While the New York state senate stalemate appears to be over (at least for now), the real losers continue to be the people of New York. The real winner? Probably Pedro Espada, who not only gets to be majority leader of the Senate, but also gets a pay raise (he's earned it, right?). Espada went back to the Democrats (who apparently took some convincing by future felon Hiram Monserrate) Thursday night, after being told that he would be majority leader, ending the ridiculous 31-31 stalemate that has paralyzed the state.
But Espada did not go back to the Democratic fold for the people. Sources say that a seperate Democratic faction that was getting pretty fed up with the nonsense in Albany (it only took them 31 days) were planning a deal with Senate Republicans that would have given the Republicans a clear majority and would have pushed good ole' Pedro out of contention for a leadership position in the Senate. Only then did Espada go running back to the Democrats, after he made them all look like a bunch of political eunichs.
If you listen to the rhetoric being espoused by Democrats in Albany, you would be hard pressed to find any sincerity. For example, John L. Sampson (D-Brooklyn) said "To all 19.5 million people in the state of New York, we apologize. Sometimes you have a dysfunctional family, dysfunctional family members, but at the end of the day, we understand that we are all one family and we are all home now. Home to stay." Sampson is the new leader of the Democratic caucus (not to be confused with the other two positions being doled out to Democrats: Espada as the majority leader and Malcolm Smith as the president of the Senate), and not a very good analogy maker. Dysfunctional families only hurt themselves with infighting and shame; they tend not to affect 19.5 million people.
Espada's words were even more off of the mark. "Sometimes best friends fight. I never left home. I had a little leave of absence. My brothers and sisters welcomed me back, and we come back stronger than ever." The Democrats are not best friends with Espada (and I would guess that neither are the Republicans). Espada probably ruined a lot of goodwill that the senators may have had with their constituents, as incumbency may be more of a burden for some legislators due to the laughingstock that the New York State Senate has been to the rest of the country as of late (though, as discussed previously, some senators may not have an issue with it). Espada probably thinks that he is best friends with everyone because his ego is so big, but I would venture to guess that he won't be a popular guy in the coming months.
The only statement that resembled reality came from Dean Skelos, the leader of the Senate Republicans. "There are so many factions there that would like to, quite honestly, slit the other factions’ throat. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to lead and govern." While the whole image of entire factions of Democrats taking razor blades to other Democratic factions' throats in an Albany bloodbath is a little much, Skelos is right in that the Democratic party in New York is in serious discord. It would not surprise me at all if another Democratic faction broke off before year-end. Because, really, how long can you ally yourself with someone who compares himself to Jesus causing a ruckus among the moneychangers at the temple and another person who thinks legitimate criticism of him amounts to a jihad?
At the end of the day, the senators in Albany can be described using a popular colloquialism (in that I heard it yesterday and read it in a book that very same night): ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. They are a complete and utter embarassment and if more than 5 total get re-elected, then we really do live in Idiot America. If Espada and/or Monseratte are re-elected, the water should be checked in their districts. I am embarassed by Espada, Monseratte, and every senator that did not unequivocally stand up and say that what was going on was wrong (which, by my count, is every senator). But maybe there's a reason no one stood up and said something; because when you shine the light on one cockroach, you shine the light on them all. Peace.
Photos - Malcolm Smith, Bill Perkins, and Pedro Espada enjoy a good laugh at the expense of New Yorkers (Washington Post)