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December 29, 2014

If Stanley Fink were Speaker, he and Mr. Skelos would have had coffee this morning and before the cups had met the leaders’ lips, there would have been an agreement to override the Governor’s Port Authority veto.

Could it be more obvious?  It’s good public policy and powerful payback for four years of lawmakers being treating like mutton.

But Mr. Silver’s style is to do nothing until the last moment. Yeah, yeah, make the case that his style has served him well with impatient governors.

Or stand back and consider how, when faced with pushback, this governor capitulates.  He makes a show of being tough, but stand up to him and watch what happens.

The latest example is his sudden turnaround on the notion of a casino in the Southern Tier. Just the other day, he was saying “a casino is not the answer.” Now, after hearing from angry people in a region he has totally ignored, he’s intervening in the process he said he had nothing to do with. He’s trying to get the fourth casino license awarded to Tioga Downs, which is 40 miles away from Binghamton and Elmira, situated in the middle of nowhere. Indeed, how does that help either population base in the region?

Complain loudly. That’s what the anti-frackers did and Cuomo caved.

Complain loudly. That’s what the WFP folks did at their convention in the spring and Cuomo rushed to make a deal with them, a deal on which he subsequently welched.

Yes, the Legislature sometimes complains, but not loudly and not with any real pushback attached. Today’s Dicker column – about lawmakers planning to boycott the State of the State address because they can’t get a pay raise was baloney.  No lawmaker would be associated with that. That’s because they couldn’t defend the action and they know it.

You simply don’t push back by linking your pushback to the venal. You push back with the real and the effective – which is what the Port Authority veto override would be.

At a minimum, Silver should not have rejected the concept of an override. In fact, just being coy – his usual strength – would have served him and his conference so much better.

But no. Instead, the Speaker says an override would be “impractical.” Huh? Intervening to question a creepy deal between Cuomo and Christie is impractical? Well, just watch what the New Jersey Legislature does next.

We’ve always been, if not Silver admirers, Silver respecters. But we’re starting to think that his leadership style has become impractical.

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