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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.


Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.


Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.


NYS Senate’s Makeup

The composition of the New York state Senate was up in the air as of Thanksgiving Eve, with absentee ballots still being counted in upstate’s 46th Senatorial District (SD).

State Assemblyman George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) held a slight edge in the 46th SD’s balloting on that day over his Democratic opponent, Duanesburg, NY school board member Cecilia Tkaczyk. Should Assemblyman Amedore become Senator Amedore, the Republicans will have won 31 of the 63 state Senate seats on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

So, the GOP will be in the state Senate’s minority next year then, right? Not necessarily. Brooklyn state Senator-elect Simcha Felder, elected as a Democrat on the first Tuesday of November, announced this month that he would caucus with the Republicans and become their 31st member, allowing the GOP to retain the state Senate’s majority, if Amedore became the 32nd Republican state Senator.

As such, the outcome in New York’s 46th SD has very real consequences for Long Island, which re-elected its eight Republican incumbent state Senators as well as a new one, state Assemblyman Philip Boyle (R-Bay Shore), who will succeed the retiring state Senator Owen Johnson.

Should the Republicans hold a 32-31 majority in the state Senate when the state Legislature reconvenes in January 2013, Nassau and Suffolk will have sent nine of those 32 senators to Albany, giving this region a sizable say in how federal monies related to Hurricane Sandy are allocated, and how the Long Island Power Authority is restructured. State educational aid disbursements are also a big issue, as school boards will struggle in 2013 to keep their property tax increases limited to 2 percent, or less, in advance of spring’s budget votes.

Should Senator Tkaczyk become the 32nd Democrat in the state Senate, the first thing you’ll likely see is Senator Felder walking back across the aisle, giving the Democrats a 33-30 majority. That will also certainly mean state Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) is no longer the state Senate’s majority leader.

If you follow Albany’s political machinations, you’ve probably read or heard about a group of four renegade state Senators, all of whom are Democrats, who have little use for the Democrats who would likely lead the state Senate under this scenario. These senators are supposedly open to forming a coalition with the GOP, allowing Senator Skelos to remain as majority leader in exchange for certain governmental goodies (e.g., committee chairmanships, which allow state legislators to boost their clout and pay).

A small group of New York City Democrats held majority leadership positions in the state Senate in 2009 and 2010, and didn’t distinguish themselves, these four Democratic state Senators correctly concluded. Exhibit A: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) payroll tax was enacted in 2009. That tax was partially rescinded only after the GOP regained control of the state Senate in 2011.

The problem for the state Senate’s GOP candidates this year came in places like the mid-Hudson Valley, where state Senator Stephen Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) was ousted, and in Westchester County, where the talented Bob Cohen was unable to flip retiring state Senator Suzi Oppenheimer’s (D-Mamaroneck) seat into the Republican column. That’s why the GOP is obsessing over the 46th SD.