WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District, Bronx County, New York
You should know that according to some news reports, there is a movement afoot in Albany to break up the IDC-Republican Senate Coalition, which serves as the existing alliance that controls the New York State Senate. The IDC-Republican Senate Coalition is made up of the Senate Republicans and the five Independent Senate Democrats, led by Senator Jeff Klein.
You should also know that two years ago, five Democratic Senators: Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, David Carlucci, and Malcolm Smith broke away from the Senate Democratic Conference and formed what they call the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) joining together with the Senate Republicans. In this arrangement to control the State Senate, both leaders – Senator Dean Skelos – the Republican leader, and Senator Jeff Klein – the IDC leader, would share the power of the Senate.
It is also important for you to know that last year, after Senator Malcolm Smith had some problems with the law, he first got the cold shoulder, and later got the boot from the IDC. The vacancy Senator Malcolm Smith left after he was expelled from the IDC was recently filled by Senator Tony Avella – who also decided to break away from the Senate Democratic Conference.
Currently, there are three different Conferences in the New York State Senate: the Republican Conference, led by Senator Dean Skelos; the Democratic Conference, led by Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins; and the IDC Conference, led by Senator Jeff Klein.
It is a body with three heads. It is the “Senate Troika” but only two of them benefit and share power, forcing the other one to go around trying to make people believe that he (or she) is part of the equation – even though everyone knows he (or she) is not.
In order to get back into a game that they lost a long time ago, the Senate Democratic Conference, led by Senator Mike Gianaris – – sorry, I meant Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (sometimes it’s confusing to know who the real leader is) someone leaked to the press a so-called meeting between Senator Jeff Klein and Senator Mike Gianaris to negotiate with Senator Klein for him and the other four IDC Senators to return back to the regular Senate Democratic fold.
Apparently, someone forgot to notify and invite Senator Klein, because according to him: “They never coordinated a meeting between me and Senator Gianaris.”
You should also know that there are some questions I have to ask regarding such a meeting:
Question #1: Who forgot to read the Senate Rules in regard to power-sharing between both Conferences and the IDC? According to Senate Rules, it would take 38 votes to break the shared power arrangements between the Republicans and the IDC. So as you can see, it is impossible to get to this point with only 31 Democratic votes in place at this moment. We will have to wait until after the 2014 General Election when a new Senate is elected and then we can see if the new Senate would like to change that rule.
Question #2: In the upcoming Democratic Primary, thanks to Senator Michael Gianaris (who chairs the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee) Senator Jeff Klein may very well be facing a challenge. In contrast, Senator Jeff Klein is supporting candidates against Senators such as Timothy Kennedy from Buffalo, and Gustavo Rivera from the Bronx. If Senator Jeff Klein wins his re-election and if even one of the candidates he is supporting is able to defeat one of the opponents, it seems to me that Jeff Klein will become Superman, and so I have to ask: Why and for what should he come back to the regular Democratic Conference?
I believe the opposite result will happen and Senators from the regular Democratic Conference will run to the IDC.
Question #3: Why would Senator Klein meet with Senator Gianaris to discuss the possibility of power-sharing with the Senate? Common sense says a meeting of that caliber would have to be with Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins who as far as I know, is the Leader of the Democratic Conference – but I could be wrong.
You should know that no one has worked harder than I have to see that Senator Jeff Klein and the Members of the IDC come back to join the regular Senate Democratic Conference. I have written different articles about this. I have spoken publicly about my desire to see them come back, and I have spoken in closed Democratic Conference to my colleagues about this.
Rumor has it that Senate Andrea Stewart-Cousins never authorized and never even knew about a meeting. Rumor has it that Senator Klein was never contacted about a meeting and never agreed to such a meeting. Rumor has it that Senator Mike Gianaris was never contacted about this meeting – nor was he the one who called for the meeting.
So ladies and gentlemen, what is going on here? Who is talking to the press? It seems that there are forces trying to inflict confusion by spreading ill-advised rumors, making believe that Senator Klein is the one who don’t wants to get together, and that Senator Klein is the one who is rejecting all opportunities of peace offerings so the Senate Democrats can regain power and control the Senate.
If this is the case, I must say that this is the wrong approach. It is wrong, it is evil, it won’t work.
I am State Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.