Friday, June 17, 2005

Responses to "The Buck Stops Here"

Here are the reader responses to my June 17 article on New York State's unlimited vicarious liability law, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's opposition to any reform (or repeal) of it.
In addition to the responses posted, we have received 15 brief messages of support for this article. Thanks to all, we greatly appreciate your feedback.


  1. Of course UVL has been the law in New York forever- even preceding Mr. Silver. The concept is fine, holding the owner responsible for those who use his vehicle with his consent. However, it would certainly make sense if reasonable limitations were placed on the law.

    Auto lease payments are subject to sales tax so I'm not sure that the restructuring of the transaction as a purchase affects the amount of sales tax payable, only the timing.

  2. Anonymous11:40 AM

    It is time for Shelly (30 pieces of) Silver to give it up. The moral & financial cowards in our state assembly must accept their complicity in this real quagmire. The mounting list of scandals that we are even aware of continues to stagger the imagination;

    * Not Present, But Voting
    * The most expensive legislature in the country
    * Among the least productive legislatures in the country
    * New Jersey's Pay for Play must take a back seat to New York's legislature

    Shelly Silver has the feral instincts of Joe Kennedy, Richard Daley, Frank ( I am the law) Hague & Jimmy Hoffa, without their distinctive & colorful personalities.

    Shelly "Tarnished" Silver, must go.......

  3. Mr. Stern - Thank you for this eye-opening item. A few days ago I was listening to a travel talk show, and the hosts were complaining about how expensive it is to rent a car in New York. Then a young man who works for Enterprise in NY called in and explained very briefly this terrible system of liability. However, your column makes the nature of the problem crystal clear. Thank you again.

  4. You really have to miss a guy like Lyndon Johnson.

    Albany is an ongoing tyranny (the Bush tyranny is only recent). We might as well not vote for senators and assemblymembers. They have no power to overcome what Silver or Bruno want. I'm not sure even Pataki can buck them. And I don't think much of the public, including Silver's constituents, understand Shelly Silver's conflict of interest or how much money he makes from the law firm as opposed to his legislative salary. Of course, he really loves his power.

    I am happy he killed the West Side stadium, I do not like much of anything else he does and especially hate his killing the communter tax.

    As we have discussed, reform is imperative (revolution would be more like it).

  5. Should a property owner be allowed to "blow up a great mountain, destroy a forest, drain a lake"? In short, yes.

    There is great reason for almost total discretion to property holders in the use of their property. The fact is that property holders are not stupid and therefore use their property to maximize value. Over time, under a private property regime, forests grow and lakes are relatively clean. Or sometimes forests get replaced by great cities like New York -- in my view not such a bad thing, although perhaps not possible anymore in the era of "enlightened" environmental regulation. I'm not saying there is never a problem with a raw private property regime, but the alternatives are far worse.

    Consider the alternative of zoning. Government gets involved in determining appropriate uses of land -- it started as a health and safety thing to keep noxious factories away from residential areas and to keep overly dense buildings like 120 Broadway from being repeated. But over time government regulations inevitably get coopted and corrupted. Today we see industrial zoning originally intended to isolate industrial uses instead misused to stall construction of badly needed housing in one neighborhood after another (Greenwich Village, Greenpoint, Williamsburg). Environmental regulations are equally an opportunity for business interests to use political contributions to get rules to hobble competitors.

    Or consider the environmental disaster brought to the former Soviet Union and its satellites by socialist central planning. No thanks.

    As to Speaker Silver's conflict in being a member of Weitz & Luxenberg -- disgusting. You don't speculate as to how much he makes there, but I'd be surprised if it's not well into the seven figures. But -- what's your remedy? We have a part time legislature. Are they to be allowed to have jobs the rest of the year, or no? If yes, are they to be only messengers and clerks, or do we want at least to have the potential for legislators who are movers and shakers in the world of commerce? But every mover and shaker has interests that the legislature could affect. In short, the prospects for completely outlawing conflicts of interest are poor. The best we can have is exposure of the truth. Thanks for your efforts.

  6. Anonymous11:43 AM

    This is so sad, so sad. Where is our "democracy." Why do these two men, neither a prince of any sort, deserve such power? Why can't we stop this nonsense? I attended a funeral the other day and Assemblyman Silver was there (why, I don't know) and when I asked where the other members of the Assembly was I was told that the Legislature was in session and work had to continue. If so, why wasn't Silver working instead of attending a politically opportune funeral? That man should be in the lead for New York's Hall of Shame. Why don't our newspapers and honest politicians (is that an oxymoron?) call for his head?

  7. Anonymous11:47 AM

    You are correct, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a disgrace but the Democrats will do nothing except talk! His participation in the negligence law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg is a terrible conflict.
    Good article.

  8. Anonymous11:47 AM

    With that the repeal of the commuter tax in mind, it was absolutely dispicable to hear that he voted against the west side stadium because he didnt want to "sell out the constituents for whom his has faught so hard" (paraphrase). Whether one was for or against the west side stadium, the reason behind his vote was just as wrong as the political motivation behind the repeal of the commuter tax. The liability vote doesnt suprise me at all. You would think with all the money he has, and power he has, he could do what's right instead of what gives him more money and power. I don't know how he lives with himself.

  9. Dear Henry: You are brilliant...and it will be special to watch what happens as to the motion you've put into S.Silver's actions, or lack of special actions. As a native, I'm amazed at the rock you have turned over...never guessed. Am glad you have so many readers...for you've given everyone food for thought.