Heastie, New Assembly Speaker, Meets Press
New York has a new state Assembly Speaker for the first time in 21 years. Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie took control of the chamber Tuesday, succeeding fellow Democrat Sheldon Silver, now facing federal corruption charges, and met with reporters soon thereafter. Here are some of his quotes.
"First let me thank you all for being here. First I want to thank all of my incredible colleges for their support and their deep respect for this institution. Today is truly a historic day. But make no mistake today we begin a new chapter for the New York State Assembly. We can and must reform our chamber, and usher in the change that the Assembly needs and the voters deserve. We have a lot of work up ahead of us, and not a lot of time. I look forward to working with all my colleges to build consensus, and deliver the results that all New Yorkers deserve. Today we begin the work anew, and I cannot wait to get started. Thank you all for being here, and thank you to my friends, and my family, and my colleges. Now is the time to get to work."
"Well, in my prior life, remember, I was the sponsor of that piece of legislation, as the Chair of Labor. I think that’s a subject that we’re going to look at. We understand the income inequality issue in the city of New York. And that’s a great discussion we will have with the rest of the conference."
"I think the conference agrees that ethics reform should be part of the discussion, that’s many things we’ve been talking about. So I don’t see his issue of wanting to discuss the issue of ethics being a problem for us going forward."
"...I’m a budget analyst by trade. And I’m going to depend on the support of the of the people behind me to equal out… for however much shorter you think I am than Governor Cuomo, I’ll stand on their shoulders.
"I think last night I was getting a lot of messages on Facebook, from a lot of my friends, and I think that was at the point that I really took in the moment. And today, when you heard my speech, and I mentioned Dr. King, I did get a little emotional, because I think at that point it really hit me. But to me really the most important thing was the absolute and significant support of my colleges, which I think is the most important emotion that I felt today. But it is a historic day, it breaks the glass ceiling for people in this state. And to me it lets the young people know that anything is possible."
"I think the “three-men-in-a-room” was a little overstated. This conference has always given its leader the ability to go with the messages that the conference has given, so I think that’s a little overstated. And secondly, the process is really up to 106 members. And when 106 members can’t come to consensus, that should be enough for us to move forward."
"Yes, I’ve always been a consensus builder. From when I was the County Chair in the Bronx, I like to hear other, different opinions."
"Well, many of the reforms that we’ve discussed… one of the things I’m going to do, we’re going to have an office of Ethics and Compliance, to be able to be helpful and be informational to the members so we don’t have to go through one of these situations again. Having the members to be more included, and looking at the outside income…all of the things that the public questions, and worries about, we want to take a good look at them, to give the public more trust."
"We have to remember this is a representative democracy, and sometimes I think the members of the press forget that. The 106 members of this conference were elected to do just what we’ve done. The voting is supposed to be public, but conference discussion should stay within the conference."
"Because it’s a representative democracy, and the members of the conference, we had a conference, we came to a consensus, and then we came and voted publicly."
"...I’ve never been one, in any kind of leadership position, I’ve never been one to want to walk alone, and I feel like I’m going to be walking with all of the members of the conference."
"Well, we talked about beefing up the steering committee process, which will vet a lot of the bills to discuss before the larger conference. I think this is a unique opportunity with this situation, where a lot of the committee chairs will be able to help take the lead in the budget negotiations on the committee."
"The conference is reviewing the governor’s budget now. We have presentations being given to us. And when we start to get the sense of where the conference is on some of the issues, I don’t see me being at a disadvantage if I’m going down there with the will of the conference."
"If we have the will of the conference, I don’t feel like I’m at a disadvantage, because I have the will of the conference."
"I’m not a big fan of term limits. I think voters and the people and the members should decide who their leaders are. But it’s something that we will discuss, as I promised members of this institution."
"I speak to the governor quite often. Before, and we’ve had a couple of conversations since then. No, not about the budget. I spoke to him yesterday and he just wanted to check in and see how I was doing. It was more a discussion I would like to leave between he and I at this point."
"Well, I think the personality of me and many of my colleagues that know who I am, know that I’m a listener, and that I like to build consensus."
"It’s always been the position of this house to support public financing, I voted for it. But we also have to remember that these past elections, we had the existence of independent expenditures that really outspent the candidates that were running. So I think that if we’re going to have a discussion on public financing, that has to be coupled with looking at how these independent expenditures can really hijack elections."
"I’ve already engaged in conversations with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and at some point I believe the staffs will get together to try to come up with a system that will give people more confidence that when a legislator says that he’s here, you will be able to know that the legislator was here."
On teacher evaluations:
"(Teacher evaluations) are probably going to be one of the tougher areas in the discussion of the budget, but again, I don’t want to get out ahead of myself, because we haven’t really discussed it yet in conference.
"It wasn’t about Mr. Silver today, it was about moving this institution forward."
"...I want to get to know the upstate districts a little better, and what better way to do that than to go with them and hang out in their districts."