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Albany is stranger than fiction

Do we laugh or cry? Let's hold that question for a minute and read a bit on the latest developments.

Let's start with a blog post by Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy about the close ties  Tom Golisano and Steve Pigeon have with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Deputy Mayor Steve Casey. 

In a post appropriately entitled "Mayor Ducks Questions on Albany Coup" -- doesn't Brown always duck questions? -- McCarthy says:

He would not answer questions about whether he would maintain ties with Pigeon and Golisano, who were the main forces in leading the charge against Brown's old Democratic allies.

Among the questions I'd like Brown and Casey to answer regarding the coup: What did they know and when did they know it?

Batman and robin Given that Pigeon and Casey/Brown, are thick as thieves these days, did our Dynamic Duo have a heads-up about the pending coup, and if so, why did they not tip off their fellow Democrats?

This is no small consideration, given that the talk out of the Brown/Casey camp these days has involved the possibility of the mayor running for lieutenant governor on a ticket headed by Andrew Cuomo. Brown's ties to Golisano and Pigeon are not going to be an asset if, in fact, the mayor holds such aspirations.

Elsewhere, The New York Times has a revealing column on State Sen. Pedro Espada, one of the two flip-floppers who helped return the GOP to power -- for the time being, anyway.

Says columnist Jim Dwyer:

His cronies stole food meant for poor, sick people and gave it out at his political rallies. He owes the city $61,750 in fines for fraudulent campaign fund-raising going back to 2001. He has failed to file 41 reports with the State Board of Elections, and has racked up $13,553 in penalties since 2002. He does not have an office in the district he was elected to represent in the Bronx. In fact, it looks as if he doesn’t even live there.

The New York Observer is among the outlets speculating that perhaps Sen. Hiram Monserrate, the other defector, is having second thoughts.

The Republican-led coalition that led a coup in the State Senate Monday was unable to deliver on its promise to hold session today, as one of the renegade Democrats moved away from their fold.

Our own Tom Precious also weighs in:

Sen. Dean G. Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, the new majority leader, insisted the coup is not unraveling.

"[Monserrate] asked for 24 more hours and [said] that other Democrats have asked him for the opportunity to talk about coming into the coalition, and for them to have time to make their decision. It's a tough decision," Skelos said in a hallway interview.

Then there's the always-pointed words of Fred Dicker of the New York Post, who said Golisano's pique with former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith triggered the GOP coup:

"The last I was in his office, I was completely discouraged because he spent more time playing with his BlackBerry than listening to our conversation," Golisano said.

It seems Tommy Boy has issues with BlackBerrys. It's just not the episode with Smith: BlackBerry founder Jim Balsilie is trying to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them down the QEW to Hamilton, a move many believe would hurt his -- and our -- Buffalo Sabres. 

Newsday reported that not everyone was thrilled with Golisano as he made his victory lap.

Less delighted was Judith Simon, a Citizen Action member who bored into the crowd around Golisano Tuesday.

"You bought our democracy! How dare you do that? Go back to Florida and screw up their state!" she shouted. "You are a disgusting human being!"

While the Blackberry snubbed helped flip Golisano's switch, a good-old fashioned fight over patronage involving a new upstate office helped sour Pigeon, reports Precious.

At first, officials said, the Buffalo office was to have four to five people. But in early April the plans grew to up to 10 people when the Pigeon requests started coming in, the official said. The demands by Pigeon created a “major friction” between Aponte and Pigeon. Tuesday, Sens. Pedro Espada and Dean Skelos, the new leaders of the Senate, called on Aponte to resign.

With the Buffalo office coming under increasing pressure in the local media and radio talk shows, the size of the planned staff was then downsized in late April. It was about that time the Pigeon allies were told they would not be getting jobs with the Buffalo office. Work on the coup began shortly after that, Republicans have acknowledged.

If all of this is not sufficiently surreal, Newsday also reports that the Rev. Al Sharpton is, in effect, saying "Don't make me march on Albany."

Speaking on the steps of the Silver Spoon Diner in Elmhurst, Sharpton threatened to lead a protest march in Albany next week if the chaos in the capital city is not addressed.

All we need now is an appearance of Sarah Palin. Hey, wasn't she in Auburn just the other day?


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