In a rare New York City press conference, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called on one of his members to resign, comments that Silver made after new sexual harassment allegations surfaced, the latest in a series of embarrassments for the state's lower house on this issue. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
The latest sexual harassment allegations against a member of the New York State Assembly involve Dennis Gabryszak, a Democrat who represents the Buffalo area.
Three female staffers have filed a notice of claim over what they say were repeated unwanted sexual advances.
"If the allegations are true, then I think there should be no other choice but a resignation," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Silver's comments follow those of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was asked about the situation this past weekend.
"This behavior is just intolerable. It will not be accepted," Cuomo said. "There will be an investigation. If true, he has to be out. Period. End of story."
The Assembly has been rocked by a series of sexual harassment scandals, including one that led to the resignation of Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn. More recently, allegations surfaced against Micah Kellner of Manhattan. In both cases, questions were raised about how the speaker handled those accusations.
Silver was also asked about Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten in New York City, and the tax he wants to pay for it.
"If, in fact, he needs a small surcharge in order to fund it, I think pre-k and after-school programs have to be such a priority in this state that I think we need to support the mayor in that regard," Silver said
Silver held a press conference to support the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrants to tap state resources to attend college. NY1 asked if he would accept a state budget that does not include funding for the DREAM Act.
"We never draw lines in the sand. We never negotiate in public," Silver said. "So unless you're in a position to accomplish something in regard to it, we'll leave the negotiations for later."
The DREAM Act is the first state policy issue that Silver has held a press conference about since last June, which may give you a sense of how big a priority it is for him heading into the new year. Some believe it was a game changer when Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cut a deal to support a version of the DREAM Act, but critics call that version "watered down."