Volume 21, Number 35 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 9 - 15, 2009

Daniel Squadron

New State Sen. Daniel Squadron

Squadron: We’ll get better in the Senate

Daniel Squadron, New York’s youngest State Senator, said during his campaign that Democratic control would bring new transparent government to Albany, but the last few weeks have seen numerous embarrassing reports about Democratic senators and backroom deals. Squadron, on his first day, acknowledged “we’re not there yet,” but promised reform is coming soon.

“I said during the campaign I would not go along to get along,” he said in a telephone interview after being sworn in Wednesday. “You are going to see change. We will be moving the ball soon.”

Some of the uproar stemmed from Sen. Malcolm Smith’s negotiations with the so-called Gang of Three to secure the Majority Leader’s position. In a deal that blew up several weeks ago, Smith promised the No. 2 leadership position to one of the “Gang,” Pedro Espada Jr. who was first sworn in Wednesday and whose fundraising ethics have been called into question. Several news organizations reported that Smith also made some sort of promise to prevent a gay marriage bill from coming to the floor in deference to Sen. Ruben Diaz, another trio member.

In addition to the leadership fight, another incoming senator, Hiram Monserrate, was arrested after police accused him of beating his girlfriend with a piece of glass.

Smith announced a new agreement to become leader Tuesday which does not appear to have any prohibitions about introducing legislation. In a statement, he said the Democratic conference is committed to “getting New York back on track and creating a government that operates in a more efficient and transparent manner to meet the needs of all New Yorkers.”

Squadron, 29, defeated incumbent State Sen. Martin Connor in the Democratic primary last September. The district includes much of Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Same sex marriage supporters like Squadron are not expected to introduce marriage legislation until well after the Legislature takes care of the massive state and Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget deficits.

Squadron said there is a lot of opposition to the Ravitch Commission’s recommendation to toll the East and Harlem River bridges to help close the M.T.A. gap, and he is hopeful other ideas like the mayor’s previous congestion pricing plan are considered instead.

He is the new chairperson of the Cities Committee, which was not active recently under Republican control. He said with Democrats well represented in the state’s metropolitan districts, “there is an appetite” for restoring the committee’s importance.

Being sworn in to represent the district was even more emotional than he expected, he said, calling the moment “breathtaking.”

— Josh Rogers





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