End of the line

The end of the line for Hiram Monserrate came slowly, with a process that dragged through the day and then into the night.
Maybe, as one senator told me with great gravity, that expelling a senator was serious business, and serious business takes time and deliberation. Fair enough. But since the vote was a foregone conclusion, it could also be that it was simply the Senate doing what it does well: moving slowly.
And then it was over, quickly, in a convincing vote. The cameras were there, not like the security camera that was Monserrate’s un-doing, the one that caught him dragging his girlfriend through an apartment building, the one that got him convicted of misdemeanor assault. The cameras recorded the first expulsion of a legislator since the 1920s.
Monserrate did not help his own case. He ignored the Senate committee investigating him, he says on the advice of counsel. Those lawyers are not done yet, not by a long shot. Monserrate says he cannot be legally expelled and has vowed he will fight his fate in court. And if the fight drags on in the courts, can you legally sit a new senator?
His supporters point out that Monserrate ‘s crime was committed before he even was in the Senate. And they claim the state constitution does not allow for expulsion.
But others dismiss this, as arguments of a man desperate to keep his job.
Of course in politics, it’s the court of public opinion that matter too. The Governor already called for a Special Election on Tuesday, March 16, so whoever wins will have to run again in the fall. Senators insist they were showing zero tolerance for domestic violence by voting to expel. Of course, they were also taking the first steps in putting last year’s coup behind them, the coup in which Monserrate played a central, if not changing role.
State Senator Ruben Diaz, a staunch Monserrate supporter, told me people who voted to expel him were “getting even, and that’s wrong.” But even Diaz admits that Monserrate gave his enemies a perfect opening.
Now Democrats have only 31 on their side, and many are worried that little will get done without the magic 32. (As if so much was getting done).
Monserrate was part of the “Four Amigos,” but he needed more than four amigos to save him. In politics, friends come and go with the wind.
And now, the Legislature, which has been insanely dysfunctional, can profess to the world that it was able in this case to police itself, by tossing out a former policeman.
But this one is not over until it’s over.
And the courts, like the Senate, do tend to take their time.

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