December 12, 2012–(New York, NY)–It is clear that the Co-option Deal between Senator Skelos’ party and five Democrats has nothing to do with the will of the people, the issues platform preferred by the people when they voted on election day, or the diversity of leadership they would have expected by virtue of the State Senate statewide election votes.
Senator Skelos yesterday made three critically important statements. First, that the agenda of the Republican Conference has not changed from what it has always been: opposing issues such as minimum wage, reforming stop and frisk, opposing women’s reproductive health rights, and fighting against most issues on the civil rights agenda.
Second, that he has not agreed to let issues like minimum wage and stop and frisk even reach the Senate floor let alone work to get them passed.
And third, that the chairmanships of Senate committees and the senate staff populated by policy makers whose platforms were rejected by New Yorkers in November’s election will remain the same.
What exactly was this Co-option Deal about?It does NOT, in any way promote the will of the people or their policies.
People need to ask the deal makers with specificity “what did you get for this deal? What were you promised?”
Consider the following. A Democratic led Senate –as voted in by New Yorkers on election day– would:
* Support and pass bills like the minimum wage. Those bills would not have to be “up for discussion”, watered down, or horse traded for a pet item of the Republican leadership to get on the floor;
* Have Senate committee chairs and a staff that reflect the will of the people and diversity of New York. Even if the Co-option Conference practiced tokenism (and they failed at that too, securing just one African American, no Latinos and 5 women in the Co-option Conference) they would fall far short on diversity;
* Force Republican leadership to negotiate their platform onto the Senate floor instead of the other way around.
In short, while New Yorkers “might” get some of their desired policies under the Co-option Conference they would definitely get all of those policies under the diverse leadership of a Democratically led Senate.
Where is the policy advantage in that trade off for the people of New York?
I appreciate Senator Skelos’ candor that the Republican conference has not changed its spots and I look forward to galvanizing the people of New York against the Co-option Conference over the next two years if need be.
Rev. Al Sharpton
President of National Action Network and MSNBC Host