Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Albany and Costello

The two week old comedy act that has characterized the stalemate in the state senate shows no further evidence of resolution yesterday, as a federal court judge opted to avoid any entanglement in the legislative miasma-citing constitutionally mandated separation of powers: “A judicially imposed resolution would be an improvident intrusion into the internal workings of a co-equal branch of government,” Justice McNamara said in his ruling. “The question calls for a solution by the members of the State Senate, utilizing the art of negotiation and compromise. The failure of the Senate to resolve this issue in an appropriate manner will make them answerable to the electorate.”

So now, with the equal split in place, and no arbiter to break it, we're left with the need to devise some kind of power sharing arrangement;something that the Democrats have offered but the Republicans have rebuffed: "Late Tuesday, Democrats floated a power-sharing agreement of their own that would allow business in the Senate to continue through next Monday, the final scheduled day of session for the year. But it appeared to make little impression on Republicans, who said it was a nonstarter."

For their part, Republicans have floated the idea that Senator Espada could himself break the tie because, as the president pro tem, he has two votes: "Renegade Democratic Sen. Pedro Espada claimed yesterday he and his Republican allies are forging an explosive new plan to give him an unprecedented two votes to break the newly emerged deadlock in the state Senate. "I can have two votes," Espada boldly told The Post. "We're going to maintain that, as the president pro tempore of the Senate, I am also the acting lieutenant governor, and the lieutenant governor can vote when there's a tie."

This, no doubt, had the Democrats muttering that this new radical approach said more about their former colleagues split personality than it does about the state constitution. Regardless, it doesn't appear that this will fly any time soon-leaving the deadlock in place until, and if, a power sharing can be arranged; something that the NY Daily News advocates: "Now, we deserve an end. As McNamara so obviously put it, "The question calls for a solution by the members of the state Senate, utilizing the art of negotiation and compromise." That means 31 Democrats striking a deal with 30 Republicans plus one renegade Democrat (Espada) to share power. Today."

If this doesn't happen, a number of key legislative issues germane to the ability of local governance will be left unresolved: "The new city budget agreement, the one negotiated in professional comity by Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn? Gone, and here come big layoffs. The rickety financial plan crafted by Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi? Gone, and here come big layoffs. Mayoral control of the schools? Gone, and who the hell knows what happens after that."

So our suggestion is that the Senate Dems let the mayor know that he should begin to schedule school board elections for soon after July 1st-and see if Mayor Mike can use his considerable influence on the object of his major charitable donation. After all, no one gave more to the Republican campaign than Mike. Now's the time to really find out whether the mayor got his money's worth.