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Bill Hammond for Assembly Speaker

May 18, 2010

There should be an award for “the newspaper columnist who most consistently strives to be constructive and who has the least inflated image of himself.” And it should go to Bill Hammond of the New York Daily News.

Unlike almost all of his peers, Hammond always seems to have both a clear purpose and a proposed solution in mind when he writes. Hammond also seems to be a genuinely level-headed and decent person.

Hammond’s column on Shelly Silver today is noteworthy. It concerns Silver’s posture in state budget talks.

Silver tried to bring the parties together in the early phases of budget negotiation. He outlined what he thought was a fair compromise that included an unprecedented level of spending cuts. NT2 praised Silver at the time, some seven weeks ago. But then Silver inexplicably pulled back. More than that, he seemed to get pissed off at Paterson and Sampson and walk away from the budget talks.

Enter Hammond, who rightly calls Silver on his lack of action and finger pointing in recent weeks.

“Someone has to be the grownup …” Hammond says, urging Silver, as the most experienced person, to “move first.”

Hammond is right. Silver has to get over whatever it is that has been bothering him. He can’t follow his typical strategy of out-waiting the others at the table. Not this year.

Silver could really take a lesson from Hammond. Be constructive, and understand that it is not about you, but 19 million New Yorkers who are waiting for a state spending plan.

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