It's Albany as usual—and by usual, we mean totally full-tilt boogie dysfunctional. Yesterday, two State Senate Democrats decided to join the Republican minority, which then threw the GOP back in power, with a 32 member majority (30 Republicans, the 2 defected Democrats). The Times Union reports, "The whole posse was backed by billionaire Thomas Golisano, who has been conspiring with a small cadre of lawmakers to accomplish the overthrow." Wow, Golisano was really pissed about paying more in taxes! The Daily News sums it up in an editorial (on the cover, no less): "Yesterday's coup d'etat revealed Albany for the madhouse it has become, with the lunatics firmly in charge of the asylum."
The NY Times notes how Governor Paterson "called the move 'an outrage' and said Albany had become a 'dysfunctional wreck.' The governor also said 'I will not allow this,' but then conceded that there was nothing he could do to stop it." Even a longtime lobbyist told the Post, "Unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it."
State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) was the first Democratic Senate Majority Leader in 43 years for a short five-month spell, but now Senator Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) is back in charge. The Republicans were helped by Democrats Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada Jr., two Senators who have their share of legal troubles: Monserrate (D-Queens) is indicted for beating his girlfriend (a charge he denies) while Espada (D-Bronx) is being investigated on why he may not even live Bronx district and investigated by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo over whether Espada used his non-profit to promote his political campaigns. PolitickerNY says of the pair, "They are, by any measure, the improbable choices for the public role of high-minded reform agent. No matter--total surprise was achieved, and neither man balked on the floor."
CityRoom points out, "State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. requested more than $2 million dollars in Senate earmarks earlier this year for two groups with links to the health care organization that he founded and which appeared to have been created in part to receive such grants...But Senate Democrats rejected the grant requests in early April because they could not confirm that the groups were legitimate nonprofit organizations." And that's when Espada supposedly starting talking to the GOP. According to the Daily News, "'Life is circular, my friend,' Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) snarled to Espada and Monserrate as she left" yesterday. The Post has a timeline graphic of what happened; PolitickerNY has a narrative.
The GOP was reportedly unhappy about how the budget and MTA bailout were negotiated in secret. The News points out the issues left on the table are: "Reauthorization of mayoral control in the city; Legalization of gay marriage; Democratic-sponsored ethics reform; Changes in city rent laws." The Post's Fred Dicker writes, "The major factor was the ham-handed and embarrassingly chaotic leadership by the Queens-based Smith and other leading Democrats, including Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein of The Bronx, that angered and alienated Senate Republicans."