June 15th, 2009
Democrats and Republicans emerged separately from a meeting this evening and declared they have not been able to negotiate a power-sharing agreement.
Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara delayed ruling on the matter this afternoon to allow more time for both sides to negotiate. “I urge you in the strongest way I can,” said McNamara today, “You’ve got to work this out yourselves.” So much for that idea.
New Democratic “CEO” Sen. John Sampson said that Republicans were too preoccupied with titles to negotiate. Republican leader Sen. Dean Skelos asserted that Democrats need to recognize that last Monday’s vote was legitimate and that he is Majority Leader and Sen. Pedro Espada is temporary President of the Senate.
Sampson and the rest of the Democrats are unwilling to cede that point. So Republicans and Espada, who previously insisted the court had no place deciding the legitimacy of Monday’s leadership vote, now say the judge needs to rule.
“We need judicial intervention, we need judicial action,” declared Espada after the meeting.
Earlier this morning Democrats held a press conference to announce that Sen. Hiram Monserrate had returned to the Democratic fold and that Sen. Sampson will run the conference’s “day to day operations” and function as it’s “CEO,” as Sen. Malcolm Smith put it. What that means isn’t exactly clear. Smith still claims to be the majority leader and president of the Senate. Monserrate said Democrats will discuss the new leadership structure in the conference over the next few days.
Smith’s pained facial expression told the story as Monserrate described his leadership as dysfunctional and praised the new structure. “I remain unbought and unbossed,” Monserrate declared. The press release his staffers handed out after the conference had that phrase underlined and in bold type.
Only a while after Monserrate made his switch official a crowd of “protesters” wearing shirts that read “Reform Coalition-Espada, Monserrate, Skelos-Here to Stay” gathered on the east steps of the Capitol. Their shirts were apparently manufactured before Monserrate decided to switch things up again. It is hard to keep up with events at the Capitol these days.
Rain poured down as the protesters, who had come from the Bronx on a chartered bus, chanted, “Ho-ho, hey-hey, Pedro Espada is here to stay!” Supporters declared they had organized independently, but it was clear that Espada’s office had had a hand in arraigning the effort. Some of the protesters had strong ties to Espada’s campaign. One of the group expects to be working for Espads in the near future.
Eventually Espada made his way out of the Capitol building to talk to gathered members of the press. Espada downplayed Monserrate’s return to the Democratic fold and insisted that that Monserrate has pledged to support him as temporary president of the Senate. Espada denied that the coup that he helped orchestrate is creating gridlock. “There is no gridlock!” he insisted. Espada said that it is the Democrats who refuse to come to session who are delaying legislative action.
Later, outside the Senate chamber, Espada’s supporters and members of Acorn, Citizen Action and other groups that had come to protest the new coalition and the influence of Tom Golisano tried to shout each other down.
Republicans entered the Senate chamber to put on a mock session. Without Monserrate they don’t have the 32 votes needed for a quorum to start a session. That didn’t stop them from standing for the pledge of allegiance. Espada’s Chief of Staff Andrew Yong delivered an invocation.
“Lord, we pray that before us, that we would enact real reform, that there will be true transparency, and that there would be justice in this state,” he said.
Espada told reporters that his Democratic colleagues are creating “gridlock” by not showing up to session. He said they aren’t “showing up to work.” He again threatened to bring gay marriage to a vote to get Democrats to show up. He asked reporters, “Are you telling me that If I introduce, as I will, same-sex marriage onto the floor of the Senate chamber that we will be deadlocked at 31-31? I don’t think so.”By David King on June 15, 2009, 7:55 pm
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