Monday, April 14, 2008

Skelos Doesn't Want You to See What He Does in the Senate

The Albany-Times Union reporter Irene jay Liu was video taping procedings of the Senate and was told to turn off her camera. Even though it is perfectly legal for her to be taping.

The debate got heated and increasingly tense. I was recording the goings-on throughout the debate. In the beginning (before things got heated), I was told by one security fellow that I needed to turn off the camera. Then he came back and told me that he forgot that I was press, and said that I could turn it back on.I switched to the balcony on the other side of the chamber for a better angle to video the Republicans (shooting the back of someone’s head is not interesting). Sen. Craig Johnson is in the middle of the chamber, so I could shoot him easily from both sides.I showed my press ID, went in, and shot video. The debate grew increasingly tense, and some Republican Senators became visibly upset at the proceedings.

Sen. Dean Skelos accused a Senate Democrat staffer of shooting video from the floor of the chamber - which a Democratic staffer denied.
Sen. George Maziarz even took a shot at Johnson, saying “We crossed a line when we make cheap political shots…it is very hard to go back…don’t make this into a county legislature…” Johnson served as a Nassau County legislator before winning a seat in the Senate."

"Now, in case this is the first time you are hearing my voice, I am usually a pretty nice person and don’t sound nearly so tense or rude. But censorship gets my goat and I was pretty sure that I was allowed to tape up on the balcony, mostly because I had done so many other times before.

For example, when the Senate Democrats decided not to go into the chamber to vote on budget bills a week ago, in protest of what they called a non-transparent process, no one had a problem with my taking photos of the half-empty chamber or shooting the Republican senators’ speeches criticizing their Democratic colleagues.

We checked in with the Senate Republicans about whether we can shoot video from the balconies and they confirmed that in fact, it was allowed. Spokesman Mark Hansen explained, “It was a miscommunication.”

I’ve asked for a tape of the proceedings, and Hansen said he’d get back to me. Haven’t heard anything yet"

Here's the video:

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