Bill Bradley, the man dubbed "Dollar Bill" during his basketball days with the New York Knicks, has filed his first request for federal matching funds.

The Bradley camp estimates it has $1.6 million coming its way thanks to a campaign finance system that allows candidates who live within strict spending limits to receive part of their campaign bankroll from the taxpayers. The system permits a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $250. That means a contribution of $250 nets the campaign an additional $250, as does the maximum $1,000 contribution.

The bean counters at Bradley's New Jersey headquarters say their first quarter fund-raising of $4 million should bring them an extra $1.6 million. If Bradley keeps that pace and meets his fund-raising goal for the year of $20 million to $25 million, he could collect $8 million to $10 million in federal campaign money.

Aides to Vice President Gore, Bradley's only Democratic opponent, say they expect to begin filing submissions to the Federal Election Commission early this fall. None of the money is distributed before Jan. 1.

On the Republican side, two top contenders, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who is raising huge sums, and publisher Steve Forbes, who personally has huge sums, have decided to forgo matching funds so they can spend more than the $40 million allowed in the primaries.

In Boston, the Avoidance is Mutual

When is a potential snub not a big deal? In the case of Vice President Gore and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, when the snub is mutual.

Gore flew to Boston last Thursday for a scenic boat ride across the city's harbor and a quick speech announcing new federal assistance for struggling fishermen. Two days earlier, the VP's aides put in a call to city hall inviting the mayor to attend the photo op at the New England Aquarium.

Menino countered with his own invitation: Come to my event touting a local urban renewal project, said one Boston official, describing the back and forth.

But the Gore team took a pass on Menino's announcement that the city had lured a multiplex cinema, hotel and retail shops to an "empowerment zone" in the troubled Roxbury neighborhood. Wouldn't have blended very well with Gore's environmental theme that day, his aides replied.

So Menino squeezed in a quick hello and handshake at the dock and then dashed off before Gore's speech began.

Despite tension between the two camps about the selection of Los Angeles over Boston for next year's Democratic National Convention, both sides say Gore and Menino have a strong relationship. Besides, Menino is hoping to pitch Gore on his empowerment zone in a Washington meeting this week and the pair will be together again on the 21st when Gore goes shaking the Boston money tree.

Quotable

Vice President Gore responding to a question yesterday on whether he supports President Clinton's decision to offer clemency to 16 members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN: "The proper course of action is to wait to review the analysis now underway that will be presented to the White House later this week and I'll defer judgment until that time."