I couldn’t stop laughing after learning about Democratic State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver receiving the National Excellence in State Leadership Award. There are always two sides to every story. Consider that State Assembly Speaker Silver rules the Assembly with an iron hand. He controls whose bills come out of committee to a full vote, lulus for chairing committees, funding for member-item pork barrel projects, staffing, mailings, district office budgets and favorable district boundaries. Under Silver’s watch since 1994, state spending and long term debt have grown by tens of billions – well beyond the rate of inflation.
Past Republican State Senate majority leaders, the late Warren Anderson, Ralph Marino and Joe Bruno, cut deals with past Democratic State Assembly Speakers Stanley Steingut, Stanley Fink, Mel Miller, Saul Weprin and Silver. These political back room arrangements were a quid pro quo deal preserving the status quo. Each gave the other unlimited freedom to protect and expand their respective majorities in each legislative house they controlled. Once again in 2012, Skelos and Silver maintained this bipartisan traditional Albany incumbents protection program.
This will result in the usual 98 percent re-election rate on November 6.
Voters should be aware before sending Speaker Silver back to Albany for another two year term, that he is considering delivering a pay hike for his loyal flock by the back door. Just like the cowardly lion from the Land of Oz, otherwise known as Albany, Silver lacks the courage to bring this up for a vote in the light of day prior to the November General Election. He would rather conduct it in the dark of night during a Special Session after Election Day. This strategy is designed with the hope that voters will forget this vote two years later, when they run for another two year term in 2014. Ask your local State Assembly member what their position is on this issue before considering voting for them.