Slant Special Podcast: When did Albany get so boring?

I have covered the state Legislature in some form since 2003. In all that time, I have never seen an end of the session that has been this … boring! Usually, passions are high. Legislative leaders and the governor are trading barbs in the press. Lobbyists are in the face of members of the Assembly and Senate as they walk the halls. Protesters are everywhere. Well, protesters are still everywhere this year, but the rest of the usual activity and buzz surrounding the Capitol is gone. Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t feel it was necessary to spend the whole day in Albany yesterday. All of this leads us to believe that very little is going to get done in the next few days, as far as major legislative achievements. But, if Albany is one thing, it is unpredictable.

In our special Slant podcast with NY1 reporter Zack Fink and City & State’s Albany reporter Ashley Hupfl and Editor-at-large Gerson Borrero, we discussed the “weird” feeling in the Capitol. We also do some body language reading of the leaders: Why does Carl Heastie seem so happy? Why doesn’t Cuomo have the typical fierceness he displays at this time of year – does he really care about these end-of-session issues?

At this point, it seems that the only real point of conflict is the future of mayoral control of New York City schools. Cuomo and the Assembly have called for a three-year extension. Senate Republicans, who openly despise Mayor Bill de Blasio, have countered that a one-year extension would suffice. The question seems to be, are any of these people willing to give a little, or are they willing to move their positions completely in exchange for something else? Basically, we are all waiting and watching to see if mayoral control is the domino that needs to fall for the rest of the session to fall into place, or if that domino will just tumble onto the floor and miss all the other dominoes stacked up behind it.

We also touch briefly on ethics reform, an issue that appears all but dead, outside of a longshot chance for Cuomo’s bill, introduced last week, that would crack down on independent expenditures. Will lawmakers pay any price for their lack of action? Are they going to be hurt in their re-election campaigns for failing to do something on ethics? Consensus on the panel was no, in part because history tells us voters don’t generally make that connection and there is not an organized effort from an outside group to force their hand.

We are in the final 36 hours of the (scheduled) session. If you want to get caught up quickly on what’s been happening, give the podcast a listen. It’s only 22 minutes.

You can download, review and subscribe to this episode of The Slant Podcast on iTunes or stream the episode via Stitcher.