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NY State Senate: Party switching and accountability

Party Switching and Accountability

The Democrats seem to be so stubborn on the coup. Yes, they are avoiding convening as a full body and that seems assertive. But, here and there Democratic leaders keep giving up arguing points and retreating from battles where they could and should push forward.

Some of it is perverse strategy, and has allowed them to gain some ground. [Ie: handling Monserrate (D) with kid gloves, though he did not deserve it.] But, I think what they have won — including Monserrate’s vote —  is only ground they could have had and then some if they just got tough, assertive and logical.

No one should be allowed to call this thing 31-31. It is not! There are not, in anyone’s calculation or imagination, 31 Republicans in the NY State Senate who are forming some kind of equal force against the Democrats in the adding up of who is the majority.


First of all, for the Democrats to even let him be on the Republican team, and count towards them having “the majority”, should demand that he go to his local Board of Elections and switch his registration.

And, even if Espada had put in that change this week, or does it next week, he still WILL NOT BE A REPUBLICAN until the rollover – I think it is after the next primary. In New York, people may not party-switch at whim. When you fill out the form to go from one party to the next, there is a waiting period.

So, the Democrats should assert, “We are the team in the State Senate who has a ‘majority’ and all the rules regarding the majority apply to us.” That means all the staffing, the budgeting, the presiding.

To the extent that the Republicans tried to put Espada as President Pro Tem of the NY State Seante saying that he is a “Democrat” so technically the majority party holds the post, the Democrats should put Espada in the situation where he is not a Democrat. Force the count. And/or start disloyalty-to-the party proceedings against Espada and get him off the Democrat roles. NY State Law has a provision for disloyalty-to-the-party proceedings.

Democratic electeds are such big, fat losers. (Think of all the Democratic candidates who won for U.S. President, but didn’t prevail or even push the recount.) But, in this case, the Democratic leaders are truly losing for the people. The Democratic leadership does not have the right to give up, play like whimps, and be losers. The people of the State of New York voted in a majority of Democrats to the NY State Senate. It was the people’s collective will that the Democrats overtake the position the Republicans held all those years.

Governor Paterson is also being a very bad Democrat. It is clear that the Democrats should have the majority, and they do by most stretches of the imagination. But, the Democrats messed up on a procedural issue on the floor with the sudden coup. One way to fix the situation is for the Democrats to just wait things out, until what happened can be studied more, and until Espada gets “taken out” of the count by finishing up his indictments. It is a good strategy for the Democrats to bide time. But, Governor Paterson keeps pretending to be “neutral”, and putting forward threat after threat and proposal after proposal that pushes the Democrats back into the chamber, when the situation still looks to favor the Republicans.

Also, the Governor should have used his bully pulpit to lambast the Republicans and what they did. As some will recall, Paterson was friendly with former Republican State Senator Bruno, and I think it is showing that Paterson is not passionate about Democratic politics or supporting his team. In fact, the Republican coup happened late in the day on Monday, June 8th. Earlier that day, an Albany political blog reported that Paterson and Bruno had met and discussed working together on the issues of same-sex marriage. Someone needs to do a loyalty check on Governor Paterson. And, also, consider if, with being so down in the polls with the Democratic primary, Paterson may not possibly be considering lining up the Republican line.

For the future: Creating another elected position in State Senate/Assembly

Besides all the other proposals being put forward — a constitutional convention, a unicameral legislature, etc. —  perhaps the leadership positions in the State Senate and Assembly should be voted on by the people of NY. In reflecting on the reasoning when the Governor was considering the solution of appointing a judge to preside over the legislature: Perhaps there should be a statewide election by voters for a Chair of the State Senate and Chair of the Assembly, so that a coup like this cannot happen independent of any will or input from voters.

I would daresay that there are not a lot of regular New Yorkers who want Pedro Espada to be President Pro Tem of the NY State Senate right now. But, the way the rules and the gentlemen’s club in Albany is set up, we can only stand by and watch our representatives represent themselves, and take any power we gave them and lose it to compromise and incompetence.

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