Morning Headlines | Selected by the WNYC News Hub

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Must-read headlines from around the city, curated by the WNYC Newsroom.

Paid-for Hotel Rooms Sitting Vacant  (WSJ)
Andrew Grossman and Andrew Strickler report: “Cracks are appearing in New York City's improvised network of emergency housing for more than 1,000 people who remain homeless nearly a month after superstorm Sandy, including scores of hotel rooms paid for with public money that have been vacant for weeks. At the Milford Plaza Hotel in Midtown, 120 rooms paid for by the city at a nightly rate of at least $295 have gone unused since mid-November, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Knocks on the doors of dozens of the rooms went unanswered this week.”

Christie Close to Naming New N.J. Supreme Court Nominees (The Star-Ledger)
Jarrett Renshaw reports: “Gov. Chris Christie said today he’s decided on his two nominees for the state Supreme Court and will announce them soon. Christie said he and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) have been talking about the selections for seven weeks and there would be "no surprises" when he makes the formal announcement, which he says was delayed by Hurricane Sandy.”

Sen. Sweeney to Run for Governor if Cory Booker Declines, Sources Say (The Star-Ledger)
Jarrett Renshaw and Matt Friedman report: “Three sources, all Democrats, said Sweeney recently told them directly of his plans. They asked to remain anonymous in recounting their private conversations with the senate president. A spokesman for Sweeney (D-Gloucester) declined comment today.”

Group May Sue Over Money Owed to Poor New York School Districts (NYT)
Danny Hakim reports: “Six years after New York’s highest court forced the state to substantially increase financing to poor school districts, the group that won that ruling is threatening a new lawsuit unless Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature come up with billions of extra dollars for those districts.”

Forbes: The Rangers Are Worth $750 Million (NY Mag)
Seth Rosenthal writes: “[The Rangers], along with the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, accounted for 83 percent of the league's income last season. At over $1 billion, Toronto is the league's richest franchise by a long shot, but the Rangers' second-place value of $750 million puts them well above the third-place Canadiens ($575 million). Forbes attributes New York's value — up 48 percent from last year — to the multi-stage renovations going on in Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, the Devils are nineteenth at $205 million, and the travelin' Islanders are down near the bottom at $155 million.”

Solar Traffic Lights Sought to Avoid Chaos in Future Storm (Asbury Park Press)
Larry Higgs reports: “Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, backed by seven Monmouth County mayors, asked FEMA to finance solar-powered traffic lights in preparation for the next storm that could leave the area without power. … ‘If traffic lights that didn’t work during the storm are replaced with the same type of lights that won’t work in next storm, nothing has been accomplished,’ Handlin said.”

NYU Stands by James Franco in Defamation Lawsuit (Hollywood Reporter)
Eriq Gardner reports: “In September, Jose Angel Santana took Franco to court after the actor allegedly made ‘disparaging and inaccurate public statements’ against Santana after receiving a ‘D’ in his class in 2010. The plaintiff … called Franco ‘a bully’ for comments the actor made in the press about how he was an ‘awful’ teacher. On Tuesday, NYU -- also a defendant in the lawsuit -- stood up for Franco, asking a New York judge to dismiss Santana's claims.”

Cig-Tax Revenue Snuffed (NYP)
Erik Kriss reports: “New York expects to collect $30 million less than the originally projected $1.6 billion in cigarette and tobacco taxes next year ‘to reflect lower-than-anticipated consumption,’ according to the Cuomo administration’s official mid-year budget report. The trend is forecast to continue, with the state banking on about $30 million less in each of the following two years as well.”

MTA Source: Direct Subway Service to Return to Rockaways in Mid-2013 (NY1)
Michael Herzenberg reports: “Expect to wait until summer for the Rockaways commute to return to normal. Hurricane Sandy almost totally destroyed the A train tracks in Broad Channel, which connect the peninsula to the rest of the city. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority now buses people from Howard Beach to the Far Rockaways and back. You can catch a train on the new, temporary H line at the Mott Avenue station, where the train shuttles people across the Rockaways.”

Will Coalition Rule the Senate? (TimesUnion)
Jimmy Vielkind reports: “In an interview published Wednesday, [Bronx Sen. Jeff] Klein told The New York Times that the "time has come for coalition government," an apparent suggestion that his IDC would align with Republicans. He also gave a warning that ‘we can't go back to the days of relying on every single Democrat to get things done, ignoring the other side completely, jamming through a legislative agenda which doesn't have bipartisan support.’ Later Wednesday, a blog run by the Gannett News Service published an interview in which Klein said the notion that he would boost Republicans was ‘absolutely not true.’”

14 Million-Dollar Powerball Tickets Sold in Tri-State Area (WNBC)
“Four people in New York, eight people in New Jersey and two people in Connecticut won $1 million in the record-breaking Powerball.”

NYSE CEO Wants to Meet with Twitter Twit (Crain’s)
Aaron Elstein reports: “When Superstorm Sandy inundated lower Manhattan on Oct. 29, a hedge fund analyst whose Twitter handle was @ComfortablySmug tweeted that the New York Stock Exchange’s trading floor was under three feet of water. CNN and the Weather Channel treated the tweet as fact for a short while before the NYSE released photos showing its floor was dry. ...‘We look forward to hearing why he thought what he said was so funny,’ Mr. Niederauer said.”