ICYMI: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver took some verbal jabs at Ed Koch yesterday over the former mayor’s latest reform-Albany effort.

Koch fired back at his fellow Manhattan Democrat, suggesting his new PAC, New York Uprising, and its focus on independent redistricting, has the speaker worried about potentially losing his grip on power in Albany.

An attenuated version of this war of words appeared at the bottom of my DN column today. There was actually quite a bit more to the exchange.

While allowing that Koch is “entitled to do what he wants” as a citizen, Silver called the ex-mayor’s sudden interest in a-political redistricting “strange,” adding:

“All of the years he never did anything about it when the Republicans controlled the Senate. He never did anything about it when it involved reapportionment of the City Council. He never did anything about independence, suddenly he thinks about independence.”

Asked what he thought might be motivating Koch, Silver answered: “I have no idea maybe it’s because he represents the landlords of New York. That’s who that firm he’s holding his press conferences in represents.”

(For the record, Silver is referring to Koch’s politically-connected law and lobbying firm, Bryan Cave, which represents the Real Estate Board of New York, better known as REBNY. The organization has been trying to figure out a way to provide a counterbalance to the Working Families Party and recently hired a former aide to Mayor Bloomberg, James Whelan, to head up its political operation).

Koch took offense at Silver’s words, particularly the suggestion that he is somehow pro-Republican (he does have a history of endorsing Republicans, but stressed that he has been a lifelong Democrat). The 85-year-old Koch said he is stepping up now essentially to fill a void.

“For the last year and a half, whenever I went to breakfast, lunch or dinner, people said: The Legislature is dysfunctional; throw the bums out. I thought somebody would take the lead, but a year and a half went by and nobody did, so I thought to myself: This will be my last hurrah.”

“…I assure you the thought of helping the Republican Party never entered my head,” Koch continued. “I think we’ve got (Silver) worried. Think of how successful I’ve been. I got four gubernatorial candidates to say they’ll veto legislation that does not provide for an independent commission. So far as I know, nobody else has gotten that done. That’s why he’s looking for extraneous issues to sully my reputation.”

Koch is also asking all legislative challengers and incumbents to sign the nonpartisan redistricting pledge, but that won’t be sent out until after the budget.

Silver is, as far as I know, running for re-election. When I asked him if he would be signing, he said:

“I make a practice of not signing pledges, generally, because as a legislative leader part of leadership is compromise. I hate to go back on things in the name of compromise. I can’t comment (on the pledge) until I’ve seen it…We will have hearings and make the appropriate adjustments to bring about order to the process, but I don’t believe four or five professors should get together with cookie cutters and cut the districts.”