another day in albany
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that he will follow through on his threat to create a Moreland Commission–a powerful committee with subpoena powers–to investigate state legislators after they failed to come to a deal on a proposed new public campaign financing system the governor has tried to sell as an anti-corruption bill.
“That is the direction I am planning to proceed,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters at a press conference in Albany this afternoon, as the legislative session winds to a close.
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.”
Vito Lopez protegé and City Councilman Stephen Levin walked into the lion’s den last night, facing the virulently anti-Lopez New Kings Democratic club for the first time.
Mr. Levin, Mr. Lopez’s former chief of staff, was invited to a club candidate forum in a Williamsburg basement decorated with musical instruments, old video games and a pile of stuffed Care Bears, where members sipped beers and passed around pizza slices as candidates spoke. Members described the appearance as “an historic event for a very small group of people.”
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
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was forced to try to assure parents that their daughters were safe working in Albany following a “disturbing” poll out yesterday that found most New Yorkers wouldn’t want their daughters to intern in the State Legislature after former Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s sexual harassment scandal.
“I want people to know that you can send your daughter to Albany,” Mr. Cuomo said during an appearance on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter this morning, where he was once again forced to weigh in on the scandal and its aftermath.
Hide your children
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.
Veni vidi vito
A slim majority of New York voters think Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver should resign over his mishandling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal, according to a new poll out Wednesday, which also found most parents want their daughters steering clear of Albany.
The Quinnipiac poll found that 51 percent of those surveyed think Mr. Silver should step down from office, versus just 22 percent who feel he should remain. The feeling was especially high among men, suburban voters and Republicans.
Vito Lopez may have left the State Assembly last month in the wake of bombshell sexual harassment allegations, but an electoral war for his former district is still heating up. According to sources, Maritza Davila, Mr. Lopez’s co-district leader who nearly unseated Councilwoman Diana Reyna four years ago, will run for his old job.
As he contemplates a run for City Council, scandal-scarred Vito Lopez isn’t getting any more popular just because he resigned from the State Assembly on Monday.
That was made abundantly clear at a City Hall rally yesterday, where a bevy of women legislators and candidates, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and Councilwoman Diana Reyna, again denounced Mr. Lopez’s candidacy and endorsed the disgraced pol’s would-be rival, Antonio Reynoso.
The week before Vito Lopez resigned, the state ethics commission released a scathing 68-page report that detailed a lurid pattern of abuse in his district office.
According to the allegations, the former assemblyman once lamented the existence of statutory rape laws in the presence of a 14-year-old intern. Mr. Lopez demanded massages from female staffers, including one who cried and expressed her discomfort as a former rape victim. At a bar one evening, he grabbed an employee’s hands from across the table. When she tried to pull away, he tightened his grip. When she began to cry, Mr. Lopez said he’d release her only after she counted to 60. When she did, he stared at her for the full minute.
After resigning from his Assembly seat on Monday morning, Mr. Lopez is said to be contemplating a seemingly unfathomable second act: running for City Council. Given the accusations against him, what’s more surprising is that even his detractors acknowledge that Mr. Lopez actually has a viable path to victory.