Friday, June 12, 2009

Dems Hate Loosing Power

(h/t Bellava)

Friday Court Ruling May End Albany Chaos

It was a wild scene both inside and outside the New York Senate chambers on June 11, 2009, as lawmakers were pushed, spit on and accosted by angry protesters over the GOP coup that has shut down the legislative process for days.

The chaos in the capitol hit a whole new low Thursday.

It was a scene of schoolyard antics -- screaming, shoving More.. and spitting -- just outside the Senate doors in Albany.

And as CBS 2 HD found out firsthand, that was just the beginning.

An appeals judge slapped a temporary restraining order to stop a new coalition from taking control of the New York Senate until Friday afternoon.

Democrats want to block any change in Senate leadership after Republicans and two rogue Democrats pulled off a power play Monday.

It was all quiet in Albany on Thursday night, but earlier in the day the area of the capitol by the doors of the Senate was sheer chaos.

CBS 2 HD cameras captured the ugly and unprecedented scene as senators were forced to run a gauntlet of shouting, shoving protesters who didn't care who they were pushing in the zeal to ambush government.

When asked if he'd ever seen anything like that in his 23 years as a senator, as in walking a gauntlet to get to the Senate chamber, Sen. Frank Padavan, D-Queens, said, "No, and by the way the rules were broken there. People are not allowed to interfere with the flow of legislation and the legislators arriving to their seats, or waving placards in the air, or actually knocking people down."

But despite the mayhem, the Senate did go into session.

The problem is the lawmakers couldn't do any work for two very good reasons. First, Democrats locked up the bills and withhold the stenographer, and renegade Democrat Hiram Monserrate of Queens said he wouldn't cast any votes Thursday. He seemed to be bowing to intense pressure.

"This chamber must not remain divided," Monserrate said.

The other renegade Democrat, Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada, seemed to have a strategy for getting boycotting Democrats back in their seats. H said he wants to put bills near and dear to their hearts, like same-sex marriage, on the agenda.

"I want to put on the active list a progressive agenda that's been deferred for too long, like same sex marriage, put that on the floor and then have the senators that either sponsored it before or the defenders of the cause not show up? I think that would be the height of irresponsibility," Espada said.

Democratic power brokers told CBS 2 HD they will try to get both Espada and Monserrate back into the fold before sessions resume on Monday. They also insist that the Senate leader is Malcolm Smith.

"There is only one leader and that is Malcolm Smith," spokesman Austin Shafran said. "He was dully elected as the president pro tem of the Senate. He is anxious to get back to work."

Democrats were denied a court order to stop Thursday's session, but they will be back in court Friday to try to have the coup declared illegal.

Democrats claimed a small victory in a separate court ruling Thursday afternoon. An appeals judge put a temporary injunction in place that bars Espada from being able to succeed Gov. David Paterson should his job be vacated.