Saying that the only deal the fractured New York State senators are working on "is the weekend," Governor David Paterson announced Friday that he has stopped paying lawmakers' member items and is going to court to force them to get back to work.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Paterson said the issues affecting the state must be addressed and he will go to court to end the ongoing power struggle.
He said none of the extraordinary sessions held in the past week were legal because there was no quorum. As a result, he is seeking a court order to force senators from both sides into having a legitimate session.
"They're going to stay here every day and don't be fooled; they're only here, they're only talking because I keep calling special sessions," said the governor. "They're going to blame it on me. But believe me, I didn't get to this until two weeks after they didn't act."
Lawmakers in Albany claimed that they were closing in on a deal that would end the nearly three-week stalemate in the Senate. Leaders from both parties are said to be on the verge of an agreement, with normal legislative business possibly resuming by next week.
Earlier Friday, the two groups held separate, back-to-back sessions, complying with the governor's order. However, neither group conducted any business; the Democrats decided to hold a moment of silence for Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.
Thursday afternoon, Democrats gaveled in and gaveled out, which they argue is enough to fulfill their legal responsibilities. Republicans then did the same after Democrats left the chamber.
Neither session lasted longer than five minutes.
Democrats said their session is not constitutional because the Assembly was not called back as well.
"Five days left before June 30 [when several bills sunset] and, at this point, waiting for extra session, both Assembly and Senate, constitutionality of legislation is too important to have mock sessions to get stuff done," said Democratic State Senator John Sampson.
The state Assembly, however, rejected Democratic calls that they should also return to Albany.
State Senator Pedro Espada Jr., the renegade Democrat who helped the GOP stage their June 8 coup, was more optimistic.
"Our staff has been meeting. We have a template and folks that I think for the first time have put down their armors and their shields and are really talking to each other in a respectful way," said Espada. "We are obviously trying to resolve the impasse not just for a day or two, but throughout the coming months where we have to take on many more issues."
Faced with a long weekend in Albany, other Republican senators were growing weary.
"I think the public is sick of this. I'm frustrated, I'm sick of it" said Republican State Senator Elizabeth Little. "I'm terribly frustrated with what's going on and why we can't resolve it. We should."
Meanwhile, a state judge agreed Friday to subpoena court records from June 8, the day of the coup.
Republicans want to see if the Senate session's journal was illegally altered by Secretary of the Senate Angelo Aponte, who was appointed by the Democrats.
"I think that is actually very significant because it's the beginning of judicial review of documents as to what actually happened on that day," said Republican State Senator Dean Skelos.
"June 8, [vote of] 32-30 - actually nothing - must be adhered to," said Espada. "The framework allows for any and all to be discussed, within that framework."
The judge adjourned the lawsuit to Monday.
By the end of Friday, the State Senate left timely legislation unresolved, ranging from gay marriage to the city's increased sales tax to the renewal of mayoral control in city schools.
"What's happening in Albany is as good an example, you need to see what would happen with the schools again. You go right back to the Board of [Education] where nobody was in charge," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The public school system will be ruled by the Board of Education if the Senate does not renew mayoral control by July 1.