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Nolan Announces That She Wants Assembly Speaker Job

Jan. 28, 2015 By Christian Murray

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan announced today that she wants to be the next speaker of the New York State Assembly.

Nolan’s announcement came shortly after Sheldon Silver, the longtime leader of the assembly, agreed to give up the position he has held for 21 years as a result of federal corruption charges.

“I am formally announcing my candidacy for Speaker of the New York State Assembly,” Nolan wrote in a statement. “In my 30 year Assembly career I have conducted myself with honesty and integrity.”

Nolan would be the first woman to get the top job and it would result in Sunnyside and Long Island City being represented by two high-ranking officials: Nolan as speaker and Jimmy Van Bramer as New York City majority leader.

Nolan is one of a handful of names in the running for the speaker race, which include Majority Leader Joseph Morelle from Rochester, Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie, and Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright.

“Lost in the names that have been mentioned as potential candidates for Speaker is that of a woman,” Nolan wrote. “A woman has never served as Speaker of the Assembly.”

The letter indicated that Nolan would have little tolerance for legislators who sexually harassed their staffers.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that he had talked to Nolan this morning. “She is a very serious contender and I can tell you she is very determined,” he said. She is not just floating her name out there, she is moving on this very decisively.”

Nolan has served on several committees during her tenure.

“I have extensive experience working with constituencies from all over our state, and have indeed ushered many proposals through both the budget process and the legislative process. Whether the issue is education, labor, mass transit or women’s issues, I have been at the forefront of the process,” Nolan wrote.

Nolan also wrote that she has never had a second job while working in the assembly.

“The people of New York State has been my only job – whether it be my own constituents, school children or working men and women in our state.”

Nolan is likely to get the support from Joseph Crowley, the head of Queens Democratic Party that would bring her the full 18-member assembly bloc of Queens.

“It is time for this institution to return to the high standards that the people of our state rightfully demand and expect. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to do just that for the people of the State of New York. They deserve nothing less,” Nolan wrote.

The new speaker is expected to be picked on Feb. 10.

statementfromassemblywomannolan-1 by sunnysidepost

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Notable in the press coverage over the weekend and today on the cesspool known as Albany is the absence of any statement by Ms. Nolan commenting, opposing or observing on the “fast track” to elect Mr. Heastie as Speaker. Even at the time that most directly concerns Ms. Nolan, she lacks the back bone to stand up and insist, at a minimum, that the vote be open and not held until February 10th, as was promised by the Democrats just a few days ago. If Ms. Nolan is the instrument for change as she and her supporters have recently claimed, she should speak out now.

Mary Caulfield

From the NYT:

The Secretive, Sleazy Process to Replace Sheldon Silver
By ELEANOR RANDOLPH FEBRUARY 2, 2015 11:00 AM February 2, 2015 11:00 am 13 Comments


Sheldon Silver on Jan. 27, 2015. Credit Patrick Dodson/The Daily Gazette, via Associated Press
In the next few days Democrats in Albany could choose a new speaker to replace Sheldon Silver, who was arrested on corruption charges almost two weeks ago. After Mr. Silver’s 20 years of dominating the New York Assembly, it is a rare opportunity to create a better, fairer legislature.

But it looks like the next powerful speaker could be picked in the sleazy and secretive style that has long characterized Albany politics.

At first, it did seem that the Democratic Assembly members had finally seen the virtue of having a more transparent, more deliberative election of their new leader. Last week they agreed to give all candidates a chance to present their positions as publicly as possible. They planned to hold a vote on February 10.

But, apparently, a reasonable period of debate did not sit well with Democratic power brokers. Democratic Party leaders, including Frank Seddio of Brooklyn, Keith Wright of Manhattan and others quickly came together to hand pick Mr. Silver’s successor, who will gain control over hundreds of important jobs, committee chairmanships (that bring huge campaign contributions) and a good chunk of the $150 billion state budget.

The backroom politicos have been putting out word that the race is over. They say they have rounded up enough votes for Assemblyman Carl Heastie of the Bronx. And they want the Democrats to elect Mr. Heastie as speaker soon after Mr. Silver resigns on Monday. As they keep telling anybody who will listen: “the train has left the station”.

So far, Mr. Heastie has not promised his passengers much improvement in the old ways of Albany. He has not shared enough of his agenda or explained exactly how he would run the Assembly. Yet his friends have already forced three possible challengers to step down.

The only remaining contender as of Monday morning was Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan of Queens. Ms. Nolan, now chair of the education committee in the Assembly, has said she is interested in giving individual legislators more voice. She is considering term limits for committee chairs and wants to limit outside income for legislators. And she talks promisingly about openness: a more collaborative system not a dictatorship.

Mr. Heastie’s supporters don’t seem to want someone from Manhattan or Brooklyn or Queens and certainly not from upstate. They think it’s time for someone from The Bronx. It’s their turn.

Mr. Heastie’s election would be historic, since he would be the first African-American speaker. But Ms. Nolan’s election would be historic as well. She would be the first woman in the job. If the choice is only between those two, Ms. Nolan has a better track record. And she’s supportive of the more open election process.

For two decades, Mr. Silver turned his 105 Democratic members into a skittish herd of followers. The remaining 45 Republicans were nearly invisible.

Assembly members have a chance to demand real openness and real reforms from their next leader. They would be wise to secure promises before they give him or her the job.

Patricia Dorfman


you are describing most of us, everyone in the city and state and country who did nothing…hindsight is 20/20 for most of us.

you DID do something and spoke up and ran for office and tried your best. good for you. but the voters voted, and right now the situation is a brand new one. (my republican husband voted for you, john!)

i am not asking you to run around with a nolan banner; just be a statesman, and see that a play is unfolding effecting all of us, and we have this one shot a starring role. if you had won, and were in this position, you would expect your supporters to support you, and your critics who were your constituents, too, to wait and see, not attack.

i hear that sexual harassment is your main concern. do you not think that once speaker, she would not do more about sexual harassment than the others?

this is about timing: she won and is now in office and at a place where she could be very helpful to us and the state. she is our assemblywoman. she has a chance to be speaker. she has more integrity and courage than most of them, and certainly seems more qualified than the current favorite.

would you say she is the worst candidate of all them? she is not only one of the best of the assembly, intelligent, skilled, articulate, experienced, wise, with no outside “job,” she is our and your candidate. to me, the rush towards the current frontrunner feels like more sexism and more back room shenanigans. could she have done more? we hope she will. but is the current favorite one who will make the state a better place and assist your vision? If not, you are helping him.

Julia Asssange

No offense, Pat Dorfman, but I think you should write comedy! Nolan had an opportunity to stand up to Silver but did nothing but look the other way and/or connive with him. As for sexism, look at Silver, Nolan and their cabal. She does not have an “outside” job because, frankly, she has very few talents. And, by the way, a “statesman” does not promote the career of a do nothing politician who looked the other way.

John K. Wilson

Of course Heastie will be a terrible Speaker, Patricia; but, he’ll also be new–as will his coalition. This new coalition may fail pretty quickly. I certainly hope so. Several key Democrats–Silver, De Blasio, and Crowley–abandoned Nolan during her attempt to become Speaker; and, it’s a good bet that Nolan will seek revenge. It may well be that the most effective way to clean up Albany would be to pit the major players against one another. I don’t see the evidence that you do of “integrity” in Albany. I’m hoping that Preet Bharara exploits the desire of these selfish people to cover their own bums; and, gets them to testify against one another.
As for Cathy being “better” than any other potential Speaker, I don’t agree. She would have used the “Silver model” to conduct business as Speaker; and, that must end now. I also don’t want her embarrassingly toadie-like service to Shelly to be rewarded in any way.
As “JOReilly” points out elsewhere on this thread,

“Notable in the press coverage over the weekend and today on the cesspool known as Albany is the absence of any statement by Ms. Nolan commenting, opposing or observing on the “fast track” to elect Mr. Heastie as Speaker. Even at the time that most directly concerns Ms. Nolan, she lacks the back bone to stand up and insist, at a minimum, that the vote be open and not held until February 10th, as was promised by the Democrats just a few days ago. If Ms. Nolan is the instrument for change as she and her supporters have recently claimed, she should speak out now.”

Lastly, Patricia, the sexual harassment issue isn’t the only problem I have with Cathy’s potential rise to the Speakership; but, it is an issue that clearly reveals her hypocrisy. During her entire career, she has had only two constituencies: Sheldon Silver and whoever headed the UFT (currently Michael Mulgrew). I hope this hiccup leads to her fall from power. Her successor needn’t be me. I never had any illusions that I could win any of my contests with Nolan; but, I thought it necessary to oppose such a poster-child of Transactional Politics as she is–however difficult it might have been. I have a feeling that many may soon unite in opposition to her so that we may finally have someone to represent the people of our District–not Special Interests. I don’t think it likely; but, it is possible.

John K. Wilson

Does ANYONE believe that Nolan was unaware of Shelly’s many misdeeds over the decades long course of their symbiotic relationship? She protected him, she made excuses for him, and she “rubber stamped” anything he wanted. She defended Silver AFTER these current charges came to light–when it seemed Silver might, once more, weather the storm. She did this, for years, at the expense of actual representation in our District. While she was advocating for “Women in Government,” she protected Silver while he used public funds (our tax dollars!) to hush up charges of sexual abuse–which led to MORE young women being abused! You call that “integrity”? “Courage”?


Nolan is not very bright and is a yes woman whose supporters are having the vapors because people criticized big Cathy

Patricia Dorfman

i do applaud the stands here against sexual harassment; but men speaking out against the first woman in history to have a shot at that job because she was not strong enough on the issue, is not helpful in the long run. as spkr, she is more likely to make an impact for the good in that culture. when she gets the gig, we speak up and ask her to use her clout. surviving in an all-male rat pack previous to the last ten years is impressive. i don’t know many women who regard her as a traitor for women’s rights. i wish she would jettison scary silver, too, but i like the slower process; loyalty has merits. john k – you are a cool guy; keep the faith and help the world as you can.

Julia Asssange

“make an impact”. Yeah, I love the photo of her with the head of the UFT and her refusal to support a tax break for the kids of OUR NEIGHBORHOOD who used to go to parochial schools until they closed. She gets her marching orders from the UFT and from Planned Parenthood. The photo of her standing with Little Jimmy Van Bramer breaking ground for the new Planned Parenthood in Long Island City – partly funded by OUR TAX DOLLARS is a hoot! It is the most exercise she ever had. She supports late term abortion, by the way, “just in case”. I hope the Catholic Church excommunicates this reprobate and a few other Catholic in Name Only politicians.

Julia Asssange

The definition of insanity: doing the same dumb things and expecting a different result. Nolan as Speaker would be another Silver beholden to very, very special interests. And by the way, what was her job before she was elected????

John K. Wilson

I ran against Catherine Nolan for a seat in the NY State Assembly in 2010, 2012, and 2014. I made her relationship with Sheldon Silver a vital part of my campaign. She has been Silver’s chief lieutenant and sycophant for most of her 30+ year tenure in the Assembly. Last week, when it seemed Silver might yet survive politically, she spoke of her “high regard” for him. Now, she decries Shelly’s tenure as Speaker as one in which a “culture” existed where sexual harassment flourished. She wants to “return to high standards;” yet, when I questioned her on this very issue at a candidate’s forum (in Ridgewood, Queens) in 2012, she characterized my assertions of Silver’s burying sexual harassment charges–including using public funds to do so–as “baseless charges.” She can’t have it both ways. The fact is, for 20 years, she supported the man (Silver) who enabled sexual predators–all the while claiming to be in support of “Women in Government.”
In ignoring Sliver’s mis-deeds because of his political and financial largesse to her, this woman is either too closely associated with him to be Speaker; or, if she really didn’t know what he was up to, too stupid. Either way, she is unfit.

Salt Chunk Mary

Lots of complaining – no REAL suggestions for other candidates for the Speaker position. Kudos to Pat – at least she responds to these asinine comments with real suggestions for solutions. Not one of you offers any substantiated proof of corruption by Nolan. So she doesn’t like term limits, so what? A FORMER staff member ended up on the community board? – that proves nothing. The public can also serve on CBs. I’m rooting for our local rep. Her gain is our gain.

Patricia Dorfman

sorry! another pat epic:
i hear what you guys are saying; but start getting out there and start groups/blogs to make change, run for office or get on boards and be heard! of course, term limits would be best, but that means you have to step up and be the next team. everything we want done can be done faster with a grassroots effort.
start a terms limits or anti sexual harassment movement and we’ll join. like you, o’reilly, write an op ed piece which changed opinions. any communication using your name makes a difference. i get hate mail for being outspoken, but more awesome support from people i did not know.
admirable idealists i knew before they held office had unwavering convictions and righteous agendas. then in office, they found that if they did not vote for item A for colleague B, they would never get a vote for their legislation C. there is no other way as these assemblies are currently constructed to accomplish anything without the “orientation” they all seem to get. i imagine the culture in albany has not been survivable for a second for a dissident.
i asked walter mccaffrey a brilliant, funny man turned lobbyist and ex councilman how to stop the koch bridge renaming and he said, not gonna happen, i’m getting it passed! meaning that i assume there was some bloomberg/quinn pact to get that done, in spite of 73% of queens residents in opposition, which resulted in something else someone wanted done. the bridge fell to renaming so that X could get Y. on the upside, if the calculations pols have to make to survive turn out to be long term against the will of the people, they do not last. apparently, even silver overstepped! and why not indict the press, too? where were they all this time?
when pols don’t put photos of themselves all over, people say they do nothing. we the public becomes something to be managed rather than listened to as we are always complaining or fawning, or not understanding the horse trading world in which they operate in which no one can be trusted.
we have a pretty good bunch here compared with elected officials elsewhere and they are under more scrutiny than most. the whole queens political culture is something we can address, but few do; not even the press. and i agree that being female is not relevant in a meritocracy, but she will bring a valuable perspective to the table. btw, nolan is known for helping young female assemblywomen.
many of us do not always agree with our pols. but if we have a local person, of the people, very intelligent and generally considered to be unpretentious and interested in actual issues, generous with her own money and time, with no whiff of scandal in terms of taking money or bribes, who has run largely unopposed for 30 years, even at one point against the party machine candidate, up for a job for which no new or outside person is going to be considered, opposing and maligning that person makes no sense! who in the assembly do your support?
why not hope she wins, and tell her what is on your mind in terms of your wishes, hopes and dreams. we gotta be in it to win it!


I can conceive of no subject, legislative initiative, political horse trading, or other circumstance that would justify tolerance by silence of the culture (Ms. Nolan’s word) of sexual harassment fostered by Sheldon Silver and his colleagues. As a senior member of the Assembly who held leadership positions, who faced no opposition for election for years, who enjoys the strong support of the Queens Democrat party, who represents progressive communities, and who self identifies as an Assemblywoman, I believe that Ms. Nolan has a greater responsibility and is better positioned than most other Assembly members to make a public statement over the years decrying the culture she only now references in her bid for higher office. Using her gender and new found public desire to end the sexual harassment culture as reasons for election signifies a political blind spot akin to looking into Dante’s Inferno. She is among the worse if not the worse of some bad choices for the Speaker position.


If it’s “past time” to end the publicized “culture” of sexual harassment in the State Legislature, why has Ms. Nolan been been SILENT until this sudden opportunity on the repeated vile acts of sexual misconduct by members of the Assembly and Sheldon Silver’s staff? What kind of “integrity” is that? What kind of person identifies her gender as a reason she should be elected Speaker when she did nothing to effectively end degradation of women by male Assembly members and male staff?

el loco

Sorry Patty D. it ain’t happening. Nolan is not getting the job. Cathy Nolan Street will have to wait. She is another hack in the corrupt New York system. Enough with the Pat Dorfman’s and all their friends. Crowley, Nolan and the rest with their lifetime jobs.

Kramden's Delicious Marshall

Term limits!

Let’s see these career politicians earn a living in the real world.

Julia Asssange

Nolan is a farce. She has gone more and more over to the dark side. She does not represent the Woodside area. She opposes term limits, has never held an honest job, supports late term abortion and is a puppet of the UFT. Don’t listen to Pat Dorfman! She would be just another career politician who is out for herself.

some guy

Shut up about teachers. I’d like to see any of these idiots who blame teachers for all the ills of society try it for ONE DAY.

New Leadership

Integrity?! She sneaks her former staffers onto our community board! Shady much? One of them serves on the community board and the 108th precinct community council. She sways the decision making on the board in this community based on SHE thinks is good for the community without even considering ALL of its residents. AND she doesn’t support term limits! Never trust a politician who doesn’t fight for term limits. They’re the most self-serving people on earth.

Patricia Dorfman

holy smokes! this is great! she has the integrity, the brains and the experience. i wish her friend luke adams were here to see this!


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