Gov. David Paterson just said that he is going to withhold any pork-barrel grants, known as member items, unless the Senate reaches an agreement to resolve their leadership stalemate. The money goes to pet projects of senators, usually in their districts.
“Since they don’t have a presiding officer, we’ve informed them that we are no longer paying member items,” the governor said.
Paterson, who has accused senators of “dereliction of duty,” said yesterday that the senators should not be paid their salaries and is waiting for a ruling from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on the issue. He also said yesterday that they would not be paid for expenses and travel or receive their per diem rates for being in Albany.
The governor said his office is drawing up papers to go to court to compel the Senate to meet in session together.
Paterson said he is not going to be intimated by personal attacks. Sen. Kevin Parker, a New York City Democrat, yesterday said senators don’t want to be lectured by a “coke-snorting, staff-banging governor,” referring to Paterson’s past admissions of marital infidelity and drug use.
The governor said that the “War of the Roses” is between the Republicans and Democrats, and now they are directing it at him to distract from the fact that they’re not working out their problems.
Some more quotes from the governor:
“Now today’s folly is that the Senate says that I’m politicizing the process. Let’s review. By law, I stayed out of the process, did not get involved in the separation of powers issue and the Senate went two weeks without addressing the problems of the people of the State of New York.
“It was only when we called a special session that we came together. Prior to that, we offered them mediation, they rejected it. We offered them a way to get into the chamber and get the bills done, they rejected it. Now they’re telling you that they’re meeting, that they are very close to an agreement. No, they’re very close to the weekend. They have put the weekend above the interest of New Yorkers…”