Friday, January 02, 2009

State Senate's 11th Hour

As the day's dwindle down to the first legislative session of the new year, the state senate is still without a leader; and while staffers from the old majority continue to bail, everything else remains in limbo-which doesn't give the new leader any real time to ramp up and deal with the fiscal crisis. As the TU points out: "If Smith wins the leadership vote on Jan. 7, his administration will need time to ramp up its staff. Under ordinary circumstances, Smith would have had three months to prepare. That means Smith, if he becomes majority leader, will have to lead and make serious budget decisions within a truncated transition period. But he'll be in good company: Paterson had a five-day transition period before he became governors last March."

But Smith does need to get cracking, and the pressure tactics of his allies isn't working that well. As the Politicker tells us, at least one of the dissidents is immune to pressure: "The ring-leader of the so-called "gang of three" has spent a quiet holiday season, people close to him say, and as his fellow renegades have been blasted by mail, canvasser and YouTube, no one has gone after Kruger. He even passed some quality time at Brooklyn scion Vito Lopez's holiday party last night without incident from the scores of party loyalists who came to pay their respects in Bushwick.
"He's kind of hard to get to," said one operative, begrudgingly."

But "getting to" the dissidents is something Smith needs to do-and we hear that there is some backroom discussions being done through intermediaries; but the problem still remains the original deal that Smith agreed to, only to walk away when the uproar ensued. That deal set certain parameters in place and it will be hard to get the three rebels to come along unless the new offer is comparable.

That being said, there are those who don't feel that a leaderless senate is a bad thing; it might even be a "blessing in disguise." In this morning's NY Daily News, Jeremy Creelan argues: "And so, after decades of ironfisted leadership by the likes of Sen. Joe Bruno (R-Rennselaer), the Senate has devolved into a frightening chaos that should concern all of us. Or should it? The truth is, there's hope in the rubble. The state Senate has functioned feebly for decades precisely because the majority leader has controlled everything, leaving the talents and energy of the rest of the senators - and the voters who elected those senators - entirely out of the process."

So, Creelan tells us, all would be better if the senate was totally democratized. Perhaps it would but, forgotten in all of the hubbub over the failure of Smith to live up to the original leadership deal, is the fact that Kruger and the amigos had placed many of the reforms that Creelan supports at the heart of the deal they negotiated. Do you think that part of the reason for the deal's collapse could have been a result of this little discussed part of the package?

In any case, we believe that all of this will soon be coming to a head because leaderlessness isn't acceptable in the current crisis. But Malcolm flunked his leadership pretest; will he flunk the final as well?