A New York judge may finally settle a weeklong power struggle in the state Senate. State Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara is scheduled to rule on the case today. Republican and Democratic senators failed to work out a power sharing agreement following the shocking revolt June 8 by a coalition of Republicans and two dissident Democrats that upended Democratic control of the chamber.
The courts are reluctant to get involved in the workings of another branch of government, but McNamara has made it clear Monday that he will act if the politicians don’t.Any action by McNamara this week is likely to be appealed by the loser to a midlevel appellate court.
Meanwhile, a meeting held yesterday to break the stand-off collapsed in even more confusion.
They met for over an hour to try to come up with an agreement for bipartisan power-sharing, but in the end it degenerated into more name calling.
“There was no agreement reached. We thought they were unreasonable,” Sen. John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, said.
“They should be docked pay. They should hand it back voluntarily,” Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Long Island, countered.
Eight days after Republicans and the two renegade Democrats staged the coup to overthrow Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, there was total dysfunction.
“I make a commitment to my conference colleagues in the Democratic party that I am committed to working united with them,” said Sen. Hiram Monserrate, D-Queens.
The chaos was in part due to a decision by one of the renegade Democrats, Monserrate, to stop siding with the Republicans and rejoin with the Democrats. That left the Senate split 31-31, and with no way to pass a single bill.
“People don’t care about titles. They are just concerned about whether or not they can put food on the table, put a roof over their heads, and be able to go to work,” Sampson said.
To achieve bipartisanship, the Democrats offered:
* Democrat and Republican presidents of the Senate alternating daily
* Floor leaders alternating daily
* A committee of three Democrats and three Republicans to determine what legislation reaches the floor
The Republicans insisted the price for bipartisanship was having Sen. Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, as president of the Senate and Skelos, a Republican, as majority leader.
“This is completely unchartered waters and New York state senators don’t have the political DNA to work in a bipartisan fashion,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
When asked how it going to work tied at 31-31, Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, seemed as flabbergasted as anyone.
“You tell me and when you find out you let me know,” he said.
Added Sen. Frank Padavan, R-Queens: “The entire situation continues to be a disgrace.”