Friday, February 29, 2008

Sheldon Silver Practices Cronyism? Never.

Did you hear the sarcasm dripping in that title? Or was it more of a roaring, giant waterfall sound? Silver has been the Assembly Leader since forever and in 'representing' Lower Manhattan/LES since the mid 1970s. After you have acquired enough power like Sheldon has, coupled with working in Albany, you know things can go wrong when it comes to good government. Well, he was caught in the act again this week.

From The NY Post:

Silver and Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith last month tapped Arthur Luxenberg as their appointment to the 13-mem- ber committee that recommends to the governor candidates for the Appellate Division, Court of Claims and State Supreme Court in the city's district.

Luxenberg is a co-founder of Weitz & Luxenberg, one of the state's largest trial-law firms. Silver has been "of counsel" at the firm since 2002.

He and the firm have repeatedly refused to reveal who his clients are or how much he is paid, although sources have said it could be in the seven figures.

Luxenberg told The Post he was a joint appointment of Silver and Smith and denied the fact that Silver's ties to the firm had anything do with his placement in the nonpaying post on the commission.

Oh of course not. How could we think such a thing of Silver? I'm sure they barely know each other in the office and that his name came up because he was highly recommended by some government watchdog organization like, oh, I don't know, maybe N.Y.P.I.R.G.?

"The speaker is entitled to pick someone who shares his judicial philosophy, but he should look outside a firm with which he is affiliated," said Russ Haven, of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

One lawyer with knowledge of the appointment noted that Luxenberg, whose firm's Web site boasts of "more million-dollar verdicts than most firms in the country," will now have a say in selecting appellate-court judges who will decide whether to uphold or lower such awards.

"It just doesn't look good," said the lawyer, who asked for anonymity.

No, it doesn't look good. Not at all. It looks like more of the same from Albany. Just another reason why voters from his district must take a look at Paul Newell in the primary this year. Paul is anything but about cronyism and shady deals, the exact opposite of what we must deal with in Sheldon Silver's stewardship of the Assembly.