Flip-flop in Albany

June 15, 2009 1:47:30 PM PDT
Oops. My bad.

That seems to be the sentiment today from Hiram Monserrate, the New York State Senator from Queens whose convoluted decision to stop voting with fellow Democrats and hook up with Republicans helped throw the already much-maligned Albany lawmakers into chaos.

Monserrate today flip-flopped again, and now says he will once again vote with his fellow Democrats. That will give the Senate a clean 31-31 split, with Pedro Espada Jr., a Democrat from the Bronx, still huddling with Repubs.

(They're in this conundrum because a tie is usually broken by the Lt. Governor -- who was until 14 months ago a guy named Paterson. Since there is no Lt. Governor these days, there's no tie-breaking pol.)

Perhaps Mr. Monserrate was appeased when the majority leader, Malcolm Smith, was virtually upended in his leadership position by the Dems he supposed was in charge of. Today they installed a new leader - Brooklyn's John Sampson.

I know, it's hard to tell these players without a score card. The bottom line: It remains unclear whether the dysfunctional state government will be any better with these new guys than with the old.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, to quote Pete Townshend.

It'd be nice to think it could be otherwise.

We'll have the latest on the state government crisis, tonight at 11. Our political reporter Dave Evans is in Albany.

A protest brewing - after a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed Sunday night. He was, by all indications, a good kid, a good student - just playing basketball. Wrong place, wrong time. But why should playing some roundball be the "wrong place?"

That's the question a lot of Harlem residents are asking tonight. They've asked it before. Tonight, they're rallying, trying to speak with a collective voice. Not in our neighborhood, anymore. Not to our children anymore. Will it end the violence? Perhaps not. But at least it's giving decent people a voice in the situation; at least they're not scurrying back into their homes, scared and silent.

Good for them. Lucy Yang is there for us tonight at 11.

We're also following developments in Iran, where protests continue in Tehran. Hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets, opposing the election results that overwhelmingly ushered in, again, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The reformist leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has called for an investigation into allegations of vote rigging. He even wants the election overturned, but admits he's not optimistic about that happening.

At least one protestor was killed - and several injured - by pro-government militia.

Jim Dolan is keeping tabs on developments in Iran.

One more overseas note: ABC News is confirming that North Korea likely conducted an underground nuclear explosion on May 25 -- a test of that country's nuke capability.

Something to think about.

One more note: my colleague Diana Williams has just returned from a challenging and dangerous vacation. She hiked to the top of Mt. Rainier; she says her legs still hurt. "It's like being on a stair master, straight up, for 9 hours," she told me. She has written about it. CLICK http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/feature?section=news&id=6856224 for a link to her blog.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast (and you can read Lee's Blog or Bust by CLICKING HERE), and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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