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by Jay Gallagher

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

From bad to worse in Albany

The New York State Senate has not yet quite become the Ukraine Legislature, where fistfights broke out this week over whether to allow the Russian Navy access to Black Sea ports and members carry umbrellas to protect themselves from raw eggs being thrown at them. But it’s getting there.

While no blows have been exchanged yet, words like “white supremacist,’’ “nuts,’’ and “political assassination’’ have been thrown around as the indictments keep flying and the lack of progress on a new state budget continued.


- Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, already facing a criminal complaint for assaulting a newspaper photographer, went after Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, on a New York City radio station today.

“There’s only one kind of racism that’s functional in the world and that’s white supremacy. And that’s what John DeFrancisco, and a lot of the Republicans are, and frankly, quiet as it’s kept, some of the Democrats,” Parker said. In a committee meeting yesterday, DeFrancisco had been asking some questions about the qualifications of an African-American to serve on the state Power Authority.

Republicans were not amused.

“I am calling on Sen (Democratic conference leader John) Sampson and every member of his conference to repudiate Sen. Parker’s comments,’’ said GOP leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County. “Sen. Sampson should immediately discipline or formally censure Senator Parker or our conference will be forced to pursue our own action.’’

Sampson tried to find a middle ground.

“Enough with the finger-pointing, name-calling and heated rhetoric,’’ he said. “New Yorkers want results. I need members in both parties to step back and focus on what’s important: balancing the budget, creating jobs and providing property-tax relief.”

-- The “political-assassination’’ comment came from Sen. Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, who faces two lawsuits from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo - the latest for allegedly exploiting janitorial workers at the family's health clinic business by classifying them as "trainees," so they could be paid a small fraction of what state law would otherwise require.

“I repeat, this is a political assassination or an attempt at a political assassination delivered in installments and deliberately so designed to keep you from asking him the tough questions about when he announces (his candidacy for govenor) and what his view and vision, leadership would mean to the budget process, again to the hard questions that face all New Yorkers,” Espada said of Cuomo, who had no immediate comment.

-- The “nuts’’ remark came from Danny Donohue, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, the largest state-worker union. Paterson had asked the union to agree to a day-a-week furlough to help the state close a $9.2 billion budget gap. He has also asked them previously to forego a scheduled 4 percent raise and accept a delay in a paycheck.

Donohue’s remark called to mind the answer of Gen Anthony McAuliffe in 1944 when Germans who surrounded the American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II to surrender. The Americans ultimately prevailed.

“Now, this was a group that was really sacrificing during World War II when they were asked to surrender by the Germans,” Paterson said today. “They were about to commit the ultimate sacrifice and [Donohue] chooses the same words in what was a historic moment in American history," the governor said.
“But this group not only doesn’t want to do anything, but they want to compare themselves as if they are making some historic sacrifice as if they are on the battlefield,” Paterson said.

Oh yes, and the Legislature failed today to heed Paterson’s request for a vote on the budget, instead heading home for the weekend. When they return for the next scheduled session on May 3, the budget will be more than a month late.

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