New York's senators quickly gaveled in and out of separate sessions to try to satisfy Gov. David Paterson's order to meet, but insist they are progressing in private talks to share power.
Democrats and the coalition of 30 Republicans and one dissident Democrat held separate sessions Thursday under their own leaders under ongoing deadlock that has persisted for 17 days and amounted to know legislative action accomplished.
Gov. Paterson again expressed anger at the warring chamber Thursday, saying "once again the Senate did no work." He also demanded the lawmakers remain in special session, showing up again tomorrow, or until their dispute is finally worked out.
"This is a crisis of governance," he said.
Democratic conference leader John Sampson of Brooklyn said earlier that he still doubts Paterson's order for the Senate to remain in Albany is constitutional, but feels the separate sessions would satisfy his order even if any votes are invalid.
Meantime, Sen. Pedro Espada told NY1 today that Democrats and Republicans have "put down their armors and their swords and are really talking to each other in a respectful way."
"We're all embarrassed that we've embarrassed ourselves, the process, the institution through this impasse," he told NY1. "We all agree that the lack of leadership by Governor Paterson has hurt this process."
In addition to threatening to dock their pay if they don't appear today, Paterson said last night that he could get a court order to dispatch state troopers to bring those senators playing hooky straight to the Capitol. Such threats prompted Sen. Carl Kruger to accuse the governor of violating the Constitution and holding senators hostage, The Daily News reported.
"(If he thinks) he’s going to extort or extract some kind of agreement on legislation that he thinks will, you know, change the course of political events next year, he’s playing in a vacuum," Kruger told the paper.
Thirty Democrats and no Republicans showed up for yesterday's special session, which didn't even last 10 minutes. It was the second straight day that "extraordinary" session ended in chaos.