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Democrats No Longer Control New York State Senate

Democrats Turn Off Lights, Cut Internet Power In Attempt To Stop it from happening.

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Republicans, who lost control of the New York State Senate last November have apparently regained control, and without an election!

The GOP power play involves two renegade Democrats and a billionaire businessman.

Welcome to New York politics.

What happened Monday night in Albany, a coup in the state Senate five weeks in the making, made for a unique kind of drama, pitting Senate Democrats against Republicans.

Out of power? Former Democratic State Senate President and Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.

"Let's just be real clear, the Senate Democrats are still in the majority," said Smith. "Malcolm Smith is still the majority leader."

Assuming those titles in a return to power is Senator Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre.

How did it happen? Democrats can thank their own: Pedro Espada of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, who turned their backs on their fellow Democrats and joined with Republicans.

"I want to thank Pedro and Hiram. I know the difficult votes you did today (Monday) but they did the right thing and I want to thank Tom Golisano who certainly has been a leader," said Skelos.

GOP Power Play Throws Wrench In Legislative Agenda

In fact, it was upstate billionaire Tom Golisano who brokered the coup. Democrats intend to fight the powergrab in court, arguing, among other points, the Senate was adjourned when Republicans seized power.

"I don't care if I'm the only one standing, but someone has got to stand up and say that this is wrong," said Paterson.

For Espada and Monserrate, both of whom have legal troubles, the switch is intriguing.

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Earlier this year, Republicans were calling for Monserrate's resignation following his criminal indictment for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend.

And the State Attorney General's office is currently investigating a non-profit organization formerly run by Espada, who as CBS 2 HD reported exclusively in April, lives in Mamaroneck, despite representing the Bronx.

During the coup, Democrats fled the chamber, turned out the lights, and cut off the Internet feed of chamber proceedings, leaving Republicans and their two Democratic friends to take the vote in the dark.

A media advisory released by Mark Hansen, a spokesman for the Senate's GOP conference, foreshadowed the shake-up: "An historic change in leadership is taking place at this moment and a new bipartisan, coalition is being established that is bringing real reform to the Senate RIGHT NOW."

Smith was elected Temporary President and Majority Leader of the New York State Senate in January of 2009, becoming the first African-American Majority Leader in New York State history and the first Democratic leader in almost 40 years.

Gov. David Paterson, who is noticeably furious, addressed the coup at an evening news conference.

"I should be standing here talking to you about the issues that the people need Albany to address. Once again Albany's dysfunction has raised its ugly head," Paterson said. "I came here today to stand up for everyone in this state who still believes in a democracy -- that there are perimeters in which we govern, that Albany can be more than the dysfunctional wreck it has become over the years. And I don't care if the only one standing, but someone has got to stand up and say that this is wrong.

"The last two weeks of session is not the time when we conduct campaigns. It is not the time when we elect leaders. It is not the time for politics. It is the time for governance."

Right now we have a real standoff.

Skelos and Espada took their oaths of office -- and get this: if something happens to Gov. Paterson, Espada, as president pro tempore of the Senate, fills in.

Both sides will contest the other, with the Democrats saying the move is illegal because the session was already gaveled out.

CBS NEWS


Added: Jun-10-2009 Occurred On: Jun-8-2009
By: Hypnojive2
In:
News
Tags: new york state senate, republicans gain control, backlash
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