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With Senate Still Deadlocked, Feld & Oppenheimer Trade Barbs

New York senators, including Suzi Oppenheimer from Mamaroneck, are grappling with horrendous frustration and disappointment in Albany and increasingly strident criticism back home.  

Things appeared to be clearing up on Tuesday, June 30. The Senate had been deadlocked since June 8 with the two parties tied 31-31 after one Democrat  defected (and stayed) with the Republican caucus. (See:  Two Senators for Mamaroneck?) But with  the aid of  one wandering Republican  on Tuesday, the Democrats convened a quorum and passed a raft of “non-controversial” bills, including many requiring passage by  the end of the month to prevent the loss of billions in tax revenue or federal aid.

However, the clouds rolled back in by the end of the night. The wandering Senator Frank Padavan was vociferously disputing his inclusion in the quorum. And a wavering Governor David Paterson was vowing not to sign any bills passed in the disputed session.

There is no resolution as of Thursday, July 2.

The June 30 end of day disappointment was a shock to Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, who had called the Gazette around 7:30 pm Tuesday to announce the earlier good news.

 ”By Senate rules, you can’t put your toe in the chamber without being counted,” said Senator Oppenheimer. And without further action on the quorum, it stands until the end of the day, she said.

Further, she asserted, the  stroll was no accident. “We  are assured he did that on purpose,” she said.

Of course, in Albany, nothing is this simple.

The bills that passed the Senate had already passed in the Assembly and would require only the governor’s signature to take effect.  At one point, Governor Paterson said he would accept the bills for signature if he received affidavits from at least three people who saw Senator Padavan in chamber: “We already have eleven,” said Senator Oppenheimer.

At this point, however, the governor is refusing to accept the bills and the Senate Democrats are assessing their legal options. “The Senate rules are the Senate rules,” said Senator Oppenheimer. “And for the most part, they have been upheld in the courts.”

Oppenheimer vs Feld Redux?

Back home in the district, Mayor Liz Feld, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate last year, lambasted Senator Oppenheimer.

Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (left) and Mayor Liz Feld (right): opponents again?

Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (left) and Mayor Liz Feld (right): opponents again? Mayor Feld says she is not running for the Senate.

“The fact that [Suzi Oppenheimer] and every one of her Senate colleagues has the nerve to cash a paycheck without showing up for work is nothing short of criminal,” said Mayor Feld, after criticizing a recent mailer from the senator in which she describes her frustration. “New York’s unemployment rate is staggering and our own Senators feel no qualms about paying themselves. She is not a victim of “an impasse in the Senate (that) remains unresolved.” She is one of the perpetrators. The Republican and Democrat Senators in Albany have one thing in common: they’re both a disgrace.” 

Mayor Feld added, “Like every other Senator in Albany, she has the power and the ability to bring this work stoppage to a halt. It would only take one Senator to show up at one of the sessions to get some business done.” 

Senator Oppenheimer replied:  ”Mrs. Feld’s criticism is misplaced. She should direct her ire at her good friend and main sponsor in her election campaign, the Republican leader Senator Dean Skelos. It is his failed coup attempt that has brought state government to a standstill. With the help of one Republican, Democrats passed critical legislation on Tuesday to transfer over $3 billion in federal education dollars to New York, and extend the Westchester Sales Tax. It was Mrs. Feld’s sponsors who failed to be present  in the chamber and fulfill their legislative duties.”

“I hold the Republicans and Democrats responsible for the Senate impasse. Bi-partisan cooperation is the only way to move forward,” continued the senator. “I will continue to work in my office, as is my habit, from 7:45 am to 11:00 pm, everyday whether paid or not.” said the senator. 

In a final rejoinder, Mayor Feld said, “This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about incumbents,” She concluded, “As far as I’m concerned Suzi and Dean can show each other the door.”

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7 comments to With Senate Still Deadlocked, Feld & Oppenheimer Trade Barbs

  • maryolsson

    Right on Liz!! perhaps we could get Suzi and Dean to walk out of the door and take the rest of the state and federal congress with them.

  • Nancy White

    “The Republican and Democrat Senators in Albany….”c’mon Liz, you should know better – it’s “Democratic”. It’s this kind of childish behavior that has led to this ridiculous situation.

  • paula ungar

    I am really amazed that politicians can act so childish. It appears the only way people realize the seriousness of what they are not doing is to dock their pay checks – and I am paying their salaries as a taxpayer I am in favor of the governor acting within his jurisdiction and making these senators etc. forgo their vacations till their work is done. Having worked in the New York Public schools for a number of years I know the only way people are responsible is to dock their pay.

  • Excuse me, but seeing the last 2 comments, I feel compelled to comment. It seems Nancy and Mary don’t read the papers. Or perhaps they just watch the “fair and balanced” Fox news.

    This IS a coup attempt by Skelos, who had the reins so briefly when his mentor Bruno had to resign before his (Bruno’s) indictment. He is pissed at that and found some Democratic Senators with a lust for power that were unhappy with the gay marriage bill, and their junior status.

    Regarding Ms. Feld’s comments, she is probably glad she didn’t get caught up in this mess. Her failed senate campaign, (in which she tried to tar our Senator with fake postcards) gives me the feeling she would not be the one waving the flag of a truce. But we’ll never know about that.

    Having said all of this, I too am fed up with the mess in Albany. We now have the dishonorable distinction of the MOST dysfunctional government in the nation. Only a strong Governor can help us out of this mess. Alas, we come up short on that.

  • Nancy White

    Catherine, I am well aware that this is a coup by a State Senator, allegedly from the Bronx, but who lives in Mamaroneck. My comment was to correct Liz Feld’s grammar. As she is an intelligent and educated person (product of our own Mam’k school system), I am sure she knows better. It is childish to continue to insult and demean the Democrats this way.

  • I see, Nancy. I read your comments the wrong way. Sorry for the misunderstanding!

  • Keep the peas

    I’m confused…..don’t you need to have “friends” in the political world in order to get elected??? The comments spewing from Liz Noyer Feld’s mouth about the incumbents in the Albany Senate – might be bipartisan – but certainly won’t win her any allies in the upcoming election. While it’s highly unlikely there will be a full turnover in the next Senate elections, there is a rather good chance that many of the incumbents she has insulted here will be re-elected again. Perhaps Harry Truman’s advice to future Presidents may hold true of the White House, but I’m quite sure you need some human friends and allegiences in Albany – dogs are probably not allowed.
    Summer Reading suggestion: Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people” may be an appropriate selection for the coming days ahead.