Bing Defends Albany-Style Democracy

Michael Bloomberg and his aides have presented the demise of their congestion pricing plan, which occurred without a floor vote in the Assembly, as an example of Albany’s well-noted dysfunction.

Not surprisingly, the view from within the Democratic-held Assembly is different.

“The idea that democracy did not occur here [because] it was not a floor vote really is incorrect,” Democratic Assemblyman Jonathan Bing told me last night. “Democracy occurred with every member of the Assembly majority providing the speaker with his or her views, whether it was in conference or when the speaker polled members. And there was a clear consensus among the membership that the conference was against congestion pricing. Each legislator has the right and the ability to let his or her constituency know how he or she would have voted.”

It should be noted that one practical reason that Silver didn’t bring the bill to the floor for of the state Assembly for a vote, where his Democratic conference outnumbers Republicans 107 to 43, is that if he did, and if the Republican minority decided to vote together for the measure, it could have passed with a minority of support from the Assembly Democratic conference. And that would have established a precedent which would destablize the absolute control Silver has in that house.

It’s democracy as defined by the members of an unassailable supermajority.