If the situation in Albany really is a circus, as it has often been called recently, then the major players are some of the crankiest, grouchiest clowns you’ll ever see. After gaveling out of a four-minute mandatory session yesterday, Malcolm Smith and the rest of the Democrats stated their intention to go home as in, for good. Governor Paterson was furious, and in a fiery appearance last night, he reminded the senators that they would be in violation of the state constitution if they ignored his call for another special session today. He also threatened to withhold their pay since this whole mess began on June 8 even though much of it has already been doled out, and he probably doesn’t have that power anyway and force them into the chamber under police escort. “Senators, get to work,” he fumed. “You’re not going home, you’re not getting paid and you’re not going to disrespect the people of the State of New York any longer.” While this tough rhetoric may sound righteous to the ears of frustrated New Yorkers (at least, that’s what Paterson hopes), it has not been going over well with Senate Democrats, who seem to get particularly testy when their salaries are threatened.
Harlem Democrat Bill Perkins wondered if Paterson wanted the special sessions to fail all along so he’d have someone to scold — and blame. Manhattan Democrat Liz Krueger, similarly, said Paterson wanted to “have his cake and eat it too.” But Brooklyn Democrat Kevin Parker went the furthest, calling Paterson a “coward” whose threats were “mean-spirited and without basis.” He even predicted that Paterson “will not be returning as governor, I’m fairly sure.” Now that is a low blow. Regardless, both the Democrat and Republican conferences eventually agreed last night to return this afternoon for another special session in which, we boldly predict, very little will be accomplished.