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Letter to Editor: Weisenberg Should Address 'Vitogate'

Long Beach resident Frank McQuade writes that in the face of a sex scandal, assemblyman must stop attempts to deflect responsibility for the Assembly’s misconduct.

To the Editor:

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) must weigh in on the sexual harassment and cover-up scandal rocking the New York State Assembly at this time.

Long-time Assemblyman Vito Lopez, head of the Brooklyn Democrat Committee, was censured over accusations that he groped or sexually harassed multiple female staffers. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver authorized a secret $135,000 settlement with two women who had made claims against Lopez, two months before the Assembly censured Lopez for allegedly harassing two other women. Stunningly $103,000 of the settlement was from public taxpayer funds! A settlement agreement with the victims included a phrase that said even “the fact of this agreement” should remain secret, not just its terms and circumstances.

Silver acknowledged that he had made a mistake in agreeing to a secret settlement and in not referring the earlier claims to the Assembly’s ethics committee. While the State Attorney General criticized the Assembly’s handling of the matter and condemned such confidentiality provisions, in fact, the A.G. had consulted a number of times with assembly lawyers about the settlement agreement as it was developed, and even reviewed a draft agreement including the confidentiality clause. A special prosecutor to investigate Assemblyman Lopez in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal has been appointed.

Lopez’s actions were abhorrent to the dignity and respect of his female staffers. But “Vitogate” could turn out to be significant to the state’s political culture if it leads to the unraveling of Silver.  

If Weisenberg claims to have such prestige and experience in the Assembly, he should address the issues affecting his Assembly colleagues: Lopez for his vulgar conduct and Silver for his shell game using taxpayer money to cover up a sex scandal. 

Several years ago when Silver’s chief counsel J. Michael Boxley was charged with raping two women, Weisenberg never criticized Silver nor Boxley, but rather stated: “We’re not responsible what happens off campus.” With a new scandal affecting his Assembly colleagues now afoot, Weisenberg’s support of Silver and Lopez —tacit or otherwise — would stand in contrast to any claim he could make as an advocate for women’s issues and as a political independent. It is time for him to stop attempts to deflect responsibility for the Assembly’s misconduct.

Francis McQuade
Long Beach

Castles Made of Sand September 06, 2012 at 03:46 AM
People, people, relax (especially Virginia). You would think from this letter that Harvey is the reincarnation of the Marquis de Sade, when in fact he has nothing to do with the sex scandal. I have no doubt he's as disgusted as the rest of us. This "double dipping" scandal is old news. A whopping combined $173,000. Who cares? How about the 6 police in this town making $190,000 and suing us for 6.5 million??? Those are policemen making million dollar salary every 5 years! And what have they done for Long Beach? Harvey's job has been to go to Albany and fight tooth and nail for a piece of the pie and bring it back to the area. He's done a darn good job of bringing funds to Long Beach residents. Vote him out and where do think it's going? That's right, to the five towns where is opponent is from. NY State taxes go up because of the size of the pie. And if slices of pie that Harvey has been fighting for go elsewhere, taxes go up regardless. It's a double edged sword. We have an obligation to elect people who want smaller government, not people who want the same or bigger but just bring the pie home to the five towns.
ed September 06, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Whats wrong with Albany? .... Harvey Weisenberg! This baby kissing phony has sold NY taxpayers out time and time again.
Igwheet September 06, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Tell Harvey nice try he's trying to inflame anti-Five Towns anger by putting it out there that Sussman is in it to get more pie for the Five Towns at everyone else's expense. Plus, you're a hypocrite: we should celebrate Harvey bringing it home for Long Beach. What about the rest of his district? He's a Bozo and so are you! And on the topic of you, "prostitution" is also "old news," (the oldest, in fact). That doesn't make it legal. So Harvey wrote a law to legalize his double rip-off scam, and that makes it right. Well, I guess since it's really only $173,000, people losing their homes because they can't afford the taxes around here shouldn't get all worked up. By the way, the cops wouldn't be raking in so much money if Harvey would stop bowing at the union alter. He's so bought and sold by union dues, there's no way he'd ever stand in the way of the unions bankrupting Long Island. And he's good for their money, because he never does. As for his part of the Lopez sex scandal -- what's a $110,000 tax-funded payoff to a guy who's already stealing about 100,000 or 73,000 taxpayer dollars a year (it depends on whether he's actually retired or not)? He's the third most senior guy on the Assembly for god's sake. His thieving example is what sets the tone that leads to a Vito Lopez.
Castles Made of Sand September 07, 2012 at 01:59 PM
To my good friend lgwheet. I'm trying to understand your diatribe above. Where did you see that Harvey himself is trying to "inflame anti five towns anger" as you claim? Explain why I'm a "hypocrite" - where exactly did I contradict what I believe? What does prostitution have to do with anything in this disagreement? Ok, I'll give you the union argument, but double dipping pensions "is what sets the tone that leads to" groping staffers???
Sweet Petunia September 09, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Here's another reason Harvey isn't coming forward,according to a New York Times article,"Faced with public disclosure of their actions, two New York State Assemblymen issued sweeping apologies....admitting that they had been responsible for two of the three instances of SEXUAL HARASSMENT..this week...First MR. WEISENBERG, a Nassau County Democrat, acknowledged that he had made an off color remark.....MR WEISENBERG put out a statement saying his remark was "totally insensitive"....There you have it folks, I guess some things never change unless you change them.My vote is for Sussman!


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