It was a landslide for Bill de Blasio last night, as New York City elected its first Democratic mayor in two decades. There wasn’t much suspense down the ballot; local office holders Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez coasted to easy victories and will be returning to the City Council for four more years.
Judy Rapfogel, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff, is the subject of two news stories today concerning the investigation of her husband, the former head of the Met Council on Jewish Poverty.
Following the arrest of William Rapfogel on charges that he allegedly stole funds from the Met Council, attention has shifted to his wife, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff, as well as the Rapfogel family’s Lower East Side apartment.
In Albany yesterday State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver apologized for his handling of the Vito Lopez sex harassment cases, but he rejected calls for his resignation. Here’s an excerpt from his remarks:
When I became Speaker of the Assembly, I made regular sexual harassment training a requirement for every assembly member and every member of the staff. I also made sure that a system would be in place to deal with such misconduct should it occur. That I allowed this system to be bypassed in the first instance, even though I believed I was acting in good faith, was a failure on my part and now that we know the atrociousness of the misconduct, it only makes the failure more glaring.I accept the criticism and deeply regret not referring the original complaint to the Assembly’s Ethics and Guidance Committee, and for this I am sorry.
Assemblyman Vito Lopez was forced to resign his position effective today but for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver the fallout from the Albany sex harassment scandal continues. Here’s a roundup of this morning’s newspapers.
The Times notes that the “scrutiny is not over for Silver,” the longtime Lower East Side Assemblyman, who was sharply criticized for his handling of the Lopez matter:
Over the last several days, he has faced mounting criticism from women’s groups, government watchdog organizations and newspaper editorial boards. On its cover last Thursday, The New York Post published photos of Mr. Lopez and Mr. Silver under the headline “Dirty Old Men.” The editorial boards of The Buffalo News, the Daily News, The New York Times and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle have called for the speaker’s ouster.
The Democrats who control the New York State Assembly must summon the conscience and the courage to oust Sheldon Silver from the speakership of their house. The report on Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s victimization of young women staff members indisputably nails Silver as a participant in a coverup that enabled Lopez to continue subjecting female aides to gross conduct, including assault… Silver’s fellow Democrats have backed him through thick and thin for 19 years as the Assembly’s top leader. To stand by him now would be to share complicity in assaults on the dignity and the persons of women.
In a report released today, the state ethics commission was sharply critical of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment cases. The long-awaited report accuses Silver’s office of protecting Lopez from public scrutiny and of disregarding Assembly rules for failing to refer complaints from several employees to the legislative ethics committee.
If you collected a dollar every time the Post talked up Sheldon Silver’s potential demise, you’d probably be rich. So take this item about our local Assemblyman, Speaker Silver, with a heavy dose of skepticism. This morning, Post columnist Fred Dicker reports “exclusively” that Governor Cuomo is “considering ousting… Silver over Albany scandals.”
Two members of the Assembly are facing charges for allegedly accepting bribes. Last week, U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said, “It becomes more and more difficult to avoid the sad conclusion that political corruption in New York is indeed rampant” and “that a show-me-the-money culture in Albany is alive and well.”
Speaker Silver at last weekend’s Firecracker Festival in Chinatown. Photo by Tim Schreier.
This week, there was some news on the ongoing investigation of the Vito Lopez sex harassment scandal and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of the ordeal. The state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics referred its recommendations to two Legislative panels but did not reveal the substance of those recommendations.
Multiple news organizations reported that Silver will not face charges as a result of the investigation. The longtime Lower East Side Assemblyman admitted making mistakes in dealing with the sensitive situation. He came under fire for approving payments to two of Lopez’s accusers. As the Times noted, “there was widespread doubt that the (ethics commission) would take any action against Mr. Silver, since his appointees to the commission’s board have effective veto power over its investigations.”
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.
Under normal circumstances, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a regular presence on the streets of the Lower East Side and Chinatown. The longtime LES Assemblyman is legendary for keeping close ties to his constituents and to the community organizations that serve them. It goes without saying that circumstances for Silver are anything but normal these days. So things were a bit tense yesterday as community organizers and the staff of the Chinese Planning Council awaited Silver’s arrival for the ribbon cutting ceremony at a new computer center (we’ll have more on the new center tomorrow).
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for our state assemblyman, Speaker Sheldon Silver, who’s under fire for the handling of the Vito Lopez sex harassment scandal. But last night at the Democratic National Convention the New York delegation rallied around Silver as he pledged the state’s delegates to Barack Obama. His remarks were rather lengthy, prompting an intervention from the podium!