Yesterday, the New York state Senate broke out into chaos as 2 Democrats defected to join with Republicans to vote on a resolution that would give Republicans back the majority they lost in the 2008 elections. A resolution passed the Senate 32-30 yesterday that voted in a new leader. Democrats Pedro Espada, Jr. (Bronx) and Hiram Monserrate (Queens) were the 2 Democrats who broke ranks. The resolution installed Republican Dean Skelos (Long Island) as Majority Leader and Espada as President Pro Tempore.
Here’s a short video of some of what happened:
Also, here’s a short clip courtesy of NY1 News that shows a little bit more of what happened:
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith released the following statement: “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. 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.”
Senator Monserrate released the following statement: “I am a lifelong Democrat and remain a loyal Democrat. After today’s proceedings, I am proud to form a bi-partisan coalition that has elected the first Latino President pro Tem of the New York State Senate, my colleague, the Honorable Pedro Espada Jr. We look forward to conferencing with fellow Democrats to ensure that real reforms become a reality in the State of New York.”
Senator Skelos told reporters, “Quite frankly I think you’re going to see more and more of this throughout the country. As people make a determination that everything shouldn’t be as partisan as it has been in the past. And the only way you’re going to get good government is through open government and coalition type government.”
Governor David Patterson (D) also told reporters, “What happened to the integrity that we all believed we are advocating when we take our oath of office? Now every week just because the senate is close between the two major parties and someone doesn’t like what’s going on we change leadership, or are we really changing leadership, aren’t we changing power. This is despicable what happened here today.”
Senator Smith has said that the resolution was invalid because it occurred after the Senate had gaveled out. I haven’t been able to find a whole video clip yet, so I can’t give a full opinion on whether the vote was valid or not; however, if the Democrats gaveled out of session in a manner that broke the rules of the Senate, in order to avoid making the resolution valid, the resolution would most likely be ruled legal. I’m willing to bet that if this goes to court, the Republicans will win the legal battle, but again, I can’t say anything for sure until I see a full video of what happened.
One thing’s for sure – the New York Senate is inching it’s way closer to overtaking the Detroit City Council’s “Craziest Legislative Body” status.