A funny thing happened in the Senate last night. Democrats took the offensive.
It didn’t last more than an hour or two. It didn’t even work out. But our efforts to change the Senate rules, and bring some openness back to Albany, made a ripple that might just become a wave.
My colleagues leading the floor debate did a great job stating our case. We need complete disclosure of member items. We need an equal allocation of staff and resources. And no more “off-the-floor” committee meetings that subvert the legislative process.
Most Republicans didn’t have the decency to show up. But they all flooded back into the chamber to oppose a “slow roll call,” which would have obligated them to go on the record against reform.
I never liked the idea of so-called "halls of power." But it sure beats the "backrooms of power." The extraordinary legislative session held earlier this month was an indictment of the current system. We passed nothing.
What followed was the capitol blame game – a boon to the pundit community I’m sure, but a real waste for New York residents. The leaders of the Senate and Assembly must work better together, and they can do so by including the rest of us in the process.
As for the rest of us, if we’re going to call for a more open decision-making process, then we need to promote a more transparent budget. In the future, let's not wait for a judge to order the disclosure of our member items. We can do it ourselves.
Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has agreed to make public the member items pushed by each of us in the State Senate. This is great news for all New Yorkers.
I've always been out front in releasing my member item lists, both in the City Council and now in the State Senate. To be perfectly honest, the Senate list didn't take so long to compile. As a member of the minority party, I have $150,000 to help fund organizations that I deem worthy. Compare that with the $2 to $3 million that Republican leaders had offered former Senator Seymour Lachman if he switched parties. (He refused.)
That's The Word
Today's a big day at the Council. A sold out crowd is anticipated in the Council Chambers as Members, lobbyists and Yankee fans anxiously await the Council's approval of the Yankee stadium deal. And from what we hear on the proverbial street, la Speaker Quinn has no intention of disappointing.
Quinn has taken the not-so-unusual, Giffie-style-step of warning her rogue-est of Members - Barron, Avella and James, to be exact - that should they fail to fall in line with the Yankees deal that they might as well kiss their sweet pet projects good-bye.