Sheldon Silver should talk to @garyleff about racking up airline miles. No need to do this kind of nonsense
How would you like New York State taxpayers to fund your mileage runs?
The Speaker of the New York State Assembly needs to retain US Airways Chairmans Preferred status and takes circuitous routings between New York City and Albany.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver spent $20,219 in taxpayer money over the past three years jetting from New York City to Albany — but the top-flight pol turned easy 150-mile, one-hour jaunts into epic 500-mile, five-hour odysseys in a greedy quest to rack up frequent-flier miles, according to sources and expense records.
…“He brags about his ability to build up mileage,” said one Albany insider. “Taxpayers are footing the bill to allow Shelly to fly halfway around the world on a mileage program.”
This year alone, the Democratic kingmaker and bill slayer submitted 21 claims for reimbursement, with an average round trip costing $354…
…Silver on Friday refused to say whether he was still a member of the rewards club or how many miles he’s earned. If he were still an elite card holder, he would have earned an estimated 168,618 frequent-flier miles over the last three years. And if each sojourn was charged on his US Airways MasterCard, which records show he holds, he’d tack on an additional 40,438 miles.
The massive total translates into 205,834 frequent-flier miles — enough for a free trip around the world.
Indeed, 200,000 miles is the cost of an (economy) round the world award, but a savvier use would be two 90,000 mile roundtrip business class awards between the US and North Asia with a stopover in Europe — crossing the Atlantic in one direction and the Pacific in the other.
That said, the criticism in the piece stems from a comparison of the cost of flying to the cost of a train ticket or driving, and the piece notes that Speaker Silver has a taxpayer-funded 2011 Ford Taurus. Perhaps he should drive.
This year alone, the Democratic kingmaker and bill slayer submitted 21 claims for reimbursement, with an average round trip costing $354 — while his colleagues slummed it on $82 round-trip Amtrak trains or stuffed themselves into carpools that cost $210 for gas and tolls.
But if it’s not unreasonable for the Assembly Speaker to commute by air, then it’s not obvious to me that he’s overpaying for tickets. The only non-stop flight from the New York City area to Albany is on United from Newark. Instead, he flies from LaGuardia and connects. And he isn’t spending materially more to do so.
Here’s a calendar of lowest-price 2 day non-stop trips between New York and Albany, I have highlighted the Friday departures which would be Sunday returns.
Indeed, the piece reports that he typically leaves Manhattan on Sundays, and returns on Fridays.
He’s traveling when other legislators do and if he’s spending extra time in transit it’s likely he own time (although the piece suggests that the legislative calendar has been adjusted for his travel schedule, that strikes me as fairly standard for legislative schedules, they accommodate the head of the body).
The piece goes on to detail other gripes about the speaker, like netting money personally from his per diem by staying at cheap lodging rather than spending his full allowance on nicer hotel rooms.
In 2011, a Post reporter found Silver at the Red Carpet Inn on the outskrts of town, where drive-to-the-door rooms go for as low as $45 a night.
He now, apparently, avails himself of a government rate at the Albany Marriott.
Some readers criticize me for being too quick to come down against government agencies or politicians. And this one might reasonably come under criticism for “secretly paying sexual-harassment victims of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez” — but the complaints about his travel spending seem petty, not to be about violations of law, and based more on innuendo than legitimate criticism.
Bad analysis as it relates to the travel space will be called out on this blog for what it is. And the complaints about the New York Assembly Speaker’s choice of routing on his weekly commute certainly fall under that heading.