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Jeff Klein leads Democrats in party betrayal in Albany

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 12/13/2012, 3:19 p.m.
Jeff Klein leads Democrats in party betrayal in Albany

During his appearance on WLIB/WBLS last Sunday evening on Imhotep Gary Byrd's GBE "Express Yourself," state Sen. Bill Perkins fully expressed himself about the current boondoggle in Albany in which renegade Democrats, led by Jeff Klein of the Bronx, have formed a coalition siding with the Republicans to determine leadership in the body.

"Once more we're at the back of the bus," Perkins charged, noting the extent to which African-American and Latino voters are being disenfranchised since they largely voted to install their Democratic legislators. "It's really a backroom deal."

Perkins was particularly upset with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's stance, which at this point amounts to one of noninvolvement, if not tacit agreement. "We have 15 Black and Latino members and several progressive whites, but one of our African-American senators, Malcolm Smith, chose to side with the so-called coalition." It's also rather ironic for Smith to be with the coalition since he has often been charged with causing much of the dysfunction in the Senate.

Perkins believes that if the coalition stands, it will nullify the possibility of Blacks and Hispanics getting key committee leadership positions. Once the outcome of the last election is finally decided, the Democrats could have the majority of seats at 33 with the Republicans holding the other 30.

Equally outraged at this political turnabout was the Rev. Al Sharpton. Last Saturday at his weekly rally with the National Action Network, he was joined by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Comptroller William Thompson, all of them mayoral candidates.

"I don't want to be sold out by Blacks or whites," Sharpton asserted. "We did not vote for your careers. We voted for an agenda." He promised to lead protests outside the offices of each one of the turncoat senators. There was an election, Sharpton said, and "it spoke to the will of the people. There cannot be a backroom deal that undermines what people voted for."

Quinn said that having the Senate controlled by the Republicans and the coalition would have a terrible impact on the city, but "it's not over," she said about the current debacle.

Dean Skelos, the Senate majority leader from Long Island, said the coalition would be the vehicle to push through all the "progressive" issues on the agenda. "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 a spokesperson for Skelos.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver declined to comment on the maneuver, but he did state, "If it works, it works. ... If the coalition will pass my minimum wage bill, I'd be very happy."

Cuomo is seemingly content with the way things are being dramatically altered, tentatively endorsing the coalition by keeping his distance from the fray.

State Sen. Eric Adams is not staying clear of the fracas. "Every Democrat in this state must stand up and raise their voice ... [about] what's happening in Albany right now," he told reporters.