(re: “Rogue Democrats disband, but some question motives,” April 12)
Now that there is a supposed agreement to unite the Democrats in the New York state senate, the apologists for Jeff Klein’s Independent Democratic Conference claim there is no need for Democratic primary challenges to IDC members, since the IDC has been dissolved.
Can we have confidence the agreement will hold up?
Well, there is no enforcement provision in the agreement. If an IDC member wins a primary, there is absolutely nothing preventing that member from again leaving the Democrats the day after the primary, or on the first day the new legislature convenes.
Let’s look at the record. In 2014, a previous unity agreement was negotiated by Bill de Blasio. It was broken by the IDC. They did not unite.
This new agreement replaces a previous version which was supposed to come after the special elections take place on April 24. A key provision of that accord was that the leader of the Democrats, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, was to be included in the budget negotiations with Jeff Klein.
It never happened, and Klein did not speak out against her exclusion.
The new agreement has already been violated. The IDC said they are now dissolved, but after they claim to have disbanded, they held a pricey fundraiser for themselves. They are not giving the funds they raised to the Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee.
If the group no longer exists, why is it raising funds for itself?
Can we trust Jeff Klein to be honest with us? Well, in the past, Jeff Klein never warned prospective voters that, although he was running as a Democrat, he planned to violate one of the oldest norms in American government and voted to put the Republicans in charge of the senate instead of his own party.
An honest campaign commercial featuring that bit of news would have lost him a lot of primary votes.
If your first action when the legislature convenes is going to be putting the Republicans in charge, wouldn’t the honest thing be to simply run as a Republican rather than a Democrat?
Then there are all those people who cared enough about an issue that they contacted Sen. Klein to advocate for a bull by phoning his office, or by sending him a letter, or an email, or by gathering together with others to meet with him. Such folks were frequently told Klein supported their bill — maybe even would sign on as a co-sponsor.
They were never told that their bill had absolutely no chance of passing, because Klein and the IDC voted to make Republican John Flanagan the majority leader of the senate, and Flanagan was going to make sure that bill you care about so much would never get a vote, so it can never become the law.
If you have taken an action which makes it impossible to pass a bill, wouldn’t the honest thing be to tell that to those advocating for that bill?
Can we trust Jeff Klein? Can we have confidence this agreement will hold up?
The author is a member of Concerned Citizens for Change.