Monday, March 2, 2015

NYS Supreme Court Denies Pro Se Litigants Their Day In Court: The Case of Judge Kathryn Freed

Judge Kathryn Freed

I went to Court for oral argument on February 3, 2015, but Judge Freed called in sick, and all cases were adjourned.

Attorney Tatich from the Corporation Counsel called me at 4:36PM, February 2, 2015 and told me that I misspelled his name on the post!! So sorry (corrected it).

Mr. Tatich then told me that he did not know why Judge Frank Nervo is listed in the eTrack, because evidently the Court has an order wherein Judge Nervo recused himself from my case. I wonder why (next research job).

And, also according to Mr. Tatich, Judge Freed was moved from her current position and is not doing any city cases but she is doing whatever was on her list when she was moved, so she is back in her courtroom until....

If this sounds like it is confusing, it is.

Betsy Combier

Anyone who has tried to file a case pro se in State Supreme Court - or Federal, for that matter, but that's another story - will be subtly or directly denied due process. Judges despise people who do not have lawyers representing them, for any of the following reasons:

1. Judges have a problem understanding a pro se person who does not speak English or who does speak English, but must pretend that they do understand. It isn't a matter of understanding, they are directed not to allow pro se litigants to win, because then there is precedent.

Take Shlomo Hagler, for instance. He plays a game with pro se litigants. We - court watchers - have been gathering information about his pattern and practice of denying pro se litigants their due process. What he does is, and I saw this happening, pro se litigants are coddled into thinking he is preserving their rights, and then he denies their petitions/lawsuits in a one sentence ruling from the bench. I saw this: a pro se person appears before him, and in this case it was a bi-lingual teacher for the Department of Education, asking the judge to grant her petition to overturn the arbitration award of a 3020-a arbitrator who suspended her for 45 days without any probable or just cause. This teacher does not speak English well at all. So Judge Hagler was really, really nice, and said she did not need an attorney, and then told the Corporation Counsel that they had to come back with proof that they honored her due process. The next time they were back before Hagler, he dismissed the case in one sentence.

That is his pattern and practice. A theater performance that does not fool anyone.

2. Judges cannot make secret deals with pro se litigants, as they do with Attorneys.

3. Judges do not believe that pro so litigants know anyone "powerful" enough to make them worried about denying any due process. As I have said many times, assumptions are too dangerous to rely on. Judges should do the right thing the first time, and not be scared straight, as I try to do by writing about them on this and my other blogs.

I have fought for rights since 1999. My church stole my mom's ashes from me when she died on March 15, 1998, then their Insurance Carrier, Guide One, and the Surrogate Court hired an Attorney to harass me for the next 14 years. I had heart failure on July 22, 2006. My Attorney, Jonathan Landsman, tried to fight me on the subway after the trial so that I would not get my mom's ashes. Judge Lottie Wilkins did the trial, and when the jury came out with their verdict, that I must receive $500,000 for my pain and suffering, Wilkins suddenly declared a mis-trial, sent the jury away, and told me and Attorney Landsman that we had to pick a new jury for a second trial and be back in her courtroom in 1 hour.

Luckily, I taped NYPD Detective Ahearne who told me that Supreme Court Judge Karla Moskowitz was paying Attorney Kenneth Wasserman to harass me. I got her - Judge Karla Moskowitz - removed from the Supreme Court 3 days after she finally dismissed with prejudice  the case falsely claiming I took money from my grandfather's estate, which did not exist when the case was put into the Court's Computer. Judge Moskowitz was moved to the First Department Appellate Division, and I submitted the tape there, and won there as well. But it almost killed me.

Here is another, very recent incident that I had in the Courtroom of New York State Judge Kathryn Freed:, below. By the way, I am a firm supporter of the rights of Veterans and of the gay/lesbian/transgender groups, so I am not citing Judge Freed for her support for any of these groups, only her attack on pro se litigants, and me in particular:
Judge Freed on her balcony

On July 18 2014 at 11:15AM I went to the NY State Supreme Court to help a teacher friend move his record from the Supreme Court to the Appellate Division, First Department, so that he could perfect his appeal of Judge Kathryn Freed's denial of his case. Judge Freed granted the Corporation Counsel's Motion To Dismiss, as she always did. I decided to do a favor for my friend.

subpoena filled out, ready for Judge Freed's signature in the lower right

With all the papers in hand, plus the subpoena for Judge Freed to sign/stamp (Judges are mandated to sign/stamp subpoenas for pro se litigants who want to appeal the decision made in their court to a higher court), I went to her Courtroom at 80 Center Street on July 18, 2014  to obtain her signature on the subpoena before filing the papers to move the record.(I have deleted the name and Index number).

When I walked in her Courtroom, a man was sitting at the desk, and I went to him (the Courtroom was completely empty) and gave him the subpoena for the Judge to sign. I saw Judge Freed in her Chambers, in shorts, sandals and tee shirt. The man took a look and then handed it back, and said "I will not give this to the Judge, it is all wrong".

I asked him, "What is wrong?"

He said "I cannot tell you, I am not a lawyer, so I cannot give you legal advice".

I said, "So what do I do now?"

He said, "Go to the pro se office".

I said "Thank you." and I left 80 Centre Street, and went across the street to 60 Centre Street, the pro se office. When I went in, I saw a Supervisor I knew, and I said hi, could you please tell me what is wrong with this subpoena???? He looked at it, and said "I don't see anything wrong". He asked me why I was there, in the pro se office. I told him, and he said, oh, just go back to the same man and tell him that the Judge should sign it. He is a relief person, and the actual clerk in Judge Freed's courtroom is away this week on vacation.

So I went back to 80 Centre Street, and went back to Room 280. When I entered the Courtroom, it was still empty, and the man with whom I had spoken earlier was still sitting at the desk. So I went over to him and said that the pro se office had told me to come back and ask for the subpoena to be signed. He asked me who told me that. I gave the Supervisor's name, which actually was his middle name. The man called the pro se office: "Hi, is this Bob (or Bill, I don't remember which)? Ok, this is Larry Russo. I have a person who says she just spoke with a man in your office named _______. Is there such a person? No? Ok, thank you." He hung up.

Russo then told me he was fed up with my trying to get the subpoena signed, I was stupid and should have my friend hire an attorney. He was not going to show the subpoena to Judge Freed. He was talking so loudly in such an abusive way, that Judge Freed came out of her Chambers for a minute (in her shorts and tee) to see what was going on, then turned around and went back in to her Chambers. She left the door open.

I started to leave the room, now convinced that there was a story here, and just before opening the door to the hallway, I turned around and asked Mr. Russo very nicely: "Do you belong to a Union?"

Russo got quite angry and said, "yes, of course I do... The Court Clerk's Association. What is it to you? You don't even have my name."

I said, very nicely, "Oh, I do have your name, it's Larry Russo. Thanks again."

I left. I went back to the pro se office and asked to speak with Bob/Bill. He came over and I handed him the subpoena. I asked him first, did he just speak with Larry Russo? He said yes. Then I asked, what is wrong with this subpoena?? He said  "well, maybe you could spell out "New York" at the top instead of "NY". So, I changed it. I thanked him, and went back to 80 Centre Street and Judge Freed's courtroom. It was lunchtime (1PM), so the door was locked. I went to the 4th floor law library.I was getting a little nervous the time to move the record was not going to be met (1:30-2:30PM).

rules to move the record

but I needed the signature of Judge Freed.

At 2:15PM I went back to Judge Freed's Courtroom, and it was still empty except for Larry Russo. I said to him: "Please, Mr. Russo, would you please give this to Judge Freed? I just need her signature at the bottom, so that I could move the record for my friend. I went to the pro se office and the judge must sign it."

Russo said, "who did you speak to?"

I said, "Bob/Bill, the man you called."

Russo said, "what is his last name?"

With that, I said, a little bit louder than I had before, "C'mon, Mr. Russo, I need this signed, and now you are being very verbally abusive. Would you please just show the subpoena to the Judge so she can sign it?"

Russo grabbed the subpoena out of my hand, and told me he would be right back, but he was SURE the Judge would not sign it.

A minute later he came back, threw the unsigned subpoena at me and said, "See???? I told you she would not sign it!"

I left. Now what should I do, I thought. I decided to see the CEO of the Court on the 7th floor, if he would see me. I took the elevator to the 6th floor, told the guard my name, and met the CEO again for the second time. He told me this whole episode was ridiculous. I obtained the signature of Judge Heitler, and moved the record. It was approximately 4:30PM when I left 60 Centre Street.

Now I also have two cases of my own in the Supreme Court. The first, INDEX No. 101748/2005, which concerns the concussion I received on February 10, 2004. In that case, as with all of my cases, I am on eTrack, which means that I get emails a week before appearances.

Except, pro se litigants don't get notices until AFTER the date of the appearance, which you now have missed. I went to Judge Freed's office the day before the prior appearance in January, (Mr. Russo was not there!!!) and heard that Freed had been moved to non-City cases. I was told that the Court would let me know the new Judge and the new date.  See the email below. Not only has the schedule been kept from me so that I missed my appearance, but both cases have been given the same Judge, recently: Judge Kathryn Freed!

I plan to argue against the City's Motion To Dismiss, and appeal any ruling of Judge Freed for prejudicial actions and violations of my due process.  Judge Freed, whose office was in the very same building as the NYC DOE 3020-a hearings, 51 Chambers Street, and who now walks to the tune of denying pro se litigants their rights, must be held to a standard of applying the rules of due process and judicial fairness. Stay tuned.

This is how accountability works. The City Attorney on the concussion case has been Attorney Payne Tatich, and now is Kari Heyison from the Bronx where Judge Troy Webber works. She used to be the Surrogate Court Judge interim - while Nora Anderson was on trial for taking money from Attorney Seth Rubenstein - who put me on trial after she told me that if I ever wrote anything about her (Troy Webber) she would never probate my mom's Will (She said this in her Courtroom on April 1, 2009) Within a few days, the story was on my website and I filed a RICO against her on June 8, 2009.
Judge Troy Webber

Judge Webber, angry at me for putting what she did on my website after she locked me in her courtroom and threatened me with never probating my mom's Will on April 1, 2009 if I did write anything, put me on trial without a jury, and then convicted me of abusing my mom, as retaliation. (I had heart failure over this, I never abused my mom).

LinkedIn Page of Payne Tatich

Payne Tatich

NYC Law Department
CurrentNYC Law Department
  1. Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic,
  2. Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber LLP,
  3. Case Western Reserve University
Edit experience
  1. Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Kari Alexandra Heyison, Esq.

Assistant Corporation Counsel-- at Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York
Brooklyn, New York
Law Practice
  1. Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York
  1. Touro Law Center Family Law Clinic,
  2. Jaspan Schlesinger LLP,
  3. United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Edit experience
  1. Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Last Appearance:
Appearance Date: 11/25/2014 --- Information updated
Appearance Time: 
On For: Motion --- Information updated
Appearance Outcome: Oral Argument (80 Centre St) --- Information updated
Justice: FREED, KATHRYN E. (DCM) --- Information updated
Part: IAS MOTION 5 --- Information updated
Comments: 9:30 --- Information updated

Future Appearances:
Appearance Date: 03/12/2015
Appearance Time: 
On For: Supreme Trial
Appearance Outcome: 
Justice: NERVO, FRANK P. (DCM)
Comments: 2PM

Appearance Date: 03/03/2015 --- Information updated
Appearance Time: 
On For: Motion
Appearance Outcome: 
Comments: 9:30

Appearance Date: 01/20/2015 --- Information updated
Appearance Time: 
On For: Motion
Appearance Outcome: Adjourned --- Information updated
Comments: 9:30

Monday, February 2, 2015

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Shlomo Hagler Sued By Board of Bialystoker Synagogue (2013)

Is Shlomo Hagler related to Sheldon Silver?

Is he double-dipping?

Betsy Combier

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Shlomo Hagler
‘Lot’ of anger: Landmark temple sues over property
A Manhattan judge was slapped with a $25 million lawsuit for his role in the potential sale of lucrative property adjoining a landmark institution once run by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Bialystoker Synagogue

Fellow board members of the Bialystoker Synagogue are suing their president, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler, over a dispute involving an ­L-shaped lot at Delancey Street and Bialystoker Place and that’s been owned by the orthodox congregation since 1987.

In the suit, Baruch Singer and Lenny Greher claim that Hagler, the synagogue’s rabbi, Zvi Romm, and the chairman of its housing fund are barred from selling the property at 15-17 Bialystoker Place based on an April 2012 ruling by a Brooklyn rabbinical court.

A source close to the litigation told The Post the suit comes after the synagogue sold off a 127-unit ­affordable-housing building it owns on an adjacent lot for $28 million in January.

The orthodox congregation, housed in a 1826 fieldstone building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, is primarily made up of Polish immigrants. It’s rumored that the building was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Hagler took over as president when Sheldon resigned in 2010 following a rift in the congregation over women joining the leadership ranks.

Hagler declined to comment. The other defendants did not return calls for comment

Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Supreme Court Judges Shlomo Hagler and Martin Shulman: What is Going On With These Three?

That Sheldon Silver has control over NYC courts is nothing new. Is ManhattanSupreme Court Judge Shlomo Hagler a close relative of Silver?

Just askin'

Betsy Combier

Landlords have cases before Silver-linked judge

Sheldon Silver
Two Lower East Side landlords with ties to outgoing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have property-tax cases pending before a judge who owes his career to the disgraced Manhattan Democrat, The Post has learned.
Mark Miller and Sion Misrahi are also being represented by the law firm that allegedly funneled at least $700,000 to Silver in illegal kickbacks in a long-running corruption scheme, records show.
The judge presiding over their assessment challenges, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Martin Shulman, is a lifelong pal of Silver. He and Silver live in the same Grand Street building and pray at the same nearby synagogue.
“They’re friends who grew up together. Shelly pushed Shulman through to be a Supreme Court judge,” a judicial insider said.
Shulman also sits on a prestigious appeals court, the Manhattan Appellate Term. He was recommended to the court by a screening committee whose members include a Silver appointee.
Shulman is the lone judge in Manhattan who handles “tax certiorari” cases, in which owners challenge the official value of their real-estate holdings, which is used to calculate tax bills.
Feds say Silver illegally pocketed at least $700,000 in sham “referral fees” by steering business from two leading developers to a law firm specializing in tax-certiorari cases and founded by Silver’s former Assembly counsel.
Silver never listed the payments on disclosure forms, the feds say.
The law firm, identified by sources as Goldberg & Iryami, has 17 cases pending before Shulman, including three on behalf of Miller and Misrahi.
Miller, owner of the Miller Manhattan Property Group and the Mark Miller Gallery, is the second vice chair and former president of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, which Silver showered with more than $450,000 in public money between 2003 and 2010, state records show.
The funding stopped when Gov. Cuomo began vetoing pork-barrel spending by Albany lawmakers.
When Miller stepped down as the business-improvement district’s president in 2013, Silver presented him with a plaque and an iPad.
He is challenging the $578,000 assessment on his six-story rental building at 256 Broome St.
Misrahi, also a business improvement district member, donated $300 to Silver in 2011 through his Brownstone Management Corp., campaign-finance records show.
He is contesting the $513,000 assessment on an 18-unit building at 188 Orchard St., as well as a $200,000 hike on another property at 11 Essex St.
Shulman didn’t return a request for comment, but court-system spokesman David Bookstaver said the relationship between Shulman and Silver didn’t create a conflict of interest.
“Because someone belongs to the same congregation, it would be far-fetched to say that would be a reason to recuse oneself from the case,” Bookstaver said.
Miller and Misrahi didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Manhattan Supreme Court, 60 Centre Street

Mehulic v. New York Downtown Hospital Index No.103297-2008

October 27, 2014, at 10 AM. The courtroom of Justice Shlomo S. Hagler (Part 17) in Court

Room 335 at 60 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007.

o I am a physician whistleblower who objected to improper and dangerous medical care that I observed at the labor and delivery department of the New York Downtown Hospital in 2007-2008. Many young mothers and babies died or were severely injured due to negligent care.

o After my multiple objections seeking to stop this negligence, I reported the whole matter several times to the New York Department of Health. Finally, on April 16, 2008, I received an email response from the DOH. That same day I was paged and told to go at once to the office of my boss, Allan Klapper, M.D. He threatened me that I would never practice medicine in this country again. Two days later I was fired by the hospital without explanation.

o Per my report , NBC News broke the story of a 16-year old teenager who was not pregnant but was given a caesarian section by these negligent doctors. Despite corrective measures that the hospital was supposed to implement, patients continued to die and in August of 2012 NBC News broke another story that 14 patients had unexpectedly died at the hospital and that an additional 40,000 medical mistakes made by hospital doctors were reported to the Department of Health and that the DOH was keeping these egregious cases of malpractice secret. In 2012 the hospital ended up with a deficiency of $40 Million. By July 1, 2013, the hospital closed both residency training programs (OBGYN and Internal Medicine) and its financial district and was acquired by the New York Presbyterian Hospital. The Government granted $125 million for the hospital’s reconstruction in 2013.

o I became aware of a long-term friendship and political alliance between Judge Hagler and Sheldon Silver, a member of the advisory board of the hospital and the Assembly Speaker of New York State. Judge Hagler is known as the surrogate son of Sheldon Silver. Moreover, Sheldon has received election contributions from the very same law firm that is representing the hospital in my case (Epstein, Becker &Green, P.C.).

o I also did not have knowledge that Judge Hagler’s brother Mendel Hagler was CEO of Gouverneur Hospital and his close personal and business relationship with Sheldon Silver, and his close ties with New York Department of Health which is involved in this action.

o I was wrongfully fired and unemployed for a year and a half because of the hospital’s slander and misinformation that it was spreading in a vendetta against me. In 2009 the hospital’s actions forced me to change my profession from Obstetrics and Gynecology to Family Medicine. I completed the Family Medicine Residency at the prestigious University of Southwestern Dallas, Texas, from July 1, 2009-June 30, 2012, with great success, awards and accolades.

o As soon as Judge Hagler took over 800 cases from Judge Goodman who retired (March 2012), my case was promptly heard on May 21, 2012. In every single hearing Judge Hagler has threatened me with sanctions and all my motions have been denied while all the defendant’s motions were wholehearted approved. I am the one who did the right thing and tried to protect patients; the hospital bosses are those who were negligent and reckless.

o There are numerous examples of the injustice I suffered in Judge Hagler’s court such as a revived confidentiality agreement that was made invalid ab initio by the prior judge. His actions also improperly placed my complete file under seal. He has unfairly placed me on a Temporary Restraining Order for more than two and a half years. Moreover, Judge Hagler disposed my case on February 6, 2014, and reactivated it only after my intervention. Judge Hagler denied my supplemental discovery which was essential to my case since the hospital closed their financial district and its residency programs. But at the same time per the opposing side’s demand, Hagler on three separate occasions ordered that the hospital could obtain my personnel file from the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where I worked eight years ago without an issue. It was an unsuccessful fishing expedition on the part of my opponents to find something negative about me. Judge Hagler also ordered a third day of my deposition which is unheard of. I was grilled by the defendant’s counsels who tried to force me to admit to their false allegations.

o Such an amalgam of peculiar circumstances happened in my pending case and it cannot be explained by any reasonable person as anything else than rampant corruption, corruption that is preventing me, the whistleblower, and the public from obtaining justice. I had no choice other than to file a motion and demand Judge Hagler’s recusal since he never disclosed his relationships. His failure to act ethically by recusing himself has resulted in a grievous injustice.

o This is a true David v. Goliath story. Unfortunately as a whistleblower I do not have the legal right to have a jury trial at this time.

o If Hagler does not recuse himself he may stay as the trial judge. In that case, I will be crucified and the former hospital bosses who are responsible for criminal activities will come to the trial to feed him with lies and help him destroy my case.

o All public efforts to support justice are highly appreciated!


Dr. Sue Mehulic, M.D.

Sheldon Silver's Profile Has People On Both Sides.

Sheldon Silver
Sheldon Silver's wife Rosa was a public school teacher.

She did not teach, according to my sources. But she received a salary.

What's up with that, Preet?

Betsy Combier

Sheldon Silver: The man Upstaters love to hate


Michelle Breidenbach | mbreidenbach@syracuse.comBy Michelle Breidenbach | 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on January 22, 2015 at 7:36 AM, updated January 22, 2015 at 8:05 AM
This profile of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is expected to be arrested today for failing to disclose payments from a law firm, was first published Feb. 23, 2003 in The Post-Standard. 
Sheldon Silver, speaker of the state Assembly, arrives at the State Office Building in Albany Jan. 8 for Gov. George Pataki's State of the State address.
Known as ''Shelly'' to some colleagues, Silver has been called both a ''tyrant'' and a ''gentleman.''
A Camillus woman whose daughter was murdered called his offer of sympathy cold, insensitive and self-serving.
Assembly Republicans call the state's most powerful Democrat autocratic, aloof and disconnected.
Salina's William Sanford, a Republican Assembly candidate last fall, wagged his finger at a roomful of North Syracuse senior citizens during the campaign and said, ''Sheldon Silver is a bad person.'' Many nodded in agreement.
None of this fazes Silver.
''Sticks and stones. Remember that expression?'' the Manhattan lawmaker said slowly, leaning back in the leather chair in his Capitol office. '''Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.' ''
Silver's friends and Democratic colleagues in Central New York describe him as warm, caring, religious, fair, a sports-fanatic, a gentleman who needles with polite jokes, a man they affectionately call "Shelly."
From the Mohawk Valley to the Finger Lakes, critics have called state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a tyrant, an emperor, a con artist, and a power grabber.
"I think that there's a misconception of the speaker here in Syracuse that he is a tyrant of sorts, " said Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse. "I feel sometimes that he's just not seen the way he is. I think he's a very caring person, one who understands Upstate New York."
Silver says the criticism is Republican spin.
"It's generally, across the board, the Republicans have a stock campaign, and it's always about Upstate versus Downstate, trying to divide the state, " Silver said. "The governor is very, very partisan in this regard. They've used that on me as if I don't represent them."
Silver is now engaged in the role he is best known for Upstate: antagonist to Gov. George Pataki and the Republican-controlled Senate in the annual state budget ritual.
The cast of characters is familiar: Pataki, the Republican governor newly elected to his third term; Joseph Bruno, the Republican leader of the state Senate since 1995; and Silver, who has led the Assembly since 1994. They are the "three men in a room" who battle each other every year over the spending plan - and always manage to deliver it weeks or months after its April 1 due date.
As usual, Silver will champion what is perceived as the liberal, urban, Downstate position.
Asked what he stands for, Silver ticks off a list of programs that could be cut under Pataki's 2003-2004 budget proposal: "I stand for pre-K (kindergarten). I stand for after-school programs. I stand for (school) building maintenance. I stand for taking care of the elderly in their waning years as far as their health care is concerned. I think we should keep people out of nursing homes, in a cheaper way, with personal care, home care. That's what I stand for."
Man of few words

Silver's Capitol office is unmarked, hidden behind the ornate Assembly chamber. In the lobby there are chandeliers, leather chairs, small tables bearing wrapped mints and, for pleasure reading, a thick copy of the 2003 Legislative Digest, a record of the 226th legislative session.
Caught up in the lobby logjam recently were members of the state's most powerful public employees' and teachers' unions - there to "pick Silver's pockets, " as one lobbyist said to another.
Inside, Silver was seated behind a mostly bare desk in his bare-walled office with five phones, a small refrigerator and a cabinet holding two boxes of Raisin Bran.
"They all endorsed the governor in the election last November. The teacher's union. The police union, " Silver said after he had shaken the last hand and posed for the last photo. "They're all here, a lot of them saying, "What a mistake we made."'
Much of Silver's work is done this way, in private meetings and phone calls. Even when the 150-member Assembly is in session, Silver is in his office, while the speaker pro-tem runs the meeting.
Members use their time with him wisely. Constituents do their homework before presenting their proposals.
"He doesn't have a lot to say when you interact with him, but he's very smart. He has a very good sense of reading people and situations, " said Irwin Davis, executive vice president of the Metropolitan Development Association, a Central New York business development group. "At the end, in very few words, he tells you how it is."
As speaker, Silver has tremendous influence over state money and public policy decisions affecting the almost 19 million New York state residents. Yet Silver often fetches his own meals, insists on driving and opens doors for other people.
"You don't see him with an entourage, " said Assemblywoman Joan Christensen, D-Syracuse. "He's a very unpretentious guy. I don't think Shelly has been seduced by the leadership position."
That doesn't mean he's approachable. He speaks in a serious and slow monotone that is impossible for his colleagues not to imitate behind his back. He is formal in his dress and choice of words.
"He does not look like a warm person. So when he tells a joke, everyone looks around like, "What?"' Christensen said.
Silver, a lifelong resident of lower Manhattan, first came to the Assembly in 1976. He moved into various leadership posts dealing with election reform, crime, drug abuse and, finally, taxes and spending. He became speaker in 1994.
By the end of that year, state voters replaced Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo with Pataki. The new speaker emerged from Cuomo's shadow as the new top Democrat in state government. In January, he won his fifth term as speaker.
Silver said his greatest rewards are these: He wins year after year. His Democrats win year after year, and increased their Assembly majority to 103 of 150 in the last election.
"I've obviously done the job successfully, " he said. "We're the largest majority perhaps in the last hundred years, if not longer."
Silver, the son of a Russian immigrant hardware store owner, and his wife of 35 years, Rosa, live in an apartment at 550 Grand Street, on the Lower East Side near the Williamsburg Bridge. They have four grown children - three accountants and a college student studying to be a teacher - and eight grandchildren.
Judy Mitrani has been a neighbor for 18 years and has known the Silvers for longer. If she had a problem with state government, which she hasn't, she said she would not go knock on his door. She would call his staff. That's what most neighbors would do, she said.
A two-minute walk from Silver's home is the Bialystoker Synagogue, where Silver worships. At the Orthodox Jewish synagogue, women sit in the balcony and men worship in pews below.
Religion is a significant part of Silver's life. In keeping with tradition, he does not work or travel on Friday nights or on Saturdays. He keeps kosher, often carting frozen meals to Albany restaurants, where the chefs warm them in their ovens.
Silver is known as a relentless fighter for New York City.
"You don't get elected speaker of the state Assembly until you get elected in your own district, " he says.
Yip Ly, who lives in Silver's district, stood outside Assembly chambers during Pataki's January State of the State address to advocate for rent control for New York City tenants. Here's his "city" view of Upstate:
"If New York City did not exist, New York state would not exist, " he said. "All our excess money from revenues coming out of New York City is coming up there, supporting your real estate, your school base, your tax base and all the municipal services, the library, senior citizens services. It goes on and on. New York City has never gotten their fair share."
Silver in many ways reflects the sentiment of his constituents.
"It's significant that the financial capital of the world happens to be in my district, " he said. "It's significant to the state that the district more than pays for whatever it gets from government."

Quietly helping CNY

When Silver wants to know what's going on in Central New York, he calls Davis, of the MDA; H. Douglas Barclay, the MDA president and a former Republican senator from Oswego County; or Stephen A. Rogers, editor and publisher of The Post-Standard, who heads a governmental relations committee for the MDA.
Silver also calls Syracuse University Chancellor Kenneth Shaw, Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll and mall developer Bob Congel of The Pyramid Cos.
Local leaders say Silver's deal-making is not as visible as it could be on some Central New York projects. In some cases, he chooses to keep it quiet. In other instances, he loses center stage to Pataki.
An example: When Excellus and Hartford Insurance threatened last fall to take 1,500 jobs away from downtown Syracuse because of a lack of parking, Driscoll got on the phone to Silver. Driscoll said it was the first time he asked for a favor from Silver.
Silver called Excellus Chief Executive Officer Howard Berman and asked him to call the mayor. He did. A deal was struck.
Pataki, on the election trail, joined Driscoll at a press conference to announce a $7 million state grant to build two parking garage projects that would keep the jobs downtown.
Silver did not attend.
"I don't want to lose sight of the fact that the city of Syracuse is represented by some very capable legislators and they deserve the praise, " he said.

Don't mess with Silver

Silver's bad rap among some in Central New York may stem from Downstate/Upstate prejudices. Maybe it's his personality.
"It might have something to do with a collision course with a man named Michael Bragman, " said state Sen. Nancy Larraine Hoffmann, a Democrat-turned-Republican.
Bragman, of Cicero rose to majority leader in the Assembly and in 2000 unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Silver. Bragman said Silver's leadership was out of date, ineffective and too tightly controlled.
In response, Silver stripped Bragman of his title and cut his office staff and perks.
"What I did to Mike Bragman? That's an old story, " Silver said. "I got more votes than he did. Mike Bragman chose to challenge me as speaker and I got more votes. Plain and simple. It was the end of the day. Mike Bragman was humiliated."
Two years later, the fallout was evident in the race between Sanford and Christensen. The two incumbents wound up in the same district after state legislators - with Silver's blessing - drew new district boundaries.
Sanford pitched himself as a reformer, willing to stand up to Silver.
In a debate, Sanford said, "I am running against Shelly Silver, and by running against Shelly Silver I am running against you. You had a very strong advocate in Mike Bragman, who did a very good job down there, but Mike is gone, and now your advocate is Sheldon Silver."
Christensen fired back, "That is a lie."
For her siding with Bragman, Silver had taken away Christensen's committee assignments and pay bonuses. But she found herself in the odd position of having to defend him. Silver sent her campaign staff and money.
Christensen won the election. Silver had the furniture and office supplies shipped from Sanford's district office to Albany two and a half weeks before his term came to a close.
But Silver still hasn't returned Christensen's committee posts and bonuses.
In 1998, Silver made the news in Syracuse as the man who stalled action on "Jenna's Law, " a bill to curtail parole for violent felons. Janice and Bruce Grieshaber, of Camillus, lobbied for the bill, named for their 22-year-old daughter, who was killed by a parolee in 1997 in her Albany apartment.
Janice Grieshaber said she remembers Silver as the cold man who left them waiting and hoping in Assembly chambers until midnight on the last day of session, while hundreds of other pieces of legislation came up for a vote. Finally, an aide for Pataki passed them a note that said there would be no vote that day on Jenna's Law.
The first time the Grieshabers met Silver, he told them he knew so exactly how they felt.
"He was talking about Jenna, " Janice remembered. "I looked at him and said, "Have you lost a child?' I knew he hadn't. What a stupid thing to say. It's the one thing people know not to say. As a mother of a murdered child, I don't even say that to other parents."
Christensen said Silver, like all leaders, expects a certain amount of criticism. "He doesn't care if people don't like him, " she said. "But he doesn't want people to hate him."
Silver says he is not worried about his image among Central New Yorkers.
"As long as the members keep getting re-elected, " he said. "Obviously, it doesn't affect Bill Magnarelli and it doesn't affect Joan Christensen. That's all that counts."
The man
Age: 59
Home: Lower East Side, Manhattan
Job: Assembly Speaker; personal injury lawyer.
Assembly salary: Base pay $79,500; speaker stipend, $41,500. He has not made his lawyer's salary public.
Political experience: Elected to Assembly in 1976; appointed chair of Assembly Ways and Means Committee in 1992; first elected speaker in 1994. Silver won the last two elections in his district with 93 percent of the vote in 2002 and 85 percent in 2000. He faced Green Party candidates.
Campaign account balance: $2.3 million
Education: Graduate of Yeshiva University and Brooklyn Law School
Family: Wife, Rosa, a public elementary school teacher, four children, eight grandchildren
The opinions
Here is a sampling of what some Central New Yorkers have had to say about Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in letters to The Post-Standard during the past three years:
"Silver has been a part of the troika that has delivered a budget late for 17 years. His heavy-handed control has delivered millions of our tax dollars to the Big Apple at upstate's expense. He appears to have a propensity to punish his fellow legislators for daring to represent their constituencies."
Patrick J. Ryan, Jamesville
"Silver is of that tired old left-wing liberal club that arrogantly believes they know more than we do. Their opinion of us lowly citizens is that we don't have the brains to handle such things as coming up with a good idea to help our state run smoother. Mike Bragman had some new ideas and look what happened to him - and he was one of their fellow Assembly Democrats. The powers that be did everything but order a hit on him."
Bill Iocco, Liverpool
"Sheldon Silver should have been gone years ago."
Thelma H. Snyder, Fulton
"We have to put a stop to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's authoritarian rule and his unwillingness to work with the governor and the state Senate to get things done. Silver is a key barrier to lowering taxes and spending in New York and getting on-time budgets."
Dave Traub, Cicero
"Oh, you foolish people of Central and Upstate New York! Beware of the two greatest con artists who ever prowled New York state: Carl McCall and Sheldon Silver."
Paul Esposito, Manlius
"Does Democracy exist in Albany or in any other form of federal, state, county or city government? I believe that the vile behavior of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has shown us, the taxpayers and voters, that these politicians care only about themselves. They practice and play games to enrich themselves like dictators."
Paolo Saltarello, Auburn
"We do not need a dictator. We want someone working for all the people, regardless of party. The game that Sheldon Silver is playing in Albany is not an example of the way our government should be working."
Ruth Harrison, North Syracuse
The power
Sheldon Silver is one of the three most powerful officials in state government, along with the governor and Senate majority leader. The Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker control the flow of legislation; distribute millions in campaign cash to colleagues; and decide on members' staff and supply allotments, committee chairmanships and lucrative stipends. With the governor, they also essentially decide the annual state budget.
Silver oversees a $102.5 million Assembly budget and shares responsibility with the state senate for a legislative budget of $16.7 million. He employs 26 people in his Albany and district offices and in the Assembly Majority press office. Including his salary, Silver's offices cost taxpayers $1,452,487.46 a year.