Democratic Committee members will meet this Sunday to designate a nominee for the April 19 special election to fill Sheldon Silver’s vacated seat in the state assembly. Given our district’s high percentage of registered Democrats, their pick will likely become our next representative in Albany.
There’s no official sign-up sheet for candidates, but the Lo-Down has been tracking potential contenders. Notably, there is no candidate from Grand Street, and the local Truman Club — one of four major Democratic clubs in the district — has not endorsed any of the people currently seeking the party designation.
Committee members will meet Sunday starting at 2:00 at the Manny Cantor Center on East Broadway. After nominations, ballots will be taken until one candidate reaches a majority. After each ballot, the lowest vote-getter will be dropped from the next ballot.
The governor has called for a special election on April 19 to fill the Assembly seat vacated by Sheldon Silver upon his criminal conviction last year.
Democratic and Republican insiders will select nominees to appear on the ballot at upcoming party conventions. With the district’s high percentage of Democratic voters, it is expected that whomever is chosen by the Democratic County Committee will fill the seat for the remainder of Silver’s term. A handful of candidates are already jockeying for support and raising money; others were waiting until the governor set the election date.
One thing that could inject some drama into the public side of this campaign is that April 19 is the same day as the presidential primary, with all the unusual politics of that race. The Working Families Party has endorsed Bernie Sanders, and is likely to campaign heavily for him in the WFP’s home city; could a candidate for Assembly get an outsider’s boost on the WFP line? (And who will Donald Trump endorse?)
Anyone who wins in April will be up for election again this fall for a full 2-year term. A regular party primary in September will precede the November election.
Looking for the skinny on what it was like inside the Silver jury room, when not one but two jurors asked to be excused from the trial after closing arguments had already been made?
Reporter Zack Fink has a long read in City & State about Silver’s trial and conviction on seven counts of corruption, including comments from one juror who claims to have helped persuade the lone hold-out that Silver had committed crimes — and done so knowingly.
If you’re a fan of Law & Order, or fixated on our local political tragedy, you’ll want to read this article.
An April 18 special election would need to be called by Gov. Cuomo within the next couple weeks. Cuomo originally announced that date to coincide with the presidential primary, so that polling places could do double-duty and save some money, but apparently New York City’s Board of Elections may be unprepared to run a federal and state election on the same day.
A special election could be held on another date that polls will already be open, June 28, which is the primary for Congressional seats, though by then the legislative session will be over.
There could be no special election, in which case the seat will remain empty all year.
Whether there is a special election or not, the Assembly seat will be up again during the regular fall cycle, with a primary in September and election day this year on November 8.
As for possible contenders, the Lo-Down reports on a “growing field of candidates … maneuvering to replace Sheldon Silver in Albany,” including Paul Newell, who ran an unsuccessful primary against Silver in 2008; Jenifer Rajkumar, who unsucessfully challenged city council member Margaret Chin in 2013; Gigi Li, the CB3 chairperson who unsuccessfully challenged Rajkumar for district leader in 2015; and John Bal, who lost to Silver in a 1986 primary.
Closing arguments were made yesterday in the federal corruption trial of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver. Jurors are expected to be instructed and start deliberating today.
The prosecution has attempted to show that Silver received kickbacks from two law firms for work brought by individuals and corporations with business before the state who were aided in an official capacity by Silver in exchange for that business.
The defense has argued that these relationships constituted no more than run-of-the-mill conflicts of interest and do not rise to the level of quid pro quo bribery.
I was relieved this week to receive a totally not crazy letter from one of our coop’s attorneys.
In this case, the letter is from Mitchell Haddad, of Sills Cummis & Gross, in response to my several letters to board president Gary Altman about East River’s relationship with Jay Arthur Goldberg, the tax certiorari lawyer who has been named as a co-conspirator in the indictment against Assemblyman Sheldon Silver.
Mr. Haddad assures me “and any cooperators on whose behalf [I] claim to speak” that “as far as we are aware there is no agreement for referral fees or any sharing of fees and no such referral fees have ever been paid to board members or management.” That’s good news.
The question arose earlier this year when Silver was arrested — one of the schemes he’s accused of is bringing clients to Goldberg in exchange for referral fees, where those clients may have created a conflict of interest for Silver. When news of the federal investigation was first reported last December, East River and Hillman were both mentioned in the New York Times, with general manager Harold Jacob quoted defending our arrangement with Goldberg. Given the high profile of this case, I asked Gary Altman to clear the air by addressing the coop’s relationship to Goldberg. Altman had refused to do so for nine months.
With Silver’s corruption trial now in week two, and testimony about his relationship with Goldberg about to get under way, now seems like a good time to finally clear the air.
Yesterday, the jury was seated for Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s trial and opening statements from both sides were made.
The prosecution presented Silver as a man overcome by power, greed, and corruption. As presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Cohen, Silver steered money and favors to people who, in return, hired the law firms Silver recommended. Silver then received kickbacks as referral fees, completing the circle of quid pro quo.
Silver’s defense attorneys, on the other hand, described his conduct as normal and legal.
The case turns on arrangements with two law firms — Weitz & Luxenberg, which specialized in asbestos litigation; and Goldberg & Iryami, tax certiorari lawyers. Jay Arthur Goldberg, the partner at Goldberg & Iryami has for many years represented East River Housing and Hillman, where Silver lives. After Goldberg was named a co-conspirator in the federal indictment, Hillman severed ties with his firm but East River continues to retain his services. (Board president Gary Altman has refused to answer questions about East River’s agreement with Goldberg.)
Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s trial on federal corruption charges starts Monday. Silver was arrested in January on counts of fraud, bribery, and extortion. The trial is sure to make headlines for weeks, and even some of our neighbors will be called to the witness stand.
I sent Altman a letter again this month, asking him to clear the air. Goldberg has been our lawyer for years. Was Silver getting kickbacks for the work? Did anyone on our board or in the management office have a side agreement with Goldberg? Hopefully the answer is a simple no — but why has Altman refused to answer?
The Hillman board voted to sever ties with Goldberg this year. East River did not, and has continued to retain him. If Gary Altman, as president of the board, thinks there’s nothing fishy about our relationship with Goldberg, why not just say so?
Goldberg — who has represented Hillman and East River for many years — is at the crux of one of the bribery and extortion schemes the U.S. Attorney is trying to pin on Silver. Goldberg’s firm allegedly sent kickbacks to Silver for work done on behalf of Glenwood Management, a major real estate player in New York City looking to curry favor with Silver.
In February, right after the charges against Silver were made public, I asked East River board president Gary Altman to clear the air about our coop’s relationship with Goldberg, and invited him to reassure cooperators that no past or present members of East River’s board or management had received kickbacks for our business with Goldberg’s firm. I have sent that question to Altman several more times during the past few months, but have not received any reply.
It may be that we’ll have to wait for answers until November 2 — that’s when Silver’s trial is set to begin.