Should Shelly Silver Resign the Speakership?

This email was sent this morning to our Alerts email list, which includes most of our active members:
 
Dear DFNYC members,
 
In light of the arrest yesterday of State Assembly Speaker Sheldon "Shelly" Silver, the leadership of DFNYC is strongly considering making a statement calling on Mr. Silver to resign the speakership.
 
We want to hear your opinion before we make a statement. You can respond to this email, or contact us directly at info-at-dfnyc.org (replace -at- w/@). 

While Mr. Silver is not required by law to resign as speaker right after having been arrested on federal corruption charges, we feel that for the integrity of the legislative process, he should resign now.  
 
The Speaker is a very powerful position and one that Shelly Silver has held since 1994, making him one of the "three-men-in-a-room" that essentially control state government. Due process for the accused is an important principle of government.  But the allegations against Mr. Silver are arguably not surprising to anyone who has been following state politics for awhile.  In addition, Mr. Silver has shown questionable ethics in other areas, including blocking sexual harassment and assault charges brought to him by Assembly staffers.
 
Brad Hoylman, the Democratic State Senator from the west side of Manhattan, has called for Silver's resignation.  While it is true that Mr. Silver's Democratic colleagues in the Assembly are on record as supporting him, it is important to know that there are strong incentives for them to do so, despite how they may actually feel. While Silver is Speaker, he has enormous control over the Assembly, including individual members' budgets.  In 2000, some Democrats in the state Assembly started a movement to vote him out as speaker. It failed, and Silver retaliated against the members that voted for his opponent.  See http://nymag.com/news/politics/47409/index2.html
 
As an independent grassroots organization, Democracy for NYC is in a unique position to take a strong stand  in favor of ethics and transparency in government by calling for Sheldon Silver to resign as speaker. But we want to hear your opinion, even if you disagree.
 
What's Next:
 
If Mr. Silver were to resign, we do not know who would become speaker or how the process would work; we are looking into that now. It is clear that Democrats will remain a large majority in the Assembly. We strongly feel that any speaker - whether it is Sheldon Silver, a successor, or a new candidate voted on by the Assembly members - should support rules reform in Albany, including:

 1. Making funds for staff and resources equal across all members, not determined by the Speaker, which leads to unfair distribution and conflicts of interest.

 2. Allowing Committee Chairs, and not the Speaker, to control their individual committees 

 3. Changing the system for member items so that it is not subject to discretion of the Speaker 

 4. Make it possible for bills to come to the floor without having to be approved by the Speaker
 5. Much needed improvements to campaign finance and rules about outside income

For more on Shelly Silver's arrest, including the reaction of Mayor de Blasio, see these links:

NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/nyregion/speaker-of-new-york-assembly-sheldon-silver-is-arrested-in-corruption-case.html?_r=0

TPM: De Blasio statement:
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/bill-de-blasio-sheldon-silver-integrity
Brad Hoylman calls for Silver's resignation:
http://observer.com/2015/01/manhattan-democratic-senator-calls-for-sheldon-silver-to-resign/
 
Your Opinion:
Should Sheldon Silver resign as speaker? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.