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The Queens Three, the state senators who helped make the legislative scene in Albany one of total chaos and irresponsibility and gave rise to former Mayor Ed Koch’s comment that Albany had become a “banana republic,” are two Democrats and one Republican.
The Democrats are Malcolm Smith of St. Albans and Hiram Monserrate of East Elmhurst. The Republican is Frank Padavan of Bellerose.
From what I have read and heard about Smith, he is probably a decent fellow. Ineptitude, however, in controlling a political situation seems to be his strong suit.
Monserrate, of course, everyone knows by now. He has been rightly characterized as “Senator Slash.”
Padavan is someone I have met on a number of occasions since he was first elected more than 30 years ago. I have read about his work, especially on the environment and education and thought highly of it. But this past year he was a major disappointment.
Most people, like politicians, are happy to have you forget about their transgressions. Memories are short in most cases and this approach works. Certainly the senators hope this is so about their legislative body.
It would appear the Democrats won a majority in the Senate for the first time in years in the 2008 elections, but no! Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. (D-Bronx), a paragon of political virtue and role model of integrity, joined with two other Democrats to hold off support for their reputed leader, Smith.
This set off months of chaotic negotiations until Pedro and his friends got what they wanted — temporarily. The Bronx — or is it Westchester? The domicile location is in doubt — senator became vice president of the Senate for Urban Policy and chairman of the Housing Construction and Community Development Committee. The additional stipends for these positions were, of course, purely incidental to Pedro’s concern from the people of New York state.
This post put him next in line to be governor, should something have happened to Gov. David Paterson, since at the time there was no lieutenant governor.
Pedro and a friend, Monserrate, decided their consciences were bothering them. Men of immense and self-pronounced integrity, they decided to support the Republican minority. It was all for the good of the public, of course. This set off a five-week-long deadlock in the Senate starting June 9.
After a week of chaos, Senator Slash had another pang of conscience and decided he wanted to be a Democrat again. The even split was overcome when Pedro got religion, too, and returned to the fold. He became Senate majority leader, but, of course, that was just by the way.
Smith now holds a position whose importance no one seems to know. Hiram, of course, is facing expulsion by his colleagues and Pedro is under hefty investigation on several fronts for what appear to be substantial problems.
Through it all, Padavan remained silent if not content with the way things were going. After all, for a time it seemed his party would be back in power. I will have more to say about him in a future column, but for the time being it is enough to note that in the law silence is considered assent.
Many years ago, I sat in on a meeting of a powerful political leader in Queens. He was going over many things with his lieutenants and at one point a matter came up which led him to say, “They say that politics is a whore’s game. That’s a terrible thing to say about those poor girls.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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