Sheldon Silver is the speaker of the Democrat-controlled Assembly in New York state. He’s a real piece of work. He has a history of covering for perverts and sexual predators, yet he still retains power. He made the news this past week because he had blocked an affordable housing project, then blamed it on a dead guy who shared his name.
In the 1970s, Mr. Silver, a Democrat, worked with a new nonprofit group, the United Jewish Council of the East Side, to block low-income housing on a large, barren site in his district on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the beginning of a decades-long effort that was described in a recent article in The New York Times.
Those actions, Mr. Silver insisted after the article was published, were actually taken by another man: Sheldon E. Silver, a Minneapolis-born lawyer who moved to Brooklyn in the early 1970s and died in 2001.
“I was forever confused with this guy,” Mr. Silver said at a breakfast he hosted on Thursday at the state Democratic Party convention. “Even after he left there, I got phone calls from people who I knew.”
Mr. Silver’s spokesman, Michael Whyland, said in an email that the other Mr. Silver “was a counsel to U.J.C. in the ’70s and early ’80s.”
“You can understand why he would be upset,” Mr. Whyland said in a subsequent telephone call.
But the documents cited in the article make clear that Speaker Silver — a master at distancing himself from controversies and scandals in his chamber — was in fact the person who pressed New York City officials to allow an international mall to be built on the site, instead of low-income housing. The letter quoted was written on his official stationery from the Assembly. And minutes of the meetings with city officials clearly identify Mr. Silver as the lawmaker, not the similarly named lawyer from Brooklyn.
After Mr. Silver’s office saw those documents, it dropped its request for a correction on which Mr. Silver pressed for the mall in the 1970s.
The widow of the late Mr. Silver isn’t amused.
If Speaker Silver was a Republican we would never hear the end of this. He’d be called a racist for blocking affordable housing, and all kinds of other nasty things. But since he’s got that D after his name he’ll retain his power for as long as he wants it. What a state.