Senate Republicans, Like Bats With Flashlights, Seek Openness

ALBANY—Republicans just held a press conference to, once again, decry the closed negotiations over the state budget.

It was a pretty good time.

"How many of you are from the 60s?" Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos asked. Many of his members raised their hands. "All we are saying, is give openness a chance."

A number of legislators gamely launched into a sort-of rendition.

Skelos threatened last night to boycott a vote on any bill containing a tax increase, which would deny Majority Leader Malcolm Smith the votes he needs to pass a budget bill. Skelos today said that remains an "option," because he believes there should be at least three days of review for any spending plan.

Skelos said he was not invited to a "secret leaders meeting" that appears to be going on now.  He described the situation as "horrendous, wrong, and totally arrogant."

"We mean this with all the sincerity we can muster," he said. He pointed to good-government advocates Blair Horner and Barbara Bartoletti standing in the back of the room, and kept a straight face as he thanked them for being with him.

"We've always been great friends, and we appreciate it," said Skelos.

Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco played the A.I.G. card again, then segued into a metaphor.

"I need a flashlight to walk the halls, that's how dark it is in regards to democracy," he said. "In order for us to be in any way effective or efficient and get our ideas out there, the way the process is going right now we almost have to be bat-like. Bats only work in the dark." Senate Republicans, Like Bats With Flashlights, Seek Openness