This is a story that’s now a week old. It’s become more than a circus, so convoluted that even grizzled, veteran reporters are left shaking their heads. It’s the story of the New York State Senate, a body that at its best won’t win any awards for legislative efficiency. Trust me, this past week was not the senate at its best. For the benefit of those not living in or near New York State, the names of the players will be left out. Following the story is tough enough as it is.
One week ago, the 32-30 Democratic Party edge in the senate was upset when two senators decided to caucus with the Republican minority. The pair had their reasons for doing so, and their public statements cloaked their rationale in reforming the often dysfunctional body. Most senate watchers sensed something different, that is, a grab for power by two Democrats who couldn’t achieve it any other way.
The Republicans could barely contain their glee. Never mind that many of these same people had demanded one of the renegade senators resign after he’d been indicted on felony charges of cutting his girlfriend in the face with a glass bottle. That was then, this is now. The other member involved in the coup is under investigation by a district attorney and the state attorney general. Of course, people wanted to know how this coup took place under the nose of the Senate Majority Leader, a Democrat whose job it is to keep his flock in line and on message.
We then found out that a major force behind it wasn’t even an elected official (like the governor), but instead a billionaire who had recently changed his residence from New York to Florida to protest high taxes.
It was soon after that this so-called upper body of the state legislature was exposed as little more than a circus without a ringmaster, 62 people left to stand naked, clothed only in their own self interest.
Editorial boards from New York City to Buffalo cried foul. One paper said the public should rise up and withhold the salaries of these elected officials (fat chance). The Democrats went to court in an effort to challenge the coup.
A judge told them to settle it among themselves. And then, over the weekend, a new wrinkle.
One of the renegade senators changed his mind, and went back to the Democratic fold. This after both were seen at a baseball game smiling and sitting in some pretty expensive seats. Now this august body is deadlocked at 31-31.
It means nothing can get done. Monday, Senate Republicans tried to hold a session, but didn’t have the 32 members necessary.
The Democrats held a news conference. to announce a new majority leader, but without a majority, they had to find a different title. Both sides are due in court Tuesday, when this charade can only get more bizarre, and for some, more laughable.
The only question left is whether these clowns will be forced to leave the circus next year when they’re up for re-election. Some might think it’s a cinch, but I’m not so sure.