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Silver’s Gold II

September 5, 2010

The Daily News thinks it is a conflict of interest for elected officials to own stock in blue chip companies. The newspaper apparently believes that elected officials might base their public policy decisions on what is good for their stock portfolios.

If this is true, it’s the answer to our prayers.

Let’s start paying all state lawmakers in shares of New York companies — Pepsi, IBM, Kodak, Corning and Pfizer. We would all benefit, and so would our state economy.

Alas, the thought that Shelly Silver’s political decisions are being influenced in any way by his stock holdings is absurd.

The News followed up its “Silver’s Gold” cover story on Friday with a second day story that “pressure was building” on Silver to disclose his stock holdings. But there’s no pressure because nobody thinks that owning stocks is a conflict.

Think about it: If IBM got the biggest contract in state history it would be no more than a blip on the multinational company’s stock price. Say the state dumped CMA, which inexplicably has a lock on data management services, and gave all of that state business to IBM, how much would it earn Mr. Silver?  A dollar a share? Two dollars? For that, Silver would sell his office?

In reality, Silver would have nothing to do with the decision to give IBM a contract. ­It’s a procurement process handled by the administration. (In this regard, someone should take a look a Lt. Governor Ravitch’s stock holdings and trading practices.)

Back to Silver. Let’s pretend along with the News that the Speaker single-handedly blocked the soda tax. (Anyone who followed the issue knows that the Senate killed the measure and that the Assembly was actually inclined to pass it.) And what did the death of the soda tax do to the PepsiCo stock price? As it turns out, nothing. Not even a blip. So there was no “payoff” or benefit to Silver at all.

We actually do wish the media would bring more pressure to bear on Mr. Silver to move him and his conference toward reform and more moderate fiscal and economic policies.

But instead of such an effort, we get a trivial issue and lame attempt to gin it up by the Daily News. The folks at the News should be embarrassed.

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