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Silver Apologizes; Albany’s “Master of Power” is “Still Standing Strong”

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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.

Also yesterday, Silver announced reforms in how the Assembly deals with sex harassment cases. For one thing, new rules would prevent secret settlements. There would also be an independent investigator to look into harassment allegations. In public almost all Democrats have stood by Silver, with the exception of a Buffalo-area lawmaker who called for Silver’s ouster. A private meeting with Assembly Democrats yesterday was described by the Daily News as “tense and angry.”

But not even Silver’s enemies believe his job is in jeopardy. Today’s New York Times features a story titled, “Very bad week is merely bump for Assembly’s master of power.” Reporters Danny Hakim and Thomas Kaplan write of the Lower East Side Assemblyman:

Even after a state ethics report criticized him for covering up allegations of sexual harassment against a powerful assemblyman, even after a prosecutor said his failure to act might have put other women at risk, even after a number of editorial boards called for his ouster, Mr. Silver is still standing strong.

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