2008-03-28 / Letters

Angered By Silver

Dear Editor,

As a retired police officer, and member of Community Board 11 representing Bayside, I write to express my indignation over Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's ongoing relationship with New York's largest personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg. Silver, a founder of the firm, has remained "of counsel" throughout his time in the Assembly, refusing to disclose how much he is paid or who his clients are, according to the New York Post.

Silver has consistently opposed efforts to implement tort reform so that plaintiffs' lawyers do not abuse the court system, tie up the dockets and use the legal system as if it were a lottery system or slot machine. Naturally, when folks get hurt they deserve their day in court and they deserve a fair remedy, but Silver, the favorite of the Trial Lawyers' Lobby, has constantly passed laws making it easier to sue and blocked reforms to rein in excesses.

Meanwhile, Queens Assembly members have been strangely silent as to Silver's obvious conflict of interest. Indeed, most have been little more than rubber stamps for Silver's self-serving legislation. This is unacceptable, for as we teeter on the brink of a recession, tort-law abuse is putting even more financial pressure on employers and government. We are losing jobs to other states, and businesses are closing down or downsizing.

Furthermore, Silver, with the acquiescence of Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, picked a partner in Silver's own law firm, Arthur Luxenberg, to serve on a 13- member judicial-screening commission that recommends judicial candidates for the Appellate Division, Court of Claims and State Supreme Court. Clearly, this is yet another conflict of interest perpetrated by Silver upon our state.

I call on our Queens Assembly members to finally speak out against this outrageous and self-evident conflict of interest. Our assembly members in Northeastern Queens, in particular, need only look to Brian McLaughlin's sad example to find the courage to do the right thing. They may see Silver as their legislative boss, but they need to remember that they are still answerable to the voters and taxpayers right here in Queens.


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