07/31/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Today In HuffPost New York

Now that Bernie Madoff has gone to jail for 150 years, there's a gaping hole in the public conversation, formerly occupied by discussions about how Bernie Madoff ought to go to jail for 150 years.

How long can we talk about how it should have been 200 years?

It's strange to think that the last time we were cruising toward a long Independence Day weekend we still had George W. Bush to kick around. As much as the Republican survivors try to enrage us, you can't make it all the way through a summer barbecue on John Boehner. Perhaps we'll get lucky, and somebody new will confess to having had a messy affair.

We're grateful to the state legislature for trying to fill in the gap -- even when they're there working, you'd hardly know it. Over the last few weeks, New Yorkers have been good about offering constructive solutions to the gridlock, although the focus on tar, feathers and running out of town on a rail are getting pretty old. Bill Cunningham's blog today offers a more intriguing alternative.

For myself, I keep going back to that time in the Middle Ages when the cardinals kept failing to do their job and elect a new pope. The public finally got so tired of waiting for action they tore the roof off the room where the cardinals were meeting, let them sit in the rain, and limited them to a diet of bread and water for the duration.

I don't know if David Paterson's thought of that, but I can certainly envision Mayor Bloomberg leading the roof-removal party.

On the blog front, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins offers a tribute to Nelson Mandela and legendary undercover NYPD detective Frank Serpico has a look at the role fear plays when one police officer shoots another.