Croci, Controversy Bloom in the Spring

New Yorkers try to forget a winter of snow, more snow, and a bomb - a letter from the Big Apple

LITTLE wonder that hard-pressed New Yorkers are desperately looking for signs of spring. Between digging out from the severe snowstorms that pummeled the city this month, as well as lingering unease stemming from the bombing of the World Trade Center, folks here are eagerly scanning the landscape for proof that spring is really, finally, here.

Birds once again are singing loudly enough to be heard above the din of car horns on some busy city streets. The green tops of tulips and crocuses have begun to push through the snow beside apartment buildings and houses.

Spring is also that time when celebrities who live elsewhere enjoy a return to the Big Apple's excitement. Warren Beatty and Annette Bening are expected here in April for a third remake of the vintage film "An Affair to Remember." They will take advantage of the Empire State Building and other city locales. Also in town is Julie Andrews, starring in an off-Broadway celebration of Stephen Sondheim works called "Putting It Together."

Wood and Mia, of course, are still squabbling in court over the disposition of their children; meanwhile, just about everyone seems to be squabbling at the New York Post.

Another sign of spring: more political activity, especially with respect to the Sept. 14 mayoral primary. The recent decision of Roy Innes, president of the Congress on Racial Equality, to throw his hat in the Democratic primary race has added new uncertainty to the campaign. Polls show Mayor David Dinkins (D) well ahead of his chief party rival, City Council President Andrew Stein. However, one new poll has the mayor running slightly behind likely GOP candidate Rudolph Giuliani, the former United States

prosecutor who lost to Mr. Dinkins four years ago. The mayor may get a boost from the decision of the US Conference of Mayors to hold its annual meeting in New York in June. But there is voluble grousing among many in the outer boroughs at the slow speed of street-cleaning from recent storms.

One factor clouding the election is the search for a new schools chancellor, following the ouster of Joseph Fernandez.

Spring also means the return of baseball. New York Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner is back. He had been banished from baseball for several alleged misdeeds, including charges of a payoff to an informant for damaging reports about one of his top players. Sports pundits wonder how many managers and players Mr. Steinbrenner will hire, fire, rehire, and refire before the season ends. Meanwhile, the New York Mets will probably continue to draw larger crowds than the Yankees, despite not having Ste inbrenner in the control chair. While welcomed by sportscasters in search of lively copy, Steinbrenner's return is not drawing sighs of relief from everyone.

New Yorkers are relieved that talk-show host David Letterman will not be moving to Los Angeles. His quirky shows have a special New York appeal. CBS, which acquires his show from NBC this summer, is plunking down $4 million to buy the old "Ed Sullivan Theater" in Times Square to serve as Mr. Letterman's studio. Some New Yorkers who feel strongly about preserving city landmarks are concerned that the Sullivan Theater may be radically restructured. The building was, after all, the site of the Beatles's fir st US performance on live television in the 1960s.

Bankruptcies in the area are rising. New studies indicate the number of bankruptcies here in 1992 jumped to a record high.

Technically, crime in the Big Apple is down. Still, few New Yorkers were shocked to read recent reports that, according to federal statistics, the leading cause of on-the-job deaths in the city is homicide. One perplexing problem: Who is stealing the city's giant garbage trucks? A number of the behemoths have disappeared. The likely explanation is the lucrative return for transmissions and other parts. How does anyone steal a garbage truck? The answer is, "Very carefully."

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