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State Senator Kevin Parker Convicted on 2 Misdemeanor Charges Senate This Close to Republican Control



Kevin Parker was convicted in Kings County Supreme Court of 2 counts of Criminal Mischief, Class A misdemeanors. He faces up to one year in jail. The jury trial was the result of an incident that took place outside his home in May 2009 in which Parker was accused of damaging a camera and an automobile belonging to a NY Post photographer. Parker was acquitted of several felony charges. Sentencing will take place on January 27, 2011.
Already, there is speculation that Senator Parker’s case would be handled similarly to that of former State Senator Hiram Monsurrate, who was expelled by members of his own body after a conviction for domestic violence. State Senate Conference Leader John Sampson “rejects the notion of an equitable comparison” between Parker and Monsurrate.  It is “not a fair comparison. One involved domestic violence, which is not tolerated,” said Sampson.
Regarding what actions the senate will take as a result of Parker’s conviction, Sampson said, “All the information and the facts with respect to his trial and conviction have not come out. We do not know if there will be jail time. At this point in time, it is premature until I have all the facts so that a determination can be made.” A spokesperson said the Senator  will not pre-empt the sentencing phase of the issue.
Parker’s conviction complicates an already contentious situation in the state Senate. As of press time, the state Senate is divided by 31 Republicans and 30 Democrats. The one outstanding district is that of Craig Johnson’s 7th Senatorial district. Sampson admits “We have lost a couple of court decisions.” The Democratic Conference has appealed in appellate court for a hand recount of  “All we ask is that all the votes be counted,” said Sampson.
Sampson attributed the loss of Democrat Antoine Thompson  seat by 527 votes to low turnout in western NY, which is 5-1 democratic registration. “Though we lost that seat. We will regain that seat in the next two years. Republicans cannot hold it during the next election year in which Barack Obama will be running.”
Sampson continues to call for Democrats and Republicans to work together.  In the case of a 31-31 split, they would have to work together. If not, there would be gridlock. The deciding vote would be the Lieutenant Governor, a Democrat, who can only vote on non-fiscal issues.
This week saw the closing of OTB after a 29 to 20 vote in the Senate failed to save it. Only two Republicans votes to save OTB through financial restructuring: outgoing Queens Senator Frank Padavan, who has Aqueduct Racetrack in his district and Roy McDonald whose upstate district covers Saratoga Springs, a racing stronghold.
$11 million was what was needed to save OTB. According to an insider, OTB has historically had financial problems during the 44 years of Senate republican rule. Problems have been “festering for years.” OTB, a legal bookmaker, allowed people to bet on a product they did not control – horse racing at Aqueduct and other racetracks. According to the source, OTB was required to pay fees to the various racetracks, and hadn’t for a number of years.
“This is a prelude to what is going to be happening in the state now that the Republicans may have the advantage of being in the majority. This is their form of economic development, making sure there is a loss of jobs,” said Sampson.
“1,000 people were terminated because OTB closed their doors.  The closing of OTB in the city resonates throughout the State of New York. This can destroy the entire racing industry which is responsible throughout the state for 10-17,000 jobs – from farmers, to people who sell hay to horse owners. They were trying to hold everything up to get  a regional OTB, particularly in Sen. Skelos’ district in Nassau and Suffolk. We turned our back and gave them an early Christmas gift – pink slips.”