The sickening spectacle in Albany has turned off millions of voters. It is so sad that New Yorkers have lost control of our state Senate.
What a travesty that the two men responsible for the chaos in Albany both face possible criminal charges. Pedro Espada Jr and Hiram Monserrate are freshman senators. Espada is the target of local and state investigations into how he directed funds to a Bronx non-profit group that he founded and, also, on whether he lives in Westchester though he claims his primary address is in the borough he represents, the Bronx. Monserrate is under criminal investigation for assaulting his girlfriend with a broken glass.
How did such prize packages get to represent the people of the Empire State? That, at the moment, is a mystery. But there is no disputing that they are pretty sad specimens of what legislators should be.
They are indeed traitors, to their party and to the people. It’s no credit to the Democratic Party that this was allowed to happen. Nor is it a credit to the Republicans that they were ready to accept support from these two traitors to enable them to take the leadership away from Senator Malcolm Smith.
Today, the craziness continues. With the Senate ready to convene at 3 p.m., Monserrate, who specializes in being a turncoat, threatens to go back to the Democratic side. That would mean a 31-31 deadlock. Based on his past behavior, Monserrate could change his party allegiance again and again today. But it appears that there is presently a 31-31 deadlock -- for now.
These two characters, who decorated the front page of the Daily News on Sunday in a photograph that showed them at the Yankee-Mets game, are having the time of their lives. Like Nero in ancient Rome, they’re playing, if not fiddling, while the system burns. They have manipulated the system to take power. They don’t seem to give a damn about the people’s needs. They’re attending to their own.
The Daily News headlined the ball game episode: “In Foul Territory.” The New York Post headlined it “Coup’s on First as Traitors Have Ball.”
I spoke to the leader of the other house, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. He had no comment about the antics of the senators, who dwell on the other side of the hall from the Assembly. But he said proudly: “We’re going about our business. We had 25 committee meetings last week. We passed 150 bills. And, this week, we hope to pass a bill on mayoral control of the New York City educational system. So we’re not idle.”
But, I pointed out to Silver: “Until the Senate straightens itself out, nothing can become law.” The Speaker replied: “That’s true but nothing can deter us from doing what we’re supposed to do.
And, if takes a long time for the Senate to straighten itself out. “We’ll do our job and then go home and we’ll be ready to come back to Albany to finish up when the Senate does.”
With a tornado besieging the other house, Shelley Silver presides over a relatively tranquil chamber. Too bad the senators can’t borrow him to restore a semblance of sanity to this out-of-control body.