Private Meeting in Albany Ends, Stalemate Drags On

Espada accuses Dems of robo-racism

New York State Senate Democratic leaders walked out of a private meeting Thursday with members of the Republican-led coalition without securing a power-sharing agreement.

Democrats said negotiations are ongoing, but refused to comment as they left the meeting, leaving the coalition of 30 Republicans and one dissident Democrat still behind closed doors.

"We're still negotiating," Senate Democrat leader John Sampson of Queens said, according to the Daily News.

The Republican coalition claims to have control of the chamber, but the Senate circus that started 11 days ago remains gridlocked. 

Earlier, heading into the meeting, Republican Dean Skelos, who says he is now Majority Leader, for the first time indicated that that he might agree to a deal that does not include dissident Dem Pedro Espada as Senate president.

Meanwhile, if this whole political maneuver doesn't work out for Espada, he could have a good chance at starring in a reality show with all the drama centered around him lately.

The lone remaining dissident Democrat claims that robo calls and press releases from Democrats trying to disparage him are racially motivated. Robo calls are automated phone calls you might receive during campaign season, or if your vehicle's warranty is due to expire.
Espada says the robo calls by the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee went to mostly white districts that elected white Republican senators. A spokesman for the committee denies the accusation.

Espada notes the calls say he's indicted, although he's only under investigation at this point. It also says his campaign was convicted of stealing from the elderly to pay for his campaigns. That's true, but no charges were filed against Espada himself.

Gov. David Paterson used the just-released state unemployment figures to try to scare both sides into hammering out an agreement. The Labor Department shared more bad news for New Yorkers Thursday: More than 800,000 are out of work, including about 5,000 who lost their jobs just in the past week.

"Enough is enough," Paterson said in a statement Thursday. "If senators do not wish to go to work, there are more than 800,000 New Yorkers ready to take their jobs - and salary - today."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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