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The More Things Change...
July 9th, 2009

There was a regular session held tonight that featured Republicans and Democrats. Thirty-two Democrats voted on a resolution to split the leadership of the Senate and allow the president pro tem to choose the majority leader. The measure passed, and Sen. Malcolm Smith, acting as president pro tem, named Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. majority leader.

Smith and Espada touted the fact that Espada is now the first Latino majority leader in the state’s history. Smith became the first African American to hold the post when he took the position earlier this year.

Just as Sen. Liz Krueger had stated earlier, she and her colleagues did not have to vote directly for Espada as majority leader. That probably made things a lot easier for a number of senators whose stomachs and consciences are equally churned up over Espada’s return to the fold. Of course their vote did result in Espada ascending to the majority leader position.

But Espada did not get the satisfaction of having his actions on June 8 recognized by his Democratic colleagues.

Instead, Smith moved forward as though it never happened. Espada, during his remarks to the chamber, brought up the coup he and Sen. Hiram Monserrate helped orchestrate by voting for Sen. Dean Skelos as majority leader and Espada as president pro tem. But officially, at least according to the Democratic leadership, that vote never took place.

So now that leadership issues are settled its back to work, right? Wrong.

Eleven bills on the non-controversial calendar were passed. But when a supplemental list of bills came under consideration, Republicans, evidently in protest, began demanding the bills be laid aside. The problem, it seems, is that Democrats are not ready to institute the reforms that Republicans put in place on June 8. Espada has been promising all day that the Democrats will eventually institute those reforms, even including such a promise in a letter he sent to Republicans to tell them of his return to the Democrats.

“I assure you that I have the unequivocal and absolute support of the entire Democratic Conference for these reforms, which will be announced during the course of the next sixty days,” Espada wrote to Republicans. Sen. John Sampson said at a press conference earlier today that his conference wanted up to 60 days to review the reforms. Apparently Republicans don’t want to wait that long.

Remember, now, Democrats are acting as though June 8 and the rules changes that were made that day never happened. Republicans want it to be easier for rank and file members to put forward legislation, to equalize the distribution of member items and more fairly distribute office resources and staffing. Those, of course, are things Republicans were not at all interested in during the decades they spent in the majority.

Democrats also reportedly wanted to move on the member item distribution bill that they were going to act on on June 8, the day of the coup. According to Sen. Dean Skelos, the Democrats haven’t learned any lessons.

The Senate is standing at ease again…

By on July 9, 2009, 10:25 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on The More Things Change...

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