Main | Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blame The Gays: New York Senate Deal Falling Apart DEAD, Anti-Gay Dems Cut Off

UPDATE: I'm moving this post back to the top because of a breaking development. NY state Sen. Malcolm Smith now says he's cut off negotiations with the anti-gay "Gang Of Three" because he'd "rather wait two more years to take charge of the Senate" than kowtow to a trio anti-gay Democrats.
Sen. Malcolm Smith said today that he will cease negotiations on the reorganization of the Senate with the so-called “Gang of Three”. "We are suspending negotiations, effective immediately, because to do so otherwise would reduce our moral standing and the long-term Senate Democratic commitment to reform and change,” Smith said. “It became very clear to me, over time, that those negotiations started being more about self interest.”

Last week it was reported that Sen.-elect Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, one of the dissident senators, would be the senate majority leader in January. Smith, if supported by the majority of senators, would lead the Senate as president pro tempore. On Monday, however, Espada told The New York Times that he was displeased that Smith would be reducing the power of majority leader, and will not be supporting Smith.

If the three dissident senators, Espada, Sen. Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, do not support Smith as the leader of the Senate, he may not be elected to the position. The decision to suspend talks with the three, which Smith said Gov. David A. Paterson supports, could drive them to the Republican side of the aisle, putting the Democrats back in the minority.

“Frankly, we would rather wait two more years to take charge of the Senate than to simply serve the interests of a few,” Smith said. He also said limiting civil rights of New Yorkers should not be part of the negotiations, but should be part of the legislative process. It was reported that Diaz would not support a Senate leader who would push a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.
The Empire State Pride Agenda reacts:
“We applaud Senator Malcolm Smith’s ongoing efforts to lead the new Senate Majority that voters chose during the recent elections. By stating that reform in the Senate cannot include bargaining away civil rights, Senator Smith has once again demonstrated his commitment to standing up for all New Yorkers. The Pride Agenda looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Smith when the legislative session starts. In the meantime we will be working with legislative leaders—Democrats and Republicans—and continuing to do what we’ve been doing all along: working with our community and our allies across New York, including those from communities of faith and organized labor, to earn the votes we need to bring the marriage equality bill to the floor of the Senate for passage.”
From earlier today:

Political columnists are saying that the Democrats' power-sharing deal for the "Gang Of Three" dissident New York state Senate Democrats is falling apart. You'll remember that last week a backroom deal was struck to put anti-gay Sen. Pedro Espada into the Majority Leader position.

Yesterday anti-gay Sen. Ruben Diaz, Jr. partially blamed the gays for the deal falling apart and made a bizarre vague threat:
"The gays are calling my office. They're jamming my phones. They're going to see what we can do. They've going to see exactly what we can do. Ed Koch is going to see what we can do. They're just going to see. That is what I'm telling you."
NY Daily News political columnist Elizabeth Benjamin: "I have no idea what he meant by any of this. But he's angry, and he insists there will be consequences. So, there you have it."

Via Daily News:

Malcolm Smith's deal with the Gang of Three is crashing down around his ears, and the renegade trio is accusing him of renegging on significant portions of the power-sharing agreement in the wake of displeasure from his members over how much he gave away to end the leadership stalemate.

Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist and blogger who is close to the Gang of Three ringleader Carl Kruger, (but, he says, not on the senator's payroll), accused Smith of trying to "slice-and-dice" the majority leader position that was supposed to be going to Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr.

Attorneys for the two sides have been negotiating back and forth throughout the day with little to show for it. There was supposed to be a big announcement tomorrow by Smith, but that appears to be off for the moment. Within the last hour, Espada told The Times he is "tremendously dismayed and disappointed" by reports in recent days that the majority leader's post will perhaps not have any real responsibilities attached to it, adding that this has led him to "suspend my support for Malcolm Smith as leader.” Espada has been the focus of intense scrutiny of late, too. So maybe that has something to do with Smith's sudden reluctance to put him in such a prominent role.

That "intense scrutiny" is about Espada's failing to file campaign papers properly and failing to pay $60K in fines related to his last campaign, something I mentioned here a month ago.

Where the fight for New York Senate Majority Leader now stands, nobody seems to know.

(Tipped by Famous Author Rob Brynes)

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