A coalition between Republicans and a group of renegade Democrats is raising concerns about a lack of diversity in the New York State Senate. YNN's Zack Fink reports.
NEW YORK -- Although Democratic senate candidates won the most votes last month, a power-sharing arrangement will keep them in the minority. That means no committee chairmanships and no leadership posts for the racially-mixed Democratic conference.
"We should have leadership that is reflective of the state of New York and the diversity of the state of New York, and that's not the case with this so-called bipartisan coalition," said State Senator Karim Camara.
Every Republican senator is white. The majority of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference is also white, although Malcolm Smith recently announced he is joining the IDC.
"Of course there is a lack of diversity," said State Senator Ruben Diaz. "They are all white. You are going to ask me, 'What about Malcolm Smith?' That's a token."
Diaz knows a thing or two about Democrats joining Republicans to form a majority. He is the last remaining member of the so-called "four amigos" who broke away from the Democratic party in a coup that snatched Democratic control of the senate chamber and handed it back to the Republicans.
"Four white guys that are doing exactly or worse than what the four amigos did two years ago," Diaz said. "Because we were Hispanic, we were crooks, we were extortionists."
Democrats say the coalition government between the IDC and Republicans is bound to fail because just like the last time the Democrats joined the Republicans, they don't think Republicans will live up to their end of the bargain.
The budget is also an issue. Some African-American lawmakers have complained that the budget gets done by three men in a room, all of whom happen to be white. With IDC leader Jeff Klein in the mix, it could now be four men in a room, once again, all of whom are white.
Latino lawmakers say they also feel shut out.
"There are six of us in the senate now, in the Democratic conference," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "And if the Democratic conference was in the majority in January, we would be leading different committees, and we'd be able to set the policy agenda for the state of New York on those issues."
The senate convenes for the new session on January 9.