morning Buzz | A Peek Into Bloomberg’s Campaign

A little less windy today and still some sunshine, but no break from the cold, with highs of 28.

The prosecution of a Republican political consultant continues to shed some unwelcome light on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s previous re-election campaign, and on Tuesday it was revealed that the mayor offered grand jury testimony in the case. The consultant, John F. Haggerty Jr., is charged with stealing most of a $1.2 million payment from Mr. Bloomberg for providing ballot security — employing people to discourage voter fraud — on Election Day 2009. The Manhattan district attorney contends that Mr. Haggerty never did the job and used the funds to buy a home in Queens. The defense claims Mr. Haggerty did complete the job.

The trial has put some of Mr. Bloomberg’s re-election tactics in the spotlight. He paid Mr. Haggerty through a contribution to the state’s Independence Party. Mr. Haggerty was paid by a deputy mayor who was not an official campaign employee. And then there is that $1 million price tag for “ballot security.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s grand jury testimony, which is secret, will not be revealed to the public. The trial is expected to continue for a year. [NYT]

Schools

Principals across the city have become debt collectors to their students, who racked up $2.5 million in unpaid school lunches during the first few months of this year. Given the bleak budget situation, the Education Department may soon dock individual school budgets the unpaid sums. [NYT]

To collect the money, principals have taken to tracking down students whose parents did not pay lunch bills, offering them repayment plans and sending letters home to parents, although the deadline for which to collect the money has been pushed back. The problem persists in school districts across the country, some of which offer cold meals, fruits and vegetables instead of regular lunch items, or no food at all if lunches bills are unpaid. (Also see The Daily News.)

City schools are seeing a major increase in bedbugs cases, already exceeding the 1,019 instances of bedbugs reported during last school year. [New York Post]

Crime & Public Safety

Two ironworkers fell 65 feet to their death while working on an Upper West Side church under redevelopment [NYT]. The Department of Buildings is looking into possible violations because it is believed the men were not wearing harnesses and did not have proper fall protection measures in place. (Also see The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.)

Charges against Ilan Nassimi, 25, a Manhattan real estate broker who had been accused of serving alcohol to teenagers, have been dropped. The charges had stemmed from a party at his Herald Square apartment where a 17-year-old girl fell from a window to her death. [New York Post]

A Bronx Planned Parenthood clinic has received the Live Action hidden-camera video treatment. On Tuesday, the anti-abortion group released a video of a man posing as a pimp and a woman posing as a prostitute attempting to find information on how to receive an abortion from the Bronx center. It is the sixth such tape released nationwide by Live Action as it campaigns to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood. [NYT]

The central New Jeresey man who robbed a jewelry store, killed the owner and then killed himself left a suicide note. The Somerset County prosecutor’s office said the man, Michael J. Koury, 19, had no known ties to the jewelry store owner. [NYT]

Snow, Snow and More Snow

When alternate-side parking rules went back into effect on Monday, after weeks of snow-induced parking freedom, the city warmly greeted its drivers with nearly 10,000 summonses [NYT]. That’s twice the daily average and about $500,000 in fines. (Also see The New York Post.)

The city’s parking windfall is welcome, especially considering how much money it is losing out on when not writing tickets. [Wall Street Journal]

And if you are lucky enough to avoid a parking ticket, chances are you might hit a pothole anyway. As part of budget cutbacks, the city is asking 555 road repairers to stay home one day every two weeks for the first quarter of this year. [Daily News]

The City Council is preparing a package of bills to augment Mayor Bloomberg’s new snow removal plan, created in response to his underwhelming handling of the Dec. 26 blizzard. The Council’s proposals would require that a snow emergency be declared as soon as forecasters predict a blizzard, force road crews to more quickly clear crosswalks of snow mounds and institute a ranking system for the plowing of streets. [Daily News]

Science and Medicine

The city’s copious amounts of wastewater, sludge and methane gas may soon be used to heat and power homes. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection will announce a strategy Wednesday that maps its intentions to turn the 1.3 billion tons of wastewater it produces per day, which costs $400 million per year to treat, into energy. The strategy includes extracting heating fuel from the sludge yielded by wastewater and selling methane gas to provide power to homes. [NYT]

A Queens surgeon recently spent two weeks in Germany treating soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Daily News]

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