Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who's On First?

Just when you thought things really couldn't get any worse, we have reached complete gridlock-with Republicans in the state senate stubbornly claiming the mantle of leadership; but with the 31-31 split in the chamber making the leadership ascension purely nominal (and rather meaningless). This peculiar situation was a result of Hiram's homecoming, as the NY Times explains: "A week after Republicans wrested power in the State Senate away from Democrats, their thin majority collapsed on Monday, leaving the chamber in a 31-31 tie with its leadership picture more confused than ever. The move came when Senator Hiram Monserrate, one of two Democrats who had sided with Republicans to give them a 32-to-30 majority, said he was switching his allegiance again and reaffirmed himself as a member of the Democratic caucus."

All of this has left New York State as a laughing stock-and the poster child of legislative dysfunction; as Clyde Haberman observes from a perch on Normandy Beach, maybe it's time for all of us to examine ourselves for culpability: "New Yorkers are running out of ways to describe Albany as a political version of clown school. Perhaps it is time, then, that they examine what the state of the state says about them. If one believes that people in a democracy get the government they deserve, then we in New York should be unable to look in the mirror without cringing."

But where can we go from here? Bill Hammond suggests power sharing; but those prospects, given the cuckoldery omnipresent in the senate, are as likely to happen-and function smoothly-as they are in an acrimonious divorce where the judge counsels cooperation for, "the sake of the children." But something needs to be done, since absent an agreement it's hard to see how any court can force cooperation.

All of which means that NYC may want to start scheduling school board elections, since come June 30th, the mayoral control scheme comes to an ignominious end if nothing gets done. And the new Democratic "leader" is no fan of Mike Bloomberg's stewardship. So as we head up to Albany today, we are suffused with a sense of the futile nature of the journey; with the Abbot and Costello refrain, "Who's on First?" echoing in our ears.