State legislators are in Albany today to attend a special session called by Gov. David Paterson.
On the agenda:
- Closing an estimated $315 million mid-year budget deficit.
- Dividing up hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education aid.
- The possible changing of a 2006 law, which requires public employees be given a year's notice prior to the closure of certain facilities. (An upstate juvenile detention center, empty but for the staff, has become a symbol of Albany dysfunction.)
- A proposal to allow the continued operation of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.
- Several other issues, including approving (or otherwise) 147 gubernatorial nominees.
It's unclear, though, whether anything of note will be accomplished during the session, which is expected to start at 3 p.m. Reaction from legislators has been tepid. And while the Democrats continue to hold a 32-30 advantage in the Senate, some lame duck senators - Pedro Espada, Jr. included, according to the Times Union - may not even show. For any legislation to be passed, then, bi-partisan support would probably be needed.
Since losing in the primary, Espada, who's still the majority leader, has been awful quiet. There have been no press releases from his office and no press conferences. For once his name has been largely absent from news stories. A BxNN reader did spot him in New Rochelle on Saturday, however, outside a movie theater. (New Rochelle is not far from Mamaroneck, the Westchester town where Espada owns a home, and where most observers believe he primarily lives.)
We called Espada's three offices (his Bronx ones, and his Albany one), but none of his staffers said they knew his schedule or whether he'd made the trip up to Albany. Neither Alex Diaz, Espada's chief-of-staff, or Steve Mangione, his spokesman, returned calls and emails.
In a telephone conversation, Franck LaBoy, another press contact for Espada, said he's no longer on the senator's payroll. The two came to a "mutual decision" last month, LaBoy said. (Haile Rivera, a former City Council candidate who worked for Espada in the summer, was also relieved of his duties after the primary.)
LaBoy belives Espada could have better connected with voters during the campaign.
"As good a friend as he is, he doesn't listen or take kindly to heartfelt advice," said LaBoy, who went to high school with Espada and has stayed in touch ever since. "He just wanted people to tell him what he wanted to hear."
In particular, LaBoy was disappointed that Espada refused to appear on a BronxTalk debate, and then ducked out of another Bronxnet interview, having previously agreed to show.
"I'm done with the political nonsense," said LaBoy, who has returned to his old job at James Monroe Senior Center.