A coalition of Long Island liberal-leaning activists called on new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) to pass measures previously opposed by his predecessor Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
About 20 activists from organizations including the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York and women's rights group NARAL-Pro Choice rallied outside of Skelos' district office in Rockville Centre Tuesday afternoon, chanting "Hey hey, ho ho...Skelos has got to go!"
"We want to send the message to the other senators, replacing him is not enough, you need to pass the legislation that Dean Skelos and his majority caucus has stopped from passing," said Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, which organized the rally and news conference.
Tyson and the advocates called on Flanagan and the Senate to pass the NY Dream Act that would allow in-state tuition for immigrant students living in the country illegally. They also called for reforms to the state's campaign finance system, and an additional minimum wage increase.
On Monday, Skelos stepped down from his powerful post following scrutiny over his arrest on federal public corruption charges. Skelos has vowed to fight charges that he and his son Adam essentially shook down a developer and an environmental firm seeking contracts and favorable legislation.
"New York is in the grip of a political crime wave. We must change this culture of corruption by changing the system. This calls for publicly funded, fair elections," said Lisa Oldendorp, with the Long Island council of Move On, a left-leaning advocacy group.
Emily Abbott, Long Island political director for the Working Families Party, urged the Senate to pass statewide public campaign financing to "level the playing field between wealthy donors and working families."
"He's still a senator... it's time for [Skelos] to fight for the people," said Mimi Pierre-Johnson, an organizer with New York Communities for Change.
A spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus did not return an e-mail seeking comment.