Green Party Decries Senate Coup and Calls for Grassroots Resistance

The New York State Green Party decries the latest power play in the NY State Senate. The leadership coup on Monday night by the Republican Party and at least two Democrats, one under investigation for fraud and the other for physical assault, is the newest in a serious of undemocratic and disgraceful acts that have earned the State Legislature the title of most undemocratic and “Stalinist” from the Brennan Center for Law and Justice. The Green Party calls for immediate overhaul of Legislative procedures and electoral reform, including full public financing of campaigns, proportional representation, and allowing bills to come to a floor vote without leadership approval. The Green Party also calls for the NY State Attorney General and the Albany District Attorney to protect taxpayers by taking action against Floridian Thomas Golisano for potential bribery of two of the coup members, and all of the legislators who have been suspected or convicted of criminal activity.

“The coup leaders: Golisano, Skelos, Espada, and Monserrate claim that this is a step towards democratic reform – which is always the refrain of autocratic coup leaders worldwide. Yet this is clearly a power play by a few disgruntled Democrats who are under investigation for fraud and physical assault, Republicans angry about their allotted share of pork, and a billionaire who believes he has a right to manipulate state government because of his wealth. While the former Democratic majority was in no hurry to make any reforms to state legislative practices, this is a coup instigated by Tom Golisano who was so angry that there was any move made to tax the ruling class to cover the budget shortfall that he has claimed a move to Florida, with this as his parting gift,” said Eric Jones, state co-chair of the Green Party.

“Real reform would require basic but fundamental changes to the legislature and electoral politics that would actually increase grassroots democracy in New York. The legislature should decrease leadership power by allowing bills to come to a debate and vote without leadership approval – something that is commonplace in most parliaments around the world. Pork and earmarks should be banned from bills and replaced with a state bank that provides low-interest loans to municipalities. Public financing of elections and proportional representation would help remove money from politics and break the stranglehold of the two parties on the legislature. Finally, government should be decentralized from Albany and power should be invested as much as possible in the citizenry and direct, grassroots assemblies, not Legislators-for-life in Albany,” said David Doonan, mayor of Greenwich.

“Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans care for any fundamental change that might democratize New York State. The Democratic majority had six months to make sweeping and progressive changes to labor law, conduct electoral reform, start radical environmental reforms, and actually overhaul the Legislature and its anti-democratic procedures. Instead of maintaining a modicum of democratic pretensions in January by creating a coalition government with Republicans and allowing members to vote bills onto the floor the Democratic leadership was the first to make a rotten deal with Espada and Monserrate; now it is the Republican’s turn to make the same deal. On Monday it was business as usual: in the morning the Dems had planned to dole out $76.7 million in member items to their caucus and only $8.2 million to the Republicans. While member items should be banned under any real plan for change, this highlights how much change for Senator Smith, Speaker Silver and Gov. Paterson was about money, and for the Republicans as well. It is time for real change in Albany, which means the citizenry of New York electing Green Party members to the state legislature and pushing for real reforms at the grassroots level. We quote the famous Latino phrase “Que Se Vayan Todos” – they all must go – used often against corrupt Latin American legislatures and quite appropriate for our own,” said Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the New York State Green Party.

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