As we report this week on Page 3, it seems that New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has once again sought to use Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s religious observance as fodder for political advantage. Reminiscent of Bruno’s effort in the 1997 rent control controversy to make it appear that Silver’s absence for religious observance was impeding a settlement of that contentious issue – Bruno arbitrarily set a ‘make or break’ deadline for one of the days of Shavuot – Bruno has now publicly urged Silver and the Assembly Democrats ‘to cancel their holiday plans’ this coming week and work on the budget, now overdue. Memorial Day, of course, will be observed on Monday May 28 and Shavuot will be observed on Monday and Tuesday, May 28 and 29.
Sources quoted in our Page 3 story debunk the notion that the absence of Assembly negotiators has been the cause of the delay. As pointed out, in fact, it is the absence of Governor Pataki from Albany which is the primary problem. So, because there was no real reason for marathon talks at this time, we doubt that Bruno’s public call was prompted simply by the advent of Memorial Day. That would, perhaps, have made it politics as usual. But his 1997 Shavuot ruse puts a gloss on what he has now done, and it is very disturbing.
We accept that there is a special dynamic to the political process. But we rather hold to the position that taking advantage of anyone’s religious observance should be beyond the pale.
There are a number of members of Mr. Bruno’s Republican Senate colleagues who represent large Jewish constituencies – such as Mike Balboni, Roy Goodman, John Marchi, Frank Padavan, Dean Skelos and Guy Velella ? from whom he should hear on this.
It would also be helpful if Governor Pataki had a few words to say about this as well. We note, however, that in 1997, the Governor said in a NY 1 television interview that he hoped that Speaker Silver was ‘introspecting’ about his rent control position during his Shavuot observances. This is certainly an opportunity to clear the air.
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