As Albany's legislative session neared a close, some key bills faced an uncertain future in the Assembly.
A bill passed by the Senate to make assaults on for-hire drivers a felony met stiff opposition in the lower chamber. Assemblyman Ron Kim of Flushing, who sponsored the bill, said that body has a culture that opposes raising any penalties.
The biggest obstacle is Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who opposed other bills to bolster public safety, improve education and strengthen enforcement of ethics.
He blocked an Assembly vote on a Senate-passed measure to impose tougher penalties on members of violent street gangs like MS-13. Heastie said "a better approach is to discourage people from engaging in gang violence in the first place."
Really? What about those who already belong to violent gangs? Should they get a stay-out-of-jail pass?
He blocked a vote on a Senate-approved bill to lift the cap on charter schools in exchange for allowing Mayor de Blasio to retain control of city schools.
And he opposed legislation that would deny pensions to any state employee convicted of a felony committed on the job. Maybe he fears meeting the same fate as his predecessor, Sheldon Silver, who was convicted on federal corruption charges.
Heastie is Shelly Silver 2.0, but with smoother edges. While blocking a number of key bills, he pushed passage of one that gave huge tax breaks to yacht and private plane owners. How many constituents own yachts and private planes?
Speaker Heastie proves that it pays to have a pal in high office. His 30-year friend Patrick Jenkins is one of Albany's highest-paid lobbyists, who tripled his business after Heastie took office in 2015.
Corrupt Carl reigns with the aid of 61 other Democrats who occupy the 150-seat Assembly. They act like his chew toys, just as they did for Shelly.
Among them are 18 Queens members who face re-election next year. Voters must ask them a simple question: Will you stand up for us or bow down to the demands King Carl?
Kew Gardens Hills