12:03 pm Sep. 19, 2012
State Senator Tony Avella became the first Democratic legislator to call for the powerful Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, to step down from his leadership position.
"I hope that Speaker Silver will realize that for the good of the State, which he has devoted his life to serving, he should voluntarily step down," Avella said in a statement.
Avella was elected to the State Senate in 2010 and, unlike a number of his colleagues, never served under Silver in the Assembly, having jumped from the City Council to Albany when he beat Republican Frank Padavan.
In an interview this morning, Avella said Silver has been in leadership too long, and is part of the problem in state government.
"It's been a cumulative effect of the old-school type of politics that's been allowed to permeate Albany and obviously politics in general in New York State," Avella said.
"Part of the problem is nobody says anything," he said. After thinking it over "for a couple of weeks," he concluded, simply, "I'm very tired of it."
Avella is an outspoken Democrat who often butted heads with fellow Democrats during his eight years on the New York City Council. He also ran a quixotic campaign for mayor in 2009, throwing some stiff jabs at the front-runner, former city comptroller Bill Thompson, who eventually beat Avella by a wide margin in the primary. (Avella said Thompson did "such a terrible job" at the Board of Education it led to mayoral control.)
I asked Avella about another controversy involving Silver: the fact that three of the Speaker's adult children are registered to vote from his Grand
Delancey Street apartment although they live in Brooklyn, Long Island and New Jersey.
"That's just ridiculous," he said with a laugh. "As long as they're not voting twice it's probably not illegal, although you're supposed to register at your official place of residence. But, to worry about your re-election to the extent of what, three votes? I think it's sort of crazy. It's sort of totally unnecessary and I found that just ridiculous."