Friday, June 12, 2009

Monserrate and Espada: The GOP's new best friends

From the 15 June 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

I’d like you to meet Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, Jr. They are the new faces of the Republican senate in New York State, Democrat turncoats who were adopted by the GOP to help flip the balance of power in the legislature.

It tells us a great deal about the current state of the Republican Party that these faces -- more fitting for mug shots or “wanted” posters – have become heroes to a party that tries to pass itself off as one possessed of character. It’s something that these men lack. You can’t help but question their character upon selling-out to a billionaire businessman who proved more important to them than their own constituents or to the Republican senate leadership who gave them financially-rewarding positions in that house. But, as offensive as that may be, it pales in comparison to what they did prior to this politics-as-usual move.

Let’s go back to the night of December 19. On that fateful evening Monserrate showed us that he is the very worst of men, a woman-beater. The hot-tempered wretch was caught on surveillance cameras abusively dragging his petite girlfriend Karla Giraldo from her apartment building as she grabbed onto a stair rail in a physical tug-of-war for her safety. The same cameras then showed her running to a neighbor’s door, pounding on it and screaming for help.

That sounds scary enough, but it’s what happened prior to that, inside the apartment, that was the most offensive. The hot-headed Monserrate slashed Giraldo’s face with a broken glass. It was such a brutal act that she’s now scarred for life, needing more than 20 stitches to close the gash over her left eye. When Giraldo arrived at the hospital she told the medical attendants that Monserrate cut her during an argument. Later, she did as many frightened and intimidated abuse victims do and changed her story to say that Monserrate tripped while bringing her a glass of water. That’s a little too unbelievable, so the first story (in conjunction with the video tapes) carries considerably more weight.

Monserrate is awaiting trial for three counts of felony assault and another three for misdemeanor assault. If found guilty he could face seven years behind bars, nowhere near enough for such a disgusting crime.

Espada is as equally repulsive an individual. He has a long track record of breaking – or being accused of breaking – all sorts of campaign laws. Back in 2005, three employees who worked at Soundview Health Center (a clinic Espada runs) pleaded guilty to forcing the clinic’s employees to run Espada’s campaign on company time, giving food donations intended for their patients to campaign workers instead, and diverting $30,000 of public funds dedicated for family and AIDS care into his campaign’s treasury. Four years earlier, Espada was fined $62,000 by New York City for separate incidents of campaign fraud. For the piece de resistance, back in 2002 he was busted for using his senate office to put $745,000 of state pork-barrel money into his business, one from which he collected a $200,000 salary. On top of all that theft, he’s under investigation for more fraud: There is considerable evidence that he lives in Mamaroneck, not the Bronx he was elected to represent.

Yes, folks, those are the guys who Republican voters, movers-and-shakers and elected officials alike are now tickled pink to call their allies. I suppose that in their minds, when it’s politically-expedient to do so, it’s okay to ignore the Republican Party’s rallying cry, that they are the party of timeless values, one devoted to Christian morals, the sanctity of the family, and conservative practices. Monserrate and Espada don’t fit that mold and they never will.

But, we’re told that giving-in like this to the criminal element is best for the State. With the Republicans back in control of the Senate we’ll see a better tomorrow in New York. Really? It never happened like that before. Let’s not forget that while Joe Bruno ran the senate for 13 years (most of them with a Republican governor at his side) the state budget grew from $61.9 billion to $121 billion.

This mess in Albany perfectly shows why the GOP is a party in struggle, a dinosaur ready for extinction. In recent years it lost control of the presidency, Congress and governorships and houses in many states because it has lost its identity. What it once stood for is long gone. The thing that it has become rings hollow for most and resonates powerfully with only a very few, those who blindly pledge allegiance to something that is Republican by name only.


Larry Castellani said...

Whoa! Good coverage Roberto! The corruption is more than political, isn't it? How in God's Name do these people get into office? What does this say about Golisano morally? I'm depressed! ... I loved this post because of the way the facts so clearly get succinctly to so much of the problem with politics in NY, WNY, America.

Bob Confer said...

Larry, this situation proves how depraved the system and the people in it have become. Not only has the Democratic Party thrown considerable money and support behind these guys through the years, but, now, the GOP thinks so highly of them they gave them positions of leadership! It speaks volumes about the powers-that-be...and Tom Golisano.