Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Minority Leader Smith's Promise

Yesterday's Reform New York Day featured several "People's Hearings" at which panelists and attendees got to ask state legislators questions about their commitment to reform.

I happened to be on the panel questioning Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith. Earlier this year, Senate Democrats introduced proposed changes to the Senate's operating rules that the Brennan Center wholeheartedly endorsed. These changes would have greatly empowered rank-and-file members and the public, and gone a very long way toward making the State Senate the kind of transparent, accountable body New Yorkers have long wanted.

Of course, some would say it's easy for the minority party (and its leadership) to support these kind of changes. What do they have to lose, after all?

My question to Senator Smith: did he pledge to introduce and pass the exact same package of rules changes if the Democrats ever took power in the Senate? His answer: emphatically, "without question," yes.

The cameras were rolling, and microphones recording . . . .

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