The above photo of Dean Skelos, Andrew Cuomo and Sheldon Silver was printed in the New York Post at the start of the 2015 legislative session. I’d like to name it “See no evil, Speak no evil, and Hear no evil.” Each individual looks haggard, with Dean’s eyes closed, the governor contemplating his navel, and Sheldon obviously not a happy camper. Why?
They we’re all well aware that information contained in the Moreland Commission files could place their respective leadership roles in jeopardy, with possible criminal implications. That’s exactly what happened when, a few months later, Sheldon Silver found to be “a greedy, secretive lawmaker willing to exploit his power for monetary gain” and Dean Skelo’s, a schemer (who used his office) to “line his son’s pockets with money he didn’t earn.” Is this the end of the story? Hardly, the commission’s findings are still ripe for picking.
Over the coming months, a greater drama will be just off in the wings: a clash between a wily, aggressive governor and a prosecutor who may be wilier than he is. On the legislative level, lord knows who will emerge to accomplish anything of value. Dean Skelos’ replacement Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan mentioned at a meeting with the Association for a Better New York that he is working to “completely restore public trust.” When questioned for more specifics by former Brooklyn Senator Seymour Lachman, author of “Three Men in a Room” he dismissed any further discussion stating “I’m not sure all the people in this room understand the depth and scope of changes that have already been made.” To quote the late and great Red Skelton “Boy, a flock of them flew over that time!”
Sheldon Silver’s replacement, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was even more elusive asking reporters at a town meeting what do you think we can do to overcome the negativity associated with the convictions’ of Silver and Skelos?
To quote Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY “talk is cheap, and it’s time to get to work.” Endless opportunities exist to dig down deep and focus attention on the systemic abuses that have plagued Albany for years. In my next column I’ll address six specific non-partisan issues that if ignored could lead to calamities beyond one’s imagination. Stay tuned in.