State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) is getting some backlash from his constituents, primarily outspoken Jamaica pastor and activist the Rev. Charles Norris, who is furious over the lawmaker’s decision to join the Independent Democratic Caucus, which plans to form a coalition with Republicans. Smith is also rumored to be considering a run for mayor on the GOP line.
“In my estimation, we should either recall Malcolm Smith, impeach Malcolm Smith, or fire Malcolm Smith, or ask Malcolm Smith to resign,” Norris said at the Community Board 12 meeting on Wednesday night. “Please tell him exactly what I’m saying.”
But when Smith showed up at the meeting to talk about Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, Norris only asked him when he planned to hold a meeting to discuss with the community his decision to join the IDC. He did not ask him to resign and his demeanor was slightly calmer than earlier that night when he went on a tirade listing what he believes are Smith’s shortcomings and comparing him to Benedict Arnold.
“The answer is yes,” Smith said in response to Norris’ question about having a meeting. “Whenever you can pull that meeting together, I will be there.”
But Norris wasn’t content with that answer and fired back.
“You’re the senator,” he said. “You set the meeting.”
Smith agreed to have the gathering within a week, but did not give an exact date because, he said, he did not have his schedule with him.
Earlier that evening, Norris talked about how he discovered that Smith had given member item money to groups outside of Queens County. “He gave nothing to this borough,” Norris said. “Most of his member items were given to upstate, east state, west state, middle state, but nothing in this borough — not one. And for a senator, whom we elected, not to give any money to this place where he came from is utterly ridiculous.”
Smith is the fifth renegade Democrat to split from the main party and join the IDC. Other Queens Democrats said they were confounded by the decision. The move could shift the balance of power in the 2013 Senate to the GOP, since neither Republicans nor Democrats won the majority on Election Day.
Republicans have taken 30 seats in the 63-seat Senate, grabbing an extra one with the addition of Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, who has said he would caucus with them. That leaves the GOP one short of a majority with a Democrat leading in the undetermined 41st District race and the winner in the 46th District race too close to call.
“I think Malcolm has really perpetrated treason upon this community,” Norris said. “I think Malcolm is a traitor to this borough, and really, should be fired.”
Tai White, a spokeswoman for Smith, said the senator declined to comment.
Norris noted that if the senator and the other renegade Democrats stayed with their caucus instead of splintering away, the party would have had control of the Senate. “He takes four other people and goes over and gives the power to the Republicans,” Norris said. “Now what in the name of God are Republicans going to do for us Democrats here in Queens County?”