Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver bid farewell today to his “right arm,” a top aide with so many duties he will have to split the job into two (Liz broke that story earlier today).

Silver issued a lengthy goodbye press release to Dean Fuleihan, a 33-year veteran of the Assembly.

“He has been one of the most brilliant, one of the most loyal, one of the most giving of his time in his job and it is really like I’m losing my right arm at this point,” Silver told reporters.

Fuleihan gave no indication during the reporter gaggle about what he would do, and Silver only said it “would not be in this building” referring to the Capitol.

Taking Fuleihan’s responsibilities are Lou Ann Ciccone, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Speaker for Program and Policy; and Matthew Howard, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Ways and Means Committee.

“For all the negatives we hear, there are incredible positives,” Fuleihan said of the Legislature. “It’s an experience of a lifetime. I don’t leave this easy.”

He does plan to stay in New York and added that he wants to “make a contribution.”

Silver also said this was not a sign he would end his tenure as speaker, which began in 1994, making him one of the longest serving Assembly speaker in the state’s history.

The full release on Fuelihan’s departure is after the jump:

This is not easy for me to say, but our friend and my longtime aide and confidant, Dean Fuleihan, has worked on his last state budget.

Dean joined the Assembly on February 6, 1978.  About three years ago, he came to me and said that he was spending too much time away from his family and needed to move on to a new project. At that time, I promised his family that we just needed him to do one more budget.  After three years of cajoling Dean into doing “just one more budget,” the time has come to keep the promise to the Fuleihan Family.

It’s hard for us to imagine the Capitol without Dean Fuleihan.  He has been such a fixture here, I’m told he has an OGS bar code sticker on the bottom of his foot.

Throughout all of my years in the Assembly, I have never known a staff member who has been more devoted to the legislative process or more dedicated to the Assembly and to this conference than Dean Fuleihan.  The hours that he has invested in helping us to navigate political and fiscal change so that this conference can provide more effective leadership, may never be fully appreciated.

I know that for him, the work has always been its own reward and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Dean loved being part of this body, which for us has always been to our benefit.  He has contributed so much and made such a significant difference in the work of this conference and by extension, in the lives of countless New Yorkers who are not fortunate enough to know Dean Fuleihan.

Dean has made his family and his hometown of Syracuse very proud.  This is a well-deserved farewell and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank the Fuleihan Family for sharing him with us.

I know I speak for both Assembly members and staff when I say, we will miss Dean.

To ensure that we continue to have a solid and seasoned team as we go forward in this legislative session, I am pleased to announce that joining my longtime Chief of Staff, Judy Rapfogel, and the Counsel to the Speaker, Jim Yates, on our staff leadership team are:

  • Lou Ann Ciccone, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Speaker for Program and Policy;
  • Matthew Howard, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Ways and Means Committee.

These veterans, along with our already strong and experienced staff, guarantee the Assembly Majority remains up to the challenges that are ahead.