Sexual Harassment Pander: Sheldon Silver Once Again Proves Ethics in New York Under His Watch Is Non-Existent

August 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm (Assembly, J. Michael Boxley, New York, Settlement, Sexual Harassment, Sheldon Silver, Taxpayer Money, Vito Lopez)

Sheldon Silver must resign.

Over the weekend, Silver was lauded for his swift and unprecedented response to the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.  Lopez was unanimously rebuked by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance, stripping him of his Housing Committee chairmanship, cutting off funding and resources from the Assembly, and banning him from hiring employees under the age of 21.  Silver outlined the punishment in a startlingly graphic letter from the Assembly to Lopez.  
Now however, what was once praised as a swift response, has been a proven case of pandering to members of government with a penchant for sexual misconduct.  In a stunning revelation, the New York Times reports that Silver attempted to keep previous Lopez harassment issues swept under the rug, authorizing a secret payment to two other victims for an eye-popping $103,080.  

“… a previous sexual harassment claim was quietly settled by the Assembly earlier this year, in an arrangement that included public money, a confidentiality agreement and mandatory attendance by Mr. Lopez at a sexual harassment workshop.”

The payment was authorized on June 13th, preceding the complaints from two new women which prompted Lopez’ censuring.  The new allegations were made in mid-July. The previous settlement creates a scenario in which calls into question what might have been.  Had Silver taken bold, swift actions when responding to the first case, perhaps the two later complainants would never have been sexually harassed.

Officials are calling the secret payment “unprecedented” and “unfathomable”, while government watchdog groups are demanding an investigation.

Silver’s inaction is not an isolated incident.  Assembly members have been wrapped up in scandals involving current and former interns in 2006, 2007, and 2008 according to the Times, and Silver has oft been criticized for his lethargic response to such scandals.

What’s more, Silver’s use of taxpayer funds to settle harassment cases is not in fact, “unprecedented” at all.

In 2003, Silver was criticized for a slow response to a case involving his former aide, J. Michael Boxley, who was accused of rape and later pled guilty to sexual misconduct.  Three years later, the Assembly agreed to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to settle the case.

Silver has consistently swept sexual harassment complaints under the rug, has continually used taxpayer funds to placate victims, and by extension has allowed these unprofessional and abhorrent behaviors to be perpetrated upon other victims.  He has proven willing to sacrifice ethics for his allies in government.

He is a panderer to predators, and must resign.

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NY Assembly Candidate Sends Out Flyer Claiming Crime Is Up in the "Negrohood"

August 27, 2012 at 11:00 am (45th Assembly District, Assembly, Ben Akselrod, Crime, Democrat, Negrohood, New York, Steven Cymbrowitz)

On September 13th, candidates Ben Akselrod and Steven Cymbrowitz will square off in a Democratic primary for a New York state Assembly seat in Sheepshead Bay.

As such, Akselrod’s campaign sent out a mailer trying to persuade voters that he is the right, competent, detail-oriented man for the job.  The mailer included an inset which criticized his opponent for ‘allowing’ crime to spike on his watch.

The flyer, which was mailed out last week, had one major problem – apparently nobody proofread the material prior to its release.

The flier reads:

Dear Friend,

I am running for Assembly because I believe the number 1 job of that office is to keep the community safe. The current assemblyman has allowed crime to go up over 50% in our  negrohood so far this year. I am fighting for video cameras throughout our community to protect our seniors who are the most vulnerable and cut down on anti-semitic attacks in our community. I will also make sure the mayor gives our community more police to patrol our streets.

Ben Akselrod

Assembly Candidate 

(Photo:  Sheepshead Bites)

It’s hard to tell how the word “negrohood” could have ended up in the final print.  Was it a typo, an unfortunate auto-correct?  Could it have been a Freudian slip on somebody’s part?

Whatever the reasoning, it would seem in the best interest of the candidate to immediately make a statement on the poor choice of words, admit to the error, and do one’s best to rectify the situation.

Amazingly however, three days after the discovery of the “negrohood” flier, Akselrod has yet to say anything on the matter.

The campaign mailer was distributed to thousands of potential voters.

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NY Republicans Trying to Ban Anonymous Online Comments AND Apparently the First Amendment

May 24, 2012 at 7:09 am (Anonymous Comment, Assembly, Daily Caller, Federalist Papers, First Amendment, Jim Conte, New York State, Republicans, Thomas O'Mara)

Here is a clear-cut example of not really thinking things through very carefully – Republicans in the New York State Assembly have proposed legislation that would ban online comments made anonymously.

As a blogger, I can’t tell you how infuriating it is sometimes to watch people make nasty, ill-informed comments under the guise of being anonymous.  It allows people to say things and stoop to levels they wouldn’t normally go, because they are protected by the lack of identification.

That said, this proposal has one law professor referring to it as “clearly unconstitutional”, a violation of speech protected under the First Amendment.  Thomas O’Mara, the Republican sponsor of the bill, told the Daily Caller that “he had not initially considered that the legislation might ban First Amendment-protected speech.”

He wasn’t the only one however, as Assemblyman Jim Conte wrote a release which urged his colleagues to “promote the Internet Protection Act (A.8688/S.6779)” because it will combat cyber-bullying, crack down on anonymous criticism of local businesses, and “cut down on the types of mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that add nothing to the real debate…”

Additionally, the Daily Caller report indicates that nearly half of the Republicans in the Assembly have supported the legislation.

Ohara explained, “I certainly didn’t introduce the legislation with the thought that it was violative of the First Amendment. We’re certainly looking forward to any and all input.”

The input is this – the legislation is a violation of free speech.  The cyber-bullying works both ways.  Not allowing some instances in which readers can post comments anonymously could lead to them being harassed by the owner of the site or others who post online.  When you run a site that allows for commenting, you’re assuming the risk involved.

Wired.com adds that the measures have yet to be voted on but, “unless the First Amendment is repealed, they stand no chance of surviving any constitutional scrutiny even if they were approved.”

They also humorously note the following:

Had the Internet been around in the late 1700s, perhaps the anonymously written Federalist Papers would have had to be taken down unless Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay revealed themselves.

The anonymous comment legislation is a clear example of over-legislating by lawmakers in New York.  Sadly, it was just a couple of weeks ago that judges in the state were ruling that merely viewing child pornography online did not constitute a crime.

No crime for child porn, but a proposed fine for commenting anonymously…  Republicans in the Assembly need to redirect their efforts to items of import.

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Governor Cuomo Accused of ‘Overreaching’ Power Grab

February 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm (Albany, Andrew Cuomo, Assembly, Brooklyn, Budget, Capital, Democrats, Governor Cuomo, Inspector General, James F. Brennan, New York, President Obama, Richard L. Brodsky)

Governor Cuomo seems to be following the path blazed by his colleague in the White House, riding a wave of popularity that he incorrectly perceives as a mandate to consolidate more power in his own hands.  And even Democrats are wary of these dangerous actions…

Via the New York Times:

In his proposed budget for next year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has inserted language that would allow him to move money between state agencies without legislative approval.
He has included a clause that would allow him to give out some contracts without the customary review of the state comptroller. And he added another provision that some budget experts fear could expand his authority to borrow money for construction projects.
Riding high after a string of successes during his first year in office, Mr. Cuomo is now taking an expansive, and expanding, view of the role of governor, in the name of reining in the state’s sprawling bureaucracy.
But even some of Mr. Cuomo’s fellow Democrats are raising questions about what they view as a power grab. And suddenly a staple of civics class — the notion of checks and balances between different branches of government — is the talk of the Capitol.

One fellow Democrat calls it an overreach:

“I think many of us, including myself, feel that there is overreaching proceeding down the path by our new governor, and that it is ultimately not healthy for there to be excessive power in the executive branch, even though he’s popular,” said Assemblyman James F. Brennan, a Democrat of Brooklyn.

This of course comes on the heels of another power grab yielded by the Governor, in which the entire New York State Inspector General’s Office was granted the authority to snoop into the tax returns of not only the state employee workforce, but anyone they deem to be relevant to an investigation.  At the time, this level of investigative power was being labeled ‘unprecedented’, something even the State Attorney General has not been granted.

Cuomo brushed off any questions regarding this consolidation of powers in the executive branch as “basic competence”.  But another Democrat Assemblyman claims it will undo years of efforts to improve government accountability.

Richard L. Brodsky, a former Democratic assemblyman who wrote legislation to improve accountability of the state’s public authorities, said the provision would undo safeguards that lawmakers had put in place with some difficulty.
“It goes to the heart of the reform efforts that took six years, three governors and two attorneys general to get done, and it’s extremely important,” Mr. Brodsky said.

Read the rest…

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Assemblyman Submits Bill Targeting Voter Fraud in New York

January 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm (ACORN, Assembly, Ballot Fraud, Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats, ID, Identification, New York, Steve Katz, Voter, Voter Fraud, Working Families Party)

Voter fraud?  Identification?  Integrity of elections?

Racist!

Assemblyman Steve Katz has introduced legislation requiring photo identification at the polls, an effort likely to be voted down by the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

Why would the Democrats vote down such a common-sense measure?  First, it would all but prevent a recurring instance of voter fraud currently on display in upstate New York.  But also, the Congressional Black Caucus admitted last week that proving your identity can only harm supporters of President Obama and the left.


In short form – doing things legally is a detriment to Democrats.


Here’s an excerpt from the press release on voter ID legislation (h/t Politics on the Hudson):

With a major voter fraud case currently unfolding in the state, Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, was joined today by Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell and board of elections commissioners from throughout the 99th Assembly District at a press conference on the steps of the Historical Putnam County Courthouse to announce new statewide legislation that targets the high incidences of voter fraud in our state.

“This legislation is a simple, commonsense measure that will go a long way toward ensuring elections in New York State are more secure, and represent the actual residents of a community,” said Assemblyman Katz. “Government-issued photo identification is already required in every other facet of life; there is no reason why our democratic-process should be excluded from this basic safeguard.”
A strong advocate for reforming the democratic process, Assemblyman Katz was prompted to author and introduce this original legislation after the highly-publicized case of widespread voter fraud in Troy, New York went to trial earlier this year. The opening arguments for the case began Monday after more than a year of investigations led to the indictments of a city council member, two county officials and a board of elections commissioner on more than 116 counts of alleged forgery or possession of forged ballots during the 2009 Working Families Party primary. Four others have already pleaded guilty in the case.
The ongoing Troy case is not the only time the Working Families Party has been associated with voter fraud. Following the 2008 Presidential elections, the national media attention was focused on exposing the widespread cases of voter fraud contributed to ACORN, the community-action organization that works in close partnership with the Working Families Party throughout the country. In fact, the media attention led to a series of investigations on ACORN including in Washington State, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Nevada where the Las Vegas registrar of voters publicly commented that he believed as much as 48 percent of ACORN’s voter forms are “clearly fraudulent.”

Read the rest here…

More details on the bill can be found on the Assemblyman’s website.

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