Mass Confusion in New York Senate as GOP Seizes Control

The NY Times reports:

Monseratte_espada "A raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a motion that would displace Democrats as the party in control. It was a noisy and acrimonious scene on the floor of the Senate as Senator Thomas W. Libous, a Republican from Binghamton and the party’s deputy leader, shouted for a roll-call vote, while Democrats attempted to stall the vote by asking to adjourn the session. All 30 Republicans stood with their hands raised, signaling a vote for a change in leadership. Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate joined them, each raising his hand. It appeared that Republicans had won the vote by a 32-to-30 margin. If the Republicans retake the chamber, Dean G. Skelos, of Long Island, would likely be the new majority leader."

Espada Elizabeth Benjamin of NYDN:

"The deal that enabled the Republicans to woo Democratic Sens. Pedro
Espada and Hiram Monserrate to their side in today's coup has been
months in the making and will result in an unusual degree of
power-sharing in the chamber, according to one insider with knowledge
of the deal. Assuming it all holds – and that isn't a foregone conclusion (I smell a major lawsuit) – here's what we know: Aside from Democratic Senate President Pedro Espada Jr., shown here
being sworn in to his new leadership post along with Senate Majority
Leader Dean Skelos in the wake of the coup, there will be as many as 10
Democrats who get committee chairmanships."

Press releases: Smith: "I'm still majority leader." Monseratte: "I'm still a Democrat."

At this point there's no real evidence that this chaos erupted over the marriage equality bill. Espada is pro-marriage equality and Monserrate, at least according to the recent NY1 survey, is undecided.

Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell told New York magazine he's not giving up hope: "I believe that it's still coming regardless of who controls the Senate. Every year more Americans and more New Yorkers support my right to a marriage license.

Pedro Espada and Dean Skelos: Swearing in… The NEW RULES.

Paterson Governor Paterson gave a press conference late yesterday excoriating the Republican move: "The actions taken on the senate floor today need to be exposed for
what they are, an unnecessary distraction to government, dressed up in
the cloak – falsely – of reform and good government…I don’t care if I am the only one standing, but someone has got to stand up and say that this is wrong."

Swearing in video plus PRESS CONFERENCE with Skelos and Governor Paterson, AFTER THE JUMP


  1. says

    From my pending article on this:

    More shenanigans in Albany! At this hour, the New York state Republicans are announcing that “Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada Jr. – are poised to announce that they have decided to cross the aisle and caucus with the Republicans out of anger at Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.” Dean Skelos, a Republican, has replaced Smith as Senate Majority Leader. This from the NYT, NYDN, GOP, AP, and WNBC, as further reports indicate the floor fighting has broken out over two key issues: the removal of Sen. Neil Breslin (D-Albany) as Senate president. He was replaced, 32-30, by Sen. George Winner, (R-Utica), which shows that 2 Dems (Moserrate and Espada) are voting with the GOP.

    The second issue is, of course, gay marriage, which was to die in committee if not voted on before the end of the session on June 22. Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. (D-South Bronx), the most vociferous opponent of the gay-marriage bill, was said to be considering changing parties if Sen. Smith (D-St. Albans) brought the bill to a vote. With the bill beginning to gain undecided votes, Diaz was pulling out all the stops to prevent its passage, along with Sen. George Onorato (R-Astoria).

    I still strongly suspect, as do some media pundits around NYC, that there was a back-room deal between Smith and Diaz NOT to put the gay-marriage bill up for a vote. But if Smith saw a clear mandate from the Senate to bring a vote (and made a motion on the floor), Diaz would declare Jihad on the remaining Senate Democrats.

    This after a HUGE turnout of registered voters in support of gay marriage at Pride events in Staten Island, Queens, Hudson Valley, and Utica (!) over the weekend. I personally marched with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Chelsea) in Queens Pride to show my support for this issue.

    Sure enough, Monday morning came, and fireworks went off in Albany. Did gay marriage fracture the Senate Dems?

    As I see it, gay marrige is a dead issue in New York for the time being, with these developments.

  2. Anonymous says

    A very sad day for New York… These idiots in the Senate need to be voted out of office.. People need to wake up and pay attention for whom they are voting … people with half a brain need to run for office!

    This is a huge set-back for marriage equality in NY… I’m furious!

  3. Dan says

    Gays have their marching orders — target these two switchers and run them out of office through all legal means necessary.

    Cross us at your peril. That’s the only way any lawmaker will respect us and our movement.

  4. Henkkon says

    I fail to see how Diaz is involved. If Diaz didn’t want the vote on marriage equality and had made a backroom deal with Smith, then why would he want Smith out of power? If it’s because Smith was going to bring it up anyway and Diaz doesn’t think Skelos would bring it up for a vote, then wouldn’t Diaz also vote to overthrow? As far as I can tell, both Espada and Monserrate were “yes” votes on marriage equality. I don’t think this had anything to do with marriage equality, but everything with backroom politics.

  5. Jimmyboyo says

    The why………….

    both defectors are under ethics investigations from their own party and the deal cut with repubs is that with the repubs in charge the ethic complaints get dropped

  6. Clay says

    Is there a Recall procedure in New York?

    Back in the 1990s, when the GOP took control of the CA Assembly, the Dems were able to maintain control for several months by wooing a handful of GOP members to back the Democrat for Speaker. These members were then targeted for recall in their own districts and taken out. If legal in New York, that could be an option for progressives to take out these rebel Dems.

  7. Contrarian says

    The real elephant in the room is not the GOP symbol but the infatuation of Dems with “identity” politics,i.e. choosing leaders based on race or ethnicity. Patterson, our accidental Gov. is a sad joke, and who ever heard of this Sen. Smith before 2009? But as a progressive I’m supposed to button my lip when white folks are shunted aside so that others of dubious qualities are elevated! MLK’s words about the content of a man’s character and not the color of his skin have been forgotten. Dems, reap what you sow.

  8. Philip Wester says

    Is it possible to call for a recall election or a special election for their seats?

    I mean, they ran for office on a certain platform. Now they’re changing it willy nilly.

  9. elcamino says

    They are both willing to sacrifice the brightest hopes of thousands of gay and lesbian New Yorker for short term political gain for themselves.

    Please call them, loud and clear, to let them know what you think of this trade off.

  10. Bondi says

    When will NYC secede from NY State? It’s shameful that these Albany rubes are empowered to make decisions about our future. The city pours money into the State economy and we get nothing in return. The city should secede now. Let’s see how long Albany lasts with tax revenue from Buffalo and Rochester.

  11. JeffNYC says

    A lot of the anti-gay legislators are from the NYC metropolitan area: Queens, Nassau County and the Bronx, not Rochester and Buffalo.

    The problem is HERE not THERE.

  12. jimmyboyo says


    “…………But as a progressive……..”

    No progressive would ever say what you said.

    Do you even know what the progressive movement is?

    At best you are a blue dog dem though I suspect a conservative troll is more likely


    Both of these guys are scum who the Dems had under investigation for ethic violations. They are trying to save themselves from investigations and loss of power by siding with repubs in this coup but an actual party switch would see their constituents voting them out.

    Basically staying dems so they can get re-elected but stabbing the party in the back to squash the Senate investigations against them

  13. Philip Wester says

    @JIMMYBOYO: Can’t the senate investigations continue anyway? Or do you need a majority vote for that?

    Isn’t it telling how the Republicans are willing to use these criminal dirtbags for their own gain? Desperate geezers clinging to power by all means possible.

  14. Sargon Bighorn says

    See, part of the Gay Agenda is to cause upset and turmoil in legislative bodies all over America. We plant a few spies, a few moles, ask to get married, spend a few bucks here, have a martini or three there, tap a toe in the RR with that law maker, have our Gay under-age legislative aid send an email to the “bachelor” law maker. Before you know it, the chamber floor is a writhing, snarling, cat fight! Albany is just the beginning.

  15. Rick says

    Definitely worth a read:

    Op-Ed Columnist
    La Cage aux Democrats

    THE most potent word in our new president’s lexicon – change – has been heard much less since his inspiring campaign gave way to the hard realities of governing. But on Tuesday night, the irresistible Obama brand made an unexpected and pointed cameo appearance on America’s most popular television show, “American Idol.” In the talent competition’s climactic faceoff, the song picked for one of the two finalists, Adam Lambert, was Sam Cooke’s soul classic, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

    Cooke recorded it in January 1964. Some four months earlier he had been arrested when trying to check into a whites-only motel in Shreveport, La. “It’s been a long, long time coming,” goes the lyric. “But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.” Cooke, who was killed later that same year in a shooting at another motel, in Los Angeles, didn’t live to see his song turn into a civil rights anthem. He could not have imagined how many changes were gonna come, including the election of an African-American president who ran on change some 44 years later.

    Cooke might also have been baffled to see his song covered by Lambert, a 27-year-old white guy from San Diego, on Fox last week. But the producers of “American Idol” knew what they were doing. With his dyed black hair, eyeliner and black nail polish – and an Internet photographic trail of same-sex canoodling – Lambert was “widely assumed to be gay” (Entertainment Weekly), “seemingly gay” (The Times) and “flam-bam-boyantly queeny” (Rolling Stone). Another civil rights movement was in the house even if Lambert himself stopped just short of coming out (as of my deadline, anyway) in the ritualistic Ellen DeGeneres/Clay Aiken show-biz manner.

    In the end, Lambert was runner-up to his friendly and blander opponent, Kris Allen, an evangelical Christian from Arkansas. That verdict, dominated by the votes of texting tween girls, was in all likelihood a referendum on musical and cultural habits, not red/blue politics or sexual orientation. As the pop critic Ann Powers wrote in The Los Angeles Times, the victorious Allen also has a gay fan base, much as Lambert has vocal Christian admirers.

    This is increasingly the live-and-let-live society we inhabit – particularly younger America. In a Times/CBS News poll in April, 57 percent of those under 40 supported same-sex marriage. The approval figure for all ages (42 percent) has nearly doubled in just five years. On Tuesday the California Supreme Court will render its opinion on that state’s pox on gay marriage, Proposition 8. Since Prop 8 passed last fall, four states have legalized gay marriage and New Hampshire is about to. This rapid change has been greeted not by a backlash, but by a national shrug – just as a seemingly gay “American Idol” victory most likely would have been.

    And yet the changes aren’t coming as fast as many gay Americans would like, and as our Bill of Rights would demand. Especially in Washington. Despite Barack Obama’s pledges as a candidate and president, there is no discernible movement on repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy or the Defense of Marriage Act. Both seem more cruelly discriminatory by the day.

    When yet another Arabic translator was thrown out of the Army this month for being gay, Jon Stewart nailed the self-destructive Catch-22 of “don’t ask”: We allow interrogators to waterboard detainees and then banish a soldier who can tell us what that detainee is saying. The equally egregious Defense of Marriage Act, a k a DOMA, punishes same-sex spouses by voiding their federal marital rights even in states that have legalized gay marriage. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the widower of America’s first openly gay congressman, Gerry Studds of Massachusetts, must mount a long-shot court battle to try to collect the survivor benefits from his federal pension and health insurance plans. (Studds died in 2006.) Nothing short of Congressional repeal of DOMA is likely to rectify that injustice.

    The civil rights lawyer Evan Wolfson, who is executive director of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, notes that the current stasis in Washington is a bit reminiscent of early 1963, when major triumphs in the black civil rights movement (Brown v. Board of Education, the Freedom Riders, the Montgomery bus boycott) had been followed by stalling, infighting and more violent setbacks. Victories were on their way but it took the march on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to galvanize John Kennedy and ultimately Lyndon Johnson into action. Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Johnson had to step up big time – and did – to prod Congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (now under imminent threat from the Roberts Supreme Court).

    It would be easy to blame the Beltway logjam in gay civil rights progress on the cultural warriors of the religious right and its political host, the Republican Party. But it would be inaccurate. The right has lost much of its clout in the capital and, as President Obama’s thoughtful performance at Notre Dame dramatized last weekend, its shrill anti-abortion-rights extremism now plays badly even in supposedly friendly confines.

    Anyone with half a brain in the incredibly shrinking G.O.P. knows that gay bashing will further dim the party’s already remote chance of recruiting young voters to replenish its aging ranks, much as the right’s immigrant bashing drove away Hispanics. This is why Republican politicians now say they oppose only gay marriage, not gay people, even when it’s blatant that they’re dissembling. Naked homophobia – those campy, fear-mongering National Organization for Marriage ads, for instance – is increasingly unwelcome in a party fighting for survival. The wingnuts don’t even have Dick Cheney on their side on this issue.

    Most Congressional Republicans will still vote against gay civil rights. Some may take the politically risky path of demonizing same-sex marriage during the coming debate over the new Supreme Court nominee. Old prejudices and defense mechanisms die hard, after all: there are still many gay men in the party’s hierarchy hiding in fear from what remains of the old religious-right base. In “Outrage,” a new documentary addressing precisely this point, Kirk Fordham, who had been chief of staff to Mark Foley, the former Republican congressman, says, “If they tried to fire gay staff like they do booting people out of the military, the legislative process would screech to a halt.” A closet divided against itself cannot stand.

    But when Congressional Republicans try to block gay civil rights – last week one cadre introduced a bill to void the recognition of same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia – they just don’t have the votes to get their way. The Democrats do have the votes to advance the gay civil rights legislation Obama has promised to sign. And they have a serious responsibility to do so. Let’s not forget that “don’t ask” and DOMA both happened on Bill Clinton’s watch and with his approval. Indeed, in the 2008 campaign, Obama’s promise to repeal DOMA outright was a position meant to outflank Hillary Clinton, who favored only a partial revision.

    So what’s stopping the Democrats from rectifying that legacy now? As Wolfson said to me last week, they lack “a towering national figure to make the moral case” for full gay civil rights. There’s no one of that stature in Congress now that Ted Kennedy has been sidelined by illness, and the president shows no signs so far of following the example of L.B.J., who championed black civil rights even though he knew it would cost his own party the South. When Obama invoked same-sex marriage in an innocuous joke at the White House correspondents’ dinner two weeks ago – he and his political partner, David Axelrod, went to Iowa to “make it official” – it seemed all the odder that he hasn’t engaged the issue substantively.

    “This is a civil rights moment,” Wolfson said, “and Obama has not yet risen to it.” Worse, Obama’s opposition to same-sex marriage is now giving cover to every hard-core opponent of gay rights, from the Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean to the former Washington mayor Marion Barry, each of whom can claim with nominal justification to share the president’s views.

    In reality, they don’t. Obama has long been, as he says, a fierce advocate for gay equality. The Windy City Times has reported that he initially endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage when running for the Illinois State Senate in 1996. The most common rationale for his current passivity is that his plate is too full. But the president has so far shown an impressive inclination both to multitask and to argue passionately for bedrock American principles when he wants to. Relegating fundamental constitutional rights to the bottom of the pile until some to-be-determined future seems like a shell game.

    As Wolfson reminds us in his book “Why Marriage Matters,” Dr. King addressed such dawdling in 1963. “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait,’ ” King wrote. “It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ ”

    The gay civil rights movement has fewer obstacles in its path than did Dr. King’s Herculean mission to overthrow the singular legacy of slavery. That makes it all the more shameful that it has fewer courageous allies in Washington than King did. If “American Idol” can sing out for change on Fox in prime time, it ill becomes Obama, of all presidents, to remain mute in the White House.

    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
    Click here to read the original article.

  16. Ha Ha says

    Give me a break. A bunch of Dhimmy’s on this forum are pissed about the Repugnants taking control. Anyone surprised here? Of course you’re all pissed, you’ve firmly entrenched yourself into one side, liberalism.

    Free your mind. Do not identify with one party. BOTH of them colludes against you. Politics is a BUSINESS. As a BUSINESS, it is inherently about its own survivability. There are, at best, maybe a handful, maybe two handfuls, of politicians who are truly in it to make things better. They are the ones who leave after one term because it’s so CORRUPT. Both the Democraps and the Repugnants are so polluted.

    I guess it’s just a reflection of our society though. We are almost 100% turned around from what our country was founded on. What was right is wrong and what was wrong is now right.

    We get what we deserve. I can’t wait until we implode in this country. :-)

    It’s gonna be good.

  17. mike says

    Hiram Monserrate is an asshole. He is the most crooked and corrupt politician in Queens. He wouldn’t even be in the NY State Senate if it wasn’t for Chuck Schumer. Schumer and the Queens Democratic Party hierarchy decided that the previous senator, Joseph Sabini–a great guy and a damned good senator–should not seek reelection because his seat should be an “Hispanic” seat. He was politely told that if he decided to seek reelection he would get absolutely NO support from the local, state or national Democratic Party. So, Sen. Sabini “decided” not to seek reelection. Hiram Monserrate, who has been a disreputable figure in Queens politics but knows how to get out the vote and grease the wheels was “nominated” (hand-picked by Schumer, actually) and ran for the Senate seat held by Sabini. Monserrate won, natch. So, now, the state Dems had a nice, safe “Hispanic” seat. Monserrate could continue his corrupt ways but on a much larger scale. And Joseph Sabini was offered a high-paying job in the NY State bureaucracy. It was a win-win situation for everyone but my Queens district. This whole thing is a goddamn outrage and you can thank Chuck Schumer for this. What’s even worse is that Espada is more corrupt than Monserrate. I also heard today that the bigot of bigots, Ruben Diaz, Sr., is planning on caucusing with the Republicons just as Espada and Monserrate have done. They should just nuke Albany and wipe it off the face of the earth (but only when the NY State legislature is in session).

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