While insisting he doesn’t want to meddle in how the Assembly Democrats run their conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today panned the five-member leadership team floated by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in lieu of completely relinquishing his leadership post following his arrest last week

“The Assembly, the Legislature is a different branch of the government, and the governor runs the executive, so I’m not going to tell them how to run the Assembly,” Cuomo said during a brief Q-and-A with reporters following the first of two briefings he’ll hold today on the storm that is heading toward New York.

“To the extent I have to interact with the Assembly, committees, management by committee, I’ve never been a fan of, and I’ve never seen it work well,” the governor continued. “So, I’d like to see what the actual configuration is that they’ve come up with, when they come up with it. And then I’ll have an opinion.”

“…I’m focused on the functionality of government, and I want to know what the mechanism is that will replace the spaker…the quote, unquote committee. I don’t know what that means. I can’t negotiate with a committee, so I have to see what they actually come up with. From my own selfish point of view, I don’t understand how you negotiate with a commitee, how I negotiate with a committee.”

Cuomo reiterated that this is a “terribly unfortunate situation” – both for Silver, personally, and for the people of New York, since corruption scandals (especially one of this magnitude) only serve to re-enforce negative and cynical views about government.

The governor said his main goal is to keep government functional, and to that end, “the distraction of what’s going on with the speaker” needs to be resolved.

“So, to the extent that there’s going to be a replacement to run the Assembly, I think that’s a good thing. Because from my point of view, my job is to get things done, to get the government working. And the Assembly is an important part of that,” Cuomo said.

“…We have to negotiate a budget. I laid out a State of the State that probably had 70 proposals. How do we reform education? How do we bring broadband to people across the state. How do we do a tax cut. This is all important information, and these are all real-life decisions that make a difference in people’s lives. You’re talking about their health care. You’re talking about their security. So that the government works matters.”

There has been a lot of speculation about Cuomo’s relationship with Silver over the years, and it was breifly speculated when the governor first took office that he might seek to take the speaker out. But in the end, he didn’t make a move against the Manhattan Democrat, perhaps determining that he was simply too entrenched to move against.

Despite what Cuomo says about the governor needing to stay out of a dealings of the legislative branch, it would not be unheard of for a governor to seek to influence the selection of a legislative leader; former Gov. George Pataki helped his preferred Senate majority candidate, Joe Bruno, during the infamous “Thanksgiving coup” during which Bruno unseated Ralph Marino, who had not been a Pataki supporter.

Cuomo is speculated to prefer Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, of Rochester, to replace Silver. But one of the chief roles of a speaker is to defend his conference against the governor, and to take bullets on the behalf of his members. The failure of last year’s pay raise talks left a bad taste in a lot of members mouths – especially downstaters, who have been pushing hardest for a bump in their base salary of $79,500 – and a number of them are not at all pleased with Cuomo’s assault on the public education system.

Being perceived as too close to Cuomo could hurt a speaker candidate, adding to the existing complication (in this case) of the fact that Morelle is an upstater and the conference is dominated by downstate members, though it is far more diverse, geographically speaking, that it was back when Silver first took control in 1994.