UPDATE: 6/8/09 PM
Looks like the Dems are acting like babies again; turning off lights and cutting internet feeds.
Who’s in charge of New York?
That was the big question Monday night following a political standoff in Albany.
The Republicans said they pulled off a coup, snatching power away from the Senate majority, but the Democrats said it was illegal and that they’re still in control of the Legislature.
And the whole thing has Gov. David Paterson lashing out at lawmakers.
It was a carefully crafted coup — five weeks in the making, with independent Tom Golisano in on the plotting.
And when it was over Republican Sen. Dean Skelos of Rockville Center was back in power as Senate Majority Leader. Dumped was former Democratic leader Malcolm Smith.
“I want to thank Pedro and Hiram,” Skelos said. “I know the difficult votes you did today. But they did the right thing and I want to thank Tom Golisano, who certainly has been a leader.”
The thank yous to Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate were because the two controversial Democrats crossed party lines and voted for Skelos to lead the Senate. The flip of the senators give Republicans a 32-30 edge in the chamber.
During the coup, Democrats fled the chamber, turned out the lights, and cut off the Internet feed of chamber proceedings, leaving Republicans and their two Democratic friends to take the vote in the dark.
A media advisory released by Mark Hansen, a spokesman for the Senate’s GOP conference, foreshadowed the shake-up: “An historic change in leadership is taking place at this moment and a new bipartisan, coalition is being established that is bringing real reform to the Senate RIGHT NOW.”
Is it possible that our lawmakers are starting to wake up and see what we see; a dictator in waiting with some 20 czars to intervene between him and us?
Updated, 4:15 p.m. | ALBANY – Democrats appeared to have lost their majority in the New York State Senate on Monday, in a stunning and sudden reversal of fortunes for a party that has controlled the chamber for barely five months.
A raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a motion that would displace Democrats as the party in control.
It was a noisy and acrimonious scene on the floor of the Senate as Senator Thomas W. Libous, a Republican from Binghamton and the party’s deputy leader, shouted for a roll-call vote, while Democrats attempted to stall the vote by asking to adjourn the session.
All 30 Republicans stood with their hands raised, signaling a vote for a change in leadership. Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate joined them, each raising his hand. It appeared that Republicans had won the vote by a 32-to-30 margin. If the Republicans retake the chamber, Dean G. Skelos, of Long Island, would likely be the new majority leader.
After the results of the vote were read aloud, the in-house television station that carries Senate proceedings live in the Capitol went dark. All that appeared on the screen was a still photo of the Senate chamber and the words “Please stand by.”
Senate Republicans quickly claimed that they were on the verge of controlling the chamber. “A new bipartisan, coalition is being established that is bringing real reform to the Senate right now,” Republicans said in a statement emailed to reporters at 3:20 p.m.
As the events were unfolding on the floor, Senator Malcolm A. Smith, leader of the Senate Democrats, huddled in the hall just off the Senate chamber and consulted with his staff. When asked what was occurring, he responded, “I’m trying to find out right now.”
Until January, Republicans had controlled the State Senate for more than four decades. Democrats won a majority of Senate seats in the November elections, but only after three dissident senators who were being courted by Republicans, including Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate, agreed to elect Mr. Smith.
Why Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate suddenly defected on Monday afternoon was not immediately clear.