Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Skiming the Shelly Surface

This week, New York magazine features a profile of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver under the title "The Obstructionist." The piece only skims the surface of the troubles in Albany.

The story touches on the congestion pricing debacle and notes that Silver was both for and against the plan:

Silver’s handling of congestion pricing was the latest example of his secretive way of wielding power. He has a remarkable ability to seem to hold two contradictory positions at the same time. Officially, he was in favor of it, because, he says, it would help his district, where we’re currently stuck in traffic. But philosophically, he was against it.

The problem is that since there was never public debate or even a vote, we'll never know how Shelly--or his Assembly colleagues--would have voted.

The story also mention Silver's law firm job:

Silver also has a side gig working for Weitz & Luxenberg, one of the biggest personal-injury firms in the state. Silver’s role there is so controversial that judges (they’ve been barking for pay raises) are refusing to hear cases from lawyers at the firm (one recently called him a “slug” because he’s been trying to tie judicial raises to raises for his legislators—Silver’s their union leader, after all). Silver won’t disclose how much he makes for the firm because state ethics laws are so weak they don’t require him to make them public. He also isn’t interested in overhauling these ethics requirements; that wouldn’t be too popular among his members. “I don’t represent corporations,” he says. “I don’t represent anybody who in any way has an impact on anything we do legislatively. They are individuals who, through some unfortunate circumstance, are injured …”

The legislature doesn't require its members to disclose outside income. But, if Shelly has nothing to fear by releasing his client list, then why not do so and act as an example for his members?

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