Paterson's Threats Might Actually Work

Governor: "If you're not coming to work, you shouldn't get paid"

Gov. David Paterson has ratcheted up pressure on the warring, deadlocked Senate, threatening to dock lawmakers' paychecks if they don't get back to the special session.

Paterson has asked the controller's office if he's allowed to withhold their pay.

"If you're not going to work, you shouldn't get paid," he said at a fiery news conference Wednesday, adding that he'll order state troopers to bring senators to the Capitol in what would be an unprecedented move. Senate Republicans and Democrats said later, however, that they'll show up for Thursday's 3 p.m. special session, which would mark the body's first full session in 20 days.

Paterson first ordered the squabbling Senate back to session Monday, citing his legal right do so after Republicans questioned the legality of the move.

"It says right in the Constitution the governor can convene a joint session or the senate only," he said. "Aren't they the Senate only?"

The governor had specified 65 bills they were ordered to consider -- including the hot-button issue of same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, only 30 Democrats showed up for the session, and after some gaveling it was dismissed with -- no surprise -- no legislative action accomplished.

A state Supreme Court judge last week refused to rule on the matter, saying Democrats and Republicans needed to sort out the mess themselves. When that didn't happen, Paterson stepped in, and on Monday he called the chamber into special session describing the power struggle as "farcical."

The Senate coup began 17 days ago when two Democrats jumped ship, claiming they were now part of a Republican coalition that had ousted Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.  One of those dissident Dems, Hiram Monserrate has since come back to his party, while Sen. Pedro Espada continues to assert he is the newly elected President of the Senate with Republican Dean Skelos the Majority Leader. 

Meanwhile, Espada, already hounded by investigations into his campaign finances and his place of residence, is facing new questions. A health-care company he oversees owes nearly $350,000 in back taxes, yet was able to pay his $460,000 salary in 2007, the Albany Times-Union reported.

Espada insists he lives in the Bronx, the district he represents, which is required, but Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson is looking into whether Espada really lives at what the senator calls his "second home" in Westchester County.

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