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Brooklyn Heights State Senator Daniel Squadron would like to see a leadership agreement in Albany, but he’d prefer a wrecking crew.
Frustrated over the inaction caused by the ongoing power grab in the Senate chamber, Squadron said it’s time that he and like−minded legislators “build a new system entirely from scratch.”
“All we need is to figure out a framework of fairness, equity and reform and act on adopting it as quickly as possible,” he said in a conference call with over 100 constituents Monday.
“It doesn’t require the Senate leadership’s involvement. All it requires is 32 senators who want to see some change in Albany,” he said, referring to the magic majority number that the Senate has been quibbling over since June 8.
As this paper went to press, Senate business was still at a standstill as legislators try to find an edge around the 31−31 voting logjam.
For four straight weeks, Democratic and Republican leaders have been meeting about a power−sharing agreement, but no solutions have been forthcoming.
Senate sources said that the Republicans have continually torpedoed the power−sharing talks because State Senator Pedro Espada, the Democrat who sparked the coup by deciding to caucus with the Republicans, has refused to step down or share his new position of President Pro−Tempore, which Squadron says is the most powerful position in the Senate.
“All of the power resides in that position,” he explained. “The President Pro−Tempore has an override−able veto on every piece of legislation on the floor and oversees the distribution of all internal resources and lu−lus (member items). They’re in charge of everything, even who gets paper clips and copier toner.”
By late Wednesday, Governor David Paterson appointed former MTA chair Richard Ravitch as Lieutenant Governor, which he said would solve the legislative impasse since the Lieutenant Governor has the authority to break voting ties.
Still, Democrats and Republicans are still fighting over who’s in charge.
“We will share the leadership responsibilities and move on to do the people’s business,” said Bay Ridge State Senator Marty Golden, the borough’s only Republican senator, adding that the two sides have already hammered out deals on key legislation including giving back mayoral control of city schools. New legislation that needs to be addressed include amendments to the recently rescinded Rockefeller Drug Law, he said.
Yet to Squadron, a true solution would be a Senate shake up at its very foundation.
He, Fort Greene State Senator Eric Adams and Flatbush State Senator Kevin Parker have all submitted a bi−partisan agreement bill that would do just that.
In their agreement, there office of President Pro Tempore would be vacated and Democrats and Republicans would share the leadership, switching every hour of legislative session. The Democratic and Republican leaders for that day would be chosen by the other side, the agreement explains.
“If we created a fairer system, we would have a path out of this,” he said. “I’m just looking for 31 other Senators to get this done,” he said.
This is Squadron’s first year in the State Senate. His first bills were about to be voted on when the June 8 Republican coup took place and everything was brought to a halt.
Other Brooklyn Senators, however, call Squadron’s shake up naive.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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