Silver: ‘I don’t think Governor Cuomo believes this is a dictatorship’

silver-i-dont-think-governor-cuomo-believes-dictatorship
The Silver family, with two de Blasios. (Reid Pillifant)
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Count Sheldon Silver among those who think Gov. Andrew Cuomo is right not to intervene in the State Senate leadership dispute.

"I think the governor is the Governor of the State of New York, and he moves or doesn't move forward in order to accomplish things for the great state of New York," the Assembly speaker said this morning, after a memorial lecture for his brother, the late Dr. Joseph Silver, in Brooklyn.

"So, you know, he has done his role as governor, clearly," said Silver, who leads an unassailable Democratic majority in his chamber. "His role is to propose legislation and see that it gets through the legislature in the best possible way, and I think that's still something we'll have to see.

"But the governor should not necessarily get involved. We have a government with a balance of powers, and we don't have a dictatorship. And I don't think Governor Cuomo believes this is a dictatorship." 

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The Senate arrangement, by its very nature, has in fact greatly strengthened Cuomo's hand in his dealings with the legislature, giving him the opportunity to present terms to the individual members of one of the chambers as a condition for his non-aggression.

Silver said he hadn't spoken to State Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the five-member Independent Democrats, who negotiated a power-sharing agreement with Senate Republicans last week.

"We have, you know, no working relationship at this point, there is no, you know, nothing in being," Silver said. "They have taken bills that I personally sponsored and put it up as their goals in the legislative session. I'd be delighted if they passed my minimum wage bill, if they passed my campaign finance reform bill. I would be delighted."

Silver said he didn't have much of an idea how this deal would work.

"I don't really know how, you know, what their plans are," he said. "I read the newspapers like you read the newspapers."

I asked what he thought of the reported plan to share power every two weeks between the Senate Republicans and the five breakaway Democrats.

"It has to be more detailed among their agreement than is being reported in the media," he said.

Despite his uncertainy, Silver said he doesn't expect gridlock, or government shutdowns.

"I would rather be optimistic," he said. "I don't foresee those things."