Three Queens pols penalized after failed coup – QNS.com

Three Queens pols penalized after failed coup

By Adam Kramer

Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill), Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) and Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows) all suffered the consequences of standing with the 17 other Assembly members, who followed Bragman's lead in his unsuccessful bid to oust Silver in May.

Seminerio was relieved of his position as deputy majority leader, Clark was removed as the chairwoman of the Committee on Aging and Mayersohn was replaced as the chairwoman of the House Operations Committee.

As speaker of the Assembly, Silver can remove members from their committee chairs and leadership positions, which come with thousands of dollars in stipends. He can also reduce the size of the members' staff and move them to a less desirable office.

In his effort to topple Silver, Bragman enlisted the aid of the Queens County Democratic Organization boss and former U.S. Rep. Tom Manton to side with the coup. Manton pledged at least 14 of the 16 Queens Assembly members would take up a position against Silver, with whom Manton has had a rocky relationship. A last-minute backroom agreement between the two powerful Democrats ended the spat and Manton withdrew his support for the coup.

Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) were the two Queens assembly members who stood behind Silver throughout the coup attempt.

Seminerio, Clark and Mayersohn were singled out by Silver because they remained allied with the Bragman camp after the rest of the Queens delegation backed down and supported Silver when he reached the accord with Manton.

The three Queens Democrats targeted by Silver have become part of a 20-member Democratic Majority Reform Caucus in a bid to make the assembly leadership listen to its members and change the way it conducts business.

Stripped of their leadership positions, each of the three Assembly members loses a stipend. Skip Carrier, a spokesman for the Silver, said the assistant majority leader receives a stipend of $19,000 per year, the chairman of the Aging Committee gets $12,500 and the chairman of the House Operations Committee receives $9,000.

“He took away my assistant majority leader title as a form of punishment,” Seminerio said. “I expected it. He should have done it in June.”

He said he spoke to Silver on the phone and was told that he was removed from the position. The Richmond Hill assemblyman said the loss of the money did not really bother him because he did not need it to live.

“The conversation was very amicable,” Seminerio said. “I told him the reason the rebellion started was because 'You did not care about the Assembly members.'”

He said Silver pushed his own agenda without listening to the Democratic membership and “showed no respect,” which were the reasons for the coup attempt. Seminerio said he was proud of what the members of the rebellion accomplished and he “wears it as a badge of courage.”

“There is no animosity between me and Silver,” Seminerio said. “He did not touch my staff, and I would have not accepted that.”

If Silver had removed some of his staff, Seminerio said he would have been livid and there would have been another battle.

“They are working people. I would have even taken my own money to pay them,” the assemblyman said. “Why punish my staff? This is the real world. We get all the glory, but they do all the work.”

Carrier said he did not know about the staffing for the upcoming session. He said it would be about a month and a half before staffing is complete.

“I hate to lose the chair of the aging committee, but I did this for a reason,” Clark said. “The institution represents the people in New York state and I do not think it runs well.”

She said she knew there was a risk when she decided to take part in the coup attempt, but the leadership was not listening to the problems of the rank-and-file in the Assembly and there was a need for change.

“I am always optimistic, but I have not seen any structural change,” she said. “You cannot build an institution from the top down if members, duly elected, are not able to impact the institution. Every member comes with talent and a sense of purpose. If they are not able to use that, then the institution does not grow and is not strong.”

Mayersohn did not return phone calls for comment.

The Queens members who were awarded with leadership positions were Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette (D-Jackson Heights) who was appointed as speaker pro tempore; Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside), who was named secretary of the Majority Conference; and Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-S. Ozone Park), who was given the chairmanship of the Majority Program Committee.

In addition, Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) was appointed as co-chairman of the Administrative Regulations Review Committee and Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) was made the chairman of the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Vocational Education.

Carrozza, a staunch Silver supporter, did not receive a leadership position and Nolan, who also backed the speaker, maintained leadership of the Labor Committee.

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