Silver Gives Gantt Two More Years Atop Transpo Committee

silver_gantt.jpgSheldon Silver and David Gantt
On Thursday, Sheldon Silver re-appointed Rochester's David Gantt to chair the Assembly Transportation Committee (Excel spreadsheet via Daily Politics). Gantt is the chairman who engineered the defeat of bus lane enforcement cameras last June, when six co-sponsors of the bill wound up voting against it in his committee. With the city's bus rapid transit plans relying on bus-mounted cameras to help keep BRT lanes free of auto traffic, the committee vote dealt a big setback to New York City bus riders.

Gantt is also responsible for holding back automated enforcement measures like red light cams and speeding cams, which would save lives and deter the reckless driving that prompted Silver to call for zero tolerance traffic enforcement a mere two weeks ago.

After the bus cam vote, the Times editorial page exhorted Silver to remove Gantt from the chairmanship, citing his years of "micromanaging New York City's traffic from afar and for bewildering reasons." Gantt's standard anti-enforcement rationale -- privacy concerns -- was even more perplexing given that the bus cam bill had garnered the blessing of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Nevertheless, Silver just re-upped for two more years of Gantt at the helm of the transportation committee.

We asked the speaker's office why Silver made that call. We're waiting for a response, but a spokesman said the speaker does not usually comment on committee appointments.

So what does an Assembly member have to do to lose a committee chairmanship (and the hefty salary perk that goes with it)? Get caught asking for $500,000 in kickbacks from undercover federal agents. After Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio was nabbed soliciting cash in exchange for favors in Albany, Shelly declined to re-appoint him. Making life more difficult for New York City bus riders, unfortunately, doesn't rate.