Paterson to Mediate $100K Senate Squabble

Warring Senate costs people legislation and money

Gov. David Paterson on Friday is scheduled to mediate a nearly four-week standoff over control of New York's Senate.       

Neither the Democratic conference nor the Republican-dominated coalition that mounted a June 8 coup for power said there was a
deal. Neither side would comment on the discussion.

After weeks of rejecting Paterson's offers to assist with mediation, their position may have changed, sources said Thursday.   Paterson has called all 62 members to extraordinary sessions for each of the next few days of the holiday weekend as the lawmakers, divided 31 to 31, remain locked in a leadership dispute that started June 8.

One source said the lawmakers are trying to convince Paterson they are close to an agreement so they can get a holiday weekend.

The development came as it was calculated that since senators stopped passing legislation and started passing insults, they've cost taxpayers at least $94,400.
That total includes only the $160 daily expenses paid to the 59 senators from outside the Albany area for staying in town since the regular session ended June 22. The meter is ticking to the tune of $9,440 each day for those expenses, which don't include the unknown cost of stacks of late-night pizzas and the comp time they'll eventually give their weary staffers to cover overtime.

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced plans Thursday to withhold pay for state senators until a court requires him to release the funds or there's a resolution of the leadership struggle.
It's all a pittance compared to the state's $131.8 billion state budget, but the expense payments since the feud began -- gridlocking the final two weeks of the 2009 session -- total almost twice the annual income of the average New Yorker. During the same period,the number of jobless New Yorkers rose by about 15,300.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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