June 12, 2009

More on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany

Hatched by Dafydd

The follies and frolics continue in the New York State Senate. Here is the latest...

First, erstwhile Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (he still believes himself to be the once and future Majority Leader) released a statement Wednesday through his spokesman, Austin Shafran; here it is in its entirety:

“The Temporary President and Majority Leader, Senator Malcolm A. Smith, was elected to a two year term pursuant to a resolution passed by a majority of Senators in January 2009."

"The purported coup was an unlawful violation of New York State law and the Senate rules and we do not accept it. The Senate Majority is fully prepared to go back to the people’s work, but will not enter the chamber to be governed by unlawful rules." [Well! That's mighty high-minded of them; I was afraid they were simply squabbling about who had the power.]

"We plan to file an action for a temporary injunction to enjoin the Republicans from illegitimately usurping authority from the people of New York."

This is amusing on several levels, not least of which is the casual conflation of a slim Democratic majority losing its leadership position because of a vote in the State Senate -- the same way it gained that leadership position in the first place -- with "usurping authority from the people of New York" (!)

Then on Thursday, the melodrama deepened, as some wag -- likely Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, one of the two defecting Democrats -- got hold of the keys to the joint:

A defiant Mr. Espada said he would enter the chamber for a session on Thursday even if the Democrats kept the doors bolted shut. As he was being trailed by a large group of reporters down a corridor in the Capitol, Mr. Espada pulled a gold key out of his pocket, grinned and said: “I’ve got the key. I’ve got the key.”

This rise of no-confidence in Smith continues today, as the New York Daily News makes it clear that Smith will probably be ousted by his Democratic conference:

It seems all-but inevitable at this point that Smith will be asked to step aside, despite the fact that he continues to fight in court to retain his hold on the leadership. The leading candidate to replace him as head of the Democratic conference is Sen. John Sampson.

Keep in mind: Even if the Democrats dump Smith and get Monserrate back, the Senate will still be deadlocked, and the question about the legality of Monday's vote that restored Sen. Dean Skelos to the majority leader's post and made Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. temporary president of the Senate still stands.

But today, the state judge hearing the case, Thomas J. McNamara, not only warned the warring parties that they should settle this politically, not judicially, he also made clear he would sign a GOP motion to dismiss the Democrats' case... though without prejudice. This would require the Democrats to start all over again, dragging the impasse out further -- and likely further eroding Smith's tenure as Majority Leader, perhaps even causing more Democrats to jump ship to Republican Dean Skelos.

I'm not a New Yorker; nevertheless, I have some thoughts on this standoff based entirely on what I have read:

  1. I believe the original vote and the continued turmoil has nothing to do with Democrats rethinking the policies of Malcolm Smith, shifting in a more conservative direction; rather, it has everything to do with an insurrection against Smith himself, personally.
  2. Therefore, I believe the efforts to oust him from his leadership position within the Democratic Party will ultimately be successful. A new party leader will be elected.
  3. Once this happens, the defections of Espada and Monserrate (both of whom appear to be crass and unethical opportunists) will boil down to what deal they can cut for leadership positions and possibly the dropping of various ethics complaints against them.

Both have serious legal issues pending: Espada "has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over several years for flouting state law by not disclosing political contributions," and he is also under investigation by the state attorney general for a healthcare network he used to run; and Monserrate is currently under felony indictment for slashing his female "companion's" face with a broken bottle during an argument.

The companion, Karla Giraldo, initially cooperated with the investigation; but in December, she changed her story to match Monserrate's: that he "tripped while holding a glass of water and Giraldo was injured by the shattered glass." There is, however, other physical evidence, possibly including surveillance video, that supports her original charge that Monserrate, a former police officer, assaulted her in a jealous rage over another man.

  1. Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  2. And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

So it goes, so it will go; but's titillating to watch the train wreck in the meanwhile.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 12, 2009, at the time of 3:15 PM

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» Penultimate Word on on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany from Big Lizards
Today, as expected, Justice Thomas J. McNamara of the New York State Supreme Court essentially said "you kids better work this out yourselves." He didn't use those exact words (pretty close though!), but that's what his ruling amounts to. (Please... [Read More]

Tracked on June 16, 2009 2:59 PM

» No Time for Sergeants - the First Post-Penultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A. from Big Lizards
I know I said the last post was the penultimate one on the subject of the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany; but something so Kafkaesque has just happened in the New York State Senate that I cannot silently... [Read More]

Tracked on June 24, 2009 5:45 PM


The following hissed in response by: nk

Not being all that much of a partisan Republican, or all that much against gay marriage, I can ask, why don't the Republicans in the Assembly tell these two #$$%&!s, "Go ____ yourselves, we don't want anyhting to do with you"?

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 13, 2009 4:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste

How the heck can someone be the Majority Leader when his party doesn't hold the majority of seats in the chamber?

I guess it's that "Permanent Democratic Majority" business: the Dems are the majority no matter how many of them there are.

The above hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 13, 2009 5:35 PM

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