Can Albany Recover From Espada Hangover?

By:Stephon Johnson | 5/23/2013, 2:54 p.m.

"I've always been a Democrat," said State Senator Pedro Espada on Thursday. "I never left home. I had a leave of absence." State Senator Pedro Espada's back home with the Democrats. Former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is the new Senate president and John Sampson's now the conference leader.

What happens now? For some, things return back normal in Albany (at least what's normal to them). Among the various bills discussed since Sen. Espada's return, the Senate approved a sales tax hike that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted. As a result, Bloomberg said he could now lift the hiring freeze he slapped down on the city earlier in the week.

"We still have problems down the road," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We're not hiring willy-nilly."

Although the government is back to doing their job, there's a growing feeling of distrust among the citizens of New York State. Tom Golisano, the man who recruited Espada during the Republican's attempted takeover of Albany, suddenly looked forward to the State Senate's newly cleaned-slate. Responsible New York, Golisano's political group, released its first statement since Espada hopped back in the Democrat ring.

"The real story of the State Senate is reform," read the statement. "The press continues to focus on which political party convenes the Chamber and who holds which position but what really matters is how power is distributed, how legislation is passed and most - importantly - what role can each individual senator play in this process."

"These have all changed as a result of June 8 and changed for the better."

While Golisano's looking forward to working with the Senate, some are looking forward to more confusion. They, in fact, welcome it.

"There are so many factions there that would like to, quite honestly, slit the other factions' throat, that I think it's going to be very, very difficult for them to lead," said Republican leader Dean Skelos. Senator Bill Perkins responded tersely to Skelos' remarks.

"When people see factions, I see diversity," he said. "When I see diversity, I see opportunities to serve various types of constituencies."

He continued, "Those who make such allegations, they tend not to have that kind of diversity. They (the Republicans) have 30 members and they're all white. Twenty-eight of them are white men. I think what they don't see is the rainbow of our party." Even though Perkins trumps the diversity card within, some believe that party's ties are loose and can easily be broken. How can they trust someone like Sen. Espada and not expect another coup?

"Keep your eye on the prize in terms of what it is we are trying to accomplish as a body," said Sen. Perkins. "Recognize that there are possibly moments where they'll be differences."

"I guess, keep the faith," Sen. Perkins said. "That's the best we can do."