2014-02-28 / Letters

Hoping Sheldon Silver Goes

Dear Editor:

This month is the 20th Anniversary for Sheldon Silver's reign as Speaker of the New York State Assembly. Many wonder how he has lasted so long given all the scandals committed by many former members of the Democratic State Assembly caucus over his tenure. The answer is simple.

Speaker Silver rules the State Assembly with an iron hand. The majority of his loyal flock supplements their base pay of $79,000 per year with lulus for chairing dozens of useless committees and subcommittees. These are up to $41,500. This can result in a salary of $121,000 per year. This is supplemented by day-to-day meal expense accounts and reimbursement for travel to and from Albany.

He controls whose bills come out of committee to a full vote, funding for member item pork barrel projects, staffing, mailings and district office budgets. Speaker Silver also controls the Democratic State Assembly campaign committee which provides funding to the handful of members who actually have to run competitive races against Republican opponents.

The 2014 State Legislature Session Calendar covers a six month period from January 1st, 2014 to June 30th, 2014. There are 129 available weekdays. After subtracting New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day and Memorial Day, most ordinary New Yorkers will be working 125 days. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's chamber is scheduled to be in session only 62 days. Not bad for a part-time job. Many members find the time to hold down second jobs paying even more.

Real change will only come to Albany with the departure of Speaker Silver and other members of his loyal flock, who continue to stand by as scandal after scandal unfolds on their watch.

The best hope of defeating Speaker Silver may be in his own backyard. The demographics of Speaker Silver's Lower Manhattan Eastside 65th district continue to change. There are only so many millions in personal member item pork barrel projects that Speaker Silver can bring home to his district. Many of his loyal older constituents continue to succumb to old age. More and more new and younger voters in his district are beginning to wake up and acknowledge that Speaker Silver’s pork to his favorite local community organizations is not kosher for taxpayers. Don’t shed any tears as his pension is something constituents can only dream about. His lucrative law practice will continue along with ample opportunities to return to Albany as a well-compensated lobbyist.

As one of the infamous “Three Men in the Room” — change will only come to Albany with an honest reapportionment and election of a new governor, state Senate majority leader and state Assembly speaker. Sadly, taxpayers may have to wait until 2022 for this to happen.

LARRY PENNER

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