In the pre-dawn dark yesterday, New York's biggest snake slithered into the offices of the FBI. He came out handcuffed.
In the back seat.
Two hundred thousand dollars bail later, he was in front of a microphone proclaiming his innocence, and going on like nothing had happened.
In between, 35 pages of damnation issued forth from the office of the United States attorney. They told the tale of 12 years and $6 million and used words like "bribery" and "extortion."
Apparently, Shelly has been a bad boy.
On top of being a prick.
For 20 years, Sheldon Silver has been the tyrant in chief in Albany. The most powerful man in New York for almost a generation, he sneered at governors and detested the common man, and used the state and its government like his own personal fiefdom.
And now he is getting his.
It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
Hopefully, he is the first of many.
And maybe the next will be his special friend, the governor. Strangely absent on the day the speaker met Mr. Handcuffs, the governor has a curious connection to Shelly's alleged criminality.
A couple of years ago, the governor empaneled the Moreland Commission, to look into corruption in state government. Some several months after that, a magical political deal was born in Albany that shut the commission down cold. With the flip of a switch, it was out of the crook-finding business.
Because of a deal between Sheldon Silver and Andrew Cuomo.
This turn of events was troubling to the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.
So he seized the records of the commission and interviewed its investigators and staff.
And found the threads which led him to the massive amounts of money Sheldon Silver was cramming into his pockets every year.
That got Shelly the ride in the back of the cop car.
And it puts Andy Cuomo in the hot seat.
Let me express that algebraically.
Silver + (Moreland + Cuomo) = Governor Hochul.
With Hochul, of course, being the current lieutenant governor, a position known to be one indictment away from the governor's mansion.
I might be getting ahead of myself, but Hochul would be the first governor from Buffalo since Millard Fillmore.
Millard Fillmore, of course, never actually was governor, just comptroller, but the people of Buffalo are proud of him nonetheless.
Anyway, as it stands now, Governor Cuomo unilaterally and arbitrarily shut down an investigation that was nipping at the heels of New York's newest accused felon. An accused felon who's alleged criminal conduct happened all through Andrew Cuomo's term as attorney general. Kind of a blemish being the state's top law enforcement official and not even looking into a scheme working our right in front of your eyes.
I think that is frowned upon.
Sadly, Andrew Cuomo couldn't comment on it yesterday because he was nowhere to be found.
Which is an interesting abdication of leadership. I mean, when you're the governor of the state, and this uncertain situation has arisen, threatening the stability of the looming legislative session and all that it portends, seems like you might want to say something.
Maybe offer some encouraging words. Maybe say how everything is going to be OK and your legislative agenda is still on track. You might even want to weigh in on the subject of people whoring out their office for millions of dollars.
Andy is laying low.
Maybe he is just exercising his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not incriminate himself.
Because I imagine anybody in Albany who's dirty must be crapping bricks right about now.
You've got to figure that the Justice Department is going to tell Silver that he's going to prison for life.
Unless he rolls over on everybody.
And Sheldon Silver, Albany's deal master since before the OJ trial, will take that offer.
If you're dirty, and Sheldon Silver knows about it, you can expect that an FBI stenographer is about to learn how to spell your name. That might explain why some 30 blanched Assembly Democrats gathered for the TV cameras yesterday to profess their undying love for Sheldon Silver. To hear them tell it, facing a possible hundred years in the federal penitentiary only makes his virtues more apparent.
They, like New York City Mayor Sandinista DiBlasio – who movingly praised Silver's integrity – earnestly intoned that in America, people are innocent until proven guilty.
Unless you're a cop.
And then, you're guilty even after you're proven innocent, if I understand DiBlasio's take on the death of Eric Garner correctly. Speaking of which, to hear DiBlasio defending a guy on the hook for five federal felonies, I can see why the cops turn their backs on him all the time.
But I digress.
The incredible thing is that we sat down to dinner last night and Sheldon Silver was still the speaker of the Assembly. To hear his Democrat flunkies tell it – the best they can, with their lips sealed to his arse – he is going to be speaker and life is going to go on like normal.
It's Alice in Wonderland without that stoned hatter guy and the smiling cat.
A man is, according to federal officials, caught red handed with his hand in the cookie jar up to his elbows. A massive, multimillion dollar crime and everybody is going to pretend like nothing happened.
Well, that's not acceptable.
Somewhere behind closed doors right now, some Democrat better be growing the stones to stand up and say Silver has to go. Maybe the Assembly's upstate Democrats should partner with the body's Republicans to pick a new speaker. Maybe the main body of the Democrats ought to catch on to how guilty they look defending this guy, and make a switch.
Whatever happens, it needs to happen by Monday.
Because that's when the Assembly reconvenes. That's when somebody will gavel it to order.
And that somebody better not be Sheldon Silver.
It's time for him to go.
And time for a bunch of his colleagues to end up handcuffed in the back seat of a cop car.
Including, maybe, the governor.