By Kenneth Kowald
John Sabini, a former City Councilman, was elected to the state Senate in 2002 and won re-election easily in 2004. In 2006, former Councilman Hiram Monserrate, better known as Senator Slash, challenged him and came within 200 votes of replacing him.
The Queens Democratic Party, bowing to what appeared to be a demographic — that is, ethnic — shift in the district, got Sabini to retire and take an appointment from Gov. David Paterson as chairman of the Racing and Wagering Board. Monserrate became state senator.
Do not cry for Sabini, readers. I believe his salary is in excess of $100,000.
Once we have taken off the blinders of “post-racial politics,” whatever that means, it is clear Monserrate was chosen so he could get Hispanic votes. There is nothing new in that. The Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews and blacks all fought to gain political footholds in government and then counted on their fellow countrymen and women or religious colleagues to help them get to positions of power.
After the initial gains were made, most ethnic voters settled down to consider the candidates on the merits and not on ethnicity or race alone. The Asians are next.
A Hispanic is Senate majority leader and he does not let you forget it.
Monserrate’s best friend and fellow schismatic, Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. (D-Bronx), responding to a subpoena for documents concerning his questionable activities, accused state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of “conducting a witch hunt” and “using me, the state’s highest ranking Hispanic elected official, as his personal political pinata.”
The stupidity in the state Legislature has led to deadlocks on legislation and to a fiscal mess which resulted, for the first time in history, in having the state’s main bank account end in the red. The governor and the state Assembly and Senate are at loggerheads on every issue, including ethics.
Meanwhile, the peoples’ business suffers.
One of the manifestations of ethnic politics is rallying ’round each other in times of stress. After all, Monserrate may be a thug, but he is our thug, right?
State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx) is a minister. When his pal was convicted of a misdemeanor, he rallied to his support. It does make one wonder about the senator-minister’s attitude toward other people. The list is too long to print here, but you can go on the Internet and find out all about Diaz’s views on many things. One might question, if one were a theologian, which this flack is not, just what his religious values are.
While you are researching, perhaps you can find out something about the seminary Ruben says he attended in the Bronx, the Damascus Bible Institute, which was no longer in existence in the mid-1990s, according to a newspaper report. My searches and those of a young friend who is computer savvy turned up no information about it. Strange.
As of this writing, Monserrate, expelled from the Senate, plans to run in the special election March 16. If he does, do not bet on the outcome.
Otto von Bismarck, who knew something about governing, wrote: “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”