Senate sources say Assembly is the reason open space bill died

Finger pointing continued today over the failed attempt to pass a resolution calling for dedicated open space spending as Sen. Bob Smith disputed Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver’s statement that she had planned to put the bill up in her chamber Thursday had the Senate been successful last night

According to Smith, he was told the Assembly did not have the votes to pass the bill so continuing to try to muster support in the Senate was useless.

The message, which Smith said came from Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, essentially killed the bill which would have put the measure on the ballot this November.

“Lou said the Assembly leadership team had held their conference call on Friday and decided that they would not put the bill up for vote,” Smith said.  “We talked about how important the bill is and he just said ‘sorry.'”

But Assembly spokesman Tom Hester said the Thursday voting session was set to be announced had the Senate reached 24 votes.  

“Any implication otherwise is false,” he said. “The Assembly was going to hold a Thursday voting session. That is an absolute fact that cannot be disputed. As soon as that vote hit 24, I was to announce a Thursday voting session under direct orders from the speaker.”

Greenwald also disputes Smith’s recollection.  According to the majority leader, he told Smtih that he could count on no more than 41 or 42 votes from Democrats in the Assembly. With Republicans signaling they would not support the measure, 48 votes in the lower chamber was unlikely.

“We were committed to holding the session, but I was honest with them about the votes,” Greenwald said.

At the time of the call, the Senate had 22 votes already and Sens. Linda Greenstein and Fred Madden were headed back from South Carolina and Maine respectively to give the upper house its 24 votes.

However after Greenwald’s call , Senate President Steve Sweeney told Greenstein and Madden to stay put and closed the board two votes shy of 24. 

“We weren’t going to have two people cut short their vacations if we weren’t going to get a vote in the Assembly,”  Smith said.

In a statement sent Monday at 9 p.m., Oliver disputed speaking to anyone on the Senate side and said had the Senate been able to secure the 24 votes she would have called the session.

“Any implicaton that the Assembly is to blame for the Senate’s failure to get 24 votes today is ludicrous,” she said. “The Senate president and Senate sponsor reference discussions with Assembly leadership, but at no time did either have a discussion with me. In fact, I planned to call a Thursday voting session on the bill had it passed the Senate today.”

Greenwald decried the political maneuvering and said in the end, Republicans were to blame for the failure to gain the 24 votes.

“Eight Republicans changed their vote in the Senate, that’s the real issue here,” he said. Senate sources say Assembly is the reason open space bill died