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James M.E. O'Grady

James M.E. O’Grady

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle is reportedly angling to succeed Sheldon Silver as Speaker, despite publicly declaring his support for his “friend.”

It’s been more than a century since the assembly had a Speaker from Rochester. Only one Rochesterian has served in that powerful role: James M.E. O’Grady.

O’Grady was born in Rochester in 1863. He attended the Rochester Free Academy, the city’s first public high school, and the University of Rochester. He became a lawyer, serving on the school board from 1887 to 1892. A Republican, he joined the Assembly in 1893 and became Speaker in 1897.

On November 16, 1894, the New York Times reported on the jockeying for the Speaker position:

Mr. O’Grady says he is not depending on anybody’s influence or dictation to get the position, but is after it on his own responsibility and by his own efforts. He evidently is working principally on the claim of this district for recognition, as Tuesday at Buffalo, in expressing himself as hopeful of getting the solid vote of Western New-York, he said:

“Erie County has Comptroller Roberts and Judge Haight; Syracuse has the Attorney General; Utica has the State Engineer, and Albany the Secretary of State, while Rochester has been left out in the cold.”

O’Grady served as Speaker for two years. He was then elected to Congress, serving from 1899 to 1901. He didn’t get nominated for a second term because of a falling out with the local political boss, George Aldridge. O’Grady returned to Rochester to practice law.

O’Grady died in 1928 at Genesee Hospital. he is buried at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery.


New York Times, November 4, 1928

New York Times, November 4, 1928


Sheldon Silver Fallout Roundup:


– Sheldon Silver will temporarily relinquish his duties as Speaker.

– Assembly Republicans plan to force their Democratic colleagues to vote on Silver’s ouster. That could come back to haunt Silver’s supporters at election time.

– The Assembly killed a state law barring exactly the type of bad deeds Silver is accused of.

– David Koon: “I couldn’t get a pay raise for my people or an extra phone or an extra computer or anything without” Silver’s stamp.


Links of the Day:


– Experts say New York schools are not in crisis, as the governor suggests.

– “Educators and parent advocates I’ve heard from since then can’t believe (Cuomo) is so out of touch.”

– There’s an oversupply of teacher candidates, creating a tough job market.

– The Rochester City School District boots volunteers and makes them jump through hoops.

– Here’s reason Western New York gas prices are higher. (It kills me people are complaining cheap gas is not cheap enough.)

– Buffalo area state lawmakers want to kill Wilmot’s planned casino.

– University of Rochester researchers say pregnant women can eat fish.

Car, go park yourself.

6 Responses to The Last Rochester Speaker

  1. January 25, 2015 at 10:30 pm Andrew Zibuck responds:

    Why does it kill you that people complain that cheap gas is not cheap enough? I traveled today and gas was 2.49/gallon in my in-laws’ (small) town. At a town that we drove through to get there, it was $2.25. That’s just shy of a 10% difference. In the short term, not a big deal but over the course of a few weeks/months or a year, and it could be significant depending on your commute and/or lifestyle. For another thing, gas prices shoot up and ease down. Like the linked article, that doesn’t pass the smell test.

  2. January 25, 2015 at 11:23 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    The Governor is a big promoter of charter schools. So he is trying to make public school teachers look bad so as to usher in his Charter School Patrons. He should be joining his BFF Sheldon Silver in the custody of the FBI.

  3. January 26, 2015 at 5:59 am rochester_veteran responds:

    “I’m continuing to support the speaker,” Morelle said. “We have every confidence that the speaker is going to continue to fulfill his role with distinction.”

    I hope Morelle’s constituents remember his undying support of the crook, Sheldon Silver, during the next election!

  4. How high could this all go? http://nypost.com/2015/01/26/cuomo-on-edge-as-federal-corruption-probe-continues/

    Obviously, after seeing what happened to Koon and people who were against Silver, politicians and reporters are not saying as much as they ordinarilly would.

    • January 26, 2015 at 8:40 am rochester_veteran responds:

      Why in the world did Cuomo dissolve the Moreland Commission in the first place? To protect his buddy, Sheldon Silver or was the Commission getting too close to Cuomo’s malfeasance? Would love to see Cuomo perp-walked as well!

  5. My thoughts….as reported, NOTHING gets done without Sheldon Silvers approval. The underlying question should be why and how did Joe Morelle get to be Deputy? It would not surprise me to see Joe Morelle under investigation himself sometime soon. People like Sheldon Silver are only able to stay in power by surrounding themselves by like-minded and similar character type people. Anyone with integrity would make it very uncomfortable for the Speaker to interact with and share his thoughts and plans. Doesn’t this make sense?

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