Monday, March 09, 2009

Ring Around Malcolm?

In yesterday's NY Daily News, the paper alleges that Speaker Silver is "running rings around" Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith: " Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the new king of Albany, has quietly been undermining the fragile leadership of new Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, insiders say."

Well, as they say, context is everything; and to imply that this possible state of affairs is correlative to Smith's abilities is invidious, to say the least-what would Silver do with the current senate demographics? "By passing the bills, Silver has managed to not only appease his liberal constituency but also highlight the fact that Smith's razor-thin majority has left him impotent.
The Senate Democrats have a 32-30 majority, meaning every Democratic vote is needed to get most controversial measures through the house."

This is underscored quite well in this morning's NY Post article about the MTA bridge toll proposal: "Unless five Democratic state senators can be convinced to change their minds, the plan to bail out the MTA by imposing tolls on East and Harlem river bridges is dead in the water, a Post survey has revealed." So here. in sharp relief, is the real problem: the numbers militate against Smith; and he can't dictate to a splintered conference when the issue is contentious-as bridge tolls certainly are.

Silver's styling may look good because of his overwhelming majority, but the end result here will devolve from a composite box score that can only be compiled after the state budget passes; and if the end product sucks, Silver won't be able to escape untarnished. Or, in other words, they're all in it together: "You have three players each with a different agenda, and hopefully, they'll meet someplace for the benefit of the taxpayers," said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf."

Let's not forget, that the Assembly has taken the lead on some of the high tax proposals that could give it a black eye should the economy continue to tank. In short, performance-of both the legislature and the economy in tandem-is key; with inside politics scorecards taking a distant second place.