Smith Gets the Gang of Three, the Gang of Three Gets Perks

After negotiations that at various points involved David Paterson, Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano and Representative Greg Meeks, Malcolm Smith has won over the three Democratic holdouts in the State Senate conference, and is poised to become the proverbial "third man" in Albany’s ruling trio.

Ruben Diaz Sr., who previously said he wouldn’t vote for any leader that would allow a same-sex marriage bill to be brought to the floor for a vote, told me, “I, Senator Diaz, am relieved everything is going to be OK.”

When asked if that meant he got the assurance he was looking for regarding same-sex marriage, he answered, “I am telling you I am happy, that I am satisfied that everything will be OK.”

He denied being pressured into supporting Smith.

According to Nick Confessore, another member of the "Gang of Three," Pedro Espada, might get the position — it’s disputed by another source in the story — of majority leader (but not president) and vice-chair of the powerful Rules Committee. Malcolm Smith would get the position of president pro tempore. The third holdout, Carl Kruger, will be named chairman of the powerful finance committee.

If this power-sharing arrangement is indeed what the Democrats have worked out, it will be a highly unusual one. The temporary president, which would be Smith in this case, is usually the majority leader. The opposition Republicans, at least, are likely to try to argue that splitting the two titles will require a formal rules change. But of course, the opposition, if this report is accurate, will be in the minority.

Hank Sheinkopf, who’s handling press for Malcolm Smith, said that there are no further details available on the rules change that this new arrangement would require because the meeting at which it was brokered was attended “by members only, with counsel present, and all others were not permitted to attend.”

Another Senate Democratic spokesman said that Malcolm Smith was not available to discuss the arrangements.

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