On Friday the Charleston Gazette ran one of its periodic editorials lampooning southern West Virginia politics as a result of former Delegate Joe C. Ferrell’s indictment. And today the Charleston Daily Mail ran one of its periodic editorials praising “divided government.” “One of the charms of divided government,” says the Daily Mail editorial, “is that those in power know they will be closely watched by those who are out of power. This tends to restrain abuses, and thus to protect the public.”
It is a ironic that the Gazette is lampooning southern West Virginia politics and the Daily Mail is singing the praises of divided government during a week that has seen one of the grandest exhibitions of back-room politics and divided government gone awry – not in West Virginia but in New York State.
After the most recent statewide election, Democrats found themselves in control of the New York State Senate by the narrowest of margins – 32 to 30. As a result, two fine Democrats saw opportunity and decided to align themselves with Republicans. The first fine Democrat Pedro Espada previously was fined more than $60,000 for failing to disclose campaign contributions; a non-profit group he founded is under investigation for using misappropriated money; and there are even questions about whether he resides in the district he represents. The second Democrat Hiram Monserrate currently is under indictment for assaulting someone with a piece of broken glass and was elected to the State Senate only after retiring from the New York Police Department because a psychological disability prevented him from performing his job. Equally amusing, the Republican coup was orchestrated by a billionaire Democrat who was mad at State Senators for raising his taxes.
Because of these power struggles, New York Senate Democrats have sued Senate Republicans and locked them out of the Senate chambers while important issues like control of the New York City public school system remain unresolved. The next time the Gazette or Daily Mail waxes poetic about southern West Virginia political wrongs or the charms of divided government, it needs to look outside of West Virginia because southern West Virginia is not unique, and divided government is not always charming.