At a Democratic club meeting in Queens last night, Councilman Danny Dromm said progressives should “thank God” for embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker, not revile him.
“Thank God for Shelly Silver,” Mr. Dromm said to his group, the News Visions Democratic Club in Jackson Heights, when the discussion shifted to Albany politics. “A lot of conservative stuff that might have happened didn’t happen. I don’t know what his prospects are for the Assembly, but we’ll see.”
A candidate running to fill disgraced ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s empty seat said Wednesday he would be “hard-pressed” to vote for Shelly Silver as his speaker because of Mr. Silver’s mishandling of the sexual harassment allegations that forced Mr. Lopez out.
Assembly Democrats have thus far been reluctant to discuss leadership changes, despite the fact that a majority of voters would like to see Mr. Silver go. But attorney Jason Otaño, the favorite of anti-Lopez activists, was blunt when posed the question at a forum last night.
The Battle for Bushwick
The race to replace former Assemblyman Vito Lopez won’t simply be a one-on-one affair.
Charvey Gonzalez, an aide to State Senator Martin Dilan, is also joining the field, which already includes district leader Maritza Davila and attorney Jay Otaño.
Ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s resignation became effective at 9 a.m. this morning, and Assembly officials wasted little time scrubbing all traces of the disgraced legislator online and in Albany.
Mr. Lopez’s official government website has already been removed, as has his official Assembly email address. (“Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently,” a message read.) By 10:30 a.m., the nameplate outside his Legislative Office Building had also been removed–apparently forcibly, per a photo tweeted by The New York Times‘ Thomas Kaplan. His name will also be removed from his floor seat, an official said.
Disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez just announced that he will resign from the Assembly at the end of the legislative session–but still intends to run for City Council.
The announcement comes in the wake of a damning report released this week outlining his alleged sexual harassment of numerous young women who worked for him and a day after Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver said he would introduce a resolution seeking his expulsion.
And Stay out!
Describing his conduct as “nauseating,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn again called on disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign from office, but held her fire when it came to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
A day after the release of a scathing report detailing Mr. Lopez’s alleged sexual harassment of numerous young female staffers, Ms. Quinn said Mr. Lopez had no business serving in elected office–much less running for the City Council–and urged New Yorkers to do anything they can to keep him out of City Hall.
Although Assemblyman Vito Lopez was cleared of criminal charges today, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics still found plenty to to dislike about him in a revealing report that concluded that Mr. Lopez fostered a shockingly sordid work environment in clear violation of official standards of conduct.
In the scathing 68-page report, Mr. Lopez–who was stripped of his powerful committee chairmanship and his position atop the Brooklyn Democratic Party after sexual harassment allegations first surfaced last year—engaged in such acts as hanging mistletoe in his district office and forcibly kissing a staffer, shoving his hand “all the way up” the inner thigh of another staffer and more.
Only a couple degrees of separation stand between Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who was arrested and accused of corruption last week, and the infamous feud that led to the murders of hip-hop artists Tupac Shakur and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace.
The connection begins with Khalil Abdullah, a Stevenson donor whose name and New Jersey hometown match that of a prominent cocaine trafficker who pleaded guilty in 2011. Additionally, The Smoking Gun reported that Mr. Abdullah shared an address with a celebrity hair stylist whose one-time “High Street” address is indeed the same as the contribution’s. Multiple phone calls to individuals associated with the address and Mr. Abdullah’s past reached numbers that were no longer in service.
Although the New York Post ran a front-page story today reporting that Governor Andrew Cuomo is seriously considering a coup d’etat against influential Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, the governor himself is denying any such scheme exists.
“It is wholly up to the legislative bodies to select a leader,” Mr. Cuomo said on The Capitol Pressroom this morning. “I would never, even for a moment, try to influence that decision.”
Another Shoe Drops
Moments ago, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office announced yet another New York State elected official, Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, has been arrested and accused of taking bribes. Earlier this week, New York’s political world was rocked when corruption charges were leveled against State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran. Mr. Stevenson’s charges will be formally unsealed at noon today.
“Stevenson is accused of taking bribes in exchange for official acts, which included drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation that would benefit the co-defendants’ businesses,” the release announcing the press conference declared. “Two of the other defendants are also charged in connection with their payment of a bribe to another Assemblyman, who was actually cooperating with the Government at the time. The charges include conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of Eric Stevenson’s honest services, federal programs and Travel Act bribery conspiracy, federal programs bribery, and Travel Act bribery conspiracy.”