Senate Dems Will Meet Tomorrow, at Least Three Will Be Happy

GENEVA—Democrats in the State Senate will meet tomorrow to go over the details of a power-sharing agreement reached earlier this week.

That deal, which brought the Gang of Three renegade senators into the fold by elevating them to spots within the Senate leadership, was reached yesterday in a meeting between conference leader Malcolm Smith and Senators Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada Jr. and Ruben Diaz Sr. Also in the room were Governor David Paterson and Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano.

But it's been cause for some friction within the party, among advocates of gay marriage, upstaters who do not have a spot in the senate power structure, and, simply, senators who feel they may have lost out by behaving themselves.

"There were 29 of them waiting patiently, and three making noise that seem to have gotten all the reward. That's what they're going to talk about," said one observer.

I asked Senator Bill Perkins, a close Smith ally from Harlem, about the feeling among the members of the conference outside the Gang of Three.

"The way I look at it, this is a very, very historic moment," he said. "The Democrats are in the majority, and we have a great opportunity to provide leadership for the people of the state of New York. You're not on the bench, now we're out on the court."

Of senators who waited in line, only to see Kruger, Espada and Diaz be richly rewarded for their outspokenness, Perkins said that Smith "has a vision that deserves support and the benefit of the doubt. For those who may have that doubt, he has persevered."

Meanwhile, the Gang of Three issued a joint press release confirming details of the deal that were reported yesterday. The ex-renegade senators jointly said, "The agreement we have forged is innovative and brings new vision and clarity to the process of government. Everyone will be treated equally, fairly and equitably regardless of party affiliation, which in turn will enable lawmakers to accomplish more for the constituents they are empowered to represent."

Carl Kruger, the ringleader of the gang, added he was pleased to serve as the "catalyst who put the Gang of Three together" and said the agreement sets the stage for an
"evolutionary process that will bring an amalgam of ideas and initiatives together to benefit all New Yorkers." Senate Dems Will Meet Tomorrow, at Least Three Will Be Happy