Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) has been chosen to lead the Assembly Libraries and Education Technology Committee, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) announced Tuesday.
It’s the first committee chairmanship Thiele -- the lone Independence Party member in the state Legislature -- has received since being elected to the Assembly in 1995.
Thiele was originally elected as a Republican but announced he was switching to the Independence Party in 2009 because, he said, the GOP "no longer speaks to pocketbook issues."
Since changing parties, Thiele has sat with the Democrat conference in the Assembly -- giving him more influence because Democrats outnumber Republicans in the chamber, 100 to 40 (101 to 40 if you count Thiele) with nine current vacancies.
The Libraries and Education Technology Committee isn't one of the higher-ranking ones in the Assembly pecking order. Unlike most committees, the chairman doesn't receive an extra stipend for serving.