After The Storm (7)

Published: June, 2013

Why Sheldon Silver Must Resign and Debra Glick Should Lead The Call

I am the father of three girls, one of whom is a 23 year old making her way as an AmeriCorps employee in the grown-up” world. The younger two are almost 8 and 10. If anyone ever laid an inappropriate hand on one of them, I would apply Sharia Law and cut that man’s hand off.

It is with that perspective that I view the latest reports of Albany sleaze: Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s sexual misdeeds with eight (yes, eight) female staffers in their 20s. The New York Times has now published all the details – the requirement that staffers massage his tumor, that they wear short skirts and tight blouses. There are tape recordings of female aides sobbing as this trusted man gave directions. Lopez is gone (at least until he gets elected to the City Council). Yet the scandal isn’t. What remains is Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver’s effort to cover it up, pay hush money, and keep it secret. Even though the Ethics Committee which made the Lopez report was told not to investigate Silver’s staff’s actions, it is full of evidence of a Silver cover-up. In fact, Silver tried to have the report edited to eliminate all references to him and his staff, but he was unsuccessful, and we now know some of the truth.

It is a fundamental law, that in every workplace, a manager is responsible for sexual harassment unless, after it is reported, meaningful action is taken. In the Lopez case, eight women employed by the New York State Assembly were sexually assaulted. Two received $100,000 in public money so they wouldn’t sue. However Lopez was left free to wander the halls of the Assembly building and victimize more.

Sheldon Silver failed every woman in New York when he allowed this to continue. He failed every one of us fathers who raise daughters and entrust their lives, and their psyches, to public and private institutions. Given his failure to act forcefully, Sheldon Silver should resign.

Our Assemblywoman, who to protect her perks rarely has a note of disagreement with “The Speaker,” and who fashions herself a feminist, and a female role model, must join me in this call for Silver’s resignation. The same Deborah Glick who turned residential housing in Hudson River Park into a moral issue must take a stand on this genuine moral issue. This one matters a lot Deborah. We are looking to you for leadership! I am sure that if Sheldon Silver was the CEO of a large company in our district in which a scandal like this arose, you would call for the CEO’s head.

Rebellion in Village Independent Democrats (VID)

Once upon a time, the Village Independent Democrats (VID) stood for genuine change in the way politics operated. VID almost died in the early 1990s and was revived when Aubrey Lees and I were elected District Leaders in 1995 under the VID banner. To some extent, even though Aubrey and I both left, VID pushed on, buoyed by stories of battles fought long ago against Tammany Hall. On the strength of that history, VID periodically attracts a coterie of young progressive folks, and this was especially true as a result of its visible participation in the bus trips which took New Yorkers to Pennsylvania during the 2012 Presidential Election.

The leadership of VID, for some years now, has existed as a fan club for our community’s entrenched elected officials; folks who were once fresh and dynamic, but haven’t led to much serious change in the way the political world works. Of course Christine Quinn is the biggest example, once a progressive housing activist, who as Speaker of the City Council became the right hand task master of our Mayor. Consequently, when Brad Hoylman moved up to the Senate last year, VID put forward its President, Jonathan Geballe, to replace him as Democratic District Leader. A cooperative effort by Chris Quinn and Deborah Glick put him there in the face of a challenge from Yours Truly.

The Quinn Campaign and the Corey Johnson Campaign and the Jessica Lappin for Boro President Campaign (supported by Quinn) signed up lots of ringers to vote in VID’s endorsement election, and in round one, voted to support Corey Johnson for City Council. He narrowly beat Yetta Kurland, and Johnson immediately endorsed Geballe, the symbol of status quo. In May, they scheduled a vote for Mayor and Boro President and the Club packers were expected to hold sway again. Yet lo and behold, a quiet rebellion occurred, and VID voted overwhelmingly to support John Liu, the most outspoken of the Mayoral candidates, and Julie Menin for Boro President over Lappin. VID’s President, Tony Hoffman, who with his wife made a major push for Quinn and Lappin, was shocked. Alexander Meadows, also a City Council candidate, told me that most of the new members were fed up and were sending a message. Next fight? Stopping Hoffman from illegally moving $20,000 of VID’s money into Geballe’s campaign account.

The citywide consequence, Quinn appears to have the support of only one political club in her home district, and that one is her home club.

No To Anti-Gay Violence in the West Village

One horrific shooting and two nearby assaults over the last few weeks have left our community shaken. Although much of the gay residential community has shifted to Chelsea, our neighborhood, and especially Christopher Street, remains a popular social gathering place for the gay and lesbian community. We in the straight community must not view this violence as a “gay issue,” no more than we would view anti-Semitic violence as a “Jewish Problem.” One of the themes of my campaign for Democratic District Leader will be “No to Violence, Thugs Off Our Streets.” I invite you to join me.

After the Storm is Arthur Z. Schwartz’s Monthly Column of Political Commentary. 

This issue was originally posted here: http://westviewnews.org/2013/06/after-the-storm-a-monthly-column-about-politics/

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