Sheldon Silver

I'll see your ignorance and raise you some idiocy

To graduate from high school in NYS, students are supposed to have had a semester's worth of economics.  You know, this sort of thing:

Granted, the high school graduation rate in NYS isn't anything to write home about—74%—and it's even worse in specific cities like Rochester, where the rate is an abysmal 46%, so presumably lots and lots of New Yorkers have never seen anything remotely like the above graph.

But what's Shelly Silver's excuse?

In the SOTU address the other night, Barack Obama took the predictably pandering populist path of calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour (and called for indexing it to inflation, too).

Meanwhile, back at the Empire Ranch, Andrew Cuomo had already proposed raising the state minimum wage to $8.75, without indexing. But not to be outdone in the economic illiteracy department, Speaker Silver and

...[t]he Democrat-dominated state Assembly has amended its proposal for a boost in the state's minimum wage to match President Barack Obama's desire to establish a federal $9 per hour wage...
But this never helps the people it claims to.
 
...The key idea underlying the textbook model of minimum wages is that when something becomes more expensive, people use less of it...
Translation: the real minimum wage is zero.
...It seems that one could still seriously question whether now, when so many are struggling to find jobs, it makes sense to enact a policy that makes it more difficult for them to do so...
Well, yes, we could question it, but we already know why this is being proposed (emphasis mine):
...Because a higher minimum wage is easy to implement, and because a higher minimum wage is a mandate for higher costs on businesses, rather than an item in the budget on which states would have to spend more money, minimum wages are a popular policy for trying to help poor and low- income families...
A three-fer for politicians: appearing to help the relatively poor (and "poverty" is now relative, defined based on income rather than on purchasing power) at no cost to themselves but at significant cost to evil, greedy businesses.  Such a deal.
 
As for the fact that a higher minimum wage never helps the people it's supposed to?  No matter.  It isn't really about them, anyway. It's a disingenuous exercise in ignorance and idiocy by our moral and intellectual superiors—an ultimately ruinous, self-serving game.
 
 

  

 

 

Vito is up the Sleazy River

And heading just plain up the river.

NYC newspapers like the NYT and the NYPost have had stories recently about Mr. Charm, Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the center of a sexual harassment scandal, and the story even made its way into the Ithaca Journal.  Corruption, as well as all-around slimy behavior, is so endemic in NYS government it hardly causes a raised eyebrow:

And now the story has acquired legs outside of NYS...Jazz Shaw writing at Hot Air—such poetry:

We normally focus on political news at the national level here, but every once in a while a story congeals like scum on the surface of a state level pond which merits attention. Such is the case in New York State this summer. The tale actually began a while back, when an investigation into the , er… “affairs” of State Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) determined that he had sexually harassed two young, female staffers, leading to his censure on the Assembly floor. And if the story had stopped there it would hardly be unusual enough in Big Apple politics to merit a column.
 
But that event turned out to be the the pebble which started a series of ripples across the pond. Now we find out from the Wall Street Journal that more ethics investigations are underway, this time into the involvement of the Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver. It seems that Shelly didn’t want to bother the busy folks on the ethics committee when he first caught wind of this story and decided to settle things the old fashioned way.
In other words, with payoffs funded with taxpayer dollars.
...The National Organization for Women and Common Cause, a government transparency group, submitted the formal complaint, calling for a probe into Mr. Silver’s approval of a secret $100,000 taxpayer-funded payment to settle accusations by female employees against Assemblyman Vito Lopez...

...The Republicans traditionally control the state senate (by a razor thin margin) but it’s not “the Democrats” who control the Assembly… it’s Sheldon Silver. And he’s held that body in lock-down for nearly two decades. He’s the most powerful Democrat in the state – even more so than the Governor, according to many accounts...
 
...Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is trying to wiggle out of any responsibility for the secret payout. That won’t be easy because an e-mail trail shows his office helped Silver craft the agreement and the confidentiality clause...
 
But wait, there's more.  You'd really have to suspend your disbelief to accept that state Comptroller DiNapoli isn't involved in all of this as well. In the NYPost:
...The two [AG Schneiderman & DiNapoli] swear that neither was personally involved and tried to shift any blame to subordinate staffers — saying the AG’s office was merely contacted “for an informal consultation” and DiNapoli’s general counsel was asked about “income tax implications” regarding “a pending legal settlement.”
 
Frankly, it defies belief that high-powered pols like Lopez and Silver could be negotiating a six-figure sexual-harassment payout without Schneiderman and DiNapoli being aware of every detail. Both officials come out of the Legislature, after all...
So there's Silver, Schneiderman, DiNapoli...can Mario's kid be far behind?
 
Meantime, in the midst of all this, Schneiderman and DiNapoli issued a joint communiqué about—surprise, surprise—more corruption, this time on the state Senate side:
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced a superseding indictment against New York State Senator Shirley Huntley for falsifying business records, conspiracy and tampering with their joint investigation of a scheme to steal taxpayer dollars using a sham not-for-profit that did not provide services to the public. In addition to Senator Huntley, the new indictment charges a close aide and her niece with stealing funds from a member item sponsored by the Senator, and a third individual with aiding the cover-up...
Nothing like a little misdirection to help take the heat off.  Pure as the driven snow.
 
So Vito may be heading up the river—he'd hardly be the first Assembly member to do so—but he really needs some company, don't you think?
 
...I also reiterate my request that Governor Cuomo send the Executive Order No. 41 proceeding "back to the drawing board" in order to make sure that the shale gas industry will be regulated without the taint of corruption...
Way to go, Babs!  If it's the stench of real and seemingly neverending corruption you're looking for, how about checking right under your nose first?
 

DRAC, Shelly, Redford, & Soros

Which of these things in the post title is not like the others?  Trick question.  They're all related.

DRAC is the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, a local group of folks who attend town meetings and so forth to express their opinion that fracking is bad (h/t Kathy).  Fair enough—they're certainly allowed to say what they think (as we are) and since the science on this doesn't appear to be settled, they provide a useful viewpoint.

But, as always when trying to get to the bottom of a tangled heap such as fracking, we should be asking cui bono, who benefits?  In answer to that question, the DRAC people and similar groups round up the usual suspects —the landowners who signed the leases, the fracking companies themselves as well as all of their suppliers, the nameless, faceless evil fat cats—you know the drill, so to speak.  But wait, there's more!—from the NY Post             (h/t Tom):

Shelly's $hale game    His law firm pushes gas-drill 'frack' suits

By BRENDAN SCOTT Post correspondent, Last Updated: 7:56 PM, January 17, 2011

ALBANY -- As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leads the fight to block a type of natural-gas drilling in New York, his private law firm is in other states trying to drum up multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the practice, The Post has found.

The speaker's massive Manhattan-based personal-injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, plans a pair of public forums this week in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to "listen to the concerns of the community, share information and discuss legal options" about the gas-exploration phenomenon known as "hydrofracking" or "fracking."....

Silver (D-Manhattan) -- citing risks of water contamination by chemical byproducts from the process -- has emerged as a leading foe to expanded natural-gas drilling, which proponents argue could improve New York's energy independence and revive upstate's long-stagnant economy.

Last month, former Gov. David Paterson extended an environmental review period after vetoing a six-month ban shepherded through the Assembly by Silver.

Drilling advocates, government watchdog groups and even some Democrats say Weitz & Luxenberg's anti-drilling push, which follows a similar forum last month in Pennsylvania, raises questions about the powerful speaker's independence on the high-stakes issue....

Silver has for years refused to detail exactly what he makes and what he does for the firm, even as it plays a key role in the state Trial Lawyers Association, one of Albany's most influential lobbying groups.

Silver refused to address questions about whether Weitz & Luxenberg's anti-drilling advocacy posed a conflict for him....

That sort of changes the complexion of the thing, doesn't it?

And then at American Thinker, heartache—to think that I used to like Robert Redford:

The movie Gasland came out of nowhere to slam the shale gas industry -- an industry that has already substantially brought down the price of natural gas throughout the nation, saving consumers and business untold billions of dollars in energy costs.  The natural gas boom spawned by technologies such as horizontal drilling and fracking have also enriched citizens and states that have reaped part of the bounty brought to the surface by these technologies. Gasland casts aspersions regarding the safety of these technologies, especially to the water tables [tvm note: Gasland was brought to Albany last spring by Barbara Lifton].... 

....Did Gasland really come out of nowhere, or did it benefit from the helping hands of George Soros?

Gasland was shown at the Sundance Film Festival -- that was the first step in its journey to make the bigtime (including the HBO screenings). Gasland got a major boost in prominence when it landed a coveted spot at Sundance....

...The Sundance Institute receives funding from  George Soros; furthermore, the Sundance Documentary Film Fund was formerly known as the Soros Documentary Fund. Soros and his Open Society Institute have given many millions of dollars to the Sundance Institute. The officials who run Sundance know their donors and their special interests.

According to the Capital Research Institute, Sundance founder Robert Redford "genuflected" before Soros when Open Society gave the Institute 5 million dollars in its latest "gift":

"Sundance Institute has supported documentary storytellers since its beginning. The recognition of that history by George Soros and the Open Society Institute, and the continuation of our relationship over time, speaks to our shared belief that culture-in this case documentary film-is having a profound impact in shaping progressive change."

Soros responded that he is interested in such movies because "documentary films raise awareness and inspire action."

That presumably includes action that help prevent us freeing ourselves from being dependent for our energy supplies on unfriendly nations....

Go to American Thinker to read the article in its entirety, as well as to find other pieces in the archives that contain more "interesting" information re: hydrofracking and the leftist agenda. 

Lastly, if you keep having the nagging feeling that there are even more dots to connect, that may be because there very likely are. Opposition to fracking...social zoning...sustainability....it seems as though it's always the same group, or groups, of people involved and zoning and sustainability are already quite explicitly linked by those on the left.

We always seem to be behind the curve, don't we? Time to catch up.

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