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Thread: Challengers Aiming To Topple Silver.

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    Default Challengers Aiming To Topple Silver.

    Challengers Emerge Aiming To Topple Silver

    Luke Henry, 33, Says Silver Is 'Obstacle Toward Real Reform'

    By GRACE RAUH
    Staff Reporter of the Sun
    April 9, 2008

    Luke Henry is new to the political practice of shaking hands and passing out fliers, and it shows as he awkwardly zeros in on passersby in front of a Gristedes supermarket in Battery Park City.

    The 33-year-old attorney who lives in the East Village should get the hang of it soon enough: Two weeks ago, he took a leave of absence from his job to launch a full-time campaign to oust the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver. Although the fliers Mr. Henry is handing out say "Choose Change," his motto might as well be "Get Rid of the Roadblock."

    "Speaker Silver is the obstacle toward real reform," he said yesterday."Nothing is going to change in the state Assembly while he's still there and you can sit back and watch or do something about it and people want to do something about it, and I am one of them."

    Taking his campaign to the city's streets a day after Mr. Silver refused to send congestion pricing to the floor of the Assembly for a vote, effectively killing it, it's clear Mr. Henry will be able to tap a new wave of raw outrage and frustration from voters who blame the speaker for the demise of Mayor Bloomberg's traffic plan.

    While campaigning yesterday, Mr. Henry approached an older man in a red baseball hat, handed him a black and white photocopied flier, and explained that he's running against Mr. Silver, who has been in office 32 years.

    "That's 32 years too long," the man, James Basset, 70, said. Another who took a flier, Clifford Brundage, said he too was upset with the speaker. "Anything against Silver," he said.

    Mr. Brundage, 74, told Mr. Henry that although he is a registered independent, he'd be willing to become a Democrat to vote Mr. Silver out of office during the primary. Then he offered some advice.

    "Silver's going to be tough," he warned the challenger. "He's like a molar, you have to just pull him out."

    Mr. Henry, who is running for his first political office, said he's brought in a team of "pros" to help run the campaign. He's keeping some cards close to his chest at this stage, saying he's not ready to name the people he's brought on board, and he declined to say how much he's raised so far.

    He said that when the next fundraising figures are released in July, there would be "a strong and very credible figure" by his name.

    Mr. Henry's campaign Web site details his stance on a host of issues, indicating that he'll advocate repealing the Urstadt law so that local officials would have control over the city's rental laws; fight for public financing of state elections and a ban on political contributions from lobbyists and corporations, and work to create universal health care coverage in New York State.

    He said he is focused on trying to ease the "housing crisis" in Lower Manhattan, which he says is one of the biggest issues raised by voters in his district who are worried about getting priced out of their neighborhoods. He said he hears from residents who say after-school programs are disappearing, as well as good jobs. In the end, though, it seems the campaign always comes back to Mr. Silver.

    "Silver is an obstacle towards making progress on these issues. None of these issues are easy and they require a real professional legislator and experts who can look at these issues seriously and everything that is done in Albany is done in a ham-handed way," he said. "Removing Silver is a way towards achieving progress on these issues."

    Mr. Henry was born in New York City and grew up in Westchester, attending the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Conn., before earning a degree in biology at the University at Albany. He moved to the city in 1995 and went to Fordham Law School, where he was president of the Fordham Law Democrats and the founder and co-president of the Fordham Law American Constitution Society. He now works as a contract attorney at the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP.

    He had been living in Lower Manhattan, but not in the district he is seeking to represent. He moved into the district in September 2007, and now lives with his wife in a two-bedroom apartment on East 4th Street between avenues A and B. They are expecting their first child, a boy, in August. Mr. Henry, who says Mr. Silver hasn't been challenged in a Democratic primary in 20 years, said he hasn't faced any pressure from the Democratic Party or members of local Democratic clubs to drop out of the race. He is facing off against one of the most powerful men in state politics, but appears to be drawing upon a deep reservoir of frustration to fuel his campaign. Mr. Henry, who supported congestion pricing, said Mr. Silver's performance this week on the issue is just the latest example of his leadership style.

    "I'm sick it," he said. "I'm sick of a secretive Albany, secret votes, secret rooms. We don't have any idea what goes on there except that we know our real problems aren't being solved."

    Copyright 2008 The New York Sun.

  2. #2

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    Let's see now? The voters in Silver's district could either keep the most powerful man in Albany as their representive, or could elect this nobody, who likely couldn't get anything done for them. Who's do you think is going to win?

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Lets see now, people in that district could be frustrated that "the most powerful man in Albany" does not seem to be doing a damn thing for them.

    Lets hope it, at the very least, rattles his 30+ year old cage enough that he starts looking beyond his own bars and concerns himself with the people he is supposed to serve.

  4. #4

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    I know your comments are based on the congestion pricing failure. I would have liked to have seen the breakdown of the mail he got on the subject. That might have been the basis of his decision.

    And his cage has been rattled a lot harder than this guy is going to be able to do it. A few years back, he faced a major, well organized revolt in Albany, and quite effectively squashed it. This guy hasn't had the Assembly under his thumb for all these years by not knowing what he's doing (politically).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge View Post
    Lets see now, people in that district could be frustrated that "the most powerful man in Albany" does not seem to be doing a damn thing for them.

    Lets hope it, at the very least, rattles his 30+ year old cage enough that he starts looking beyond his own bars and concerns himself with the people he is supposed to serve.

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    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Leader, Is Arrested on Graft Charges

    By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and THOMAS KAPLAN
    JAN. 22, 2015


    Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, left the courthouse on Thursday in Manhattan.
    Sam Hodgson for The New York Times


    Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York Assembly, exploited his position as one of the most powerful politicians in the state to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, federal authorities said on Thursday as they announced his arrest on a sweeping series of corruption charges.

    For years, Mr. Silver has earned a lucrative income outside government, asserting that he was a simple personal injury lawyer who represented ordinary people. But federal prosecutors said his purported law practice was a fiction, one he created to mask about $4 million in payoffs that he carefully and stealthily engineered for over a decade.

    Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was accused of steering real estate developers to a law firm that paid him kickbacks. He was also accused of funneling state grants to a doctor who referred asbestos claims to a second law firm that employed Mr. Silver and paid him fees for referring clients.

    “For many years, New Yorkers have asked the question: How could Speaker Silver, one of the most powerful men in all of New York, earn millions of dollars in outside income without deeply compromising his ability to honestly serve his constituents?” Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, asked at a news conference with F.B.I. officials. “Today, we provide the answer: He didn’t.”

    The arrest of Mr. Silver, 70, immediately upended state government, throwing the capital into convulsions just as this year’s legislative session gets underway. The speaker since 1994, he has long been the most powerful Democrat in the Legislature, and he was expected to play a large role in the coming weeks as lawmakers tussle with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the budget and contentious proposals regarding public schooling and criminal justice.

    It also cast new attention on Mr. Cuomo’s decision to shut down the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel that he appointed in July 2013 but abruptly ended last March. On Thursday, lawmakers and lobbyists confronted what had previously seemed like an unfathomable prospect: The Legislature’s most immovable and unassailable leader, who has weathered repeated scandals and outlasted Democrats and Republicans alike, had become the latest in an embarrassing march of Albany lawmakers accused of corruption.

    “As we are reminded today, those who make the laws don’t have the right to break the laws,” Richard Frankel, the special agent in charge of the Criminal Division of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said at the news conference.

    A federal magistrate judge issued seizure warrants to block Mr. Silver from access to $3.8 million that the speaker had spread among eight bank and asset-management accounts.

    Mr. Silver appeared in Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan on Thursday afternoon. His lips pursed, he listened as Frank Maas, a federal magistrate judge, told him that he was prohibited from leaving the continental United States.

    “Yes, sir,” Mr. Silver said when Judge Maas asked if he understood the conditions of his release — the only words Mr. Silver spoke during the brief hearing. He was released on a $200,000 personal recognizance bond and surrendered his passport.

    (It was a stark change from a day earlier, when Mr. Cuomo, during his State of the State address, spoke of taking Mr. Silver and the leader of the State Senate on a series of international trade missions, including one to Mexico. The governor showed a doctored image depicting himself, Mr. Silver and the Senate leader, whom he nicknamed the Three Amigos, on horseback and wearing sombreros.)

    Mr. Silver moved gingerly out of the courtroom and bent over to sign a court illustrator’s sketch before saying, in the hallway, that he was innocent. “I’m confident that after a full hearing and a due process, I will be vindicated,” he said softly.

    The arrest put the spotlight back on the spate of corruption scandals in Albany and immediately overshadowed the ambitious second-term agenda that Mr. Cuomo laid out in his speech. Several government watchdog groups responded to the arrest by calling for passage of new ethics measures.

    Before Mr. Cuomo disbanded the anticorruption panel, it had sought to investigate the outside income of lawmakers; legislative leaders, including Mr. Silver, sued to block the inquiry.

    The sudden closing led to a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the shutdown by Mr. Bharara’s office, which took over the commission’s cases and promised to continue its work. The case against Mr. Silver began in June 2013 and was aided by the Moreland Commission’s work.

    The five-count criminal complaint runs to 35 pages and lays out the schemes in detail. It charges Mr. Silver with honest services mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, extortion “under the color of law” — using his official position to commit extortion — and extortion conspiracy. If convicted, Mr. Silver faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count.

    Mr. Silver’s profitable legal career — he reported earning more than $650,000 in 2013 — has long been viewed with suspicion in the capital, perhaps for good reason: Mr. Bharara’s office concluded that Mr. Silver received steady checks but performed no legal work for the money.

    In one scheme described in court papers, he asked a pair of real estate developers to hire a small law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, which seeks reductions in New York City property taxes on behalf of its clients.

    The firm was started by Jay Arthur Goldberg, who decades ago worked as a lawyer for the Assembly, according to state payroll records. Prosecutors said he was Mr. Silver’s counsel.

    Mr. Silver received a slice of the legal fees paid to the firm, even though he did no work for the developers; prosecutors said he was paid about $700,000. He did not report the income on his annual financial disclosure forms submitted to the state.

    One of the developers was Glenwood Management, according to people familiar with the matter. Glenwood develops luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan, has been an enormous contributor to state politicians and has a significant interest in matters before the Legislature, such as measures dealing with real estate taxation. While receiving fees from the real-estate law firm, Mr. Silver took actions that benefited the developers, prosecutors said.

    A lawyer for Glenwood declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Mr. Goldberg.

    An even more lucrative scheme, according to prosecutors, involved clients whom Mr. Silver referred to Weitz & Luxenberg, a large personal injury law firm where he has worked for more than a decade.

    The referrals came from a doctor who directed possible asbestos victims to Weitz & Luxenberg. Mr. Silver then secretly funneled state grants, worth $500,000 in total, to finance the doctor’s research. The relationship was lucrative for Mr. Silver: He received more than $3 million in fees for the patients referred to Weitz & Luxenberg, prosecutors said.

    The doctor, unnamed in the complaint, is Robert N. Taub, director of the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center, a person briefed on the investigation said. Dr. Taub did not respond to a request for comment.

    The criminal complaint also suggested what many of Mr. Silver’s critics had long suspected — that he was hired at Weitz & Luxenberg for what was essentially a no-show job. One of the firm’s founding partners told federal authorities that Mr. Silver was originally hired not to perform any legal work, but to boost the firm’s prestige.

    A spokeswoman for Weitz & Luxenberg said the firm had cooperated with the government and had been unaware of any wrongdoing.

    Mr. Silver’s political future was uncertain on Thursday. The state’s Republican Party called on him to resign his office, and the Assembly minority leader, Brian M. Kolb of Canandaigua, called him to step down as speaker.

    Assembly Democrats met privately at the State Capitol. The majority leader, Joseph D. Morelle of Irondequoit, said Democrats were standing behind Mr. Silver. “We have every confidence that the speaker is going to continue to fill his role with distinction,” he said.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City also came to Mr. Silver’s defense, telling reporters, “I’ve always known Shelly Silver to be a man of integrity, and he certainly has due-process rights.”

    Mr. Cuomo, in a meeting with the editorial board of The Daily News on Thursday, said Mr. Silver’s arrest was “a bad reflection on government.” But he said it was up to Assembly Democrats as to whether Mr. Silver should remain as speaker.

    Mr. Bharara was unsparing in his description of Mr. Silver’s conduct, saying the charges against him “go to the very core of what ails Albany.”

    He added, somewhat ominously, that his office was in the midst of pursuing a number of other public corruption investigations.

    “You should stay tuned,” he said.

    Graphic: The Case Against Sheldon Silver

    Silver’s Case May Have Vast Impact and Alter Entrenched Way of Governance

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/ny...pgtype=article

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    Sheldon Silver and His Sway on NYC Real Estate

    By Danielle Schlanger 1/22/15

    A view of the World Trade Center, an issue in which Mr. Silver became deeply involved. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

    The outsize influence of Democrat New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver drastically impacted legislation over his decades-long political career. Now that Mr. Silver has been arrested on federal corruption charges, including having received $700,000 from a real estate firm, Albany has been shaken and calls have been made for his resignation.

    While Mr. Silver is under fire for his potentially illicit relationship with two law firms, there is no disputing the fact that he has been instrumental in shaping—and unshaping—the city’s real estate landscape. With that in mind, Commercial Observer decided to look at some of the projects Mr. Silver has been involved in, none of which have been cited as a source of illegal dealings. Here are some of the most high-profile New York City real estate developments and issues that Mr. Silver has impacted.

    The World Trade Center Complex

    Following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City, the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan became a top priority for the lawmaker. When the State Legislature approved multiple incentives to foster growth in Lower Manhattan and bring tenants back to the 16-acre World Trade Center site, it was seen as a victory for Mr. Silver. According to a 2009 New York Times article, Mr. Silver was “[developer Larry Silverstein’s] most consistent champion.” When the project reached a standstill in 2009, Mr. Silver pushed to propel it forward, according to the Times.

    West Side Stadium

    Mr. Silver’s leverage also extended to projects that never saw the light of day, most notably the ill-fated New York Sports and Convention Center, or the West Side Stadium. Early in his administration, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the stadium a hallmark of his plan to reinvigorate Manhattan’s Far West Side and to bring the Olympics to the Big Apple. But Mr. Silver never supported the project, fearing it would slow momentum for rebuilding the Trade Center complex, and ultimately hastened its demise. “Am I supposed to turn my back on Lower Manhattan as it struggles to recover?” Mr. Silver asked at a news conference following the plan’s rejection. “For what? A stadium? For the hope of bringing the Olympics to New York City?

    Moynihan Station

    In 2006, New York Observer reported that Mr. Silver put the kibosh on then-Governor George Pataki’s plan for Moynihan Station, transforming the Farley General Post Office at West 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue with available funding into a glistening new rail station for the city. “We thought our alternative provided the critical advantages that we needed and we thought it would be better for a full, safe modern transportation facility,” said Mr. Silver’s spokesman Skip Carrier at the time. Despite his opposition plans for Moynihan Station have chugged along (albeit slowly).

    Superstorm Sandy

    Mr. Silver’s district at the lower tip of Manhattan was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy, which led the Speaker to become a staunch ally of his constituents affected by the event. “My Lower Manhattan district was one of the communities that were hard hit by this devastating storm, and we are still struggling to recover,” he said in a 2013 statement. Though the city took preliminary steps to relieve some of the financial burden of homeowners and businesses following the storm, Mr. Silver led his colleagues in the creation of the Hurricane Sandy Assessment Relief Acts, which allowed impacted property owners to apply for “property tax assessment reductions according to a sliding scale,” according to a press release.

    Scaffold Law

    Labor Law 240, more commonly known as the Scaffold Law, mandates that employers on construction sites be responsible for the safety of their employees working off the ground. In 2013, contractors, property owners and stakeholders waged a campaign against this law, presenting a case that they are being unfairly burdened and employees are being absolved of responsibility.

    But Mr. Silver, who is a personal injury lawyer by trade, wouldn’t entertain changing the Scaffold Law and became the most powerful force against reform. “Changes to the Scaffold Law are not being considered. We don’t think it’s the right policy to further burden injured workers,” said Mr. Silver’s spokesman Michael Whyland at the time, according to the Daily News.

    http://commercialobserver.com/2015/0...c-real-estate/

  7. #7

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    He's out, at least as speaker. I know he'll try to pull strings behind the scenes, but I think his grip on the Assembly, and on state government in general has been broken.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/nyregion/sheldon-silver-to-be-replaced-as-speaker-of-new-york-state-assembly.html?ref=nyregion


    Sheldon Silver to Be Replaced as Speaker of New York State Assembly

    By JESSE McKINLEY, THOMAS KAPLAN and SUSANNE CRAIGJAN. 27, 2015


    ALBANY — Sheldon Silver, who faces federal corruption charges, is being replaced as speaker of the New York State Assembly next week, Democratic lawmakers said on Tuesday, paving the way for them to choose a new leader in an election to be held Feb. 10.
    A Rochester-area assemblyman, Joseph D. Morelle, who is the majority leader and a top contender to succeed Mr. Silver, will become interim speaker on Monday, officials said.
    Mr. Silver’s swift downfall ends an era in the capital, overturning its hierarchy just as a new legislative session gets underway and setting off what is likely to be a scramble to select his successor. It came after he mounted a last-ditch effort to keep the leadership position he had held since 1994, a tenure spanning five governors.

    Mr. Silver, 70, who was first elected to represent Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the Assembly in 1976, is not resigning from his legislative seat.

    Democrats spent a marathon session behind closed doors Tuesday discussing their future leadership, culminating in an evening announcement by Mr. Morelle in an impromptu news conference, in which he abruptly stopped taking questions after less than three minutes.

    “We’re confident that we can go forward, get back to work in terms of the budget, and continue to lead the people in this state and do the jobs we were elected to do,” Mr. Morelle said.
    He said he met earlier in the day with Mr. Silver, who “asked me to say that he will not impede the transition.”
    Mr. Morelle appeared to choose his words carefully, and he would not address whether Mr. Silver had agreed to step down as speaker, or if members would oust him.
    “Because I only heard what you heard, I can’t interpret what that means, other than we anticipate a vacancy on Monday,” Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry, a Queens Democrat, told reporters afterward.
    Mr. Silver, amid a crush of reporters as he slowly left the Capitol later Tuesday evening, said he would not resign his Assembly seat because he had been duly elected by his constituents.
    But he added, “I will not hinder a succession process.”
    Asked if he was acting for the good of the Assembly by allowing a new speaker to be named, Mr. Silver said: “I believe very deeply in the institution. I hope that they can have somebody here who can carry on the good work that has taken place.”
    The developments appeared to give Mr. Morelle a running start in a contest that also features several downstate aspirants, and that could hold immense consequences for New York City.
    An affable floor leader with an M.C.’s demeanor and a wrestler’s build, Mr. Morelle, 57, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1990, was for nearly a decade the party chairman in Monroe County, a Democratic enclave in a largely conservative part of upstate New York.

    Mr. Morelle led a group of lawmakers who spoke up on Thursday in defense of Mr. Silver after his arrest on accusations that he exploited his office to obtain millions of dollars in payoffs.
    Among the Assembly members from the New York City area who may also join the race, Carl E. Heastie, 47, of the Bronx, is the most-talked-about candidate. If successful, he would become the first African-American to hold the position.
    Mr. Heastie, a onetime budget analyst in the city comptroller’s office who was first elected to the Assembly in 2000, has what could prove valuable experience in the trench warfare of New York politics: He was involved in a raucous takeover of the Bronx Democratic Party in 2008, leading an insurgent faction that overthrew the borough leader, Assemblyman José Rivera.
    Among the other contenders were Joseph R. Lentol, a longtime assemblyman from Brooklyn; Catherine Nolan of Queens, who leads the Education Committee; and Keith L. T. Wright, a longtime African-American lawmaker from Harlem who is the Manhattan Democratic leader and a former state Democratic co-chairman.
    Amid the behind-the-scenes wrangling on Tuesday, there were intimations of maneuvering by officials including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, though both said they were not getting involved.
    The next speaker will lead the Assembly’s negotiations over the state budget with the governor and the Republican-controlled State Senate. The deadline for the budget is April 1.
    And for Mr. de Blasio, much of whose liberal agenda requires the cooperation of Albany lawmakers, the sudden possibility that Mr. Silver could be replaced by someone less sympathetic to the city’s needs, and to Mr. de Blasio’s political philosophy, was an unwelcome bolt from the blue.
    “It’s been tough enough to get our fair share even with a speaker from New York City,” the mayor told reporters Tuesday. “So one can imagine, someone from outside, it might even be harder.”
    Still, Mr. de Blasio, like the governor, said that it was not for him to influence the Assembly’s choice of a new speaker. “We’re just trying to gather information,” the mayor said.

    Already, a number of candidates were quietly courting colleagues within the Democratic conference.
    Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Westchester County, said lawmakers needed some time. “I am a voter,” she said. “I want to learn more about the candidates, and I think everyone felt the same.”
    Asked whether he would like to succeed Mr. Silver on a permanent basis, Mr. Morelle said, “I think there are a great number of people in our conference who have exhibited great leadership in the last several days.” He added, “Today is not the day to make an announcement.”
    But Assemblyman Wright, whose call on Monday for Mr. Silver’s resignation helped seal the speaker’s fate, said he would seek the speakership, citing his “great experience” and more than two decades in office.
    “I’ve been here,” Mr. Wright said. “This is the body that I love, this is the institution that I love, and that’s why I’m trying to do right by it.”
    And Assemblyman Lentol, who was first elected in 1972 and whose father and grandfather also served in the Assembly, said he also planned to run.
    “I think that I’m a members’ member,” Mr. Lentol said. He added that the discussions Monday and Tuesday had been “very arduous,” but satisfying.
    “It reminds me of democracy,” Mr. Lentol said. “And democracy is tough.”
    Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan echoed that sentiment.

    Mr. Gottfried, who had initially supported Mr. Silver, said it had been a “wrenching week or so.”
    As for the Feb. 10 election, he said, he did not know who he would support for speaker. He did, however, have an idea of whom he would not.
    “I can tell you with absolute certainty,” Mr. Gottfried said, “I will not be supporting me.”
    Michael M. Grynbaum contributed reporting from New York.

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