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Followup: Sheldon Silver’s 21-Year Reign as Assembly Speaker Ends Monday

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City Hall, December 2012.
City Hall, December 2012.

More now on last night’s big news that Sheldon Silver’s 21-year tenure as speaker of the New York state Assembly will come to an end on Monday.

At the end of a another tense day in Albany, Assembly Democrats announced that next week they would appoint an acting speaker, Joseph D. Morelle, and schedule an election for Silver’s permanent successor in February.

Leaving his office last night, Silver said, “I will not hinder a succession process.”  But he would not answer directly when asked about formally resigning as speaker, saying only that he intends to keep his legislative seat in the 65th Assembly District. “I will be a member of this house,” Silver said. “I was elected by my constituents and I do not intend to resign my seat in this house.” Silver added, ““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.”  If he does not resign, Democrats in the Assembly would presumably be forced to hold a vote to remove him.

[You can watch a videotape of Silver’s remarks here.]

In the days following his arrest on federal corruption charges, it became obvious that Silver’s days as speaker were numbered. But as the Times notes, it was breathtaking how quickly his grip on power slipped away:

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.

This morning, the Daily News reports that Silver will temporarily at least part ways with Weitz & Luxenberg, the law firm that has employed him for more than a decade. In a statement, he said:

I will be taking a leave of absence from Weitz & Luxenberg, effective immediately… I am grateful for my time with the firm and do not want the pending and unwarranted allegations against me to be a distraction, especially since there was no wrongdoing by the firm. I wish the firm and its lawyers well as they continue their outstanding work on behalf of their many clients.

The Jewish Week takes a look at reaction to the Silver scandal on the Lower East Side and within the non-profit community:

Many are defending his character, others are questioning it. Some are glad to see a progressive leader at odds with the views of many yeshivish and chasidic voters lose his power. But those on all sides are weighing the same question: To what extent will Jewish causes will be hurt by Silver’s downfall as he loses his place as one-third of the proverbial “three men in a room” who decide things in Albany. In terms of funding for Jewish nonprofits, all agree it doesn’t look good.

As for supporters within the Lower East Side’s Jewish community:

Inside East Side Glatt (on Grand Street), Baruch Weiss, the shop’s bearded, Yiddish-accented owner, called the charges a “bilbul,” the Yiddish word for libel or smear. “In three weeks,” he said, “they’re going to dismiss everything.” … “He gets along with everybody,” said Nathan, 53, who declined to give his last name, a teacher who often helps out at Moishe’s Bakery, as he did last Friday. “I’m friendly with his son. … The wife comes in. She’s very cordial, very nice to everybody.” Shopping in the grocery store next store, East Side Kosher, another teacher said he, too, knew Silver from the neighborhood. “If anything is bothering anyone in the community, you can [easily] relay that message to Mr. Silver,” said David Dinter, 33, a math instructor. The complaints against Silver are “upsetting” to Dinter, who said “the [legal] process has to be played out” before he can believe any of them. But until that happens, Dinter added, he believes Silver’s declaration of innocence.

You can read the whole story here.

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