“When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”
The blow has been struck at New York State’s long time Democrat power broker Sheldon Silver, and while he may not be legally and politically dead, he’s metaphorically bleeding out rather quickly. We first brought you this news only four days ago, but by this weekend Silver’s office had announced that he will be handing off his responsibilities as Speaker of the Assembly to a five person committee.
Facing intense pressure to step down, Sheldon Silver has agreed to relinquish his enormous powers as Assembly Speaker to a 5-man committee.
Under a deal being finalized last night, Silver will become a virtual figure head on Monday, as he cedes the iron control he has held over legislative matters in the State Capitol for the past 21 years.
It is not clear if he will actually give up the title of Speaker, and sources said the deal to cede control will be declared “temporary,” meant to only last while he fights charges of kickbacks and corruption filed last week.
Technically this is only cosmetic, since the “5-man committee” is not only hand picked by Silver, but – at least before last week – would do whatever he wanted anyway out of a combination of loyalty and fear for their political lives. But it simply has to be a gigantic blow to his ego to give up even a sliver of his power and perceived authority over the state government, which has been pretty much the same as a crime syndicate boss.
The makeup of the committee is also rather typical of Silver’s preferences. Four of the five members are from Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Only one member, Joe Morelle, is from upstate. (Rochester) That’s in line with his method of running the operation, since for Sheldon Silver, it’s all about the New York City Democrat machine, and he only grudgingly does any business with the largely conservative climes of the state to the north and west.
Insiders are telling the New York Post that Sheldon may still step down as Speaker (which he is denying at this point) but he won’t be quitting his position in the legislature while he fights the charges in court. Getting back to the when you strike at a king theory, it’s looking more and more as if the Feds have the goods on him.
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Public Authorities Control Board — where Silver is one of just three voting members — also includes a residential real-estate project in his district.
The 168-unit apartment building in the Financial District got some $78.5 million worth of financing through a program that the feds highlighted in the criminal complaint against Silver.
The PACB is the gold mine of New York politics, with massive amounts of taxpayer cash being handed out every year. There are traditionally only three people who get a vote in how and where that money goes, (the infamous “three men in a room”) with Silver being the lead dog in the sled team. That kind of power can buy you an unimaginable amount of influence and “favors” from people in all walks of life, and Silver seems to have enjoyed the benefits of that position a great deal.
We’ll continue to watch this train wreck as it unfolds. If Silver goes all the way down (and to jail) it will be the end of an era in New York machine politics. At least until the next power broker moves in to fill the vacuum…