Morning Read, Upstate: The Coup

After flipping two Democrats–Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate–Republicans have re-taken control of the State Senate and elevated Dean Skelos as the majority leader.

The seeds of the coup were sewn six weeks ago, when Majority Leader Malcolm Smith fiddled with his Blackberry throughout a meaning with billionaire Tom Golisano. Golisano grew angry and began talking to Republicans.

The ostensible reason for the coup was reform. Bill Hammond says that's a crock.

This will have unclear effects on legislation pending before the house.

Espada is one of the 19 co-sponsors of the bill to legalize same-sex marriage, but it's not clear if the measure will pass.

Steve Kornacki thinks Espada and Monserrate will meet their political makers quickly; lobbyist Richard Lipsky disagrees.

Both Monserrate and Espada have many legal woes, including pending investigations for Espada and a felony assault charge for Monserrate.

The Times notes that Espada would become governor if David Paterson were to be become incapacitated.

Malcolm Smith called the actions "illegal" and a "distraction;" David Paterson said it was a "dereliction of duty."

State Senator Diane Savino, walking off the floor, told colleagues: "life is circular."

Fred Dicker says that the final straw may have been the division of members items, which were to be settled yesterday: Republicans were slated to get $8.2 million, compared to $76.7 million for Democrats.

The Post says the coup was the final proof that Malcolm Smith couldn't lead the Senate.

The News decries the "state of shambles," but says Smith sewed the seeds of his demise when he failed to reach across the aisle despite a slim majority.

"It's a good thing for upstate New York because it will slow down a lot of the anti-upstate measures that have been passed by one-party rule," State Senator George Winner, an Elmira Republican, told the Corning Leader.

Dan Janison recalls that in 1965, the last time the Democrats held the State Senate, their reign was similarly brief.

IN OTHER NEWS….the farm workers' bill of rights passed the State Assembly.

Bob Herbert visited a foie gras farm, and says it's about time this bill becomes law.

David Paterson wants to invest in New York's high-tech sector, and will match 10 cents of every federal dollar.

District attorneys continued to blast the state's recently restructured drug laws.

One inmate was recorded calling it the "drug dealer protection law," according to a tape released by the DAs.

And below, a video of State Senator John Bonacic explaining the newly-adopted rules of the State Senate: Morning Read, Upstate: The Coup