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Albany’s Circus and the Coming Census

Filed under: State Politics

I have little to add to the cacophony over the extraordinary freakshow unfolding in Albany this week. Why would I try, when so many others with better understanding and perspective have so much to say?

Although I am occasionally drawn in by the more strident criticism of Tom Golisano’s role in the coup, his remarks during this press conference yesterday (fast forward through the remarks of the odious Andrew Rudnick, whose countenance sans mustache makes me queasy) remind me to consider the State Senate rule reforms that the coup leaders passed immediately upon seizing power. If those reforms hold, imperfect as they are in regard to the way committees function, they represent valuable change: a bill can potentially be brought to the floor for a vote without the consent of the Senate leadership, for example; money for earmarks and staff will be distributed more equitably than it had been under Malcolm Smith’s six-month reign, and far more equitably than it had been under the decades-long Republican leadership.

Those reforms and others passed on Monday will not be enacted until after this session ends, whenever that might be; Governor David Paterson has suggested he will extend the session in order that the Senate’s interrupted legislative agenda can be addressed. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. That depends on who wins the continuing fight for control of the chamber.

But among all the intrigue and drama—who made deals with whom, what they were paid, who among the players is the least virtuous, who’s the least reliable, who will be thrown under the bus—this is the consequence I find most compelling: Who will control the redistricting of New York State after the 2010 Census?