This week on the Inside Story: Wall Street Journal White House reporter Laura Meckler and Rick Klein, ABC senior political reporter, discuss the administration's progress on health care reform and wonder what the F Governor Mark Sanford was thinking. Also, is the White House engineering its press conferences? We examine Nico Pitney-gate. Also, Guest Sen. Lindsay Graham defends legislation intended to get "hardware and software" into the hands of Iranian dissidents and concedes that it "may be"time to re-examine Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
BY Barbara Ross
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, June 28th 2009, 4:00 AM
Carlos Baez, 52, left and Eddie Baez, 50, worked on the campaign of State Senator Pedro Espada and claim Espada owes them $400.00.
Pedro Espada seems to find himself involved in most controversies these days.
But somebody spent big bucks on campaign literature and other materials with a common message: Vote Pedro!
Local voters say Espada sent dozens of mailings, took out ads in local newspapers, appeared on cable TV ads, held a fund-raiser in his Bedford Park co-op and hired campaign workers.
Espada, the turncoat Democrat whose disputed election as Senate president triggered government gridlock, had delayed filing disclosure forms for months.
He claimed a political action committee he'd set up showed everything he raised and spent, but state election officials said that was against the law.
Last week, they asked Albany County District Attorney David Soares to prosecute Espada as a scofflaw. Days later, Espada filed eight "no activity" reports.
"Espada ... has apparently cured the contempt order by filing statements, but that does not resolve the issue," Douglas Kellner, a lawyer on the state Board of Elections said. "There were obviously expenditures made and no committee has come forward disclosing [them]."
Kellner said neither Espada's nor the PAC's filings reflect what the public saw in last year's campaign to unseat Efrain Gonzalez.
"None of the typical expenses is there ... the costs of printing petitions, literature, ads," he said.
Gonzalez's allies estimate Espada spent between $100,000 and $200,000. The PAC reported contributions of $77,000 and expenditures of $15,000.
"The new filings appear to be just bogus," said one prominent election lawyer who did not wish to be identified.
Espada's lawyer, Daniel Pagano, insisted the PAC filings reflect everything raised and spent. He said it would have been wrong to transfer those contributions and expenditures to Espada personally.
"He did not run the campaign out of his pocket," Pagano said.
Eddie Baez, a former warehouse manager who was a patient in one of Espada's health clinics, disputed that. Baez said he was a volunteer in Espada's campaign headquarters the day before the election, when Espada asked him to hang flyers across the district.
"So I said, 'Who's paying for this?' and he said, 'Don't worry. I'll take care of you. I'll take good care of you. Just do this for me.'"
Baez said he and his brother worked 13 hours stapling posters in the north central Bronx.
"We filled my brother's Impala, the trunk and the back seat, with posters. We lit up the place. Jerome Ave. Walton St. 183rd St. I ran out of staples. We had to go back and make do with tape."
Baez soured on Espada after the senator's son, Pedro Gauthier Espada, promised to pay each man $250, but gave them just $100 each - in cash.
State law requires all cash expenditures over $50 to be reported. There are no filings on record indicating payments to Baez.
Nor are there expenditures reported in 2008 for the food given to voters who lined up in June to sign Espada's petitions.
There are no expenditures for legal fees to Pagano for the protracted court battle Gonzalez waged to try to get Espada disqualified on the grounds that he really lives in Mamaroneck.
Pagano said he was "paid something," but couldn't recall details. He said he thinks the PAC paid him but, "I'd have to go back and look."
There are no payments to printers for the posters in Baez's trunk.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo are investigating Espada's campaign finances to determine if he improperly used the resources of his nonprofit, the Soundview Healthclinics.
A Bronx grand jury has subpoenaed testimony and tapes from one of Gonzalez's campaign workers, Rafael Martínez Alequín, who took videos of Espada's food distribution and petition signing events.
Espada dismissed his latest problem as a "parsing of language" and more political attacks on him from foes.
"They've been raining political bombs on me for quite some time," he said. "But to target a nonprofit in such a fashion is reprehensible."
Friday, June 26, 2009
BY Dorian Block
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Friday, June 26th 2009, 4:00 AM
Senator Pedro Espada walking away - deluged by media - after a meeting on June 18, 2009.
Related News Articles
- Mike: 'Uncharted waters' for city with switcheroo
- Gringer: Gov. Espada? It's possible, unless Albany gets it together
- Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada enjoy game while Albany teeters
- Lupica: Call 'em Sens. Dumb & Dumber
- Gonzalez: Hiram heading back to Democrats
- Espada in Bronx DA's cross hairs: Criminal probe growing
- State Senator Espada shows News his Bronx pad
A deal brokered between prosecutors and State Sen. Pedro Espada's son to allow the younger Espada to avoid criminal charges fell apart in Bronx Supreme Court Thursday when a judge felt the terms were too light.
Alejandro Espada, 30, is accused of pushing 75-year-old City Hall blogger Rafael Martinez-Alequin and breaking his video camera after Martinez-Alequin peppered Sen. Espada with questions during a campaign rally on Sept. 7, 2008.
Thursday, prosecutors and Robert Laureano, Alejandro Espada's attorney, attempted to enter a deal in which Espada would admit to a harassment violation, not the criminal mischief misdemeanor count he has been charged with.
In return, he would pay $432 for MartinezAlequin's camera and agree to a limited order of protection to prevent him from assaulting Martinez-Alequin again.
Laureano also asked that the case be sealed because Alejandro Espada is "a young man who has not been in trouble with the law."
Alejandro Espada works for his father as a site director at the Diallo Medical Center, one of the clinics that is a part of the elder Espada's Soundview Health Center, according to the organization's Web site.
Judge Joseph Dawson found the terms of the deal unacceptable, and insinuated that prosecutors were giving in too much.
"[Martinez-Alequin] alleges the defendant touched the camera," said Assistant District Attorney Michael Fraggetta.
"Touched the camera?" Dawson asked sarcastically.
"Breaks the camera," Fraggetta said.
"If this guy is going to admit to touching or shoving a 75-year-old man," Dawson said, "I cannot understand why there would not be a full order of protection request."
He also asked why he should seal the case, which is not standard practice.
The judge's questioning led to the deal falling through and a continuation of the case until July 27.
Laureano, Espada's attorney, said he is prepared to take the case to trial if need be, calling Martinez-Alequin's video of the attack "meaningless" and saying it it "shows zero."
But Martinez-Alequin, who has been a City Hall gadfly for more than 20 years, said he feared for his life that day as a large group of people surrounded him.
Sen. Pedro Espada can be heard saying, "He's trying to teach you manners, Papa," on the video as his son allegedly assaulted Martinez-Alequin.
Martinez-Alequin said he was not happy with Thursday's proposed deal, but grudgingly accepted it because there is a "hierarchy" in the Bronx district attorney's office and he understands the case is political.
"I'm not happy about it because there are issues other than a few dollars for a camera," he said.
"The questions I was asking when it happened were, 'Where is his residence? Where is his campaign funds?' They abuse the public's trust."email@example.com
See, the problem for State Senate Republicans in essentially naming Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr (D-Grand Jury Room) as President is that they’ve bought him. They’re stuck with him.
Until the coup, Espada was just another narcissistic loudmouth lost in a sea of narcissistic loudmouths. Now, he’s the Republican’s hand-picked leader. And they’re starting to whisper amongst themselves, holy shit, what have we done?
While the Senate Republicans send their thank-you cards to Mssrs. Golisano and Pigeon, the wealthy tweedle-dee and malignant tweedle-dum of state politics, they’ve thrown the anachronistic, useless State Senate into further uselessness and turmoil.
Yes, it’s time to abolish the State Senate and bring about a unicameral, democratic legislature that enables actual debate, actual discussion, and actual contemplation and deliberation of measures that may actually help the average working stiffs who are unfortunate enough to reside in this Godforsaken state.
But in the meantime, let’s see some video of Pedro Espada (who like most asshole narcissists refers to himself in the third person) and his goon squad roughing up a Bronx-based blogger during a parade last election season.
Oh, and you know how Espada says he has an apartment in the Bronx, and that’s his primary residence? But he really has a nice house in Mamaroneck? Yeah, let’s watch Espada be confronted in the lobby of the Bronx apartment building by a resident who tells him to his face that he doesn’t live there.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
“Realizing that any action taken in these Extraordinary Sessions called by Governor Paterson are moot, my Senate Colleagues and I will remain adjourned until such action is warranted.
Myself and Senate Democrats are more than willing to work with both Senate Republicans and the Governor, but only until such time as we have a legitimate forum and cause to legislate.
It is disingenuous for the Governor to claim that the Senate, a house of 62 members, is putting on a farce. More so, it is disrespectful for him to strong-arm us into an unconstitutionally-called session twice, knowing the situation at hand and the severity of the pending legislation before us.
The Governor needs to get his house in order. Governor Paterson and staff have misinterpreted the State Constitution when it comes to Extraordinary Session. In fact, any action the Senate takes in these sessions—other than confirmations—is null and void without the simultaneous presence of the State Assembly.
Until the Governor properly calls Extraordinary Session, and summons both the Senate and Assembly to order, myself and my Senate Colleagues will remain adjourned.”
Contact: Graham Parker | firstname.lastname@example.org | (518) 455-2177
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
YFP posted the following article in 2008. It is as relevant now as it was then. Connect the dots folks.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
ESPADA FLAUNTS THE LAW
Pedro Espada sent a letter to potential voters regarding his opposition to New York City's Department of Environmental Protection's plan to use blasting at the Jerome Park Reservoir.
Two things were wrong with this letter. His spelling errors i.e. Reservior and Van Courtland Park and his use of Soundview Healthcare stationery for his mailings. There is also the possibility that he may have used postage funds from Soundview for this mailing. And since Soundview is funded through both state and federal monies, this would be illegal.
Espada has been down this road before. It is simply the employ of old tactics in a new campaign.
However, that does not justify the use of federal funds for the poor used to finance his political ambitions.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
6/23/09 at 6:17 PM
Over the Christmas holiday, Christopher Lynn, a former top Giuliani aide and founding member of the gay and lesbian Stonewall Democratic Club in New York City, took one of his closest friends, a Democratic state senator, to a performance of Liza Minnelli's Broadway show, Liza's at the Palace ... ! During the poignant rendition of Charles Aznavour's drag-queen ballad, "What Makes a Man a Man?" ("I know my life is not a crime/ I'm just a victim of my time"), Lynn turned to his friend and saw that he was choked up. "Diaz was in tears," says Lynn. Yes, that Diaz — Bronx senator Ruben Diaz Sr., the Pentecostal Puerto Rican minister and scourge of gay marriage.
Lynn, who was the highest-ranking openly gay official in the Giuliani administration, is counsel to Diaz's Senate Aging Committee and perhaps Diaz's most ardent defender. "He's my friend, and I love him," Lynn told New York. The two first met in 1993 as appointed members of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations of police brutality. Before joining the board, Lynn says he was warned by then-Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer of Diaz's hostility toward gay rights, but Lynn found Diaz to be a compassionate ally. Diaz supported Lynn's demand that the board hire gay and lesbian investigators and joined Lynn in trying to expose abusive stop-and-frisks in the the Bronx's 43rd precinct.
Their enduring friendship is a buddy comedy of sorts — but one that's not so amusing to the gay-rights community. "Why would you put up somebody who is so full of hate toward people like you?" asked a fellow Stonewall member who wished not to be identified. Diaz has been leading the charge against proposed legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in New York, organizing protest rallies around the city, and holding a sword over fellow Democratic senators who want the bill passed. In 1994, when the Gay Games came to New York, Diaz wrote that "You don't have to be clairvoyant to realize that this can and will lead to sexual encounters with the risk of exposure to AIDS." He later recanted, but recently griped of his opponents over marriage equality, "The gays are calling my office. They're jamming my phones."
Lynn, 59, is a former criminal-defense lawyer who describes himself as a "longtime gay activist with the scars to prove it." He explains his loyalty to Diaz this way: "It's a moral issue to Diaz. He's not saying, 'I castigate your lifestyle.' He doesn't say people who are opposed to him are sinners. He refuses to vote for something that he feels would imperil his soul. It has nothing to do with civil rights as far as Diaz is concerned. Rather than vilify people like Diaz, you have to appreciate the total human being."
Diaz, who has not one but two gay brothers, says, "I'm not homophobic. I have a problem with gay marriage. I have no problem with gays." Even Liza Minnelli won’t change his mind about that, but her deft, shaky hand did stroke at least some part of his soul. "It touched me, something touched me," Diaz told New York about the performance that moved him to tears. "Something got to me."
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Last year, Martínez produced (click here to see the video) a video in which he interviewed several Bronx neighbors of State Senator Pedro Espada, who had never seen Espada in the building before. The excellent video, which shows Espada’s car parked later that night at his real home in Mamaroneck, proves outright that Senator Espada had never lived at the address he listed as his official State Senate residence. An old lady tenant even confronted Espada, who is now second-in-line to be Governor, after his staff member, in an attempt to intimidate her, took a picture of her while Martinez was interviewing her. As a reward for his five-star video did Rafael make the front page of the dailies last year? On the contrary, not one of his City Hall colleagues continued Martínez the investigation to prove Espada did not live in the Bronx.
It is not only the press who is trying to marginalize Martínez. It took Norman Siegel defending Martinez to defeat the Mayor’s attempt to throw Martinez out of City Hall by not renewing his press pass, despite the fact that Martinez has covered City Hall for 25 years. Siegel’s lawsuit has already resulted in Martínez getting a new press pass, and it is still ongoing to win press pass rights for other bloggers. Martínez is still not allow to ask any questions at mayoral press conferences.
A short time after the (Click here to see the video) video was released, Martínez was attacked and threatened when he attempted to ask Espada a questions about his residence and non profit medical heath care organization he funds with government money and runs. Martinez’s camera was broken and he was told that if he continued to investigate Espara he would be put in a body bag by those close to Espada.
Martínez was attacked because Espada’s people knew he was doing the job of a real journalist and the so-called real journalists were of no danger to them. Espada knew that if you’re a member of the ruling class, the mainstream media will protect you. More importantly, Espada knew that he could use his vote to turn the Senate Democratic as not only a shield to avoid negative press stories, but, more importantly, to hold off and stall criminal investigations into his conduct.
It was only after Espada voted with the GOP, putting Sprinkles the Clown in charge of the Senate, that the Bronx DA Robert Johnson started his investigation into Espada’s residence, empanelling a grand jury and subpoenaed Martinez’s Video. Since then, even the society journalists have been calling Martínez, now that they see his work as a real journalist could put Espada behind bars and end the circus that has become the State Senate.
Mr. Martinez, it is time to get back to work and expose why the DAs, the Mayor’s DOI and the FBI are delaying the investigation into the City Council slush fund scandal. We already know, as we witnessed during the Council’s term limits vote, why the city’s establishment has convinced itself that only the reelection of Bloomberg will save the city from financial disaster. Who else can spend millions of dollars on TV commercials convincing the voters he is creating jobs, while the city’s employment rate climes over 9% for the first time in 16 years. You can do this, Rafael. Just remember those journalists who hate you really secretly envy you, because you’re the only real journalist at City Hall.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Here’s Hiram Monserrate this morning at the National Action Network, talking about his decision to return to the Democratic caucus.
At the event, Monserrate likened himself to Jesus, who “began to turn over a few tables” in order “to get the people’s business done right.”
Monserrate went on to say that “if it cost my election because I decided to turn over a table or two, and say that business has got to be done differently, so be it. That means I’m going to be here seven days a week, volunteering at the National Action Network.”
When Monserrate finished, he began walking off stage, but came back when he heard the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“Always remember that when Jesus turned over the table, he knew he could be crucified, but he knew he could get back up. Always make sure you got the resurrection guaranteed before you start getting crucified,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton organized the day’s event, attended by a number of state senators, including Malcolm Smith, who Monserrate basically kicked out of the leadership role; John Sampson, Smith’s replacement; and Tom Duane, who voiced his support for the Democratic Party after sending a letter yesterday saying he was troubled that same-sex marriage wasn’t being supported enough by the conference.
Azi Paybarah can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Oppose senator’s Republican switch
by DANIEL BEEKMAN
Friday, June 19, 2009 10:13 AM EDT
Nick DiMichael of Webster Avenue and protest
On Friday, June 12, close to a hundred Bronxites stormed Pedro Espada’s non-existent Fordham Plaza office to protest the senator’s affordable housing record and role in the recent Albany coup.
On Friday, June 12, close to a hundred Bronxites struck back. They marched in front of the senator’s non-existent district office at Fordham Plaza and chanted “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Pedro Espada’s gotta go!” There are 77,000 rent regulated apartments in Espada’s district alone.
Well before the Monday, June 8 coup, Espada drew the ire of his constituents. In April, he used a baby to shield his face from a video camera outside his house in Westchester County. In May, he addressed fat cat landlords at the Water Club in Manhattan, signaling support for the real estate lobby.
“He was supposed to open a district office,” said Bedford Park resident Millie Colon. “He hasn’t. He was supposed to live here. He doesn’t. Espada is drunk on power.”
Espada has referred to the June 8 coup as a bipartisan gesture and a boon for Hispanics.
“He’s not doing anything for the Hispanic people,” said Luis Aponte. Aponte is a resident of transitional housing. In 2000, Espada was accused of using $200,000 from the Soundview Health Clinic to pay off a campaign debt. In 2005, clinic employees were found guilty of using taxpayer funds to aid an Espada campaign.
“[Espada] got elected by idiots who didn’t check his background,” Aponte said. “He is living in a mansion. I am living in a shelter. He better listen. We will take him down.”
On June 12, Ramona Santana of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition asked Espada to hold an emergency forum, to speak with his constituents face-to-face.
“Rest assured, I am fully aware of the important affordable housing issues before the legislature,” Espada replied. “In fact, as chairman of the Housing Committee, I have already passed more legislation to enhance affordable housing than any other housing chairman in the last 20 years. The faster my Democratic colleagues participate in our new reform coalition government, the faster we can debate and vote on housing issues.”
Rossi didn’t vote for Espada or his 2008 opponent, Efrain Gonzalez, who pled guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud in May.
On June 12, Williams asked Espada to rescue the Mitchell-Lama system.
“I’m irate,” she said. “I voted Democrat. I helped win the Senate and now [Espada] is taking it away from me. We’re here today to put pressure on him and he doesn’t seem to care. I don’t know what planet he’s from. Not this one.”
Friday, June 19, 2009
June 19, 2009
An angry Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum lashed out today at Council Speaker Christine Quinn, blaming the speaker for failing to restore a 40 percent cut to the PA's $2.8 million budget and charging it was “political payback” for her opposition of extending term limits.
Gotbaum, who presides over City Council sessions and acts as a parliamentarian, is so furious she says she will boycott sessions for the remainder of her term, which ends Dec.31, the DN's Frank Lombardi reports.
Reading from a prepared text, Gotbaum said:
"I believe this is a political payback from Speaker Quinn for my spirited opposition to extending term limits without a referendum. It is anti-democratic, bad government and politics at its worst.”
She said her watchdog office “is being starved out of existence” by the speaker, adding: “This cut by the speaker is an attempt to turn the watchdog into a lapdog.”
Gotbaum, a longtime friend of Quinn, blamed the speaker for failing to push for the traditional budget restorations her office has received annually as part of the so-called "budget dance" between the Council and the mayor's office.
She said she spoke to Mayor Bloomberg, who initially imposed the cut, about the speaker’s refusal to restore her budget and was told he would “look into it.”
Obviously, he didn’t, she told reporters at a press conference on the City Hall steps.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/?offset=10#ixzz0IwHYBsEx&C
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Democrats Offer Plan to Get Back to Business, Republicans Continue to Stonewall
(Albany, NY)—State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn) said today that the only thing to come of the Senate Republicans’ failed power grab last week is an unnecessary delay in needed legislation.
Before Senate Republicans attempted to hijack the upper house, Senator Dilan and his Democratic Conference members were in line to move on an extensive end-of-session legislative agenda that included among others: school governance and approval of New York City’s budget actions to close a more than half-billion dollar budget gap.
“This was nothing more than a power grab, conducted under the flag of change and reform. I stand behind my Democratic Conference and will continue to be a driving force within it to exact the change we promised voters in November,” said Senator Dilan.
Recently Senator Dilan and Senate Democrats extended the olive branch to republicans who quickly declined. Twice a power-sharing agreement was extended to the GOP, one that would share leadership and legislative roles and establish a true coalition government. Both times Senate Republican refused the offer, opting to stick to their all-or-nothing-politics.
“With two weeks left of session, and a plate full of real reforms on the table, Senate Republicans opted to play politics and pass on the opportunity to do the jobs they were elected to do,” said Senator Dilan.
With the Legislative agenda derailed, the all-important question of who and how New York City’s schools will be run in years to come may not be answered. Thousands of constituents who voiced their concerns over the future education of their children have been tossed aside.
New York City, facing one of its worst fiscal crisis in decades, is depending on Albany to approve much-needed budget actions. Without state approval, the city cannot balance its budget.
“Senate Republicans have made unconscionable concessions and allowed disgruntled donors to shut down this chamber all in the name of absolute control. They have put at risk their own cities and towns, they’ve stalled mandate relief and senate reforms all under the guise of seeking shared-power, which they have since turned down twice,” concluded Senator Dilan.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I asked him for an update on the Senate leadership situation.
“Malcolm is the leader of the Democratic conference. I expect that he will continue,” Dilan said. “But as you know, there is at least a member who is deciding in which direction he is going to go and one of the preconditions that he has is that Malcolm has to step down.”
Dilan said “I think that is a decision that Malcolm has to make.”
When I asked if he’d be comfortable with that change in leadership, Dilan said:
“I think Malcolm has done a great job as our leader. However, I think that Malcolm will look at it in terms of what’s right for the Democratic conference. We have to realize that the Democratic voters of the state of New York—the voters of the state of New York, all of them, a majority of them—voted for us to have a Democratic Senate. And I expect that he will work hard to maintain that.”
Azi Paybarah can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Due to the recent New York State Senate chaos, YFP is re- posting this article and video to remind our readers who the real Senator Pedro Espada is. Yesterday he told the media that his "character was assassinated". The question is, which character? Perhaps, he was talking about the sleazy, corrupt one.
Approximately one hour ago, I was documenting a visit by Pedro Espada campaigning in the Bronx. As you are aware, YFP has been chronicling the Espada escapade from the moment that he declared his candidacy for Senator of the 33rd district in the Bronx. And as you are also aware, there were times when the dialogue became contentious, but never escalated to physical contact.
Today was the exception. With little provocation, I was surrounded by Espada and his handlers after he consented to speak with me. Within minutes, I was assaulted. Espada never attempted to stop the assault. You will hear him state "This is to teach you manners Papa." They broke my camera and they tried to break me.
I write this as I am en route to the hospital. If this is an indication of who will lead the 33rd district, it is wrong. Simply put, we do not need a thug to govern us.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Friday, June 12th 2009, 4:00 AM
Richard Izquierdo Arroyo and Margarita Villegas: Accused of looting nonprofit for pols' trip.
Richard Izquierdo Arroyo - who's also Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo's grandson and chief of staff - Thursday notified the city he was resigning as chairman of the board of the South Bronx Charter School for International Culture and the Arts.
His city councilwoman aunt sponsored $1.5 million in taxpayer funds this fiscal year to help build a permanent facility for the school, which is temporarily housed in a public school.
The school's principal, Evelyn Hey, would not answer questions about Izquierdo Arroyo's role at the school.
Izquierdo Arroyo also notified the city he would resign as chairman of the board of a second institution, the New York City Charter High School for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries.
It was not clear when that school's board would meet to accept the resignation. Principal Eugene Foley declined comment.
On Wednesday, Izquierdo Arroyo was charged with stealing from a nonprofit group, SBCC Management Corp., that manages low-income apartment buildings in the Bronx. SBCC Management's director, Margarita Villegas, also was charged.
They also used the nonprofit's money to buy airline tickets to Puerto Rico for City Councilwoman Arroyo and her mother the assemblywoman.
SBCC Management's director, Villegas, is also a board member of the South Bronx Charter School. Officials said she's notified the city she'll step down from that position, too.
Villegas and Izquierdo Arroyo deny wrongdoing.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Although the election is in the distant future, Gonzalez would need that time to mount a significant campaign. Should he decide to run, he would follow a long standing Bronx political tradition. The sons of power pols, Rubén Diaz, José Rivera, and José Serrano have all assumed political office.
By FREDRIC U. DICKER (NY Post)
June 11, 2009
ALBANY -- One of the Democratic state senators who defected to the GOP in a legislative coup earlier this week said today that his Westchester home had been broken into and that files had been stolen.
Sen. Pedro Espada said his Mamoranack home office had been burglarized Monday, just hours after the Republicans mounted an historic power-grab and regained control of the State Senate.
"It's unfortunate," he told reporters. "Office papers and files are missing."
Espada, who is from the Bronx and claims the Westchester home is not his primary residence, blamed it on protesters camped outside.
"This was a burglary. I have to tie it in to demonstrations outside my home," he said. "Things are on the precipice of violence... People will get hurt."
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
On last night's program, Democratic State Senator Pedro Espada Junior explained why he helped Republicans pull a coup in the State Senate.
Tonight’s program includes: Rep. Carolyn Maloney; Our NY1 Wiseguys; New findings in our NY1/New York Times/Cornell poll
The New York Times
Hakim & Peters write: “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.”
Chen & Connelly report: “Despite generally broad approval for the job Michael R. Bloomberg has done as mayor, a majority of New Yorkers say that he does not deserve another term in office and that they would like to give someone else a chance, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Cornell University and NY1 News. With anxiety rising over a difficult economy, few surveyed have a lot of confidence in Mr. Bloomberg’s ability to lead the city out of the recession, a troubling sign for a mayor who cited his financial acumen as the rationale for his undoing of the term limits law that otherwise would have forced him from office. In addition, some 51 percent say that the city is on the wrong track, while 40 percent say it is going in the right direction.”
New York Post
In a column, Fred Dicker observes: “The historic and breathtaking coup that apparently ousted Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith yesterday was set in motion three weeks ago -- but it was six months in the making….The major factor was the ham-handed and embarrassingly chaotic leadership by the Queens-based Smith and other leading Democrats, including Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein of The Bronx, that angered and alienated Senate Republicans.”
Carl Campanile writes: “Meet the two Democratic turncoats who handed control of the state Senate back to the Republicans: One's been charged with slashing his girlfriend, while the other is being probed in a funding scam.”
The Post has a good “tick-tock” of how the coup went down.
The edit-heads note: “Certainly, the Republicans under former Majority Leader Joe Bruno -- who himself is under indictment -- had scant more honor than the Democrats, having made endless corrupt bargains just to hang onto power.
But New Yorkers know that lawmakers from both parties invariably put their own interests over those of their constituents. Whoever winds up in charge, New Yorkers generally lose. Will it be different this time? There's no reason to think so.”
New York Daily News
Lovett & Blain note: “With two weeks left in the legislative session, the move throws into question a host of high-profile legislation: - Reauthorization of mayoral control in the city. - Legalization of gay marriage. - Democratic-sponsored ethics reform. - Changes in city rent laws.”
Op-ed columnist Bill Hammond writes: “A shining moment of democratic governance it was not. If Republicans really mean to keep their reform promises - and put their ill-gotten power to good use - we'll know soon enough. Maybe they'll do the right thing and let the Assembly-approved gay marriage bill actually come to a vote. Maybe they'll push forward in bipartisan fashion with the well-designed ethics bill Democrats crafted. Seeing will be believing.”
The edit-heads opine: “Yesterday's coup d'etat revealed Albany for the madhouse it has become, with the lunatics firmly in charge of the asylum.”
Dan Janison writes: “For those learning of it downstate, this struck like lightning. Word of the parliamentary coup's early moments in the Senate chamber in Albany Monday smacked of reports from a foreign capital under siege, complete with descriptions of rooms going dark and TV feeds cut off and a mob scene in the hallway.”
(Albany, NY)—Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn) is urging New Yorkers who regularly travel outside the United States to apply for an Enhanced Driver License (EDL).
As of June 1, 2009, the federal Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires an EDL, or other federal identification papers, for travel into the country by land or sea from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
“An EDL takes less time to get, costs less than a U.S. passport and serves a similar purpose,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan. “It will allow for faster processing at border crossings while assuring the necessary security of our state and nation’s border.”
The EDL can be used at border crossings to and from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
The card confirms your identity and citizenship through the use of a unique number contained in a radio frequency identification tag. The card can be machine scanned for faster entry and travel. The radio tag does not contain any personal information other than what is currently displayed on your standard state driver’s license.
“This program has already been met with success in New York. So far we’ve had the most EDL applications of any state. But we have a real opportunity to drastically improve processing and security at our borders with this program, I urge anyone with a need for an EDL, to get one,” Senator Dilan concluded.
An EDL applicant is required to show proof of identity, state residency and U.S. Citizenship. All applications for EDLs must be made in person at a state Department of Motor Vehicles office. An EDL is a $30 fee, over the cost of your new or renewed driver’s license.
To learn more about the EDL visit www.nysdmv.com.
Daily News Albany Bureau
Updated Tuesday, June 9th 2009, 7:55 AM
Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, left, speaks during a news conference. Also pictured from left are Tom Golisano, Sen. Hiram Monserrate, Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr. and Sen. Thomas LIbous.
ALBANY - Chaos reigned in Albany on Monday night after Republicans seemingly pulled off an unprecedented midsession coup to gain control of the chamber.
After weeks of intense discussions, Espada and Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) agreed to side with Republicans in what they are calling a new bipartisan coalition to run the Senate.
The two said they will remain Democrats.
Republican Minority Leader Dean Skelos was installed to his old post as majority leader.
Espada and Skelos said they plan to return to session under the new leadership tomorrow.
That could be difficult since the Democrats have locked the gates leading to the Senate chamber, and ousted Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said he will not call his members back to session until order is restored.
With two weeks left in the legislative session, the move throws into question a host of high-profile legislation:
- Reauthorization of mayoral control in the city.
- Legalization of gay marriage.
- Democratic-sponsored ethics reform.
- Changes in city rent laws.
An angry Gov. Paterson called the coup attempt "an outrage" and "despicable," because it comes when a host of issues are unresolved.
"Once again Albany's dysfunction has raised its ugly head," he said.
Paterson vowed, "I will not allow this to go on much further" while acknowledging he has no real say in the matter.
He said he would meet with Espada and Skelos as leaders if their coup stands. As temporary Senate president, Espada would be acting governor if anything happened to Paterson.
Espada said he switched allegiances because the Democrats failed to enact most of the reforms they promised after taking control for the first time since 1965.
He becomes the highest ranking Hispanic elected official in New York government.
"It's a sobering moment, it's not a jubilant moment, but it's a moment that we must have to get our government back," Espada told reporters.
Smith, and his colleagues are expected to sue to stop a coup they called "an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic majority.
"The Senate Democrats are still in the majority; Sen. Malcolm Smith is still the majority leader," Smith told reporters. "It's sad that the Republicans would choose to disrupt the business of this house."
After losing control of the Senate for the first time in 44 years, Republicans had been trying to break the slim 32-30 Democratic majority since January.
Espada and Monserrate were two of four Democrats who originally held out against Smith being elected majority leader.
Monday's coup occurred on the floor in dramatic fashion.
It was about 3 p.m., when the Senate was set to approve a list of legislative pork spending that heavily favored Democrats.
Suddenly, Sen. Thomas Libous (R-Binghamton) began the leadership battle.
Democrats were stunned to see Espada and Monserrate raise their hands in unison with Republicans on procedural votes.
After tense minutes, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) called to adjourn the session and Democrats stormed out without a vote.
"Life is circular, my friend," Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) snarled to Espada and Monserrate as she left.
As Republicans, with their two Democratic allies, voted to install Espada and enact new rules for the house, Democrats had the lights in the chamber briefly turned off and threatened to lock the chamber down.
Espada and Monserrate said they will not conference with the Republicans. They say Democrats will have at least 12 committee chairmanships and other leadership perks as part of the unprecedented shared running of the house.
Espada said he expects a court challenge, but said he is confident the coup was legal.
Upstate billionaire Tom Golisano helped broker the coup. He was upset at a state budget that raised taxes and fees by $8 billion.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Ohioan becomes 1st black female rabbi in US
Jun 6, 9:29 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Describing herself as the "new face of Judaism," Alysa Stanton became the first black female rabbi in the country during an ordination in Cincinnati.
Stanton, of Blue Ash, was among 14 rabbis ordained Saturday at the Plum Street Temple. She will serve as rabbi of the predominantly white Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, N.C., beginning this summer.
Over the past six weeks, Americans have learned quite a bit about Raúl Castro, who took over as head of the Cuban government in late July. One thing they haven't been told, however, is something millions of Cubans have long taken for granted: that little bro is gay.
It's not a new rumor by any means, but it has flamed up again in the wake of Fidel Castro's hospitalization for intestinal bleeding. News articles on exile websites about the hand over, which may prove temporary if Fidel ever recovers, are routinely accompanied by reader comments that refer to Raúl as el maricón, a Spanish derogatory term equivalent to "faggot." Some sites claim he is bisexual (he is, after all, married with four children) or a cross-dresser, while others name his alleged partners. Asked how widespread the belief is, a member of a Cuban exile family from Miami told Radar simply, "Everyone knows Raúl is gay."