State Senator Hiram makes it two days in the row on the cover of the Daily News: After his Mets-Yankees game appearance with fellow dissident Democrat Senator Pedro Espada Jr., now Monserrate is making waves by telling the News he's going to vote with the Democrats, just one week after he and Espada helped Republicans take control of the Senate. The lawmaker from Queens broke the news to Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, saying, "I'm coming home."
The meeting between Monserrate and Gonzalez was held at the Georgia Diner in Queens—where the Reverend Al Sharpton was also present (see picture). Monserrate explained his change of heart, "I said I wouldn't return to the caucus without a leadership change among the Democrats, and that has happened," basically confirming that Smith is out as the head of the Democratic conference and that John Sampson is in. He also bristled at being called a flip-flopper, "When other Democrats like Malcolm supported a Republican, Bloomberg, for mayor in 2005, no one accused them of flip-flopping. I made an affirmative step to change Albany from the old ways of doing things, to get Democrats and Republicans working together more, and some of that change will now happen."
Before last Monday, the Democrats held a 32-30 majority in the State Senate. But when Monserrate and Espada decided to vote with the 30 Republicans, that enabled the new coalition to elect Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) as majority leader and Espada (D-Bronx) as president pro tempore of the Senate. The move also threw Albany into chaos for the rest of the week, with the Senate Secretary (a Democrat) refusing to hand over keys to the Senate Chambers and the now-deposed Democratic majority leader Malcolm Smith suing to keep Espada from taking power. Monserrate also caused some confusion last Thursday, when he refused to take part in the first day of the new coalition's work, leaving the chambers and leaving the Senate without a quorum. Now, as the News points out, Monserrate's "decision creates an astonishing 31-31 deadlock in the Senate and further muddles the question of which party controls that body."
Monserrate also explained he's looking forward to introducing bills to "end vacancy decontrol and reestablish rent regulations over thousands of apartments in the city" and require police officers to submit to drug and alcohol testing right after shooting a civilian, adding, "Under Malcolm's leadership, they wouldn't allow that bill to come to the floor. Now we'll have an up and down vote on that bill."