Hammond: Sheldon Silver is charged with robbing the poor

24 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Doctor linked to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest removed from head of cancer research center position.

The culture of corruption in Albany is well known. Assembly Democrats have just two days to avoid the disgrace of allowing Speaker Sheldon Silver to preside over their august chamber as an accused felon whose breathtaking corruption is beyond doubt.

Hours after Silver’s arrest on federal corruption charges Thursday, the Democratic conference met without their leader for 90 minutes before coming out mostly unified in their stated public support for Silver staying on as speaker.Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara riffed at comical length Friday on one of Albany’s oldest and most notorious memes: that the state is run by its governor plus the leaders of the Senate and Assembly, the “three men in a room.” “I have a little bit of a hard time getting my head around this concept of three men in a room,” Bharara said during a capacity-crowd speech at New York Law School. “Like why three men?

NEW YORK — One of New York state’s most powerful politicians was arrested Thursday on public corruption charges and accused of using his position to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income. But behind the scenes on Friday, as the severity of the charges sunk in and calls for Silver’s ouster were splashed in newspapers across the state, many members started to waffle, sources said. “Now that there is more information, there seems to be a consensus that Baharara would not bring these charges against him unless this was a serious case,” said one wavering lawmaker who had attended the press conference in support of Silver. Robert Taub still remains on the payroll but is no longer overseeing the Mesothelioma Research Center, officials said. “The research and patient care activities of the mesothelioma center are being absorbed into the division of hematology and oncology. Patrick Gallivan (R-Erie County), who was being probed by the commission for possibly using campaign funds on cigars, tanning salons and casinos, according to City & State. The arrest sent shock waves through New York’s Capitol as a new legislative session has begun, and it came just a day after Silver shared the stage with Gov.

The Assembly source said those who have spoken with Silver say that even as support from members begins to evaporate he seems intent on holding on to his leasdership post, possibly as leverage in talks with the feds. Who would replace Silver is the biggest question given there is no obvious successor who could immediately claim to have the 76 needed Democratic votes. While it’s unclear just who might be Bharara’s next scalp, it’s clear his warning of more to come was designed to send a strong message to legislators. “He has made clear that he has a continuing interest in corruption at all levels of government, but particularly at the state level,” said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor. Big-name economists keep insisting monetary policy can conjure growth without anyone having to question any ideological, political or policy embraces of the past three decades.

In a criminal complaint, authorities said Silver abused his power and “obtained about $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position.” As speaker of the Democrat-controlled Assembly, Silver is one of the most influential people in New York state government. After seeing a top leader like Silver arrested, those under investigation might be quicker to come in and cooperate, he said. “I’ve always believed that something is going to happen because they’ve been working, they’ve been looking,” said veteran Assemblyman Herman (Denny) Farrell (D-Manhattan). “I don’t spit on the sidewalk anywhere.” On Thursday, Bharara, when announcing Silver’s arrest, said the charges “in our view go to the very core of what ails Albany: lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of principle — joined with overabundance of greed, cronyism and self-dealing. When did 20 million New Yorkers agree to be ruled like a triumvirate in Roman times?” he asked. “And I venture to guess,” he added, “that not a single person in this room or in the overflow room or anyone else save for the three disagrees with me.” Silver, who was charged this week with bribery and extortion, could also face tax evasion charges in the coming months, legal experts told the Daily News.

But we will keep at it.” Veteran Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn) says Bharara’s cryptic comments can unfairly taint all the lawmakers since the public does not know who is under investigation and who isn’t. “The great majority of people here do their work seriously and honestly,” he said. “The feeling among the rank and file is if there are people who aren’t doing that, the sooner they’re gone the better. The new scandal also revives scrutiny of what many perceived as the governor’s Achilles’ heel: His widely faulted decision in 2014 to shut down the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel he had created to root out wrongdoing and bring reform to state government. The firm, which specializes in suing companies on behalf of people suffering from asbestos exposure, paid Silver $3.2 million over several years for passing on the names, federal prosecutors say.

When the commission began to investigate public corruption in 2013, including outside income earned by Silver and other state legislators, “Silver took legal action and other steps to prevent the disclosure of such information,” the complaint said. Prosecutors said the bulk of Silver’s dirty money — about $3.2 million in referral fees — stemmed from his work for the personal injury law firm Weitz & Luxenberg. It can’t even avail itself of fracking, as Pennsylvania and Ohio have done, because fracking displeases the disconnected New York City liberals whom Mr. Silver has championed liberal causes in the Legislature, where he has used his position as a powerbroker to support teachers, trial lawyers and civil service unions.

Much of the work involves advocating for tenants in danger of losing rent protection, parents seeking quality schools and residents in need of livable streets. Today’s installment covers 11 members, 10 of whom have joined the Corruption Caucus. “I hate to think about stepping on somebody’s body who is dying before the body is even cold,” Brooklyn’s Joe Lentol awkwardly told the Brooklyn Paper. Prosecutors also charge that Silver pressured two major real estate developers into doing business with Goldberg & Iryami, which handles property tax cases.

Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs. “There was plenty more to discover, and it just didn’t happen.” Responding to Mr. This has led some to draw a line of causation, but McDonald’s doesn’t compete for the same customers and its real future may lie more in cost control than in imitating the boutique burger chains like Shake Shack and Five Guys. The State of the State address he offered on Wednesday had been summarily forgotten, replaced by familiar lamentations about yet another corruption scandal.

Consider the secret, last-minute exemption of five luxury Manhattan towers from most property taxes — including one where a condo just sold for over $100 million. A writer for the New Yorker applauds academic studies showing that hikes in the minimum wage have only a small impact on overall employment, “usually confined to teenagers and unskilled workers”—i.e., McDonald’s workers. President Obama himself, when he keeps intoning that every job should pay enough to support a family of four, is essentially saying McDonald’s jobs shouldn’t exist. Now the company is “simplifying” its menu and giving franchisees freedom to drop non-sellers—and the disproportionate staff needed to support them.

Billionaires like the mysterious “Developer 1” in Silver’s indictment (said to be Leonard Litwin, who has given millions to the state’s politicians), give elected officials virtually unlimited campaign contributions. Look for that to shrink as McDonald’s adapts to an America becoming more like Europe, with an economy unwelcoming to the unskilled and unprivileged trying to find an entry into the world of work. Before its disbandment, the panel had been investigating legislators’ outside income, but lawmakers sued to block that inquiry on constitutional grounds.

Silver, should he choose to do so, could potentially shed light on that subject, as well as on other Albany malfeasance. “Silver knows where all the bodies are buried, and what went into the deal to end Moreland,” the commission member said, insisting on anonymity to avoid damaging professional relationships. “The speaker’s arrest intensifies everything.” Mr. Cuomo is also confronting one consequence of his unapologetically pragmatic approach to Albany relationships, in which success was often achieved not by trying to depose his rivals for power in the capital, but from beating them at their own game.

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