Monday, December 10, 2012

New Senate Governing Coalition May Hand Committee Chairs To Democrats:Sources

Here is the lead item from my "Albany Insider" column this morning:
Facing criticism that minority-group members were being shut out by a new power coalition, Senate leaders are considering spreading committee chairmanships around the chamber.

The newly created Senate governing coalition consisting of Republicans and a breakaway faction of five Democrats may give some committee chairmanships to Democrats who aren’t part of the power scheme, sources told the Daily News.

“They are talking to different Democrats, which makes sense,” one source said, insisting it had nothing to do with the criticism.

A bitter racial divide has opened in the Senate as a result of the new power structure announced last week. Raising the specter of racism, civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and some minority-group senators complained the new arrangement leaves all but one of the 15 black and Hispanic senators with no say over policy issues like a minimum-wage hike, despite their Democratic Party having won as many as 33 of 63 Senate seats.

The situation has also threatened to open a fresh wound in the already tenuous relationship between Gov. Cuomo and minority lawmakers, some of whom believe the highly popular Democratic governor should have done more to get the five rogue Dems back into the fold.

Reps for Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County and Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx didn’t deny the new Senate leadership is set to dole out chairmanships to noncoalition Dems.

“The coalition is committed to working in a true bipartisan fashion and has already made overtures to individual members of the Senate Democratic conference to ensure they play a role in the important work that we’ll be doing,” said the spokesman, Scott Reif.  POST

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