Friday, September 3, 2010

Espada must go: Sleazeball Pedro leads list of Albany bums voters need to throw out

No member of the Legislature more epitomizes the corruption, rank dishonesty and sleaze permeating the Capitol than Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada Jr.

Among all the bums who must be thrown out, Espada should be first.

West Bronx residents are fortunate to have a solid choice in Gustavo Rivera, a well-informed up-and-comer who welcomes accountability.

A vote for Rivera in the Sept. 14 primary is a vote for cleaner government.

The grounds for dumping Espada, poster boy for Albany insanity, are almost beyond imagining.

He was the party-flipping, power-grabbing instigator of the Senate coup last summer that paralyzed Albany for a month.

He also stands credibly accused by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of looting $14 million from a taxpayer-financed chain of health clinics.

On top of that, Espada notoriously lives outside his district, in Mamaroneck; persistently ignores campaign finance laws, and is even being sued for allegedly stiffing his tailor on $7,200 worth of fancy suits.

Rivera bears no such ethical taint. His professional background consists mainly of campaigning for Democrats, including President Obama. He most recently worked as an aide to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. He also teaches political science part time at Pace University.

While this page is not in sync with Rivera on some issues, he is likely in line with the sensibilities of the district and is surely in tune with the economic interests of working New Yorkers.

Importantly, Rivera has signed former Mayor Ed Koch's pledge to support key reforms in Albany. There's every reason to believe he will keep his word and no reason to think Espada would do the same. The Daily News endorses Gustavo Rivera for Senate in the 33rd District.

There are eight additional contested legislative races in the Bronx, in virtually all of which the incumbent scoffs at reforming Albany. Most were also guilty this year of pushing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority toward raising fares while brazenly deceiving voters about their roles in contributing to the hikes.

There's a test for determining whether a member of the Senate or Assembly is content with Albany's mire: Did he or she commit in writing to a reform agenda advanced by a grassroots campaign under Koch's leadership?

The agenda includes ending partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts, putting the Legislature under real ethics enforcement and imposing procedures for honest budgeting.

Koch's group, New York Uprising, has dubbed those who signed the pledge Heroes of Reform. Those who refused are Enemies of Reform. Candidates are listed below in both categories.

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