ALBANY –- In a town well known for its history of all-powerful legislative staffers, the Assembly finds itself losing one of its most influential staff members.
Dean Fuleihan, who has worked his way up to the top Assembly staff post after 33 years on the job, announced today he is leaving at the end of the month. Besides being Speaker Sheldon Silver’s most trusted adviser and an expert on fiscal and economic matters with a keen insight into Albany’s institutional history, Fuleihan is the Democrats’ chief negotiator on fiscal matters and a whole range of policy issues the houses take up each year.
“It’s really like I am losing my right arm at this point,’’ Sheldon Silver said after telling lawmakers of Fuleihan’s departure during a closed-door meeting this afternoon. Fuleihan said he has been looking to leave for several years, but stayed on to negotiate on behalf of Assembly Democrats during several years in a row of tough state budgets.
The departure of Silver’s top adviser –- the front person in talks for Silver with several gubernatorial administrations –- set off a mad dash of speculation in the Assembly. Chief among the questions: Is this some sign of Silver, who has been the Assembly leader since 1994, leaving the 150-member chamber as well?
Silver quickly sought to halt the talk. “I have no place to go, nobody to see, so I intend to be here awhile,’’ he said, adding, “I’m not going anyplace.’’
Splitting Fuleihan's job will be two people: Lou Ann Ciccone, as the new secretary for program and counsel, and Matt Howard, as secretary to the Ways and Means Committee.
-- Tom Precious