Albany chaos puts freeze on Senate business
State Senate Republicans did not open a legislative session Wednesday as they had hoped, as both parties continued to squabble over who is in charge of the chamber.
In the end, neither side emerged with the keys to open the Senate's doors. Republicans intended to hold a session at 3 p.m. with Sen. Dean Skelos (R- Rockville Centre) as majority leader after reassuming majority in a ?coup? Monday.
Democratic lawmakers refused to unlock the Senate building or allow anyone to enter until the power struggle is settled. Republicans, meanwhile, said they would meet in a park if weren?t allowed to enter the building.
Democrats call the ?coup? illegitimate and are considering legal action. State Sen. Brian Foley (D-Patchogue) also says a power struggle over leadership is the last thing the state needs.
?We need to get the Senate back to work,? Foley says. ?The last three weeks of the state legislative session, it's all about legislation.?
In a news conference, Gov. David Paterson blasted the lawmakers? behavior, urging both sides to resolve their differences and get back to work.
?This is getting a little ridiculous,? Paterson said. ?They've got to act like adults here and they've got to address this issue.?
Members of the GOP coalition say having Republicans back in the majority will mean a bigger role for Long Island on the state stage.
?I think we have become too New York City-centric,? state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) says. ?I believe the city of New York is an economic engine for the state, they deserve our help. But Long Island needs help. So does upstate and I think that's where we're going to see the biggest change.?
Two city Democrats declared Monday that they will now vote with Republicans, swinging the majority back to the GOP. Democrats turned off the lights to try to stop the ?coup,? but it did not halt the power play.
Democrats say they?re trying to come up with a compromise candidate for majority leader who will win the votes of the two defectors. However, leaders of the new Republican coalition say they are courting as many as 10 more Democrats to join them.