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The State Senate coup that threatened to shake the foundations of the Capitol roared in like a lion and exited like a lamb.
Now there’s nothing left but the shouting.
“If it did anything, it exposed to the world just how fractured the State Senate has become,” Bay Ridge State Senator Diane Savino explained as she barely contained her rage over the outcome of the month−long logjam that ended Thursday when Bronx State Senator Pedro Espada re−defected back to the Democrats, which are once again in power with a razor−thin 32−30 majority.
Although he caused most of the trouble, Espada didn’t humbly return to the Democratic fold without some power payola −− he was made majority leader.
State Senator Malcolm Smith, the former majority leader, will also be in charge as Senate president, although he is expected to hand over those reins to newly−anointed Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson of Canarsie in January, according to published reports.
After the month−long stalemate that threatened to bankrupt towns throughout New York and was reportedly costing the city $60 million a week, the State Senate officially went back to work Friday. As of this writing, the session was expected to continue on Wednesday.
Yet, according to Savino, herself a Democrat, there is no guarantee that someone else won’t turn the Senate upside down.
“Because we have a narrow majority, any given time a single member is unhappy or doesn’t feel he’s getting his just due, they can switch sides and put the state in turmoil,” she said, explaining that she was actually looking forward to some of the power−sharing agreements that were discussed,
“We definitely need a new paradigm,” she said.
Sampson said that a “lot of miscommunication and a lack of trust” that could have been handled internally led to the coup.
“Families squabble and sometimes when you cannot get your point across, you air people’s dirty laundry,” he said. “But sometimes that’s what happens within the dynamics of a diverse conference.”
If anything was learned by the coup, it was that “sometimes you have to cater to those dynamics,” he said. “Right now we have to empower all 63 members of the Senate so we work as a team for the betterment of this state.”
Sampson would not confirm his being named Senate President in January.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said.
He admitted that the Senate’s future could have been quite different if not for the intercession of Mill Basin State Senator Carl Kruger and his “gang of three” comrades (State Senators Hiram Monserrate of Queens and Ruben Diaz of the Bronx), who coaxed Espada back into the Democratic fold. The coaxing happened during not−so−secret breakfasts and lunches in Albany.
“[Espada] recognized that he wanted to come home and we paved a path to help him do that,” said Kruger, disputing other Senators’ claims that the coup was all about conflicting egos −− namely, Espada and Smith.
“When you have a fragile existence, you get turf wars,” he said.
“There are always fights within a family,” he continued. “Sometimes these fights translate to a scrap or a disagreement, but when the family becomes loving again, all it does is make for good dinner conversation.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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