This is a follow-up story about a story that I wrote about last week. Last week, the New York State Senate Republicans took over the New York Senate by voting in a new leader. The problem is, the Democrats didn’t like that and as the Republicans were voting in the new leader, they motioned to adjourn. Well, there’s debate whether or not that vote was legal.
After reviewing the following video (not the best, since it’s not 100% complete, but it’s the best I could find), I still think that the Republicans are in the right here:
Now – here’s why I think the Republicans are in the right: the Republican (I believe it was Minority Leader Dean Skelos [R]) never yields the floor. If the President gave Skelos the floor, he would have to yield it in order for somebody to make the motion to adjourn, and he never yielded the floor.
Well, yesterday, Senator Hiram Monserrate (D), one of the Democrats who switched to vote with the Republicans, switched back, making the partisan make-up 31-31. Monserrate switched back because the Democratic caucus had elected Senator John Sampson as their “caucus leader,” while leaving Malcom Smith in his position as Majority Leader (in their eyes, even though in my view, they now legitimately have lost the majority). Monserrate was unhappy with the way Smith had been leading and thought that Sampson would unify Democrats.
After that, Smith told reporters, “Clearly, after what happened last week, we have to make some adjustments in how we operate. can look at John Sampson as C.E.O.”
Monserrate said of his “good friend John Sampson”: “I also want to send a message to the voters in my district, and the borough of Queens and downstate, in the neighborhoods that I grew up in throughout the city. The voters in my district sent this ex-Marine, this ex-beat cop, to come up here and shake things up, and I’m not walking away from that.”
Of his vote last week, Monserrate said, “I took a vote, the vote was public, I believe some of you took pictures of it.”
Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. said, “What happened here last Monday was transformational. It counts.”
Now, onto what happened today:
State Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara dismissed a case brought by Senator Smith against Senator Espada saying that it’s up to the legislature to resolve the issue. That full opinion can be found here.
Governor David Patterson has said that he will step in and try to run the Senate chamber so that things can get accomplished until the issue is resolved. The legality of that seems questionable to me, since it’s not the Governor’s job to run the Senate.
So, where is the Senate at now? Here’s my view. The Senate is legitimately controlled by the Republicans, who, as far as I can tell, legitimately took over the Senate through a legally binding resolution. The count is now 31 Democrats to 31 Republicans (30 Republicans + 1 Democrat voting with them). That means there’s a tie. The Lt. Governor would be the tie-breaker, but there is no Lt. Governor. Therefore, the Senate is deadlocked on this matter, and the Republicans would remain in control until the Democrats can reach 32 supporters.
I’ll continue with more posts as the situation continues.