State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has kept a relatively low profile over the past several months, as Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno battled with Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who would go on to self-destruct in a highly public style. With Mayor Bloomberg's beloved congestion pricing plan past the City Council hurdle and with the support of our new Gov. Paterson, it now lays stalled in the Assembly, where whatever Silver says pretty much goes.
A profile in the Daily News describes Silver as secretive and powerful, who is generous to his Lower East Side constituents with state money while also tending to his allies in the Assembly, and with thick enough skin that he is essentially impervious to public criticism of his methods. Mayor Bloomberg has found himself at Silver's mercy before. The Assembly Speaker managed to squeeze $800 million in development money while negotiating another of the Mayor's pet projects--the West Side Stadium. Silver extracted his pound of flesh and spiked the stadium plan anyway.