I watched this interview, in which Senator Hiram Monseratte was grilled on the local FOX channel (nice job there by co-anchor Greg Kelly) about his flip back to the Democrats which has effectively paralyzed the body by throwing it into a 31-31 tie. Monserrate lost me early on at: "There was, previously, a lot of dysfunction here." Previously?? Hard to take this guy seriously after hearing that; and besides, the whole performance came off being as sincere as Iran's Interior Ministry.
As I mentioned the other day, it was John Sabini, the current chairman of the State Racing and Wagering Board, who was the incumbent Senator from the 13th district in Queens when borough party leaders pushed him out in favor of Monserrate. Sabini had copped a plea on a drunk driving charge, and had defeated Monserrate by only 250 votes in a 2006 primary. But still, writing in the New York Times, columnist Jim Dwyer appropriately labeled the move one of the biggest blunders in modern New York political history."
As for Mr. Sabini, his friends in Queens and Governor Paterson managed to outfit him with a good parachute. He is now the chairman of the state’s Racing and Wagering Board. “A pretty good spot,” he said. [NY Times]I'll say, at $120,800 a year and no election campaigns every two years!
- In Tuesday's court ruling dismissing the Democrats' and Senator Malcolm Smith's challenge to last week's coup, Judge Thomas McNamara did nothing more than send the Senators back to work this out for themselves. The two parties disagree over the validity of the vote. The Republicans claim that the 32-30 vote was within Senate rules; the Democrats say it is not. Judge McNamara took no position on that matter whatsoever; and, in fact, used the term “purported” in relation to both the vote, and the Democrats' attempt to adjourn and cut it off. The judge ruled on nothing, and the GOP’s coup is no more legally valid (or invalid) then it was before.
However, the Republicans are, quite incorrectly in my humble view, portraying the decision as an affirmation of the 32-30 vote which installed Senator Espada as temporary president and Senator Skelos as Majority Leader. “I don’t believe in mulligans,” Skelos said....he sounds like a schoolkid arguing over a do-over. My political leanings are clear I know, but in New York, where dysfunction is bipartisan, and in the context of a blog about a topic which often cuts across party lines, I attempt to be more objective. However, having said that, I think that, at this point, the Republicans' wholly transparent and desperate attempt to regain the perks of power which was theirs for so long is simply pathetic. The Democrats, in offering what seems like a fair, if highly short-term, power sharing agreement, have acknowledged that they no longer control the agenda. If the GOP was really interested in reform and bipartisanship as they unconvincingly claim, they would at least be negotiating the points of the Dems' proposal with the hope of completing the session's important business rather than rejecting it outright. The New York Senate Republicans as the party of reform; what a joke.
At 31-31 and without 32 votes, there is not even a quorum to convene at all. So, the Democrats refuse to show up, and the Republicans make a show of being in the chamber where, unable to convene a real session, Skelos spent time on Tuesday naming Democrats who weren't there. The Democrats claim that only Malcolm Smith, now their "leader" in name only, has the authority to convene a session. With his court challenge turned away however, that line of reasoning may have been rendered impotent. Of course, if the Democrats did show up, they would immediately call for a leadership vote, just as the Republicans surely would have done had the court ruling gone the other way. However, Skelos would then doubt deny a vote on the grounds that the motion be subjected to the very same procedures that the Democrats claim the coup vote should have gone through, a notion that the GOP disputes. So the hypocrisy, and the stalemate, goes on.