Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New York state senate proves that everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten

The recent antics of the New York state senate brings back fond memories of childhood when we divided into two groups, each with its own secret hiding place, and tried to discover and enter our opponents' lair.

Who says politics isn't fun?

Albany Democrats Lock Themselves in the Senate Chamber
New York Times
June 23, 2009

ALBANY — Senate Democrats entered the Senate chamber through a back hallway on Tuesday afternoon and locked themselves in, pulling off a sneak attack of sorts in the ongoing battle for control of the State Senate.

The move took the Capitol by surprise, and left Republicans scrambling to plan their next procedural move. Republicans had planned to enter the chamber at 2 p.m. — an hour before the special session called by Gov. David A. Paterson was scheduled to begin...

“At this point, they refuse to enter into an operating agreement,” Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat who represents the Upper West Side, told reporters just before he and his fellow Democrats sneaked into the chamber...

Republicans seemed just as caught off guard as the rest of the Capitol. And as news of the Democrats’ move spread, some Republican staff members rushed to the Senate chamber and peered in through the windows to watch the Democrats congregating inside.

Senator George H. Winner Jr., a Republican from central New York, described the Democrats’ move as unnecessary and possibly against the law.

“It seems to me somewhat petulant and or illegal to lock the doors,” Mr. Winner said.

[Maura Larkins' comment: How would Mr. Winner describe Republicans' earlier antics?]

The outer doors to the chamber were kept locked by the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, but some reporters were able to gain access through a back door...

Democratic senators seemed somewhat amused by the situation. Senator Craig M. Johnson, a Long Island Democrat, even took pictures of reporters who assembled in the gallery. The only way in to the locked chamber was through the office of Pedro Espada Jr., the turncoat Democrat whose defection created the deadlock.

...Mr. Espada said he was willing to accept binding arbitration as a way to resolve the leadership dispute.

“The Democratic senators have refused to respond in any significant way to embrace our reforms,” said Mr. Espada, who joined with Republicans two weeks ago to vote to displace Mr. Smith as majority leader and install himself as president of the Senate and Mr. Skelos as the new majority leader. Democrats have rejected that vote as illegitimate.

[Mr. Espada sounds just like some of the kids I once played with. Their goal is to win personally at any cost, including betraying one's friends and the principles one has proclaimed to get those friends.]

...Democrats insisted they would not recognize a Republican leader, and Republicans were planning to move forward with their 2 p.m. session...

Democrats have said that the doors will remain locked until 3 p.m., when they plan to call the governor’s special session to order...

The Senate was left in its first 31-to-31 tie after Republicans orchestrated a coup earlier this month and installed Mr. Espada as the Senate’s president. The Democratic caucus has refused to return to the chamber during the last two weeks unless Republicans accept a power-sharing arrangement.

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