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Silver steps back as legal troubles mount

WBFO File Photo

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is backing away from power as he deals with public corruption charges facing him in federal court. Silver is appointing five Assembly members to share in his duties.

Silver has yet to appoint committee chairs and the committee members that move the legislation along.

The Legislature fiscal committees are supposed to start budget hearings Tuesday. The difficulty is that there are no members for the Assembly Ways & Means Committee, the fiscal committee of the lower house. The proxy speakers may resolve the committees problems during the closed-door meeting of the Democratic Conference.

Democratic Assembly members aren't returning phone calls to talk about the top job and the committee problems.

Republicans have no reluctance to talk.

"We are at a standstill. With the start of a new session, there are no laws going through the committee system," said Republican Assembly member Joe Giglio of Gowanda. 

"We bring it (legislation) to the committees, they get approved and they go to the floor for a vote. So far, without that and without the chairs, we're at a complete standstill."

Giglio wants Silver to quit or be fired by the Democratic members, something unlikely. The speaker controls the committees by deciding what members of his party serve on them and who will be the chair. There is no independent system for filling the membership.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.