Power Struggles in New York Senate Highlight Racial Inequality

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December 7, 2012 ‐ By Kimberly Maul

The New York State Senate chamber. AP Photo/Tim Roske

Conflicts in the New York State Senate are bringing to light issues of race and power, according to The New York Times. A five-person coalition called the Independent Democratic Conference, is made up of mostly-white Republicans and dissident Democrats and emerged on Tuesday of this week as a threat to lawmakers from diverse backgrounds.

Currently, the Senate Democratic caucus is led by John L. Sampson from Brooklyn, and has been led by black lawmakers for more than 10 years. Sampson said he is worried this new coalition will try to steal power and control.

“There’s nothing for minorities. Of course it concerns me,” Rubén Díaz Sr., a Bronx Democrat in the Senate, told the Times. “What are we doing? We minorities, we’re not getting anywhere.” The Rev. Al Sharpton is also throwing his hat in the ring, saying the coalition will leave “minorities in the cold.”

Meanwhile, Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, the leader of the new coalition, told the Times that this action will actually lead to collaboration and the group would work with minority representatives on legislation that they back. But there’s concern that that will actually happen. It does look like a minimum wage increase and loosened marijuana laws could be coming, however.

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