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Sheldon Silver Under Scrutiny: Today’s Headlines

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File photo.
File photo.

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.

But the story in today’s Times adds:

No prominent Democratic elected official has publicly called for Mr. Silver’s ouster. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said last week it was not his place to suggest who should be Assembly speaker. In New York City, none of the leading Democrats running for mayor has suggested a change in Assembly leadership when asked about Mr. Silver’s conduct… n some cases, Democrats are rallying around the speaker, who has outmaneuvered his critics over the years. Mr. Silver has won significant legislative victories on issues important to Democratic lawmakers. “Shelly is very loyal to his members,” said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a Democrat from Long Beach.  “Everybody only sees the bad; they don’t see the good,” he said. “He’s a good human being.”

In the Daily News, Silver spokesman Michael Whyland characterized the calls for his boss’s resignation “ridiculous.”  But the News’ Kenneth Lovett reports:

…(Silver) likely finds himself in a less powerful position as he goes up against Gov. Cuomo in the closing weeks of the legislative session on issues like ethics reform, insiders say. “That’s going to be a real area of tension,” said one Democrat with ties to Cuomo and Silver. “There’s no question he’s weakened. How much is an open question.”  Silver has angered Cuomo with his opposition to the governor’s call for an independent panel to be formed within the state Board of Elections that would investigate violations of campaign law. Even Silver loyalists concede it would be problematic, if not unwise, for him to now be seen as blocking an ethics reform package after the embarrassment of last week’s release of the complete reports of Lopez’s sordid antics. There is also the matter of criminal charges that have been filed recently against a handful of state legislators. “The governor’s hand is clearly strengthened,” a source in the Cuomo camp said. “Not even this Legislature would think they could get away with skipping town after two back-to-back weeks of scandal and sexual harassment in both houses without passing a real corruption reform and women’s equality agenda.”  Cuomo, who threw Silver a lifeline last week by not publicly calling for his ouster, is thought to be better served — at least for the rest of the session — with a weakened Silver still in power, as opposed to the uncertainty that would result from a leadership change.

Also in the Daily News, columnist Mike Lupica writes:

Somehow… Shelly Silver stays. Somehow he thinks he can bluster through acting outraged about behavior he knew all about. In the process, the kid from the Rabbi Jacob Joseph High School on Henry St. in Manhattan is no better looking the other way with Lopez than some high priest of the Catholic Church. You get the idea sometimes that the one constant in the grimy theater of state politics is Shelly Silver himself: The Assembly speaker — and gang of one — who only spoke any evil about a creep like Vito Lopez as a last resort.

In the Post, Fred Dicker indicates State GOP Chairman Ed Cox will ask Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Silver:
While Cox has told friends that Cuomo is likely to reject his request, he also said it’s possible that the public outrage over Silver’s conduct will force the governor to act. Cox was said to be looking into the possibility of a radio or TV campaign linking the poll-sensitive Cuomo to Silver’s conduct.


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