After over a month of defections, re-defections, squabbling, plotting, finger-pointing, name-calling, lawsuits, locked chambers, mock sessions, and overall anarchy, the Albany impasse came to a sudden end last night when Pedro Espada returned back into the Democratic fold in exchange for being named the majority leader. He may not possess any real power, but he’ll make $41,000 more than a regular senator for holding a leadership position. “I never left home. I had a little leave of absence,” Espada said. “My brothers and sisters welcomed me back, and we come back stronger than ever.” Well, some of his brothers and sisters. The Democrats had to vote to give new Senate president Malcolm Smith the power to appoint Espada to majority leader because some refused to vote for Espada directly. And only thirteen senators showed up at his press conference. Honestly, who can blame them?
At around 9:35 p.m., the Senate did something it hadn’t done in a long time: legislate. Like, uncontested, legally sound legislating. Working into the wee hours of the morning, they passed 135 bills, mostly related to taxes and economic programs that localities across the state have been waiting for in desperation, including a sales-tax increase in New York City. There’s still more to be done — next week they’ll tackle mayoral control and rules reform, while the future of the controversial gay-marriage bill is still up in the air. And then everyone will go home, at last, and probably take a long shower.