Senate Democrats in Albany are still a month out from officially assuming power and yet they have seemed to screw it all up already. Kruger, Diaz and Espada "fell in line" but the deals that got them to do that could have incredible consequences. It seems that those in attendance at yesterday's meeting, particularly Malcolm Smith and Governor Paterson went for the short term gain of solving the inter-party leadership kerfuffle at the expense of what happens inside our own party across the state.
From The Cityroom:
I could care less if they say according to height, weight or shoe size. Where the Senators seats are in the chamber doesn't amount to a hill of beans. What does count here is that Kruger got the Finance Committee, screwing over Western New York and the presumed chair Bill Stachowski. Upstate is not going to like that at all. All of the power rests from the Bronx on down.
Two people involved in the talks said that Mr. Espada will get the title of majority leader under the deal, though Mr. Smith would be the real leader of the Democratic caucus, with the title of president pro tempore. Still, the deal would make Mr. Espada arguably the most powerful Latino elected official in New York State.
Mr. Kruger would be named chairman of the Senate Finance Committee — a major post with the power to approve gubernatorial nominees and a lead role in negotiating state budgets — and the committee would become more autonomous.And the senators will sit in alphabetical order in the chamber, rather than divided by party, along with other changes to the Senate’s rules that will make it more democratic — something Mr. Smith has long advocated.
Diaz is getting what he wants as well. Gay marriage is issue non-grata in the State Senate for at least two years now. Marriage advocates will continue to fight the good fight, but real progress can easily be stymied by the egomaniac of the Gang, Senator-Elect Espada.
Espada is getting a fantastic deal out of this. While being called "Majority Leader" is simply a title and doesn't carry the oomph that President Pro Tem does for Smith, the position isn't to be taken lightly, especially as a brand new Senator. He also gets a prime spot on the Rules Committee, which is an excellent "gatekeeper" seat in terms of bringing legislation to the floor.
Ultimately, this is about rewarding bad behavior. The three of them cut their deals and the biggest loser from this of course, is the average New Yorker. For all of Espada's talk about Latino empowerment, the only Latino he cares about is himself. He has certainly made that clear before. The whole thing reminds me of what happened in the U.S. Senate just last month, when Lieberman fought like hell to beatup Democrats and when his GOP friends lost, he came back to eat at the leadership's trough and was given a slap on the wrist in front of the cameras and accepted with open arms immediately after.
Like the leadership in Washington, Albany has shown that they simply want the masses to vote for them, a few to lick envelopes and when the ballots have been counted, to be shooed away for two years until it is time for re-election. Well, that simply is not going to happen. The people, especially those in Diaz, Kruger and Espada's districts will come to know their Senators quite well for the conniving traitors that they are. Then, if all goes well, there will be actual Democrats who care about the principles of their party and kick them out of office during the primary election of 2010. Espada lost his primary race before, it can certainly happen again.