State Assembly members who hail from New York City’s suburbs are fighting back against a plan to delegate Speaker Sheldon Silver’s powers to a group senior lawmakers.
Seventeen lawmakers from the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island huddled Monday in Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s office to discuss the effort, with Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, joining late in the meeting. Afterwards, Paulin said she believes Silver should “step aside” and temporarily hand off his duties to Morelle.
Silver was hit Thursday with five federal corruption charges stemming from his work with private law firms. Late Sunday, he said he would cede some of his duties to a group of senior lawmakers but wouldn’t resign as speaker.
“We’re not happy with the five-person (leadership) coalition,” said Paulin, D-Scarsdale, Westchester County. “We believe the body can’t function that way, and we’re going to the conference as a group to say that.”
After exiting Paulin’s office, Morelle said he was meeting with many members of the Assembly’s Democratic conference to gauge their feelings on the chamber’s leadership. When asked whether he still supports Silver continuing as speaker, Morelle did not respond.
“We’re just talking to members and gauging what their sentiments are on how to move forward,” Morelle said. “So I’m just spending time talking to folks and gauging sentiment.”
Paulin said the suburban caucus was not pleased that the proposed leadership structure was “dictated” to them. She said the group includes the “majority of the members from Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Nassau and Suffolk.”
“We want to be at the table,” Paulin said. “We’re not happy that the decision was dictated to our group.”