After days of chaos in Albany, the Senate finally “came to order.” To satisfy the governor’s demands, Democrats and Republicans held session ysterday – just separately. Some are calling it progress, but the battle is not over yet. There’s a new drama playing out. Democratic Sens. Malcolm Smith and Jon Sampson walked out of a meeting with senators on the other side called to work out a power-sharing agreement. “We are all still talking. We have to get to talk about it with our conference,” Smith said. “We’ve brought obviously a lot of disrespect to the institution. It’s something we don’t want to continue. Also I think there’s a great deal of cooperation and we’re optimistic we can negotiate a resolution,” Sen. Pedro Espada said.
While the two sides of the house split 31-31 tried to work together to find a way to pass critical legislation, there was a new schism in Albany – Democrats furious with their Gov. David Paterson for calling special sessions that can go nowhere because anything passed would be invalid.
“I say to David Paterson, you don’t negotiate; you don’t bring legislation to the floor by thinking you are going to do that by beating somebody over the head with a bludgeon,” said Sen. Carl Kruger, D-Brooklyn.
To call the governor’s bluff Sens. Kruger, Hiram Monserrate and Eric Adams brought Paterson a packet of bills passed during the special session and challenged them to sign them.
“We’re calling him to put his pen where his mouth is and sign off on these bills,” Monserrate said.
The Democrats and the Republicans did go into the governor’s special session. They went in separately and then gaveled in and gaveled out because no bills could be passed.
“The circus has not changed,” said Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx. “The ringmaster, Paterson, is still the ringmaster and the circus is still the circus.”
During a late afternoon press conference, the governor had this to say:
“This is a crisis of governance. This is a crisis of governance vs. chaos, not the governor vs. the Legislature. The Senate is derelict in their duties just at the time that the people need the Senate to act the most,” Paterson said.
Although Thursday’s events were called progress, there is still no indication when a bipartisan power-sharing agreement will be worked out.