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Sheldon Silver, Julian Castro, And Financial "Arrangements"
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January 26, 2015, 01:22 PM
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Last May, I put up a post entitled Learning from New Yorkers, Hapless Schlemiel Fall Guy Div.” about Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York state assembly for the last two decades, and his role in making sure impoverished Puerto Rican families stayed ethnically cleansed from the Lower East Side. In 1967, New York flattened some Manhattan tenements, and promised the 1,800 Puerto Rican families they could move back as soon as public housing for them was built on the site. Oddly enough, however, the site simply remained a vacant lot, and now, without 1,800 poor Puerto Rican families around to drive down property values, it’s worth a fortune, with billions of dollars of private development planned for the acreage.

When a pattern of influence, payoffs, and backscratching emerged last year between Silver, a real estate developer, and a Jewish charity all working behind the scenes for decades to keep the PRs from coming back, Sheldon Silver announced that he wasn’t the Sheldon Silver involved, it was another guy, a man named Sheldon E. Silver, who happened to have died in 2001.

The live Sheldon Silver finally got arrested last week and details of some of the ways the Assemblyman made his living have become public. From the NYT:

Sheldon Silver, Assembly Speaker, Took Millions in Payoffs, U.S. Says

By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and THOMAS KAPLAN JAN. 22, 2015

Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York Assembly, exploited his position as one of the most powerful politicians in the state to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, federal authorities said on Thursday as they announced his arrest on a sweeping series of corruption charges.

For years, Mr. Silver has earned a lucrative income outside government, asserting that he was a simple personal injury lawyer who represented ordinary people. But federal prosecutors said his purported law practice was a fiction, one he created to mask about $4 million in payoffs that he carefully and stealthily engineered for over a decade.

Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was accused of steering real estate developers to a law firm that paid him kickbacks. He was also accused of funneling state grants to a doctor who referred asbestos claims to a second law firm that employed Mr. Silver and paid him fees for referring clients. …

I’m reminded of the fabulous career of the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, whose career as the “Hispanic Obama” has been nationally nurtured for some time as an amenable potential Vice Presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket. Castro’s claim to being a high-powered executive talent is that he was mayor of San Antonio. But San Antonio has a city manager who gets paid about $400,000 per year to actually manage the city, while the mayor is a symbolic official who gets paid $20 per city council meeting to bang the gavel.

So, how did Julian Castro afford to have a $4,000 per year job? A trial lawyer, Mikal Watts, who is a major Democratic donor gave Castro and his identical twin brother a seven figure sum ostensibly for referring a lucrative car crash case to him.

Presumably, lots of important politicians have similar arrangements in their pasts.