The New York Democratic Party belives state Sen. Pedro Espada has become a flaming public embarrassment — no easy feat when it comes to a political party.
For someone who abandoned his own political party, state Sen. Pedro Espada, D-Umbass, certainly didn’t take it very well when his party turned the tables.
Espada was one of two Democratic state senators who jumped ship last summer, temporarily joining the Republicans and giving them a brief, albeit disputed, majority. Legal challenges and political confusion ensued, and work ground to a complete halt in the chamber. State government was incapable of passing a single piece of legislation for four and a half weeks. Four and a half glorious weeks.
Eventually, he and fellow renegade Hiram Monserrate (who has since been relieved of his senatorial duties) were wooed back by the Democrats, who made Espada — get this! — their majority leader. Which is, in a way, appropriate. At 31-30, they have an incredible slight majority. And Espada offers incredibly slight leadership.
Not that he didn’t get to work immediately upon his return. In practically no time, the Senate had created the important position of deputy director of intergovernmental relations. Sure, it wasn’t clear what sort of intergovernmental relations the state Senate involves itself in, or whether those relations need to be directed, let alone deputy-directed. But it was clear that the job paid $120,000 a year.
And guess who just happened to be to the most experienced, best-qualified person to fill this vital new role. Would you believe Pedro Espada’s son? Neither did anyone else. When word got out, the outcry was such — even in Albany, where turning friends and relatives of lawmakers out of government jobs would raise the unemployment rate several points — that the younger Espada skulked away.
Unfortunately, his father hasn’t shown New York that same courtesy. And Democrats have decided they’ve had enough. The state’s Democratic Committee initiated legal proceedings this month to cancel Espada’s party affiliation.
“Through his repeated public statements and bad conduct, Sen. Espada has shown he is not ‘in sympathy’ with our party’s fundamental principles,” wrote Edgar Santana, the committee’s deputy executive director.
Santana was putting in polite terms the bald truth that Espada has become a flaming public embarrassment — no easy feat when it comes to a political party.
Aside from his in-office shenanigans, Espada is also under state and federal investigation for allegedly siphoning $14 million from health clinics he operates in the Bronx. The Bronx, by the way, is his home district, though there is some argument over whether it is his home. He claims to live in a Bronx co-op where, neighbors say, sightings of him are rare. But he also owns an expensive home in upscale Westchester County.
How did our hero respond to efforts to, as Santana put it, disenroll him? He played the race card — something you hardly ever see from someone with a Westchester County address.
“If you look brown and you’re an immigrant, you’re not supposed to have power,” Espada said during a rally last week.
Please! Espada insults every true victim of racism with these tawdry, self-serving remarks.
Voters made Pedro Espada a state senator; shame on them. Democrats made him the Senate majority leader; shame on them. And for as long as the people of New York have to abide him serving as part of the state Legislature, he will surely continue to bring shame on them.
And that’s a shame.
Contact Kevin Frisch at (585) 394-0770, ext. 257, or firstname.lastname@example.org.