Flanagan takes over the Upper Chamber, which is split along partisan lines over many issues, and a GOP conference that has its own regional and ideological factions on many of the same issues
Even worse, the whiff of corruption, and the fear of more Federal investigations and/or prosecutions pervades the offices of most of those sent to Albany from either upstate or downstate
On Monday passed, Republicans in the New York State Senate were given an opportunity to put an upstate legislator, of long-standing in Albany, into the position of highest influence in the state senate. NYS Senator John DeFrancisco of Syracuse had a chance at becoming President of the Senate and GOP Majority Leader. For DeFrancisco it was a logical, let's-finally-do-something-just-a-little-differently kind of chance to succeed Dean Skelos, who'd resigned as Senate majority leader after he was arrested and charged with instances of corruption in violation of federal law. Unfortunately for DeFrancisco, a majority of his Republican colleagues said no.
WAS IT REGIONALISM OR IDEOLOGY OR A LITTLE OF BOTH ?The majority of the GOP members of the NYS Senate followed the advice of Skelos and chose to elevate John Flanagan of Long Island instead of one of the boys from Syracuse (See “The DeFrancisco rebuff: Thanks to Albany, one more shot to shaken Upstate pride” by Sean Kirst, 5/13/15, Syracuse.com [http://www.syracuse.com/kirst/index.ssf/2015/05/john_defrancisco_majority_leader_syracuse_gallup_pride.html]).
Sean Kirst asks this: “... If power in Albany is said to be concentrated in the hands of the governor, the Senate majority leader and the speaker of the Assembly, then it is worth taking yet another look at how long that power has been concentrated at the same end of the state....”
CHALLENGING TIMES FOR GOP IN THE NYS SENATEAn article in “The Buffalo News” says that “[GOP State Senate Leader John] Flanagan takes over as [NYS] Senate leader at a challenging time, following the resignation[, as GOP Leader, of Sen. Dean G. Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, from the position after federal felony corruption charges were filed against him. The state budget might be healthy [Hmmmm ?], but Albany is not. The last five [NYS] Senate leaders have gotten into criminal trouble either during or after their reigns.... And Flanagan is taking control of the [NYS] Senate just as Albany begins its annual end-of-session chaos, a period when dozens of major policy matters will appear on the negotiating table and rank-and-file lawmakers will be demanding passage of hundreds of local-related bills....” (See “Close bonds are hallmark of new State Senate leader John Flanagan” by Tom Precious, 5/14/15, Buffalo News/ City & Region/ News Albany Bureau [http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/close-bonds-are-hallmark-of-new-state-senate-leader-john-flanagan-20150514]).
According to the Buffalo News report, “... Flanagan is known as an “institution guy,” which appeals to many lawmakers who voted for him this week. They say his years spent without power as a member of the Assembly’s Republican minority keeps him hungry in the [NYS] Senate, where the GOP holds a slim majority....”
Supposedly, up until now, John Flanagan has not significantly been involved in the fund raising committees whose purpose it is to see to it that Republicans maintain their majority in the NYS Senate. However, those close to Flanagan say that he is a fast learner, and that he will throw himself into it, quickly and completely.
DAILY NEWS’ VIEWAn article in the NY Daily News sees it from a completely different angle. According to the Daily News' Bill Hammond, “In his first 24 hours as majority leader of the state Senate, Long Island Republican John Flanagan has already proven a master of one skill that’s critical to the job: talking a lot without saying very much.... Suddenly facing questions on urgent and divisive issues of the day — from the plague of corruption in Albany to the future of rent regulation in New York City — Flanagan, a smart guy, ducked, dodged and played dumb like pro....” (See “Translating the new Senate boss: What John Flanagan says, and what he really means” by Bill Hammond, 5/13/15, NY Daily News [http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/bill-hammond-translating-new-senate-boss-article-1.2219850]).
Here’s Hammond’s bit about Flanagan’s Q & A on corruption:
Question: After watching 32 fellow lawmakers brought down by scandal over the past 15 years — including, most recently, his predecessor Dean Skelos and ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — does Flanagan believe Albany is infected with a culture of corruption?
Answer: “I’m saddened, frankly, when any of this happens because there’s a human component to it. I don’t condone inappropriate behavior, but the reality is, if one person gets named in some way, or castigated or charged, that does have an effect on everybody. . .
“There’s some really, really outstanding, good-quality, talented people in government, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.”
Translation: “As of Monday, the constituents I’m focused on are the 33 members of the Republican majority, two of whom have already been arrested — and the other 31 are terrified of being next. So let’s be clear who I’m treating as the real victims of corruption: politicians.”
Question: What, if anything, is Flanagan going to do to clean up the Capitol?
Answer: “I believe very clearly that all of our members in both houses and both sides of the aisle understand the seriousness of this issue. . . . I would be surprised if there were further changes before the end of the session, but that doesn’t mean the subject won’t come up.”
Translation: “A Senate GOP lawyer recently advised my members not to talk to the feds without lawyering up. So, yeah, reform is not high on our priority list.”
SO, WHAT HAS CHANGED ?Long Island Republican State Senator John Flanagan, is now Temporary President and Majority Leader in the New York State Senate. He has replaced Dean Skelos in the State Senate GOP leadership following the fellow Long Island senator's arrest on federal corruption charges. In a sop to upstate GOP state senators, new majority leader Flanagan retained Tom Libous as deputy leader, even though Libous himself being under federal indictment
According to the Gotham Gazette, “... [i]n his new, higher-profile, more powerful leadership role, Flanagan will be at the table with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, both Democrats, as all major policy decisions are negotiated (See “John Flanagan's Senate Campaign Finance: The Full Picture” by Jon Reznick, 5/13/15, Gotham Gazette [http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5720-john-flanagans-senate-campaign-finance-the-full-picture]).
So what has changed with the resignation of the federally charged Dean Skelos ? From the early look of things, not much.
IS FLANAGAN UNDER INVESTIGATION LIKE MARTY GOLDEN AND OTHERS ?On Monday, just after being elected to lead the NYS Senate, Flanagan was asked repeatedly by the Albany based press and other media operatives if he were under federal investigation. According to many news outlets, including the Gotham Gazette, he indicated he is not.
I’d like to see all of Majority Leader Flanagan’s quotes about his being investigated by the Feds. Everything that I saw or heard Flanagan say was very Clintonesque....
If Flanagan is not already under investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for his campaign financing schemes, like our own Brooklyn GOP State Senator Martin Golden, then Flanagan certainly should be.