Silver’s Motives

What’s going on with Shelly Silver and the independent comptroller screening panel?

In the Buffalo News, Silver said:

“They can give me whatever they want,” Silver said of the three-member panel. “We don’t have to listen to them, either.”

Asked if that meant the Legislature could deviate from the list the panel recommends, he said, “I’m just saying there’s no statute here, and if they don’t want to follow the rules, nobody has to follow the rules.”

Spitzer’s office declined to comment on Silver’s remark, and I’m waiting on a call back from Silver’s office to get some clarification. But it seems a little weird to pre-emptively declare that the screening process that he and Eliot Spitzer agreed to be, in essence, pointless.

Silver may be putting himself out there to shield members from the criticism they’re sure to face if they do, in fact, select a colleague instead of a financial expert. Or he could be sending a stern message to the panel about how displeased he’d be if the group they recommend includes no legislators at all.

But there’s another factor in play. Money.

Spitzer’s first budget is due out next month, and numbers are being crunched now. Mike Bloomberg just presented a budget which is relying on billions of dollars in state aid for city schools. And Spitzer also has to live up to his ‘no new taxes’ campaign promise.

So he needs Silver. And Silver, perhaps, is simply using this occasion to remind him of that fact.

– Azi Paybarah