Mayor Bloomberg is fighting with Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and Morgenthau is hitting back with "barnyard" vulgarity, as the Times decorously puts it. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Morgenthau said, "If you all weren't newspapers of record, I'd say these were chickenshit comments." He was referring to the Bloomberg camp's supposed discovery of $80 million in settlement money that's being held by the DA's office in what one official described as the equivalent of "offshore accounts." The heated feud underscores long-standing tensions between the mayor and DA.

The Manhattan DA's office gets 82 percent of its $91 million budget from city taxpayers, but last year turned over $119 million in settlement money to the state, and $181 million to the city. The Bloomberg administration has been leaning on Morgenthau to give all the settlement money to NYC and cut the state out. Meanwhile, since the dawn of time, Morgenthau's office has kept tens of millions of dollars for his budget in 60 secret bank accounts in order to bypass the city’s financial review process. Now Morgenthau is pissed because Bloomberg threatened to expose the bank accounts to tarnish his reputation, unless Morgenathau agreed to give the city more of that sweet sweet settlement money. He didn't, so Bloomberg made good on his chickenshit threat.

Bloomberg aides insist they had no idea the accounts existed until they turned up in a recent inspection. "His annual budget is $90 million, and there's $80 million in this second set of books," says Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser to the Daily News. "When an agency has a budget of roughly the same size in a second set of books we're concerned." But in a statement, Morgenthau says, "The city has been fully aware of that all along. The secret account complaint is reminiscent of Claude Rains’s famous statement in Casablanca that he was shocked — shocked — to learn what was going on at Rick’s place."

Morgenthau also told the Post, "We're not a city agency. I probably indicted 600 city employees since becoming DA. The public has to know we're independent." And one unidentified official in the prosecutor's office tells the Times, "[Bloomberg] thinks everyone works for him, but the D.A.’s are all independently elected officials and that causes tension at times.”