Below are excerpts from Elizabeth Benjamin’s coverage and commentary posted on her Daily Politics blog over at the Daily News.
Smith: I’m Still Leader, Monserrate: I’m Still A Democrat
June 8, 2009
Sen. Malcolm Smith’s office just issued a press release deeming today’s takeover by the Senate Republicans that appears to have dumped him from his leadership post “illegal” and insisting that he’s still in control.
From the majority press office in exile, attributed to Smith’s spokesman, Austin Shafran:
“This was an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic Majority. Nothing has changed, Senator Malcolm A. Smith remains the duly elected Temporary President and Majority Leader. The real Senate Majority is anxious to get back to governing, and will take immediate steps to get us back to work.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Hiram Monserrate, whose defection – along with his fellow amgio, Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. – enabled the Republicans to coup Smith, issued this statement:
“I am a life-long Democrat and remain a loyal Democrat. After today’s proceedings, I am proud to form a bi-partisan coalition that has elected the first Latino President pro Tem of the New York State Senate, my colleague, the Honorable Pedro Espada Jr. We look forward to conferencing with fellow Democrats to ensure that real reforms become a reality in the State of New York.”
When last I checked, the Senate Republicans were about to have a press conference with the once-and-future (?) Majority Leader Dean Skelos, President Pro Tempore (?) Espada and the man who reportedly was the mastermind behind this whole thing: Tom Golisano, did it all in the name of reform, I’m told.
Meanwhile, the rest of the amigos – Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Sen. Carl Kruger, neither of whom had a role in this – were holed up in Espada’s office.
According to a source close to Kruger, Monserrate assured Kruger that he’s going to get to keep his post as Finance Committee chairman, which wouldn’t be the first time the Republicans let Kruger keep a committee.
At this point, it’s all kind of a mess.
from Benjamin’s post
True Power-Sharing in Senate?
…Apparently, Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who, as you’ll recall, is right now fighting felony assault charges that could lead to the loss of his seat entirely if he’s convicted, will be…wait for it…vice chair of the Rules Committee.
Don’t forget that Espada, too, is under investigation by AG Andrew Cuomo’s office.
This whole deal was engineered with a big assist from Mr. Reform himself, Tom Golisano, (and his adviser, Steve Pigeon, who is close to Espada going back years, I’m told).
“It’s going to be shockingly nonpartisan; it’s all about procedural reform,” said my source. “I don’t think you’re going to see the Republicans taking a huge victory lap.”…