This week Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver was once again re-elected as Speaker, a position he has held since 1992. Silver invited a group of constituents and community activists up to Albany for the event and the governor’s State of the State Address. Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, pictured above, delivered the invocation to start the Legislative session.
Last year, of course, Silver found himself embroiled in the Vito Lopez sex harassment scandal. Mainstream media, especially the New York Post, talked up the possibility that Silver’s tenure as the first or second most powerful political figure in New York state could be in jeopardy. This week, Mr. Silver’s re-election was barely mentioned by New York’s daily newspapers. The state ethics commission continues to look into the Lopez matter.
Governor Cuomo poked a little fun at Silver during his address. While proposing a Whitewater rafting challenge in the Adirondacks, the governor quipped, “Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, avid outsdoorsman, mountaineer, will be the captain of the Assembly raft if he so chooses.” On a weightier subject, Silver won a major concession from the governor, who is now supporting an increase in the minimum wage, one of the Speaker’s highest priorities.
The locals accompanying Silver in Albany this week included: Chris Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality; Po-Ling Ng, the head of Open Door Senior Center in Chinatown; Debbie Gonzalez, Alysha Lewis, Cheryl Freeman and Rochelle Gilbert from the 10 Stanton Street Tenant Association; and radio host Nachum Segal. Following the State of the State, Silver hosted a reception. Guests feasted on lox and bagels.