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Thursday, August 30, 2012

UPDATED: Bloomberg Silent on Lopez Controversy; Jeffries Denounces Patron Lopez Without Saying His Name


From the Women Who Worked for Vito Lopez,
By Azi Paybarah of Capital New York, August 30, 2012.

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Assisted Vito Lopez In A Coverup By Giving Victims $103G Public Funds As Hush Money:
Silver hit by ‘hu$h’ probe,
By Erik Kriss and Josh Josh Margolin of the New York Post, August 29, 2012

Sheldon Silver welcomes a probe, John Catsimatidis delivers (Capital New York)

Assemblyman Vito Lopez's Pervy-ness Cost Taxpayers $103K -- Thanks To Shelly Silver (Village Voice)

Gloria Allred, NOW Have Shelly Silver In Sights Over Hush Money For Pervy Pal Vito Lopez (Village Voice)

Ladies, Assemblyman Vito Lopez Would Prefer You Not Wear A Bra To Work (Village Voice)
Former female staffers of shamed Assemblyman Vito Lopez are coming out of the woodwork to give accounts of what it's like working for the now former chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Assemblyman Shelly Silver To Blame For Vito Lopez's Latest Pervy-ness? Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did the unthinkable yesterday: he admitted he screwed up.
But that was only after reports surfaced that he signed off on a plan to secretly payoff alleged victims of his now-former pal Vito Lopez's pervy-ness with $103,000 in taxpayer money.

2013 candidates, cautiously, on Silver's handling of the Lopez issue (Capital New York)

Post-Vito: Being rid of a boss is one thing, replacing him is another (Capital New York)

Two interesting pieces from Capital New York on the Vito Lopez controversy:
Todd Akin, Republican Congressman in Missouri has been the target of criticisms for his shocking comments that are insensitive to women, particularly to rape victims. Locally, State Assembly member Vito Lopez, a power-house in Brooklyn politics, has been criticized widely for allegations of on-going verbal and sexual harassment of two female employees.
The NYC Rubber Room Reporter blog has posted the August 29, 2012 NY Post story "New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Assisted Vito Lopez In A Coverup By Giving Victims $103G Public Funds As Hush Money".
Dana Rubinstein at the site raised important issues lurking in the background of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's relationship with State Assemblyman Vito Lopez and the mayor's mysterious silence during the Lopez firestorm.

Rubinstein led her article on Bloomberg's buck passing on the issue, odd, as he characteristically offers his opinion on a range of issues, often asserting a mantle of authority of wisdom on those issues. Here's the beginning of her story and analysis of Bloomberg's take, in "Amid the Chorus of Vito Criticism, Bloomberg Stays Quiet"
BY DANA RUBINSTEIN 2:17 pm Aug. 28, 2012 As other elected officials called for the head of Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stayed out of it. "You know, it's up to the Albany legislature to investigate and to decide what someone should do," said the mayor on Tuesday, when asked if he had any reaction to the allegations that Lopez sexually harassed young women in his office, and whether he thought Lopez should, as a consequence, resign. "I don't know. There's been allegations, but you'll have to talk to Albany." Lopez released a statement this afternoon announcing that he would step down as county chair but would keep his seat in the Assembly. Bloomberg and Lopez, the Assembly's housing chair, have a long history. Lopez supported Bloomberg's effort to overturn term limits, and the mayor has taken part in Lopez-sponsored events. But the city's Department of Investigations has also investigated Lopez's social services empire. The mayor wouldn't say whether he thought it was appropriate for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to have secretly used Assembly money to settle a prior sexual harassment claim against Lopez.. "I just don't know what the laws are in Albany, and what their procedures are," Bloomberg said, during a press conference at a revamped probation center in the Bronx. "In New York City, that would not be possible, because when we make a settlement, it has to be approved by the comptroller. When we write a check, it has to be approved by the comptroller. And I think, without taking a shot at anybody, the likelihood of that staying quiet is zero, ok? Does that answer your question?"
For the conclusion of her article, go to Amid the chorus of Vito criticism, Bloomberg stays quiet.

On another NY player's reaction to the controversy, Hakeem Jeffries, a pro-charter school candidate for U.S. Congress, has only obliquely criticized Lopez, that is without saying his name. Here is Capital New York's Pillifant's article on Jeffries' response to the controversy: "Hakeem Jeffries Denounces Patron Lopez Without Saying His Name"

10:55 am Aug. 28, 2012
After the governor, both United States senators, two members of Congress, and all five candidates for mayor had called for Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign from his legislative and party positions, the assemblyman and presumptive congressman Hakeem Jeffries added his voice to the chorus, sort of.

"These allegations are deeply disturbing," said Jeffries spokeswoman Lupe Todd, in a statement this morning. "The workplace must be free of harassment and predatory behavior. If true, Assemblyman Jeffries believes the allegations should yield severe consequences beyond those already imposed, such as further investigation and removal."

The allegations against Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic leader, include verbal and sexual harassment against two female employees, and led to his formal censure on Friday by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who stripped Lopez of his chairmanship of the Housing Committee and all his seniority in the Assembly.

On Friday and again on Monday, as other elected officials were calling for Lopez to go, a spokeserson for Jeffries declined several requests for comment. Unlike some of the more strident calls for Lopez to resign, Jeffries' statement was attributed to a spokesperson and did not mention resignation. (Lopez has proclaimed his innocence and has said he will not resign.)

Jeffries, a cautious climber, has always navigated the Lopez dynamic delicately, balancing his broad calls for reform in the county party with specific praise for Lopez.

In June, Jeffries won a landslide victory in the congressional primary to replace retiring Rep. Ed Towns, in part by unifying support from the borough's anti-Lopez reform faction, and from the county organization controlled by Lopez.

"I’ve worked closely with Chairman Lopez in his capacity as the leading affordable-housing proponent in the legislature, and no one can deny that he has been the most effective voice on behalf of working families and senior citizens who are trying desperately to remain in gentrifying communities," Jeffries told me in October of last year, when he was just beginning an exploratory campaign to topple Rep. Ed Towns, a longtime incumbent and sworn enemy of Lopez.

Even before his censure last week, Jeffries' close ties to Lopez—who was reportedly under federal investigation—were one of the chief criticisms offered by Jeffries' primary opponent, City Councilman Charles Barron, who called Lopez one of Jeffries' "two daddies." (The other daddy in that formulation is Andrew Cuomo, with whom Jeffries has a notably good relationship.)

But Jeffries maintained good relations with the reformers, too.

He recently endorsed one of Lopez's most outspoken opponents, Lincoln Restler, for district leader, but Jeffries skipped Restler's big press conference, communicating his support after the fact, in a statement emailed to a lone reporter.

Jeffries' conditional, passively voiced call for Lopez to resign could turn out to be significant.

Jeffries' victory against Barron confirmed his potential as a rising star; it also made him the unquestioned leader of a certain bloc of young officials in central Brooklyn, most of whom have adopted a similar pro-reform, but not anti-Vito, line.

His call could give cover to those officials and district leaders to make similar calls, in much the same way that Rep. Jerrold Nadler's immediate call for Lopez's resignation (without so much as an "if") may have provided cover for the mayoral candidates.

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