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Assemblyman Vito Lopez resigns

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 5/23/2013, 3:40 p.m.
In the wake of Vito Lopez's resignation from the Assembly, on Monday, Speaker Sheldon Silver...
Assemblyman Vito Lopez resigns

In the wake of Vito Lopez's resignation from the Assembly, on Monday, Speaker Sheldon Silver announced a series of reforms to prevent any future errors of judgment when it comes to the handling of sexual harassment complaints.

Lopez, 71, a once-powerful pol in Brooklyn, submitted his letter to Silver on May 18, stating, "I hereby resign the public office of a member of Assembly from the 53rd Assembly District, Kings County, effective 9:00 a.m., Monday, May 18, 2013."

Silver, who had been under pressure for his neglect in the case and for arranging a confidential settlement with staffers, acted immediately upon submission of the resignation.

"The actions I am announcing today are designed to make sure going forward this never happens again," said Silver. "The mistakes we made were ones of judgment and not borne out of any desire to shield Vito Lopez. What is clear is that we all have a responsibility to make sure we create a safe and respectful workplace. Requiring mandatory reporting is a significant step in realizing this goal."

Now, with the new policy, there will no longer be a case-by-case consideration of incidents by legislators, but "clear and mandatory pathways to handle any sexual harassment complaints that arise in the future," the press release from Silver's office stated.

Back in August, when Lopez said he would not seek re-election to the Assembly, Assembly Member Karim Camara was being touted to take his place as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, but Lopez has done all he can to hold that position for one of his cronies.

While Lopez was cleared of criminal charges, a nearly 70-page report disclosed detailed accounts of his misbehavior.

According to several sources, Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to leave Lopez's seat vacant until a primary election in September. This will possibly block Lopez from using his power and influence to determine his successor.

Meanwhile, it is still uncertain if Lopez will seek a council seat in the next election. Despite the setback, there remains a sizable number of constituents who would back him as they did in the last election after the reports of his abusing staff members surfaced.

The policies proposed by Silver will be effective immediately, and they will be voted on as soon as possible.