Cuomo: Rockefeller drug reform doesn’t ‘justify’ Democratic leadership
After a cabinet meeting in Albany this afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters that he spoke with State Senator Jeff Klein yesterday, but only after Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, publicly announced his new power-sharing deal with Republicans.
That deal will result in a joint-custody coalition, which will rotate the senate leadership every two weeks between leaders for the Republicans and the IDC, an outcome that some liberal observers have criticized as an abdication of Cuomo's party leadership.
Cuomo admitted his aides were in touch with a wide array of people leading up to the announcement, but did not elaborate. Crain's reported yesterday that Klein was clearing details of the arrangement with the governor before proceeding.
Cuomo quickly composed an op-ed cheering the move, which he characterized to reporters as casting equal blame on Republicans and Democrats for the failed governance in the New York State Senate.
Asked whether he faulted Klein and State Senator Malcolm Smith, who were two of the top Democrats in the conference when it devolved into chaos, Cuomo said he "doesn't think it's important to figure out who or why or how," and that the poor performance was "inarguable." But he also said Republicans had "squandered" leadership opportunities during their decades of control, and that he was "disappointed" with the agenda items they failed to address in the last legislative session.
Cuomo was not asked about a comment he made to reporters in 2010, when he expressed support for a Democratically-controlled State Senate.
In the op-ed, Cuomo writes that the Senate Democrats passed no meaningful reform legislation when they were in the majority. Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union noted that Rockefeller Drug Law changes were passed during that time, and asked if Cuomo's op-ed meant those reforms weren't considered sufficient progress?
Cuomo, who advocated for those changes, said "we could have done more," and "that doesn't justify the entire leadership moment."
Cuomo said he was not bothered by the fact that the Republican and IDC power-sharing deal did not address reforms in how the Senate chamber would operate, which good government advocates have long insisted are necessary.
"On the internal mechanism and how they run the chamber, that's up to them," Cuomo said.