Deals Done in the Dark
March 14th, 2012
If Albany has changed under Gov. Andrew Cuomo the Senate Democrats haven’t noticed. Debate on the legislation that determines district lines and is supposed to guarantee voter enfranchisement began around 10 p.m. on Wednesday night. Sen. Michael Gianaris, an outspoken critic of LATFOR’s lines and the proposed Constitutional Amendment that will change the redistricting process 10 years from now, pointed out that debate on the important issue began in typical Albany fashion– late at night and after a rush of last-minute deals.
Even the most† novice Albany observer knows that legislative leaders tend to come to agreements, brief their conferences quickly and then get the legislators into conference to vote on the deals before support erodes or public opinion solidifies against the legislation.
Gianaris also pointed out that this trend has not changed under Cuomo–the Governor some say has done away with Albany dysfunction. Gianaris further noted that the late-night push on redistricting, legalizing casino gambling, a DNA database, and teacher evaluations came during Sunshine Week–a week set aside to honor transparency in government.
After debating Sen. Michael Nozzolio about the lines and having a testy exchange where Gianaris asked, “Have you no shame?” Nozzolio seemingly joked that Gianaris probably liked the lines that were up for a vote better than LATFOR’s original lines that combined his district with a fellow Democrat. Finally in exasperation Gianaris told Nozzolio that in his mind the lines were equally bad and told Nozzolio he could take them both and, “Shove it!”
Republicans attempted to close debate at 11:36 p.m. Sen. Daniel Squadron objected saying that 2 hours had not passed and debate should continue. Republicans ruled his point was out of order. Squadron appealed to the chair. Sen. Sampson rose and talked about respect and decorum. He mentioned that redistricting happens only 10 years and appealed for more time to debate the legislation. “Where’s the respect and where’s the decorum?” asked Sampson.By David King on March 14, 2012, 11:38 pm
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