An easy ride for Silver, but not Skelos
Albany's top two legislators hold parallel posts, yet travel astoundingly different paths.
Consider the millions of dollars and deal making that it has taken for Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) to try to retain his majority by one or two seats out of 63 statewide. Mere months after Skelos controlled redistricting, Republicans lost ground on Election Day.
In dramatic contrast, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and his party conference grew its supermajority without breaking a sweat. In a house of 150 seats, Silver's Democratic conference is about to grow from 99 members as of June to 107 in January. Silver's party, which has commanded the Assembly since 1975, sailed on the same high Democratic presidential turnout that vexed the state GOP.
Silver's majority hit its current level Nov. 16 when Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) conceded a close election in Suffolk's 3rd District. "Nobody had it on their radar screens but me," said Ed Hennessey, the former Brookhaven Town councilman who beat Murray.
According to campaign finance filings, Murray -- in his first full term -- spent just shy of $30,000 this year; Hennessey's campaign committee, called Suffolk First, shelled out only $1,857. Hennessey, who's been an aide to Democratic Senate leader John Sampson of Brooklyn, said he is well-known in his district and campaigned there, but also credited President Barack Obama's presence atop the ballot.
Some state political wags noted that Silver's conference looks downright unwieldy. Ironically, a minority Republican member might move up to ranking committee member -- worth $9,000 a year above the base salary -- earlier than a new Democratic member may win such a stipend.
But from Silver's perch, this embarrassment of political riches has to look better than the recent sex-harassment tempest encircling Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) -- who won re-election despite the scandal, which had no visible effect at the polls.
BEFORE THE FLOOD: Might superstorm Sandy's damage to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant further crimp Nassau Executive Edward Mangano's proposal to sell the county's sewer system to an investor? One knowledgeable county official said the crippling breakdown may not matter much. Promises of upgrades have been part of Mangano's pitch for the deal. But well before the storm struck, members of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority had branded the plan an ill-advised one-shot borrowing.