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Ruben Diaz Sr.

Ruben Diaz, Sr. Still Bending Over Backwards for Suburban Drivers

3:22 PM EDT on July 10, 2009

Last night, shortly after Pedro Espada secured his $41,000 majority leader perk, the State Senate returned to the business of legislating. Liz Benjamin has several posts today explaining what that looked like. In less than 24 hours, the chamber passed 135 bills. It could have passed 136, but Bronx Democrat Ruben Diaz, Sr. sided against his party and killed a measure to stiffen penalties for traffic violations on Long Island:

Diaz Sr. raised eyebrows when he crossed the aisle to join the GOP in voting against a bill that would have established a mandatory surcharge for traffic offenses and infractions in Suffolk and Nassau counties.

It was not immediately evident why the Bronx Democrat would care enough about such a parochial suburban issue to buck his own conference. His move created a 31-31 tie, and since Richard Ravitch is not yet presiding over the chamber (and probably couldn't have legally cast the stalemate-breaking vote, anyway), Sen. Malcolm Smith decided to take the bill off the floor.

The reason Diaz stalled the bill? He wanted to cajole Republicans into opposing an increase to New York City's sales tax. Of course, the ploy, if you can call it that, didn't work at all. The sales tax coasted to passage in a 43-19 vote (so much for avoiding taxes on hard-working New Yorkers). But rest easy, Nassau and Suffolk drivers: Ruben Diaz, Sr. has got you covered, again.

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