It is just a little past three in the afternoon on Monday, but already a lot has gone on this week in Albany. Monserrate came back to the Democrats early this morning and deadlocked the institution. Attorneys for both caucuses have been told by a judge to work it out or else face his decision by
1pm 10am Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, Monserrate says he's back because Majority Leader Smith is stepping back to let Senator Sampson step up, with a spiffy new title known to us as the "Conference leader," which in business-speak, according to Smith, means that Sampson will be the new CEO.
The members of the conference—still without defector Pedro Espada Jr.—announced State Senator John Sampson will have the new title of "conference leader," Majority Leader Malcolm Smith explained, and will handle the "day-to-day business" of the conference. Smith said the structure was similar to a board chairman and CEO, with Sampson serving as CEO. Smith, I'm hearing, is holding on by a legal technicality.
Monserrate was called a "friend" by both Sampson and Smith.
"I'm clear about the following: This conference is united," Monserrate said. He tacitly confirmed reports that his flip back into the Democratic conference had to do with differences with Espada Jr. over tenant-protection issues.
The leadership of the State Senate is still uncertain. Lawyers for both sides were due in court around the time this press conference started; the judge hearing the case has said he does not want to get involved. Spokesman Austin Shafran said Democratic lawyers plan to tell the judge that progress is being made out of court.
Having Monserrate back is an odd definition of progress. However in the New York State Senate, any direction is both backwards and upside down all in one motion. Hopefully Sampson and Smith can both "defriend" criminals once they are convicted of their crimes, or if they get primaried, whichever comes first. Sampson will now have to deal with the backstabbing Monserrate, and the rest of caucus amidst an incredibly turbulent and unpredictable time in our state's government.
Meanwhile, back in "reform coalition" land, Espada allegedly bussed in some supporters to shout down the reform advocates that had initially come up last Tuesday to lobby for good goverment issues such as independent redistricting and whatnot. Espada's people came with t-shirts that are just a bit outdated though, proclaiming that Monserrate is still on their side despite what went on today.
Ah, the dramatics of Albany...who needs soap operas when you can just tune in to state politics.