Senate Democrats to Continue Leadership Talks

New York State Senate Democrats have agreed to continue talks over the chamber's leadership, after a contentious closed-door meeting Saturday.

A statement attributed the entire conference, including three dissidents who have considered siding with Republicans, says all support Senator Malcolm Smith as their leader. The statement doesn't say whether Smith will be president pro tem and majority leader, the simultaneous roles held by previous top leaders of the Senate, or if dissident Senator-elect Pedro Espada, Jr. will be majority leader, taking part of the power. On Thursday, Espada and the other two dissidents -- Senators Ruben Diaz, Sr. of the Bronx and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn announced they had brokered a deal in which they would stay in the Democratic fold in exchange for powerful and high-paying leadership appointments by Smith.

Yesterday's conference in Manhattan came as Espada, from the Bronx, appeals $61,000 in fines that New York City's Campaign Finance Board says he owes. Espada also owes $6,000 in state fines for not registering his campaign committee this year