Monday, June 15, 2009

Gridlock Turns To Deadlock

NYS Senate Tied At 31; Extra Innings Likely

Can anyone in Albany say, "power-sharing"?

Unlikely, in real terms, as New York politicos, on both sides of the aisle, aren't know for sharing very well, if at all.

Voting along party lines -- even on mundane, non-ideological issues -- is the mainstay from Albany to the county legislature, with no one willing to yield either power or set aside ego.

With 31 Democrats and 31 Republicans now firmly in place (for this moment) in the State Senate, and no Lieutenant Governor to break the tie, watch for one side to look to the other to blink, and then try to slip into the void.

Of course, alliances, holy and otherwise, could be in the offing, and, when a single vote makes all the difference, lobbying for a vote here or there, from both inside and outside the chambers, could make things very interesting.

Rule by consensus? Hey, anything is possible, even if, as a matter of longstanding form in New York, it simply cannot last.
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From the pages of Newsday:

Judge orders both sides of coup to work it out

ALBANY - A State Supreme Court judge on Monday ordered both sides in the State Senate coup to go back to the Capitol and resolve their differences.

Judge Thomas McNamara's pronouncement came after a private meeting in chambers Monday about developments between Republicans and Democrats during the weekend. The judge ordered the parties to report back to him at 1 p.m. Monday.

"I am directing and ordering each of you to go back across the street . . . and try to work out a resolution," McNamara said.

Inside the courtroom, the judge said: "The reluctance of courts to become involved in matters of coequal branches of government is historical . . . done with great reluctance."

Democratic attorney Richard Emery told reporters that Democratic senators would try to work out "a power-sharing agreement" with Republicans.

"This is unprecedented, 31-31," Emery said. "This has never happened before."

Republican laywers declined to comment.

John Ciampoli, a lawyer for the Senate Republicans, offered the judge DVDs presumed to illustrate the validity of the surprise vote last week to reinstall Sen. Dean Skelos (R- Rockville Centre) as majority leader and make Pedro Espada Jr. senate president.

The judge's order followed hot on the heels of news Monday that State Sen. Hiram Monserrate plans to return to the Democratic fold - news confirmed to Newsday by his partner in the Senate coup last week.

Espada, of the Bronx, said Monday that Monserrate, of Jackson Heights, had informed him of the decision.Monserrate and Espada last week helped shift the balance of power in the Senate when they elected to side with 30 Republicans to form a new voting majority.

Espada, now the temporary Senate president as a result of the move, said he has no plans to return to the party despite Monserrate's latest maneuver.

"I spoke with my colleague . . . and he confirmed that he will be rejoining the Democrat conference as he was unable to convince additional Democrats to join the bi-partisan reform caucus at this time," Espada said in a prepared statement.

The move by Monserrate deadlocks the chamber in a 31-31 tie. A source, who requested anonymity, told Newsday Monserrate will make the formal announcement later Monday. The source also said the reasons for Monserrate's desertion of the new majority coalition lay in dumping Malcolm Smith of St. Albans as Democratic leader in favor of John Sampson of Brooklyn.

Sources told Newsday that Sampson was poised to replace Smith once a court case over control of the State Senate is settled on Monday.Monserrate's move was first reported by the Daily News. Monserrate was not available to comment this morning.

"I'm coming home," Monserrate told the Daily News, the paper reported Monday."I said I wouldn't return to the caucus without a leadership change among the Democrats, and that has happened," Monserrate said in the report.

Staff writers Dan Janison and John Valenti contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.

1 comment:

  1. Our "leadership" in Albany is busy engaged in a lot of political grandstanding, meantime, results from the Fed's Empire State Manufacturing Survey "General Business Conditions Index" were reported today and not suprisingly, New York's economy continues to go down, at a point when it was actually supposed to be improving. The index registered TWICE the negative reading it had in the prior month. New York's economy, its job market and its housing market are absolutely falling apart and instead of getting meaningful help from Albany, all we get is political theatre. Democrat or Republican, upstate or downstate, it certainly would be refreshing to hear one of these guys focus on the perilous state of New York's economy with the same sense of urgency that characterizes the way they focus on their narrow political agenda.