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Raw politics paralyzes Albany again

Capitol building of the U.S. state of New

Capitol building of the U.S. state of New York. National Register of Historic Place. Photo Credit: Flickr Vision / He Shi

The recent decision by Tom Croci to return to active duty in the U.S. Navy left the State Senate split — 31 votes apiece for Democrats and Republicans.

With neither side able to pass legislation on its own, no one sure whether the Long Island Republican would return, and the end of the session looming on June 20, there seemed to be one logical solution: Both parties would have to put aside their differences, find common ground and pass bills that move the state forward.

But this is Albany, where raw political considerations, not sense of duty, always prevails.

After a brief interlude Monday when the Senate passed more than 100 noncontroversial bills, it devolved into stage-managed chaos Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, exercised her rarely used power to preside over Senate sessions — and was greeted with a rare, successful GOP override of a veto by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of a Democratic bill to expand full-day kindergarten. The Assembly said it would not follow suit, so that was that.

It never got better. Democrats tried to attach hostile amendments to GOP legislation — like an abortion rights measure on a Lyme disease bill — while Republicans used parliamentary moves to try to trip up Hochul. Majority Leader John Flanagan asked whether she had a copy of Senate rules. Mansplaining, Albany-style. While Republicans tried to prove Democrats aren’t ready to run the chamber, Democrats tried to prove the GOP creates dysfunction.

While Croci deserves criticism for abdicating his responsibility as an elected official, the main blame goes to those still in Albany. In trying to show the other side incapable of good leadership, each makes the same case about itself. If you want to show you can get things done, try it.

The tension is clear. Cuomo is trying to return the Senate to Democratic control in the fall election. But there’s plenty of good legislation that needs action now, from an extension and expansion of NYC’s school-zone speed-camera program to a ban on offshore oil drilling.

Stop trying to score political points and get back to business — the people’s business.


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