NY state legislature outdoes even itself, Senate flips back to Republicans

by on June 8, 2009  •  In Uncategorized

You know that update on the NY state legislative session that I posted this morning, that's one down the blog's main page from this one — well, as the late great Gilda Radner would say, never mind. And if you thought I was exaggerating in my description about how dysfunctional the NY legislature is, boy were you wrong.

Republicans in the State Senate staged a bloodless coup this afternoon, and took back majority control. Exactly what it will mean for the marriage bill that the Dems lost control of the Senate I can't say, except that it can't be good. But then, who knows — maybe these clowns will flip back tomorrow. To quote the apparently deposed majority leader: I'm still trying to figure it out.

Republicans regained control of the New York State Senate on Monday afternoon, winning support from two dissident Democrats in a surprise power-sharing deal. The sudden coup effectively ended Democratic control of Albany after five months and allowed Dean G. Skelos of Long Island to reclaim the title of majority leader, replacing Malcolm A. Smith of Queens.

The shakeup also left Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat, as president of the Senate. He becomes the highest ranking Latino in the state’s history, but will have to share power with Mr. Skelos.

Concern over a failure to adopt new Senate rules, coupled with anger over a tax increase included in the recently passed state budget deal, was said to have led to the switch.

The two Democratic defectors said they remained Democrats, and even after the vote, Mr. Smith was not conceding defeat. “This was an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic majority,” according to a statement from Senator Smith’s office. “Nothing has changed; Senator Malcolm A. Smith remains the duly elected temporary president and majority leader.”

Democrats — who regained control in January after more than four decades of Republican rule — were caught off guard by the insurrection. As the events were unfolding on the floor, Senator Smith, huddled in the hall just off the Senate chamber and consulted with his staff. When asked what was occurring, he responded, “I’m trying to find out right now.”

The change of power upends the legislative debate in Albany and changes the landscape on any number of issues, from mayoral control of New York City’s schools to gay marriage.

The raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Mr. Espada and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a series of parliamentary maneuvers. Democrats tried to stall, storming from the chamber and even turning off the lights, but Republicans continued the session and elected new leadership….

Mr. Monserrate was indicted in March on charges that he stabbed his companion late last year with a drinking glass, leaving a gash that required 20 stitches to close.

Source: NY Times


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