Silver’s corruption still haunts Grand Street

Yesterday’s news of Sheldon Silver’s appellate court reprieve is a tough reminder of Silver’s dark legacy in our neighborhood. Consider that the Truman Club — Silver’s “base of operations” where he “appears to still be pulling strings” — still controls political endorsements, judgeships, and access to local officials. Or consider that the Truman Club’s Democratic District Leaders have never condemned Silver’s behavior.

We know that many Democrats on Grand Street are as appalled as we are by Silver’s history of corruption as a trusted elected official, and that’s why we are more determined than ever to campaign for new Democratic leadership on Grand Street.

As Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said, “Let us be clear, the facts are not in question. Mr. Silver used his position in government to direct state resources into a scheme that paid out $4 million into his pocket.” Not even Silver’s lawyers disputed the basic outline of the charges against him during trial, they just called it “business as usual.”

We believe what Silver did was wrong, and that he will be convicted again when federal prosecutors retry the case. His conviction was overturned not on the evidence, but on a technicality (the exact wording of instructions to the jury, based on a Supreme Court decision seven months after his trial ended). As former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “The evidence was strong. The Supreme Court changed the law. I expect Sheldon Silver to be retried and re-convicted.”

Personally, we wish no hardship on Sheldon Silver. We’re his neighbors too, and are glad for his family at their good news yesterday. But his legacy haunts Grand Street. It’s time to turn the page on Silver and his political allies in the Truman Club.

— Caroline & Lee