A partisan squabble in the State Senate over office space, and even seating locations, in the ornate chamber erupted during a session Monday -- an episode showing that Albany has a way to go in its bid to restore decorum after an especially bruising few years.
"You're out of order," shouted Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat, to Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous during a nasty debate that began when Democrats accused the back-in-power Republicans of denying them office space and staff allocations.
Democrats, who lost their two-year control of the Senate in the fall elections, have complained that the Republicans have kept them in the dark about office space in the nearby legislative office building and then Monday switched around the seating arrangement in the Senate chamber without their knowledge. They said the Republicans are giving preferential treatment to four dissident Democrats who broke from the Democratic conference to form an independent caucus.
"Sir, I consider that an insult," Libous, a Binghamton Republican, said of suggestions Adams made that the GOP actions are, in part, racially motivated. "I resent the racist remarks I am hurt by that," Libous added.
Adams later said he wasn't accusing the Senate GOP of being racist but said they were mistreating senior members of the Democratic conference in decisions over office space and dollar levels to run the individual offices.
The dust-up was an early Albany welcome for new Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who is the presiding officer of the Senate. His right arm got a workout as he tried to gavel the battling chamber into order during the fight.