|From the 15 June 2009 Lockport Union Sun and Journal (Lockport, NY)|
THE GOPíS NEW BEST FRIENDS
Iíd 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 Ė have become heroes to a party that tries to pass itself off as one possessed of character. Itís something that these men lack. You canít 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.
Letís 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 neighborís door, pounding on it and screaming for help.
That sounds scary enough, but itís what happened prior to that, inside the apartment, that was the most offensive. The hot-headed Monserrate slashed Giraldoís face with a broken glass. It was such a brutal act that sheís 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. Thatís 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 Ė or being accused of breaking Ė 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 clinicís employees to run Espadaís 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 campaignís 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, heís 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 itís politically-expedient to do so, itís okay to ignore the Republican Partyís 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 donít fit that mold and they never will.
But, weíre told that giving-in like this to the criminal element is best for the State. With the Republicans back in control of the Senate weíll see a better tomorrow in New York. Really? It never happened like that before. Letís 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.
RETURN TO GREATER NIAGARA EDITORIALS