New York's Republican State Senators, a group of mostly white men, are working hard to muscle their influence in government and stonewall diversity progress.
Republicans and a group of five Democrats in Albany formed a "bipartisan governing coalition" to secure a majority hold on the Senate. According to lawmakers interviewed by the New York Times, their goal is to keep Blacks, Latinos and Asians out of Senate leadership positions and hinder legislation that could help nonwhite communities in one of America's most diverse states.
The Democrats appeared to win control of the senate in November's election, but the coalition will allow the GOP and the Independent Democrats to effectively overpower the Senate Democratic caucus, which includes 14 Black and Latino lawmakers and is the only legislative caucus in Albany headed by a nonwhite person, John L. Sampson of Brooklyn. The deal would also grant the coalition members equal authority in all state budget decisions and committee assignments, including committee appointments.
Democratic legislators argue that the deal undermines the state's Black, Latino and Asian voters. "This coalition of convenience will limit the elevation of people that communities of color elected all across the state to positions of significance," Democratic Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries told the Times. It could also impact pending legislation such as raising the minimum wage, changing marijuana-possession laws to reduce stop-and-frisk arrests, and helping children of undocumented immigrants pay for higher education.
What's the lesson they can learn from corporate America? Organizations that are not representative of their constituencies fail to connect with them. In business, that means a lack of market share and profitability. In the public sector, that means legislation that does not benefit the majority of the citizens, subverting the democratic process.
To understand the need for representational leadership, see: