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Monday, June 8, 2009

Breaking News: Republicans Seize Control of State Senate!!!


Democrats Pedro Espada, Jr (Bronx) and Hiram Monserrate (Queens)

From the NY Times City Room Blog:

ALBANY – Republicans apparently seized control of the New York State Senate on Monday, in a stunning and sudden reversal of fortunes for the Democratic Party, which controlled the chamber for barely five months.

A raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a motion that would displace Democrats as the party in control.

In a news conference in the early evening, Senator Malcolm A. Smith of Queens, leader of the Senate Democrats, insisted that the Republican-engineered vote was illegal and violated parliamentary procedure. He said the vote was illegal because it had already taken place after the meeting was already brought to an end.

Giovanni Rufino for The New York Times Senator Dean G. Skelos, a Long Island Republican, is expected to become the new majority leader.

It was a noisy and acrimonious scene on the floor of the Senate as Senator Thomas W. Libous, a Republican from Binghamton and the party’s deputy leader, shouted for a roll-call vote, while Democrats attempted to stall the vote by asking to adjourn the session.

All 30 Republicans stood with their hands raised, signaling a vote for a change in leadership. Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate joined them, each raising his hand. Republicans won the vote by a 32-to-30 margin. The Senate will now be governed under a new joint leadership structure, with Mr. Espada serving as the president pro tempore, and Senator Dean G. Skelos, of Long Island, as the new majority leader.

More at the above link. One wonders what, if anything, this will do to tenants rights in New York City.

If you want to know more about Hiram Monserrate, click on the link above, and you'll be shocked by this info:

On March 23, 2009, a grand jury in Queens handed up a felony assault indictment against him, charging that he stabbed his girlfriend last December with a drinking glass, leaving a gash that required 20 stitches to close, prosecutors announced.

The six-count indictment charged Mr. Monserrate with three counts of second-degree assault, a D felony, in the episode on Dec. 19, 2008, when he was a city councilman waiting to be sworn in to the Senate, to which he was elected in November.

The charges, according to a press release from the office of the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, announcing the indictment, also include three counts of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Monseratte, who was arrested hours after the episode, denied assaulting the woman, Karla Giraldo, and said he had fallen while bringing her a glass of water in his Jackson Heights apartment. He was released on $5,000 bail and, over the objections of some fellow senators, was sworn in Jan. 7, 2009.

Ms. Giraldo has refused to cooperate with the police and prosecutors in Mr. Brown's office, but a judge in January refused to lift an order of protection keeping Mr. Monserrate away from her, despite her statement saying that she did not want it.

The state senator faces a maximum of seven years in prison if convicted of the felony.

A former Marine, Mr. Monserrate served 12 years in the New York Police Department before getting a psychological disability pension in 2000. The cause for his claim was not known and he has declined to discuss it.

I'm trying to find out more about Espada, but already it's amazing the quality of the people that get elected to important political offices. These are the men and women that hold the fate of this city's and the state's residents in their hands. I've never been as disgusted with politicians, of both parties, as I have in recent times. I almost wish we were back in the days when citizens would storm a politician's office or home, drag them out, then do the tar and feather routine. Only then will these bums learn.

Update: Apparently, Espada doesn't live in the Bronx district he represents, but in a far more upscale area--Westchester.

Below is a video of Espada, from last year, confronted by a tenant of the Bronx building he supposedly lives in. From the blog that's hosting the video:

We live in this co-op! In fact, Mr. Espada apparently lives in Mamaroneck in Westchester. Neither I, nor my wife (as well as most of my real neighbors), have ever seen this gentleman in the building. It is insulting that Mr. Espada, he of past political scandals involving government money funnelled from his Soundview Medical Center to his own political campaign, was extremely rude to a long time resident as evidenced by the video below.



And this is really disgusting, going back to January 2004:

New York State Attorney General Spitzer, joined by New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) Executive Director Nicole Gordon, today announced the indictment of four senior managers at the Soundview Health Center who are charged with stealing state funds earmarked for programs designed to serve impoverished women, children and persons diagnosed with HIV and AIDS and using the funds to finance political campaigns.

The four individuals charged are: Sandra Love, Soundview Senior Vice President, Maria Cruz, Vice President of Operations, Norma Ortiz, Executive Assistant to the President and Esther Hill, former Director of the Women Infants and Children ("WIC") Program. The four are charged with multiple counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree as well as a Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. Defendants Love and Hill are also charged with filing false documents.

If convicted, each individual faces up to seven (7) years in prison on the most serious charge of Grand Larceny.

According to the indictment, the four above-named defendants engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain money intended for Soundview’s WIC and HIV programs and applied those funds to pay for costs incurred in advancing the political campaigns of Soundview’s President, including a bid for Bronx Borough President in 2001. The amount of diverted funds is estimated to be more than $25,000.


The Soundview President was, yes, Pedro Espada, Jr. More at this link.

Another update. From WNBC. Astounding the balls of Espada and Monserrate and the brazen power play here. I also like that bit about Monserrate being proud of electing "the first Latino President of the New York State Senate." The current (?) majority leader, Malcolm Smith, is black, btw, and the first black senate majority leader. Anyway, here's WNBC:

Pedro Espada told NBCNewYork that he is now the Senate leader, saying the people of New York deserve "a government that is not in gridlock." Espada said he supports gay marriage, and the leadership upheaval had nothing to do with that issue.

In a statement, Monserrate said “I am a life-long Democrat and remain a loyal Democrat. After today’s proceedings, I am proud to form a bi-partisan coalition that has elected the first Latino President of the New York State Senate, my colleague, the Honorable Pedro Espada Jr."

President, vice president and majority leader are the most powerful positions in the chamber. With them, the bipartisan coalition can direct legislation and reassign committee and leadership posts.


More at this link.

Yet another update, from the NY Times. I'm just offering some highlights. The full report is here. Read it and weep or get pissed off angry--or both.

The Democrats’ tenuous control of the New York State Senate abruptly collapsed on Monday, throwing the Legislature into chaos with just two weeks remaining in its session.

Two dissident Democrats, who had been secretly strategizing with Republicans for weeks, bucked their party’s leaders and joined with 30 Republican senators to form what they said would be a bipartisan power-sharing deal. But the arrangement effectively re-establishes Republican control.

The change upends the agenda in Albany, where Democrats had assumed power in the Senate in January, with 32 seats, after more than 40 years in the minority. Democrats were pushing bills to give tenants more rights, strengthen abortion rights and legalize same-sex marriage this session. And the move underscores the continuing tumult of New York politics, where there have been three governors in less than three years and four Senate presidents since last summer....

A spokesman for Mr. Smith, who lost the titles of majority leader and Senate president in the shakeup, issued a statement later saying that Democrats would challenge the vote, but it was not clear that they had grounds to do so.

Gov. David A. Paterson, at a news conference Monday evening, called the move “an outrage” and said Albany had become a “dysfunctional wreck.”

The governor also said “I will not allow this,” but then conceded that there was nothing he could do to stop it....

Both Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate said they would remain Democrats even as they work with Republicans to run the Senate.

Both men have legal troubles. Highlighting the often elastic nature of ethical stands and alliances in Albany, Republicans who earlier this year were calling on Mr. Monserrate to resign after his indictment on felony charges that he stabbed his companion with a broken glass are now welcoming him as part of their power-sharing coalition.

Asked about the reversal, Mr. Skelos said, “He’s an elected member, and the reforms are more important.”

Mr. Espada has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over several years for flouting state law by not disclosing political contributions.

The state attorney general’s office is also investigating the Soundview HealthCare Network, a nonprofit organization that Mr. Espada ran until recently.

The new leadership structure means that Mr. Espada would become governor if Gov. David Paterson were incapacitated....


I thought I'd leave you with these two images. Monserrate and Espada. Kinda says it all:



6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great news! Perhaps they can start to undo this mess and keep the state from going bankrupt.

Anonymous said...

Espada , I believe is Chairman of the Senate Housing Committee and was keeping RS reform bottled up in his committee even before this coup.
He isa lowlife and his buddy Monserrette is a criminal lowlife who beat up hisgirlfriend and ever since has been using her to get the criminal charges dropped

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal on Espada. He was already in a political war with Malcom Smith.

__________________________________

May 12, 2009

Push on in NY senate for rent reg bills

By Theresa Agovino / Crain's New York Business


But housing committee chair says the most controversial bill, which would pave the way for many market rate apartments to be placed back into rent regulation, will go nowhere.

The chairman of the New York State Senate’s housing committee said he will attempt to push through at least two bills that would strengthen the rent regulations law but that he can’t guarantee they’ll come up for a vote in the full senate before the legislative session ends next month.

The Assembly has already passed a raft of **pro-tenant legislation that landlord advocates insist will cost building owners millions of dollars and discourage them from investing in their properties.

However, Housing Committee Chairman Pedro Espada added that he believes a bill that landlords find especially dangerous—because it paves the way for thousands of market rate apartments to be placed back into rent regulation—will effectively be sidelined by a possible move into the finance committee. Mr. Espada said the bill, which would regulate apartments with rents over $5,000 a month, will likely end up there because of its major economic implications. He added he believes Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger will be unlikely to push for a vote on the measure. Mr. Kruger’s office didn’t return a call for comment.

Mr. Espada’s comments followed a press conference by 16 senators and various tenant advocates calling for a full court press to pass a series of tenant-friendly bills before the legislative session ends next month. However, Mr. Espada says there is no way all bills could move through committee.

“I don’t see enough time to give all these bills attention,” said Mr. Espada. “I must have 20-something housing bills to address.”

However, there is speculation that Mr. Espada may not remain chairman of the committee for much longer. On Monday, Senate Majority leader Malcom Smith that he has a week to file complete campaign finance records and submit a payment plan for past fines stemming from his failure to file reports or else he will face unspecified action. Some have speculated he could lose his chairmanship if he doesn’t comply.

In a statement, Mr. Espada said that he will pay a $61,500 penalty to the City Campaign Finance Board by Aug 1, 2009 and that he is waiting to hear how much he owes the State Board of Elections so he can pay it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Espada says he will advance a bill that would impose a moratorium on removing buildings from the Mitchell-Lama Program, which provides subsidized housing. He would also move to have a bill sponsored by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. That bill would make it tougher for landlords to remove apartments from rent stabilization by claiming that renovations they made on vacant units drove the rent value up past $2,000.

Michael McKee, treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee, says the Mitchell-Lama bill is a good stop-gap measure but doesn’t address the thousands of units that have already left the program. There is another bill to address that but Mr. Espada has no plans to shepherd that piece of legislation.

Mr. McKee added that the bill put forward by DHCR is toothless and that the bill which would reregulate apartments needs to reach the floor.

Joe Strasberg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, a lobby group for owners of rent stabilized buildings, says there are already regulations in place to address landlords who misrepresent how much they spend renovating apartments and he fears a new law would be used as a “weapon” against those lawfully trying to transfer units out of the program.

Mr. Strasberg added is still concerned that the bill which attempts to re-regulate apartments could reach the floor.

Anonymous said...

This scenario was already anticipated when the Dems won the majority in November. We knew that Espada, MonserRAT and Diaz Jr. were the scum of the earth and didn't represent the Democrats one iota.

I'd like to point fingers at the Democratic leadership for not keeping these people in line.

Now, you can forget about those Assembly housing bills making it out of committee, period.

Rent regulations are due to expire in 2011. The Republicans are looking to control the Senate for 18 months. You do the math.

Looks like Joe Bruno politics never left, and I have a bridge for sale to those waiting to win Roberts too. damm.

Anonymous said...

These two sleazy turds, Espada and Monserette, should be in jail. What/who is keeping them out of the slammer for the crimes they have committed? They certainly should lose their seats in the Senate at the very least.

Stuy Town Reporter said...

I wonder if recall elections could be available for these two guys.