With Leadership Fight Underway, Session Is Cancelled
As Democratic members of the state Assembly continue to discuss the future of Sheldon Silver as speaker, the chamber’s session days were cancelled for tonight and Tuesday, officials in the chamber said.
Assemblyman Mickey Kearns, a Buffalo Democrat who does not conference with the majority, called the decision to cancel this evening’s planned session as well as Tuesday “a waste of taxpayer money.”
The state Senate also cancelled its Tuesday session due to the blizzard now impact most of downstate and eastern New York.
The closed-door meeting with Assembly Democrats began shortly after 5 p.m., around the time Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh had planned to hold a news conference with members who were expected to be critical of Silver, who faces five charges of corruption and fraud.
Instead, Silver, who had been absent from public view for most of the idea, appeared in the Capitol and moved quickly into the Assembly conference room.
He did not say anything to reporters, who have been blocked from entering a normally public hallway between the conference room and the Assembly chamber.
The meeting capped a marathon day of internal phone calls and meetings between members who are seeking a way forward as Silver fights for his political life and the post he’s held since 1994.
The episode, set into motion following Silver’s arrest on Thursday, is the most significant challenge to Silver’s authority in the chamber since a failed 2000 leadership coup brought by then-Majority Leader Michael Bragman.
Lawmakers are considering now a two-person leadership model in the Assembly after members largely rejected a five-person committee to help lead the budget negotiations.
Under that agreement, Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Denny Farrell would lead the budget talks.
Silver left the closed-door about 30 minutes into the meeting and returned to his private office, just off the floor of the Assembly chamber.
As the meeting is held, more calls were made for Silver’s resignation as speaker, including from Citizens Union, the good-government group.
“Given the serious and credible charges of corruption leveled against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the Citizens Union board of directors this afternoon held a special meeting and voted to urge the resignation or removal of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver as Speaker of the New York State Assembly,” the group said in a statement.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., meanwhile, called for whoever the next speaker of the Assembly is to be from New York City.
“Without an Assembly Speaker from the five boroughs, no leadership position in the legislature would be held by a legislator from New York City. Abandoning that tradition would be of grave concern to the 8.5 million residents of the city of New York,” Diaz said.
The delicate talks could very well stretch into the evening as lawmakers are largely stuck at the Capitol given the snowstorm outside.
No formal Assembly session is scheduled for tomorrow.
When the Assembly reconvenes next, the rules require a new speaker be in place.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 26, 2015 at 7:41 pm, and is filed under Assembly. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|