Friday, June 16, 2006

"A Silver Bullet"

These are the responses to my June 14 article, "A Silver Bullet." Thanks to all, please continue to provide us with your feedback.


  1. I don't have time for this sort of thing these days, but Sheldon Silver's action on behalf of the Trial Lawyers is so outrageous that they must be stopped once and for all. I'm not just asking you to read this, post comments on a website and make a phone call, I'm asking you to do everything short of taking up arms against the octopus that is choking the [formerly] great State of New York. You can't do business here and this is why: Anarchy, lawlessness, no legal recourse, neither rule of law nor consent of the governed.

    Change it! Total legal reform today! Go for broke since that's where we're heading anyway!

    How 'bout "Don't Pay Your Lawyer Month" in the State of New York or picketing the capitol and Shelly Silver's offices to the point that he can't go to work. Surround his house while he's out jogging. His cell phone will run out of batteries eventually so he can't talk to the trial lawyers anymore!

  2. Mr. Silver continues to sit astride the Assembly like that famous Emperor upon his horse. All see that he has no clothes on but the only "sound" is the "silence of fear". As long as New York State lives with Silver and his counterpart in the Senate, NY will continue to lose its upstate population, its youth, its standing a special place to live.

    On one hand we have Bush and his administration of incompetants, cronies and the belief that they can get away with anything.

    On the other hand we have Silver, whose only sincere interest is his love of self....and as the picture shows, the absolute conviction that he can get away with anything

  3. Wrong title; whould be "The Silver Fox"

  4. All three members of the Assembly newly appointed to the Judiciary
    > Committee are themselves Committee chairs. The Speaker appoints the
    > and removes them). None of these members are attorneys though this is only
    > the Judiciary committee so maybe it does not matter. The City has been
    > working on Tort reform since at least the Koch days with no success.

  5. I was appalled upon reading the article the other day at the behavior of the Speaker Silver. I did not know that Silver was a partner at that litigation mill. As a lawyer the man should be censored by the assembly. It is bad enough that the lobbyist stick it to the good citizens. We now have the Speaker of the assembly sticking it to the good citizens tax payers directly. As a NYC rep. it is even more shameful. A plague on the whole bunch in Albany. Perhaps Gov. Spitzer can bring some dignity to this crowd. Thanks

  6. It should read Silver's Bullet. He has been shooting down legislation aimed (well it is a bullet) reducing the amounts of awards in PD and negligence cases, limiting the pay outs in automotive liability, and in general anything that would interfere with the 1/3rd that a trial lawyer would reap from his clients miseries. Should we consider that Speaker Silver has ulterior motives, yes we should. Should a man of greater integrity remove himself from these actions and instruct his underlings not to vote as he would considering the ramifications of the outcome. Its just that the Speaker doesn't posses these greater qualities that would cause such behavior, after all he's just in it for the money. He's lining his pockets with the hard earned taxpayer dollars that are used to fund the pay outs.

    Why is he still in office? Must his district re-elect him so that he can force most small municipalities into bankruptcy? What benefit do the people of his district derive from his being their assembly person? Maybe a discount in their tort filings against the city, or a civil service worker in his district getting legal services with no up front monies, just the normal pay offs at the end. Enough already!

  7. "LOOPHOLES" are a fact of life and make many people RICH or FAMOUS or POWERFUL

    When UNIONS or TRIAL LAWYERS support a position, the AMORPHOUS "TAX PAYERS"

    A recent book [i.e 2005] entitled THE FAILURE OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS,
    subtitled Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy by BRUCE
    ACKERMAN reveals problems since THE FOUNDING OF THE REPUBLIC.

    As noted on the dust jacket, 'THE INK WAS BARELY DRY ON THE CONSTITUTION

    The VOTERS can become UPSET and DEFEAT INCUMBENTS [still a rarity],
    RECALL a Governor [i.e GRAY DAVIS] who was so captive of PRINSON GUARDS
    UNION {$ 5,000,000 in political contributions, ELECT a REPUBLICAN MAYOR
    or AMEND THE STATE or FEDERAL CONSTITUTION [ difficult and time
    consuming as it should be.]

    It is only a matter of time in which the REPUBLICANS lose the MAJORITY in

    DIFFERENT PROBLEMS, but you will be able TO COMMENT on MORE

  8. you are so right. i just do not understand why the mayor did not speak out himself instead of through his corp counsel.

  9. It's more of the typical machinations on the Albany shores of the Hudson. There will be no 'Silver lining on the horizon' of reforming Albany unless and until the Speaker retires to the more lucrative confines of his law practice, where the only Cardozo he'll deal with isn't a Bloomberg appointee, but rather an eminent jurist who is cited in various tomes.

  10. Like many other New Yorkers I don't bother reading the recurring articles
    about the dysfunctional NYS government. Its a disgrace. The general sense
    is that nothing can be done but its bad for the future of New York.

  11. read the NY Times article in full and it was a well written account of the worst side of Albany. You are right to point this out. But, what is to be done if all that fire power from the City had the votes and then lost them because of one man

  12. This story illustrates why so many idealistic young people do not
    > want to enter politics, and why we have such embarrassingly low
    > numbers of voters in local elections. People like Sheldon Silver and
    > his ilk are a disgrace to our political system. But he delivers for
    > the small number of people who support him. And as the saying goes:
    > "All politics is local."

  13. Henry: As a former City employee, you know that most City workers are paid very modest salaries; many are below the Federal poverty level when fully employed. (Never mind that salaries are not always synchronous with merit.) To lose one's job - and the ability to work, permanently, which is the prime criterion for a disability pension - is a crushing blow.

    The pension itself is usually a small fraction of the worker's salary; if he/she is young, has family responsibilities, or is otherwise financially stressed, the prospects are grim indeed. Why shouldn't such an individual be able to sue for future earnings? This is NOT "double-dipping," but rather an attempt to supplement an inadequate level of compensation. Note:

    The employee may not win the suit at all, or win another small amount.
    The settlement is a "one-shot," not a continuous award for someone who may be disabled for life.
    The trial lawyer will indeed benefit - at the employee's expense, not the City's - his fee comes out of the award.
    $11 million is truly "peanuts" in a City budget of over $10 billion, and better spent than many appropriations, as you yourself have spotlighted in this fine publication.
    The disabled are a poor target for budget-cutters, but an easy one.

    I'm sorry to see you present such a one-sided case. Have you no other relevant numbers? How big are these awards on average? How big the pensions? In fact, how many individuals are involved? The City estimates a "loss" of $160 million; does this mean they expect to pay $16 million each to 10 injured employees? $1.6 million each to 100? $160,000 to 1,000, or precisely what? Do they really know the outcomes of future trials?

    For full disclosure: I am "fully employed" as a City employee. I would qualify for a disability pension, if I chose to take one - which really means if I could afford to live on one, which I can't. I am not a lawyer, nor is my (disabled) wife. I have a son who is, but he's off doing big corporate stuff. I am a union representative (Local 1183 of the Communications Workers of America) for part of my office, and as such I am concerned about workers' rights - especially this one! It is simply wrong to block anyone's right to a fair trial.

    I don't always agree with the Speaker, but in this case he has my full agreement, and, I would hope, the support of every fair-minded citizen.

  14. Great coverage Henry!
    This will continue untill we get rid of Silver!

  15. Keep up the good fight.

  16. Rich T.9:10 AM

    No hope on the horizon. Spitzer is just a go along get along guy; witness his choice of lt. gov.
    True, he fought the insurance cos. as AG, but can you think of an easier target??
    We need a hero of Ron Lauder status to bring term limits to Albany; Bloomberg's got the dough, if only he thought it important enough.
    Since all politics is local, is there anyone in Silver's district who can take him out?

  17. What needs to be done? The people of New York must unite and protest in Silver's district until those who continually elect him get it. He is a menace to our state and his district. Education instead of Silver's propoganda and handshaking needs to be the order of the day for the lower East side.

    Those who are his puppets also need a lesson in democracy. Where are the good government groups? Why are they sitting so quietly and not screaming from the roof tops toward Silver's and his puppet's district? Are they receiving city or state funding? Could be!

  18. Rich T.5:55 PM

    These folks don't get it. There is no such vote as "none of the above."
    You need a better candidate. Since all politics is local, anyone here in Silver's distrct who speaks Yiddish and Spanish?? Preferably with a son or daughter who's gay or lesbian (or a wife, girlfriend or lover?) That's what it would take. Silver's just a shill who's willing to take the hits for the Harlem crew.

  19. I still think the Liberal Party should support Tom Suozzi and petition him on the ballot for November. I'm certain the party will get back on the ballot if they do. If there is one person who can really take a dig at Silver, it'd be Suozzi. I know Henry Stern and the Liberal Party like Spitzer, but I think the best move for reforming Albany would be to back the man challenging Spitzer.

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  21. "New York State: Government 101.
    Legislature- It's Business as Usual."

    Dear Henry,

    You may not have the Madison Avenue or celebrity smile as the governor’s on his television advertising campaign. But you sure have the intellect, competence, insight and integrity to run for governor. Why not consider it? Is there anyone else out there in government who is capable of making ethical choices?

    Your article, again, was brilliant and what is going on in Albany is unconscionable. I personally have labored over 30,000 hours and have distributed well over one half million of pages in letters and presentations to the state and city legislators over a nine year period in an attempt to receive one earnest response out of these political bodies with respect to the restoration, preservation and sustainment of Governors Island’s legacy and New York’s identity. That responsibility is a legislative matter to say the least.

    To date, we have not received one answer from the Office of the Mayor under Giuliani or Bloomberg, or the Office of the Governor or the offices of the leaders in the New York State Senate, Assembly and City Council. Then, what is that silence all about? It is not money as a pledge for $100 million as a start was already ignored in the year 2000.

    Perhaps, we should share with your readers our concise May 10, 2006 response to an RFP issued by the agency which handles this subject. It may help shed some light on the people employed and activities conducted in those redoubts and designed to protect power and turf for those in charge. As you wrote in your article; “the bad guys are primarily interested in providing for themselves, their clients and their associates. The good people of both genders, on the other hand, want to benefit humanity, which is a much more costly proposition and far more difficult to achieve”. I would add; “if not impossible”. With regard to Governors Island, only time will tell:

    May 10, 2006

    The Dynamic Value of Religious, Ethnic and Racial Tolerancethe Lifeblood of American LibertyUnites Us in Freedom

    Dear Chairman Doctoroff, Vice Chairman Factor and President Koch,

    Please find enclosed a “Summary Statement” in lieu of a reply to GIPEC’s “Request For Proposals” (“RFP”) due today.

    GIPEC’s RFP contains phrases such as “solicit and select exceptional development proposals from highly motivated and qualified individuals, teams, corporations, and/or organizations…” being able to “appreciate the uniqueness and importance of Governors Island” and having “the vision to connect the island to the broader New York community.”

    These are beautiful words. However, GIPEC”s website doesn’t even mention the “uniqueness and importance of Governors Island”. Nor does the website of the National Park Service mention anything about Governors Island’s true historic, national significance in spite of many years of effort by us to get it to do so.

    Over the years, though, we have received many proper replies from members of the White House Cabinet including a personal note from President Bill Clinton encouraging us to continue to “contact the appropriate state and city officials”. Furthermore, as federal property, the Governors Island issue had been put on the White House agenda by National Security Advisor Sandy Berger for discussion between Dutch Prime Minister Kok and President Clinton on September 28, 2000.

    Such treatment from Washington is more than we can say we have received in nine years from anyone we have approached in city or state government going all the way back to the Giuliani Administration (see, for instance, the letters to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Randy Levine, or Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor, John Cahill).

    Must we therefore infer that our proposal never lived up to the city or state (i.e., GIPEC) standard for an “exceptional development” and that our vision would disconnect the island from the broader New York community? Did nine years of altruistic effort not meet the criterion of being “highly motivated” or is it that anyone born in or being from the Netherlands―which founded New York State and New York City and is the reason for your existence here―isn’t worthy of a response or qualified to make a bona fide pledge of financial or creative support? Why then the nine years of silence?

    If other respondents or interested parties have received similar treatment over the years, we can guarantee you that the city and state must have chased away at least 99 percent of all those highly qualified parties who could have been potentially interested. That includes Tivoli Gardens whose proposal in 1999 was liked best by Senator Patrick Moynihan.

    No “call to the world for ideas”, as made in March 2005, will change that. The RFP due today, May 10, 2006, must therefore be viewed as a method for choosing those who have been selected long ago with regard to an “exceptional development”. Our only hope is that such a development will allow for inclusion of our proposal by GIPEC’s chosen “Respondent Team” in the way we tried to partner with the promised CUNY ISLAND campus in 2002. (see letter to Vice Chair Benno Schmidt and Trustees).

    The only comfort we can take in this process is the fact that the Statue of Liberty was rejected over and over by New York for unfounded reasons too. Hence, it was inaugurated in 1886 rather than at the United States’s centennial year of 1876.

    Must we also wait until 10 years past the 2009 quadricentennial of the Half Moon ship’s arrival in New York harbor (see letter to Barbara Fratianni)? To date, the city and state have spent tens of millions of dollars on inside and outside resources on “plans” for the island without giving us the courtesy of one civilized response or a simple nay or yea. Our question remains: WHY?


    Joep de Koning

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