Assembly Passes Mayoral Control, Senate Does Nothing
June 17th, 2009
I got a little misty eyed today standing in the Assembly chamber watching bills come to a vote in orderly fashion, listening to civil but vibrant debate. I’ll chalk it up to the long hours and the kicking-and-screaming, name-calling accusation storm that is now the New York Senate.
But seriously, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s school governance bill did pass in the Assembly today by a vote of 121-18. It’s just one of hundreds of pieces of legislation the Assembly has acted on whose fate is now uncertain because of the state of the Senate.
Silver’s bill largely preserves the current governance structure, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg favors. Those who voted against the bill are Democrats who want considerable more checks and balances in the system.
Their hopes rest on Sen. John Sampson, the new leader of the Senate Democrats. Sampson has made it clear he favors reforming the current school governance system to allow more public input. Sampson sponsored a bill in the Senate that some say would “gut” Bloomberg’s control of schools.
Republican Senators, on the other hand, are likely to support preserving control in its current form. Sen. Frank Padavan says he tried to introduce legislation regarding school governance this week but was told by Senate staff that their Democratic bosses wouldn’t allow it.
Obviously, the current mess in the Senate makes it unclear what influence Sampson, Padavan or any Senator will have over the legislation.
There are only two more session days left for the Senate, and power-sharing negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have yet to provide results.
Democrats want to revolve the position of leader and president daily and have a bipartisan team put together an active list of bills to consider. The agreement would last until Monday–the last scheduled day of session–unless it was agreed by both sides to extend session.
Republicans have proposed that Democrats simply accept that Republicans are in charge that Sen. Dean Skelos is Majority Leader and Sen. Pedro Espada is President Pro Tempore. Hell is more likely to freeze over than Democrats are to accept that offer. One Democrat said today that possession is 9/10ths of the law, and that it was on Republicans to get the Dems out of their majority office. Yes, folks, any tiny bit of cordiality that existed between Democrats and Republicans is now gone.
If nothing is agreed to by Monday, Gov. David Paterson could call a special session, during which a package of crucial legislation such as mayoral school control would be considered. But Paterson has said he will not call a special session, and if he did the leadership situation would still need to be sorted out. Republicans have recently been talking about the use of an arbirator. The bill that authorized Mayoral control expires on June 30.By David King on June 17, 2009, 7:12 pm
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