Volume 78 / Number 15 - September 3 - 9, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower
East Side, Since 1933

Editorial

Silver for Assembly

We share many of the oft-mentioned criticisms of Albany’s “three men in a room” system of government, and certainly one of the men, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, bears his share of responsibility for that. But Silver has also represented Lower Manhattan’s and New York’s interests very well. We understand the temptation to say, “Throw him out and see what happens,” but the problem is that we think things would be worse without him.

Silver didn’t wait for his first primary challenge in 22 years to start listening to his district — the only American community to suffer two major attacks from international terrorists. No, since 9/11, Silver has been a responsive and effective voice for Downtown.

The city’s fastest growing community now has two large K-8 schools under construction and Silver deserves more credit for this fact than anyone else.

The notoriously standoffish Department of Education has begun to meet in Silver’s office with parents and principals to find solutions to Downtown’s school overcrowding problems. After last year’s fatal Deutsche Bank fire, Silver dragged the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to the table to speak with community leaders and L.M.D.C. critics about the community’s previously ignored concerns, and the group continues to meet.

Three years and two governors ago, Silver was the first to sound the public alarm about the Port Authority dawdling on preparing for construction of the World Trade Center’s eastern towers, and had his warnings been heeded back then, we probably would have been able to avoid some of the current mess at Ground Zero.

Silver blocked the ill-conceived boondoggle known as the West Side stadium.

We have chastised this otherwise strong transportation advocate for allowing the defeat of congestion pricing and its transit funding stream. We are disturbed that no one knows how much money Silver makes at a private law firm and what exactly he is paid to do there. And we do want to see him embrace more legislative reforms, such as nonpartisan district lines — something that has a chance to pass if the Democrats capture the state Senate this November. But Silver’s pluses far outweigh theses minuses.

A Democratic state Senate will remove the biggest roadblock to Albany reform and put the speaker’s previous promises to the test.

Of Silver’s two challengers, Paul Newell, a community organizer, has the more focused message and has brought some good ideas to the campaign. But outlining good legislative concepts is only part of the battle; we are skeptical of how much Newell would be able to accomplish, even though he would have star power coming to Albany as a giant-killer. Downtown would almost certainly get much less. We hope Newell remains active in community issues, though, and encourage him to consider another stab at elected office. Luke Henry has not demonstrated he would represent us well.

The Villager endorses Sheldon Silver in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary in the 64th Assembly District and reminds our Democratic readers also to vote for Dan Squadron for state Senate in the 25th District on Tuesday.

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