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Coalition of area Assembly members calls on Silver to resign

Avery Schneider/WBFO News

Six area Assembly members have banded together to call for the resignation of Speaker Sheldon Silver, following his arrest on Thursday on corruption charges. They say the business of the people is at stake. The group of mostly Republican leaders, along with stand-alone Democrat Michael Kearns, says the legislative process in Albany is at a standstill while corruption charges loom over one of the state’s most powerful leaders.

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin says the allegations of impropriety are not the only problem.

“The problem we have here is because we have someone in place who has been there for 20 years and he has developed such a power base. And he has members who are living in fear. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I walked through those halls yesterday. I talked to majority members. I discussed with them what needs to happen with the speaker. These people are afraid,” said Corwin.

The Assembly members say their districts are threatened with loss of funding if they do not bend to Silver’s will. Lewiston Republican John Ceretto says if Silver remains in power, it would be an affront to voters.

"The constituents that I'm talking to in the district that I represent are feeling a sense of not trusting government. For us to move forward, Mr. Speaker has to step aside for us to do our business," said Ceretto.

“We have a moral obligation to end Speaker Silver’s reign, his iron fist of the New York State Assembly. He has abused his power and his arrogance cannot be tolerated anymore. I will do everything personally within my power to see that happens, but we must work together to get this done,” added Kearns.

Kearns says he did not vote for Silver as Speaker in the first place and now he is willing to vote for any speaker not indicted or under investigation. Kearns said he would not rule out running for the position, himself.

Because the speaker’s position is elected by the Assembly’s Majority, Assemblyman Raymond Walter said Silver needs to either step down from his position or the Democratic caucus needs to take him down.

Republican Assembly members Joseph Giglio and Angela Wozniak were also among the six lawmakers calling for Silver's resignation at a news conference Friday morning in downtown Buffalo.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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