Rebellion of the Hollow Men

Albany Dems Blast Assembly Speaker’s ‘Autocratic Style’

Several members said they believe Ramirez is a likely candidate to replace Bragman as majority leader. "At no point did I ever commit to anyone." said Ramirez.

By Sunday morning, May 21, the die was cast when Queens Democratic leader Tom Manton had breakfast at Ratner's on Delancey Street with Silver. The first item on the menu, according to Queens assembly sources, was Silver's support of councilman Walter McCaffrey's primary challenge to Queens congressman and Manton loyalist Joseph Crowley.

Manton, who did not return calls, emerged from his Ratner's meeting to announce that a "new era of goodwill begins with support for Sheldon Silver as speaker of the assembly."

Manton's defection effectively quashed the coup. But on Monday, when a resolution to allow a vote on election of a new speaker was brought to the floor, several members seized the opportunity to say out loud what had previously only been said in secret. Brooklyn assemblyman James Brennan, while voting against the measure, called Silver's regime "a virtual dictatorship."

Bragman's motion was defeated 85-63, but Silver remained closeted in his office throughout the debate.

"We lost this battle, and some of us took it on the chin personally," said Luster. "But we're going to hang in there to push for these reforms. I am getting calls from members to thank me for what I'm doing, saying, 'We're with you in spirit,' " said Luster.

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