GOP Retakes State Senate In Surprise Move
Skelos Resumes Role As Majority Leader
Let no one say its not business as unusual in Albany, as the fate of New York State's legislative agenda -- at least in terms of the State Senate -- now lies in Republican hands once again.
Talk about a palace coup while the Majority Leader (or is it former Majority Leader?) was out of the Senate chambers.
Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), assuming the role he held prior to the election of last November, when the people (remember them?), in a duly sanctioned general election (the recognized manner in which power changes hands in this country, or so we thought), wrestled the Senate away from the GOP (which had held the reins for decades), called the restoration of Republican rule, "reform."
"What this is about is reform - opening up the process to the members and the public," Skelos said Monday afternoon. "This is a coalition. We're working together."
Odd how the GOP couldn't form a coalition, or work together with the Democrats, on any issue, when they were in the minority, or institute reform, of any kind, when they held the majority for nearly forty years.
Nothwithstanding the fact that having Dean Skelos in charge of the State Senate (on his website, he never stopped being Majority Leader) may bode well for Long Island, and that his leadership is a welcome relief from that of the now-deposed (or so it would appear) Malcom Smith, whose tenure was listless and lackluster, at best, we call this political uprising what it is, a coup that stands democracy on its head!
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Too bad the State Senate can't move legislation that would improve the lives and livelihoods of New Yorkers with the same deliberate speed and determination with which they so suddenly and swiftly changed the political landscape in Albany.
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Check out Newsday's Spin Cycle for the latest hoopla.
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From The Associated Press:
Republicans regain control of State Senate
Steve Flamisch and The Associated Press
Two Democrats jumped the aisle on Monday, voting to return control of the New York State Senate to Republicans.
Democrats Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens -- two of the original "Gang of Four" dissidents -- gave the GOP the 32 votes it required to achieve the bombshell change of leadership.
Within an hour of the overthrow, Republicans named Espada temporary president of the Senate and voted Dean Skelos vice president and majority leader, the Associated Press reports.
Those are the most powerful positions in the chamber. With them, the bipartisan coalition can direct legislation and reassign committee and leadership posts.
Following the vote, Democrats tried to leave the chamber -- even briefly turning off the lights.
They are expected to challenge Monday's action in court.
"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," Austan Shafran, press secretary to now former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, said in a statement. "Nothing has changed. Senator Malcolm A. Smith remains the duly elected temporary president and majority leader. The real senate majority is anxious to get back to governing, and will take immediate steps to get us back to work."
Rochester businessman Tom Golisano, who founded the political action committee that gave thousands of dollars to Senate Democrats last year in hopes they would take control, reportedly helped broker the deal to restore the GOP to power. He felt betrayed by Smith's failure to deliver a promised overhaul of Senate rules, the New York Times reports.
Skelos, who supplanted the retired Joe Bruno, served as majority leader for several months in 2008. Then, Democrats picked-up several longtime Republican seats in the November election, paving the way for Smith -- a Queens Democrat -- to serve as majority leader.
Smith was in New York City with Governor David Paterson on Monday when the surprise change occurred.