Alair Townsend: Time for Sheldon Silver to go

These sexual scandals just seem to go on and on without an ending. The fish rots from the head down. Silver has allowed this kind of deviant sexual activity for years, he has authorized tax dollars to be used to pay off and defend them for years. Maybe now all of it is catching up but not after we have paid millions of tax dollars out, it’s sickening.

I first heard about Bear mountain a decade ago and wrote about it in a couple of my sites. This is spot on and one of the very reasons it continues. How many people have heard me say that all the legislators have something on the other? Affairs, gay sex, office sex, sex with interns etc. This is the root of the corruption in Albany second only to the corrupt use of tax dollars.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has badly mishandled sexual misconduct allegations against legislators.

I first heard about the Bear Mountain rule when I was in city government in the 1980s. The rule stipulates that nothing of a personal nature that happens north of Bear Mountain (i.e., in Albany) shall be spoken about south of the mountain. It works in reverse, too. Upstate legislators who dally in New York City are supposed to be shielded by their colleagues. When Ed Koch gave holiday receptions for state legislators, a few from upstate felt free to bring their office “wives.” There are many secrets in Albany, a place that’s often cold and without a lot to do except kill time in bars. Things happen between consenting adults. Life goes on.

The problem arises when the adults are not consenting and the fellows close ranks. Of course, we’re talking about men—legislators and their aides—harassing and allegedly raping women. I have never heard of a female legislator who has sexually harassed her male staff members. It’s a boys’ club thing. It’s repulsive, but it has been difficult to get tough leadership action against it. By leadership, I mean Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

His latest scandal involves Assemblyman Micah Kellner, a Democrat from Manhattan, who is running for the City Council. Mr. Kellner’s chief of staff brought allegations of sexual harassment involving Mr. Kellner and a female junior staffer to the attention of top aides to the speaker in 2009. Their charges were accompanied by copies of emails from Mr. Kellner that were sexual in nature.

Nothing was done. There was no follow-up, no referral of the matter to the Assembly Ethics Committee. More troubling, it was not disclosed to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics after it issued a subpoena for documents related to sexual claims. The chief counsel for the Assembly Democrats was simply fired, with Mr. Silver’s staff claiming the speaker knew nothing at all until very recently. Then he allegedly referred the matter to the Assembly Ethics Committee, whose chairman, Charles Lavine, had featured the speaker as an honored guest at his recent fundraiser. Earlier, Mr. Lavine’s committee had cleared Mr. Silver of any wrongdoing in the Vito Lopez harassment case.

The speaker’s handling of the sordid Lopez matter is shocking. First, he buried the claims of two women and quietly paid them $103,000 in taxpayer funds to settle without referring their cases to the Ethics Committee. Later, Mr. Lopez, age 72, was found to have sexually harassed two more women. This time, the Ethics Committee reviewed the cases and said it would consider recommending expulsion. Mr. Lopez resigned, but is currently running for the City Council.

Now, both Mr. Lopez and Mr. Silver are being sued by the first two women. Mr. Silver’s legal bills are being paid by you and me as taxpayers.

We also paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit regarding two rape charges against Mr. Silver’s former chief counsel, J. Michael Boxley. Mr. Boxley’s punishment was six years of probation.

The speaker’s office badly needs a cleansing. It’s time for Sheldon Silver to step aside.

via Alair Townsend: Time for Sheldon Silver to go | Crain’s New York Business.


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