Assembly Democrats Calling On Silver To Step Down
Somber Assembly Democrats exited a closed-door, marathon meeting Monday evening after determining that embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver can no longer continue as the chamber’s leader.
A successor to Silver is yet to be determined, but Majority Leader Joe Morelle would automatically become the chamber’s speaker if Silver were to relinquish the role.
“It’s pretty clear from everyone who expressed an opinion that we can no longer have the speaker continue on speaker. There was a very strong opinion that the speaker should step down,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, a Binghamton area Democrat.
Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh said enough members in the conference were available to support ending Silver’s tenure.
“I would say many people expressed that point of view,” Kavanagh told reporters, adding that a formal vote had not been taken.
The end of the five-hour meeting capped a seemingly unprecedented day at the state Capitol and appears to signal the end of Silver’s career as one of the most powerful state officials in the last 20 years.
Silver was not last challenged for his post in 2000, when central New York Assemblyman Michael Bragman sought to oust him in a failed coup.
“I think a majority of the conference believes it’s appropriate for him to resign his speakership,” Kavanagh said, adding he does not expect a new vote on a speaker tomorrow.
Lawmakers said Silver is being given the ultimatum of stepping down as speaker, a post he’s held since 1994, or finding an interim leader who would assume his responsibilities and powers as he fights five federal corruption charges.
Morelle, a Rochester-area Democrat, was seen walking into the office of Silver, where members said he was explaining the outcome of the meeting.
“We’re all concerned about the effective management about the responsibility of our Assembly,” said Assemblyman Jeff Aubry, a Queens Democrat. “It’s a great difficulty for him to continue to operate. I think he recognizes that.”
Following Silver’s arrest last Thursday on corruption charges, Democrats in the Assembly rallied around the longtime speaker, a Manhattan Democrat.
But in the days after that initial show of public support from some of Silver’s top-ranking lawmakers in the conference, support began to erode for the speaker staying on in the chamber.
Lawmakers in the Assembly spent the weekend making a flurry of phone calls to discuss the way forward in the Assembly chamber following Silver’s arrest.
By Sunday evening, lawmakers were presented with the option of moving toward a five-member committee to negotiate the budget, while Silver would retain the power of the speaker.
That agreement quickly fell apart when presented to skeptical members of the Assembly.
Support for Silver, meanwhile, continued to melt away throughout Monday as prominent Democratic lawmaker Keith Wright, who is said to be interested in becoming speaker himself, called on the speaker to step down from his post.
That statement was followed up by multiple Democratic lawmakers who seconded the call for Silver to step down from the leadership post.
Silver appeared to get a second wind into the late afternoon as he met personally with members.
He left the meeting after about 15 minutes, while each member was given a chance to speak about their concerns.
Then, a two-person agreement was hatched during the closed-door conference that would have allowed Ways and Means Committee Chairman Denny Farrell and Morelle to co-lead the Assembly.
It appears for now that lawmakers in the Assembly are choosing neither of those options.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 26, 2015 at 10:12 pm, and is filed under Assembly. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|