Citizen Tries to Break Logjam in Albany

     BUFFALO, N.Y. (CN) – A political blogger fed up with the stalemate in Albany seeks a court order stopping the paychecks of state senators who “refuse to work.” John Rus Thompson claims, “The senators are failing to perform their required constitutional duties and as a result, any payment of their salaries would be an illegal and unconstitutional disbursement and expenditure of taxpayer funds.”

     The unrest in the state capital came to a head on June 8 when two Democratic senators defected, giving Republicans a 32-30 majority in the upper house. One of the senators has re-defected to the Democrats, resulting in a 31-31 deadlock.
     Gov. David Patterson has called almost daily special sessions but little has been accomplished. Patterson sued all 62 senators on June 26 in Albany County Court, seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the Senate to convene for an “extraordinary session.”
     The Senate managed to pass “time sensitive” legislation on June 30 but has not budged since. Each caucus ignores the other side and sessions are adjourned within minutes without doing any business.
     Both Republicans and Democrats have been ignoring Patterson’s calls to pass legislation.
     The state constitution calls for the lieutenant governor to cast the tie-breaking vote. But that post has been vacant since March 2008, when then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal.
     Thompson’s lawsuit cites Article 7-A, Section 123-b of the State Finance Law, which prohibits the state from making “wrongful, illegal or unconstitutional expenditure of state funds” and allows citizen taxpayer actions.
     The complaint names the state, the state Senate, its Secretary Angelo J. Aponte and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli as defendants.
     Thompson writes a blog called “Albany’s Insanity.” He is represented by Michael Powers with Phillips Lytle.

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