Smith: We Know What We Mean

ALBANY—Malcolm Smith just talked about how the Democrats will structure the leadership roles in the State Senate. Here’s a breakdown of the names being floated and what their responsibilities are supposed to be.

President Pro Tempore – Senator Smith said that he will hold this position, and that it will be a chamber leadership post on par with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. (The Assembly also has a majority leader – currently it’s Assemblyman Ron Canestrari.) “The president is leader of the Senate, and acting lieutenant governor as well.”

Vice President Pro Tempore Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx will hold this post, which does not currently exist. “That comes with the responsibilities of being vice president pro temp. Helping us run the floor, staffing, and development.”

Smith was asked if he was worried that Klein would move against him. He said he wasn’t. Later, he said, “Jeff Klein has always been my number two, he’s my deputy. What we are doing between now and January, as I said before, each member and I have a private conversation about their roles and the way that they will play into the conference, and the conference’s leadership.”

Majority Leader – Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr. will reportedly occupy this post. When asked what the majority leader will do that’s distinct from the president pro tempore, Smith said, “Conversations that I have with my members about their roles are conversations that I have with them. There will come a time when you know what these roles are. Clearly, the majority leader is someone who will be a part of our conference and part of our leadership team.”

Deputy Majority Leader – Senator Bill Stachowski of Buffalo was named to the post, which by title deals with legislative operations. “Senator Stachowski is one of our strong members of our conference. He’s one that has shown a great deal of leadership, we think the post he is now going to have as deputy majority leader will be tremendous for Buffalo, in that, with the resources he will be able to bring to bear, especially in areas that we so need like job creation.”

Still confused? So are we. The overall tenor of the 14-minute Q & A with reporters – some slightly peeved that Smith walked out of an earlier press conference – was that the Democrats don’t know exactly what their leadership will look like.

Smith was also asked repeatedly about whether the committee chairs members of the self-titled Gang of Three have stated they will control are accurate. Smith said there will be an announcement on Wednesday, but that “each of them know the position they are going to receive.”

Smith: We Know What We Mean