Coup Update: Weird Scenes Outside the Senate Chamber
The defenestrated Dems of Albany are fighting back against the Skelos-Espada-Golisano coup -- not in the state senate chamber, which remains locked and where they were pretty useless anyhow, but with picket signs and press conferences. The Albany Times-Union reports protesters outside new senate president Pedro Espada Jr.'s office chanting "Pedro Plays, Golisano Pays." The protesters "plan on meeting with legislators today to discuss goals for the rest of the session," says the Legislative Gazette.
Prominent Democrats, including Governor Paterson, stepped to the press this morning to denounce the takeover. But some are MIA -- Jimmy Vielkind asked several if they supported ousted majority leader Malcolm Smith, and they refused to answer him. Vielkind also saw Democratic senators Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Martin Malave Dilan joining Espada confreres Carl Kruger and Ruben Diaz Sr. in a "closed conference room."
Also, leaking and speaking, Democrats are trying to make the new leadership look bad. The New York Times reveals that during the recent Democratic majority, Espada asked for $2 million in earmarks for alleged non-profits that did business with the Soundview HealthCare Network, which Espada founded and which has figured in his political activities. Gotham Gazette points out other malfeasance for which Espada is being investigated. Espada describes the charges as "character assassination." Daily Kos reminds readers of the boondoggles for which the late GOP majority was responsible.
Meanwhile the New Model Republicans are trying to consolidate their gains:
Skelos says he wants Malcolm Smith's senate secretary Angelo Aponte to step down. Aponte locked the senate chamber last night and is presumably holding it hostage until Smith can make a move. Liz Benjamin reports that "Seklos and Espada just walked over the Aponte's office and tried to "serve" him with a formal notice calling on him to resign. They had the door slammed in their faces." Espada says they'll have tomorrow's session outside the chamber if they have to.
Espada announced today that as senate president he would permit a vote on the gay marriage bill, so maybe the Machiavellian angle we posited appeals to him. If it's a bluff, Empire State Pride Agenda is calling it.
While some rightbloggers are trying to spin this as a referendum on Obama, somehow, others are wondering if a GOP leadership beholden to Pedro Espada and co-conspirator is really in their best interests. "Anyone who thinks this disgraceful spectacle is a harbinger of a comeback by New York Republicans is dreaming," says Commentary.