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New York State Senate Remains in State of Turmoil

StoryJune 17, 2009
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Juan González

co-host of Democracy Now! and columnist at the New York Daily News.

Sen. Hiram Monserrate has switched sides — again. Monserrate stunned the New York’s political establishment and paralyzed the legislature a week ago when he rebelled against his own party and voted with fellow Democrat, Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr., of the Bronx, to hand control of the Senate to the Republican minority. On Monday, the mercurial Monserrate returned to the Democratic caucus — without Espada. His decision creates an astonishing 31-31 deadlock in the Senate and further muddles the question of which party controls that body. [includes rush transcript]

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: And speaking of major battles, the one in the New York State Senate continues, with a coup that took place last week. Well, is it continuing?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yeah. Well, I reported in the Daily News on Monday that one of the rebel dissident Democrats — there were two of them — that a week ago switched sides and gave control of the New York State Senate to the Republicans, one of those, Hiram Monserrate, had a change of heart. And this Monday, he went back to the Democrats. He said he was coming home. And so, now you have the astonishing fact that the New York State Senate is split right down the middle, thirty-one Republicans, thirty-one Democrats, and no one knows who’s in charge.

And there’s huge — many important pieces of legislation that are waiting to be voted on, including legislation to legalize gay marriage in New York state, legalization — a bill that would protect tenants and actually bring back several hundred thousand apartments under rent regulations, a bill that would decide whether the mayor of New York will continue to control the New York Board of Education. All of these issues still must be decided in the final few days of this Senate session. But nothing can get done until they can figure out who’s in charge.

Unfortunately, a court has decided that it doesn’t want to get involved, that this is something that the politicians have to decide themselves. And so, a judge has — kept telling both the Democrats and Republicans, “You’ve got to get together and figure this out. The courts don’t want to decide this.”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll continue to follow that story, as we head, though, to Cuba.

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