Morning Buzz | Cuomo’s Budget-Cutting

Surprise: More snow is on the way! There is already a dusting on the ground and there is sure to be more precipitation Tuesday and Wednesday. Skies will be cloudy Tuesday with highs around freezing.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will seek to cut more than 3,000 prison beds, roll back scheduled spending increases on Medicaid and education by billions of dollars and make steep reductions to state operations. The moves would probably lead to the loss of thousands of state jobs, according to people briefed on the budget he will unveil on Tuesday.

On Monday, Mr. Cuomo also said there would have to be fundamental changes to automatic spending increases that have long been programmed into future budgets, making it more difficult for governors to reduce spending in recent years despite shrinking revenue.

Mr. Cuomo went so far as to call the state’s budget process “a sham” in a draft opinion article circulated on Monday, comparing it to “deceptive practices I fought to change in the private sector” as New York’s attorney general. [NYT] (Also see The New York Post, The Daily News and The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)

Government & Politics

Governor Cuomo’s proposal to limit local property taxes won overwhelming approval from the State Senate on Monday, escalating the pressure on Democratic legislators in the Assembly who have expressed reservations about the bill. [NYT]

Guy J. Velella, a former state senator from the Bronx who died last week, was wished farewell at a funeral service on Monday. Among other things, Mr. Velella will be remembered for having turned a career of public service into one of public shame by taking bribes and going to jail for his corruption. He will also be remembered as someone who pocketed public money, a yearly state pension exceeding $75,000, even after pleading guilty in 2004. Clyde Haberman reports on Albany’s long line of cosseted crooks in the NYC column.


Scores of Mexican Roman Catholics are preparing to celebrate the Feast of Candelaria, or Candlemas, which marks the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple — and the end of the holiday season — 40 days after Christmas. Norma Castro and her mother sustain traditions that are centuries old, like dressing up statues of baby Jesus at their stall at the Moore Street Retail Market in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, among fellow Mexicans who live here and are too poor or busy to return home, or lack the papers they would need to return here. [NYT]

The National Black Theater, a cultural anchor of Harlem, faced foreclosure in 2002 until it partnered with the beauty company Nubian Heritage, allowing the local business to open a flagship store in their building. Nine years later, the store is closed; the partnership owes nearly $1.8 million in property taxes; and the theater is facing foreclosure yet again, a plight it blames on its partners, men it once embraced as kindred spirits and now in court accuses of mismanagement and fraud. [NYT]

Infinite Snow

The grand jury testimony of Daniel J. Halloran III, the city councilman at the center of charges that a union slowdown left some neighborhoods snowbound after the Dec. 26 blizzard, was cut short on Monday as he and federal prosecutors argued a related matter before a judge. [NYT]

Another storm is upon us, in case you had not heard. [New York Post] (Also see The Wall Street Journal.)

The storms this year have meant a windfall for a select group of entrepreneurs, from hot chocolate vendors to sellers of toboggans and cross-country skis. [NYT]

Crime & Public Safety

A bizarre complaint unsealed by prosecutors in federal court in Manhattan on Monday included people who falsely claimed to be members of the Guggenheim family to try to insinuate themselves with both former President Bushes to solicit money and promote billions of dollars in false investment deals that involved diamonds, crude oil, vodka and bank notes. [NYT] (Also see The Daily News, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, paid subscription required.)

Family members described Akeem Ajimotokan, the young man who was beaten and stuffed into the trunk of his BMW M3 when he tried to sell it through Craigslist to someone the police know as Barion A. Blake, as trusting and generous, not the type to be suspicious of a prospective buyer.

Housing & Economy

Jill Kargman’s new book “Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations” includes a paean of sorts to her one-bedroom, mouse-ridden apartment on the Upper East Side. Christine Haughney covers that and other apartments that mark stages of Ms. Kargman’s life in the Appraisal column.


The Police Department said on Monday that it was investigating whether the former treasurer of the PTA at Public School 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, stole roughly $5,500 from the group’s account. [NYT] (Also see The Daily News.)

The New York Post reports that the Department of Education has been able to predict which schools are likely to fail based on a number of factors for years and that it apportioned support for the schools accordingly, often allowing schools they predicted to have a graduation rate below 50 percent to close.

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