People are grumbling about the State Senate deal brokered by putative president pro tempore Malcolm Smith, who placated three dissident senators last week to cement a Democratic majority. Smith yesterday called a press conference to discuss committee chairmanships, then bolted from the room, leaving his lieutenants to field questions, most of which they couldn’t answer, including the identity of the majority leader, previously announced as Pedro Espada. (You can watch the scene here, including Fred Dicker yelling at a flunky not to answer questions for Smith’s named deputy majority leader, William T. Stachowski: “You’re not an elected official, he is.”)
Smith later said the dissidents “know the positions that they’re getting,” though that is in dispute among some senators, as the aborted conference shows.
The press is getting suspicious. The Albany Times Union has been reviewing (as we have) the unpromising background of Espada. The Lower Hudson Journal says, “Senate Democrats in Albany continue their effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of November victory.” Bill Hammond of the Daily News calls Smith “the Plaxico Burress of politics” because, after “winning the Super Bowl of Albany politics,” Smith has figuratively “shot himself in the foot.” Burress shot himself in the leg, but you get the idea.