Albany stalemate drags on, mayoral control in doubt


| pdavis@queenscourier.com |

With the clock winding down on mayoral control and other critical legislation, the circus-like actions continued in Albany, prompting the Governor to call another special session for Tuesday night, June 30, with the hopes of passing legislation that has remained on the shelves for weeks during the stalemate.

Governor David A. Paterson held a press conference in Albany in which Mayor Michael Bloomberg participated via satellite from New York City on Tuesday afternoon, where Paterson reamed State Senators for the inaction and follies during the past three weeks and failure to pass legislation critical to the city.

“These people should hang their heads in shame,” Paterson said, referring to the 62 State Senators. “They are now the do-nothing Senate.”

Shortly before Paterson’s press briefing, the Senate Democrats began holding a session with their 31 members, and reports surfaced that Queens Republican Senator Frank Padavan was in the Senate chambers for the session – giving the Democrats a quorum to begin passing legislation.

However, Padavan said he was passing through the Chamber trying to get to the lounge because he was blocked by a gaggle of reporters. Padavan said he never acknowledged the Senate clerk to signify his attendance, and he had already made his way to the lounge prior to the session beginning.

“There are a number of adjectives that come to mind – childish, irresponsible, fraudulent petty silly, take your pick,” Padavan said, referring to the Democrats’ actions.

After the reports began to surface, Padavan called Governor Paterson and told him his story. Paterson reemerged and announced he would not sign any legislation passed in the regular session the Democrats conducted.

One of the key issues hanging in the balance is the deadline to extend mayoral control for the city public school system. For weeks, Mayor Bloomberg and supporters have lobbied for the passage of the bill, which the Governor and Assembly both supported, and it is set to expire at midnight on June 30. Some Senate Democrats have called for changes to the Mayor’s plan so it is unclear whether it would come up for a vote Tuesday night.

“I would be hard-pressed to explain to the students in our school system this kind of democracy,” said Bloomberg, while vowing to keep the school system running on Wednesday should the deadline expire before a passage of the bill.

Both Republicans and Democrats were expected to attend the session on Tuesday night, but it was unclear if they would vote on any bills.

The initial chaos in Albany erupted on Monday, June 8, when Bronx Democrat Pedro Espada Jr. and Queens Democrat Senator Hiram Monserrate voted with the Republicans in favor of a new coalition government – flipping the Senate Majority from 32-30 Democrats to 32-30 Republicans. Democrats contend that they adjourned the session prior to the vote, and a week later Monserrate flipped back to supporting the Democrats, creating a 31 to 31 tie and a stalemate that has continued through today.

For weeks, Senators from both sides have argued about who has control over the leadership of the Senate, and although both parties have proposed power sharing plans, no agreement has been reached.

“All we want to talk about right now is passing legislation and all the Senate Republicans want to talk about now is whether they successfully stole control of the Senate on June 8,” said Shams Tarek, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.