1/22: Sheldon Silver Arrest, NYC Municipal IDs, MacArthur Genius

January 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm

The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly – Democrat Sheldon Silver – was arrested by the FBI early Thursday morning on federal corruption charges alleging that he used the power of his office to solicit millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks for more than a decade. Silver’s attorneys called the allegations “meritless.” After being released on $200,000 bond, Silver gave a brief statement outside a federal court Thursday afternoon and said, “I am confident that when all the issues are aired I will be vindicated.”

MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman talks to former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School, about the case and her reaction to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s announcement of the arrest. Rodgers explains the charges against Silver and offers insight about whether Silver’s arrest may signal more corruption investigations in Albany and what could help prevent similar cases in the future.

This month New York City launched its new municipal ID card, which will not only act as a form of identification but will also provide free access to many of the city’s arts and cultural institutions. Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, joins MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman to discuss the cultural benefits of the municipal ID card and making arts and culture more accessible to all New Yorkers.

Contributing reporter Jenna Flanagan talks to 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant winner Ai-jen Poo, who was recognized for her ongoing efforts to secure equal rights for domestic workers through her organization the National Domestic Workers Alliance.