Today marks what will hopefully be the beginning of the end of Hiram Monserrate's embarrassing political career, as he begins his trial for felony assault for slashing his girlfriend's face with broken glass (something he said happened accidentally as he was bringing her a glass of water). He is charged with three counts of second-degree assault (a D felony) and three counts of third-degree assault (an A misdemeanor). While both Monserrate and his victim (his current girlfriend) say it was an accident, she originally told medical personnel that it was not an accident and there is apparently pretty damning video evidence. If convicted of all charges, he would have to surrender his State Senate seat, as (convicted) felons cannot serve as State Senators. UPDATE: Monserrate has waived his right to a jury trial, putting his fate in the hands of a judge who stated that the video of Monserrate yanking and pulling his girlfriend causes "the blood to boil."
But Monserrate is not the only New York disgrace in the news as of late. The New York Times ran a profile on Pedro Espada, the other Democrat who played Pinocchio to Tom Golisano's Geppetto during the State Senate coup. In it, we learn some interesting (albeit not surprising) tidbits about the senator. Among them is the fact that the annual rent for his district office (which is actually outside of his district) is over $15,000 the usual limit for State Senators, and that Espada also has a request in for a second office (perhaps in Mamaroneck?). All of this was granted following his "return to the fold" after leaving the Senate Democrats with Monserrate back in June, tying up the legislative process in Albany while personal beefs were settled.
You would think after attracting the ire of his colleagues and the entire state that he would be a bit humbled, but you'd be wrong. Espada's ego is reaching Kanye West-like proportions, as his behavior at a duck farm over the weekend might have you believe. When accurately called "the traitor" by the farm's owner while introducing himself (Espada was there to call him out for exploiting his workers), Espada turned angry and said, "We need to have a little coup in here. We need to change the rules in here. You think I did something to the Senate? Wait till I get through with you. Hurricane Espada is going to turn this place upside down!” The fact that a destructive hurricane doesn't exactly conjure up images of benefiting poor minorities seems to be lost on Espada. The Times article also states that Espada "often speaks of himself in the third person" and likes to joke about the coup when he doesn't get his way. He is the kind of person you would avoid at a party because he is so obnoxious.
So while my dream would be to see Monserrate convicted of the crime he committed and someone (anyone!) calling out Espada, I know the reality of the situation is much more grim. If Monserrate is convicted, it will be of a lesser charge and thus he will be able to retain his Senate seat, and Espada's head will continue to grow and the political eunuchs in Albany will stand by and do nothing about it. In fact, Monserrate and Espada may very well be re-elected by their constituents, much to the chagrin of the rest of the state. At the end of the Times article Espada jokes, "This is why we end up having coups." Maybe he's onto something. Peace.
Photos - Monserrate and his lawyer show up for a court appearance in July (NY Daily News), Pedro Espada (Gothamist)