Pin it on Shelly!

Plot the Pork. What would you like to add to Sheldon Silver’s Google map?

With New York City’s mostly uncontested primary elections less than a week away, attention turns to the 64th State Assembly district in Lower Manhattan, where New York Times-endorsed insurgent Paul Newell is running a long-shot campaign against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Facing his first Democratic challenge since the coining of the word "cyberspace," the decidedly analog Speaker has joined us here in the Information Age with a fancy new campaign web site, It features an eye-catching Google map illustrating "What Shelly’s Doing Near You" with some of the $3 to $7 million in member items he distributes annually.

Apparently, Silver hasn’t caught on to the whole web 2.0 user-generated content thing
because there’s no way to drop your own pins on his Google map. If, for example, you wanted to stick a pin on Canal Street to make note of Silver’s complicity in maintaining that street’s never-ending traffic jam and Chinatown’s third world-level childhood asthma rates, you’d be unable to do that. If you wanted to point out that Lower Manhattan enjoys some of the city’s slowest buses and most dangerous streets, thanks, in part, to Silver allowing Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt to deny New York City the use of red light and bus lane enforcement cameras, you wouldn’t be able to do that either. And given that the Speaker is known more for the projects and policies that he’s stalled and killed (the commuter tax, New York City’s Olympic bid, congestion pricing…) than the projects he’s made happen, it seems like there ought to be a map showing all the things that don’t exist in New York City thanks to Sheldon Silver’s handiwork.

So, here it is. To help create a more complete picture of Shelly Silver’s citywide footprint, Streetsblog went ahead and built a more interactive "What Shelly’s Doing Near You" map. If you’ve got a contribution, go ahead and add it to the comments section here on Streetsblog. Pin it on Shelly.

View Larger Map

  • Larry Littlefield

    The effect on residents of Silver’s district and the state at large of member items, relative to the effect of major decisions on taxes, spending and debt, is insignificant.

    And yet that is all the legislators talk about, bribing people with their own money, and not all or even most of the people either.

    Even the Speaker.

  • Why is the default map view centered on Rhode Island?

  • fdr

    Most people vote for their local officials (Assembly, State Senate, City Council) because of the things they do for local organizations – more money for the PTA, the Little League, etc. This is not unique to Shelly Silver. What is unique is that he is the only Assembly member with real power to do anything about bigger issues. Newell’s challenge is to get voters to judge Silver on those issues rather than the local pork.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Most people vote for their local officials (Assembly, State Senate, City Council) because of the things they do for local organizations.”

    Or because they are the only choice on the ballot.

    As is the case for State Assembly, State Senate, and Congress (where the incumbent won an open seat with less than 30% of the vote two years ago) for the Democratic primary where I live.

  • Silver’s view of his constituents is pretty cynical isn’t? I know these words are corny, but I think they should matter in government: leadership and vision. That is, the ability to think about the bigger picture. The long term plan for the health of the city and downtown rather than the short-term payouts.

  • Nothing like a contested election to make a politician discover the internet and hire a firm to make him a glossy new web site! Although, I would invest more in the image consulting that would have suggested not featuring his work to devote city streets entirely to personal automobile traffic:

    “Every day, our local residents and businesses are forced to deal with bottleneck traffic on the streets surrounding Park Row. Worth Street, Saint James Place, and the Bowery are just a few of the streets that shoulder the burden of additional vehicular traffic beyond their capacities. The once-short commute to get Downtown or up to Chinatown can now take up to an hour. This discourages people from visiting these areas and has had a tremendous negative effect on local businesses.

    While we successfully opened up Park Row for buses, we need to re-open it completely.”

    YES! Reintroduce personal car traffic and then those busses will REALLY MOVE. If only that one street were unrestricted then our “once-short [car??] commutes” would return across the city forever! (What century, and city, does this guy live in by the way?)

    The problem with Park Row and other “closed” downtown streets is not that they have limited automobile access, but that they’ve become an indefinite terrorism battleground (complete with mechanized barricades). Their hostile environment discourages any use of the street. That could be fixed by replacing barricades with bollards and applying a cheap Broadway Boulevard treatment, but that happy ending would have to be fought for, as Susan says, by someone with leadership and vision. Shelly’s just an old-fashioned pork-peddler that is impressively out of touch with the time and space he’s supposed to be representing.

  • common sense

    Get real. The idea that Silver is not attentive to needs of his district is garbage. His constituent services matter more than the nonesense of Newell and Henry and their sleazy GOP supporters in Indiana. Wonder who paid for that mailing?

  • nomenklatura

    Shelly is more a creature of the 1950’s Soviet politburo than 21st century New York City. He is about empowering Albany’s nomenklatura and funding do nothing, pork powered, non-profits whose main job is to perpetuate the assembly’s dysfunction on primary day. He is an enemy of democracy and good government. He is a big reason New York State government is perennially rated one of the worst in the country.

  • da

    Gotta say, killing the city’s Olympics bid was one thing Silver got right.

  • JLoe

    This is ridic – I’ve seen Shelly in action and I think he’s done more for his district than people give him credit. He held up the entire state budget until he got a guarantee from the gov that the 2nd Ave Subway would come all the way downtown (you may remember, pataki wanted the version that would have joined the N/R line at 63rd st). You want to call it cronyism or pork – go ahead. I call it doing his job. Looking out for the neighborhood.
    So, the world isn’t perfect. So, David Gantt is being a jackass about cameras. that’s not going to fix the mess on Canal St – switching the toll structure between the Verrazano Bridge and the Holland Tunnel will fix traffic on Canal, and for that you can blame the Port Authority.
    Shelly was phenomenal after 9/11, as he was before and after.
    Be more scrupulous about where you get your news

  • JLoe

    One more thing:
    After clicking around on your map and blaming Shelly for old escalators in subway stations, I couldn’t help but come back.
    Remember that the MTA REFUSED to agree to putting $$ from congestion pricing into separate and protected funding dedicated to fixing all the things proponents of congestion pricing promised it would fix.
    In today’s economy, nothing would have stopped the MTA from scratching any capital investments and using the $$ for operating and administration

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    I dislike Shelly Silver plenty but about half-way through the above post I had to check, and yep, I was right. That Naperstek-snark is instantly recognizable. I’m not a psychologist, but I’d bet that tone plays best with the people who are already convinced.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “He held up the entire state budget until he got a guarantee from the gov that the 2nd Ave Subway would come all the way downtown (you may remember, pataki wanted the version that would have joined the N/R line at 63rd st).”

    You mean that instead of completing the upper half many years ago and now designing the bottom half, he demanded that the start of construction be deferred a few years until the entire line was designed.

    He later said that perhaps the whole project should be abandoned in favor of sububan projects like connecting the LIRR to Lower Manhattan, to benefit more of his actual constituents, most of whom are now in Florida.

  • Alex

    Bravo! Finally someone is pointing out what Silver has done for the 64th – NOTHING but shoot down legislation after legislation. Oh excuse me… he started a downtown biking program, but we know that is more important than people’s safety in Lower Manhattan and Chinatown….

  • Jackson Tuftes

    This is the most ridiculous thing that I have ever seen. I am a life long resident of the 64th district and whoever has created this site obviously has no idea of the problems of the people in this district. There has been one man who we could count on to come to our aide in times of need, and that was Shelly Silver. We have improvements to schools, improvements to quality of life issues, rent regulated housing, and support for loft tenants like myself because of the speaker.
    Furthermore you might want to invest in a district map. You will see that half of these foolish things that you want to blame him for arent even in the 64th.
    There has never been anyone that the residents of downtown could trust more than the speaker, and those that complain havent been here long, and obviously arent very well informed on the issues.

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    I agree with all the posters who actually reside in the 64th AD, Shelly’s district and are praising him here.

    He has been very good for his constituents. The whiners are those from outside the district or in the outer boroughs who do not share in the benefits of having Shelly represent them.

    They, like lemmings, follow the opinion of the eggheads at the NY Times and the right-wingers at the Post who despise Shelly.

    It is sad that people believe the pundits and not the voters. Before you knock our assemblymember, why don’t you be a mensch and tell us who you vote for? We can’t wait!

  • Larry Littlefield

    “He has been very good for his constituents. The whiners are those from outside the district or in the outer boroughs who do not share in the benefits of having Shelly represent them.”

    There is a legitimate debate here. Has Silver sold out the rest of the city and its future to hold power, so he would be in a position to provide special privileges to those in his district?

    Or have those special privileges been limited to a priveleged minority within (and outside) the district, with most of those in the 64th not benefitting?

    Either way, no city resident should vote for any member of the Assembly who supported Silver for Speaker, according to even the Silver supporters posting on this blog. But most don’t have anyone else to vote for, which shows what a hustle the state government is.

    Jim Brennan is responsible for whatever Silver has done or failed to do, and the city’s Republican members of the State Senate are responsible for their side of the bargain as imposed by Pataki/Bruno/Skelos. Why assign individual blame when every special deal passes 212 to 0?

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    Right, Mr. Littlefield!

    They complain about Silver, yet vote for their own assemblymembers, who in turn vote Silver as Speaker.

    So, they are as complicit as anyone in maintaining the status quo. But dare not say that to these self-righteous whiners.

  • Boris

    Furthermore you might want to invest in a district map. You will see that half of these foolish things that you want to blame him for arent even in the 64th.

    That’s the point, Jackson, that’s the point – Silver hurts the whole city by his actions (or lack thereof), not just his district. His abuse of power causes the entire city to suffer.

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    So what are you going to do about it, besides whine away on this blog?

  • Davis

    The only thing we can do, Boris:

    1. Help people who live in Silver’s district understand why his leadership has been damaging to New York City and state. No easy feat given the amount of pork Shelly brings home.

    2. Volunteer and work hard for Paul Newell.

    3. Organize and identify Democratic candidates to run against incumbent, do-nothing, aging Assembly members citywide in 2010, 2012, 2014 and on and on until we actually have a functional state government up in Albany rather than the nation’s laughingstock.

  • Joe Knickerbocker


    Commendable suggestions you have typed on your computer to the limited number of voters who read this blog, and who will likely ignore your suggestions.

    But let me ask you:
    1)How many of your own suggestions have you implemented?

    2) How many people from Shelly’s district have you convinced that he is damaging to NYS?

    3) How many hours did you volunteer for Newell?

    4) Can you suggest one candidate, just one, to run against the “aging” incumbents you disdain and disparage, my ageist little activist?
    Besides “aging” people (of which you are to be included) are there any other groups you would like to organize against? Gays? Perhaps women? Your aging parents?

    5) Would you agree with me that talk is cheap?

    Oh, btw, don’t expect a reply from me at all tomorrow. After I bring my kids home from the great school that he got for us, I am volunteering phone banking for Silver.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    One persons “sell-out” is another person’s coalition builder. The same people hating on Shelly for Congestion Pricing loved him when he squashed Bloomberg’s Stadium on the West Side with the help of Brodsky.

  • Davis

    No, Joe, we’re only going to be organizing against 20+ year Albany incumbents who have made New York’s state government the most incompetent legislature in the nation. Bookmark this page and pop back over here in November 2014 and we can talk about how it went.

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    Lunch time break gives me the opportunity to suggest to you, Davis:
    “Bookmark this page and pop back over here in TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH 2008 and we can talk about how it went.”

    I noticed you not-so-skillfully avoided the several questions that addressed your commitment and your exhortations for everyone else to do the grunt work that you have skillfully avoided. Why?

    Is it a case of “do as I say, not as I do”? Or,

    Is it because talk is cheap and typing on a computer is even cheaper.

    Only 4 days away from total Victory! Let’s talk on Wednesday.

    (p.s. You’re not a frustrated Jets fan who is angry that Silver killed your stadium, are you?)

  • Actually this volunteering one-upmanship is not so interesting. This space is for discussion “typed on a computer.” You’re doing it wrong.

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    OK, Granny. Whatever you say.

  • Davis


    Barring a minor miracle, the reult of Tuesday’s election in the 64th is a foregone conclusion. If Newell can capture even 25 percent of the vote it will be a vicory. Hell, the fact that someone ran against Shelly is a victory.

    It’s great that you are foot-soldiering for the local pol you believe in. Good for you. But let’s be real about it. Phone-banking for Sheldon Silver, the most powerful man in NY state politics, isn’t so much “volunteering” as it is “currying favor.” You may as well be licking envelopes for Kim Jong Il.

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    “Hell, the fact that someone ran against Shelly is a victory.”

    You ever hear of Ray Dowd? Bet not.
    What can I say? There are masochists in our society. Perhaps this current contender likes getting beat.

    “Currying favor”
    Hmm… peculiar choice of words.
    I prefer to use “showing thanks”

    Finally, if you compare Shelly Silver to Kim Jong Il, you are one sick puppy.

  • Davis

    Mike Dowd’s brother? Of course I’ve heard of him. He’s a hero.

  • One persons “sell-out” is another person’s coalition builder. The same people hating on Shelly for Congestion Pricing loved him when he squashed Bloomberg’s Stadium on the West Side with the help of Brodsky.

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • I’ve been enjoying Joe K’s attempts at keeping Shelly’s ship from sinking. His constant presence is an indication of just how scared Shelly and his people are. You can practically smell the flop sweat. Even if Shelly wins another term, the blood is in the water, and he’ll get what he deserves eventually. Thanks, Joe, for constantly calling this to our attention. You give us courage.

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    Mark, Me worried?

    I love toying with you, with a soupçon of mockery thrown in for good measure. Like the way a cat toys with a dying mouse.

    Whose worried when you yourself admit Shelly is going to win?

    And what have you done to defeat Silver? You think anyone who votes in our district pays attention to your bletherings on this incestuous blog?

    Shelly will be here until he’s ready to retire, because the voters here love him. He will be here when your little lap dog, Newell, will be long forgotten.

    You are the typical naif who thinks every politician is corrupt except the ones you vote for.

    “There are no terror in your threats”, Marc. Absolutely none.

  • Davis


    Thanks for the reminder that “incestuous” is the very definition of Albany in the Shelly Silver era.

  • Boris


    I would like you to address one issue- congestion pricing. Implementing it would disproportionally benefit your district. CP is basically the kind of pet project that Shelly has been bringing to your district all these years. Do you agree with his decision to dump CP?

    Shelly’s abuse of power is symptomatic of Albany’s larger problem- favors, machine politics, and backroom decisions instead of democracy and rule of law. Maybe Newell, if he wins, ends up being just like Shelly in a few years. Or maybe he will lead the charge to bring back democracy to a legislature in sore need of it. We’ll find out soon.

  • Joe Knickerbocker


    You seem exceptionally reasonable, so let me explain.

    Silver took no position on CP. He just did not let it come out of caucus for a vote. It would have failed because hardly any assemblymembers supported it.

    Can you name more than a handful of CP supporters? I can’t. Few Manhattan assemblymembers supported it. I can only think of one or two. So, if the local didn’t support it, and the others were adamantly against it, what chance did it have?

    Fact is, there are more assemblymembers in the four other boros than in manhattan. They all opposed CP.

    Silver should have let it come for a vote, I feel, but do you really care how some assemblymember from Cayuga County would have voted?

    So, to blame Silver for CP failure is beating the wrong horse. It was Bloomberg’s failure to think it out and present it as a thoughtful and prepared package that killed it.

    But, God forbid, we pick on Bloomie.

  • Boris

    Most people here are pissed off about the fact that Shelly works for either the interests of his district or the state, but not the city.

    What assemblymembers truly thought of CP is an open question, because they simply don’t have a record of voting on their convictions. They do whatever Shelly tells them to do. And it was in his power to make the measure pass. Bringing things up for a vote is his JOB; what he thinks about it is irrelevant. So he is guilty by default.

    I think the Assembly has an obligation to New York City because it contains a good half of the entire state’s residents. And the city legislature did support CP. The assemblymember from Cayuga County should have voted for CP because CP has nothing to do with Cayuga County and shouldn’t even require his approval.

  • “You think anyone who votes in our district pays attention to your bletherings on this incestuous blog?”

    Indeed, I can think of one.

  • “OK, Granny. Whatever you say.”

    Also: That’s ageist !!!

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    68%, 68% 68%

    68%, despite Daily News, NY Post, NY Times and the fabulous pundits at streetsblog’s opposition, we, the People, ignore all of you.

    You think downtown voters pay attention to right-wingers like Rupert Murdoch, the eggheads at the NY Times’ Editorial Board, or billionaire conservative Morty Zucker and his tabloid?

    The voters reject streetsblog darling, Newell!

    Don’t you just love democracy?

    Well, November is coming. At least you have the right-wing Republicans to extend your hatred, not liberal legislators who promote affordable housing, a wonderful park on the Hudson River, and great schools here downtown.

  • Davis

    32% 32% 32%

    This election was a loss for Sheldon Silver and he knows it.

    One-third of the voters turned out in a lightly contested election to tell the most powerful politician in New York State that they’d like to see him go find a new job (or, excuse me, they’d like to see him leave the state house and focus his full-time energy on his secretive law practice.)


    – The huge amount of pork that Sheldon Silver is able to bestow upon his constituents.
    – That incumbent Assembly members typically win these kinds of elections with Saddam-like 95-to-5 margins.
    – That Silver’s last real challenger only came away with 14% of the vote.

    Considering all of that — the number of people who came out against Silver is remarkable — especially since Newell isn’t even the right demographic to really win that district.

    With Squadron taking down Connor and more and more New Yorkers becoming aware of the ways in which Sheldon Silver’s state government screws over the people of New York City, we will see quite a few of these 20+ year incumbents being taken out in the next two or three elections.

    Paul Newell and his supporters can be proud of the work they did in this election. This is just the beginning.

  • Joe Knickerbocker


  • Sleep is a good metaphor for your candidate. Since he’s been woken up enough to make his first campaign web site (Domain Name:SHELLYSILVER.ORG Created On:13-Feb-2008 23:29:06 UTC) to survive this round, we’ll see if he finds it easier to fight for his growing livable streets constituency over the next two years than to do this whole annoying campaigning business over again. Or the easiest option of all, to gloriously retire after parading around with a “liberal” (but not eggheaded?) Senate.

  • Joe Knickerbocker

    A trifle bitter, are we? Poor baby.

    Read what the Times had to say about Silver’s resounding support from the People:

    “Mr. Silver’s overwhelming victory solidified his status as one of Albany’s most enduring and powerful figures. With 68 percent of the vote, he did not appear impaired either by his high-profile role last spring in blocking Mr. Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, or by the endorsement of one of his challengers, Paul Newell, by the city’s three major newspapers, including The New York Times.”

    Ain’t democracy a bitch?

  • I submit that Mr. Knickerbocker’s most recent comments (“zzz” and “poor baby”) do nothing to further constructive discussion and have crossed the line into gratuitous provocation.

  • “A trifle bitter, are we? Poor baby.”

    More ageism! This is really appalling. Please make up your mind about which terrible age group is the best slur for me.

    But no, I’m not bitter today. I’m happy about Squadron’s victory, to which I contributed a vote. (I don’t think democracy is a “bitch”, really, but it’s too bad that so few people participate in these most important primaries.) We’re just getting started here, and we’ll be at it long after Silver loses or retires. I’m not particularly caught up on how he leaves.

    “Read what the Times had to say about Silver’s resounding support from the People:”

    What, “the eggheads at the NY Times” — how many times a can you contradict yourself? Take your political smackdown diva championship routine elsewhere. Discussion of your favorite guy is going to die down here anyway, until the next interesting piece of legislation is sent to Albany.


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