Monserrate's Future Hinges On His Upcoming Trial
When state Senator Hiram Monserrate goes on trial Monday in Kew Gardens Criminal Court his fate, both personal and political, will be in the hands of Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum. Erlbaum will preside at a non-jury trial, pursuant to a request made by Monserrate.
The 42-year-old Corona lawmaker faces charges of felony assault on his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, last December. He could get up to seven years in prison if found guilty on the felony charges. In that case, he would be forced to give up the senate seat he has held since January.
In the eight and one half months the freshman lawmaker has held the seat, he has played a vital role in the senate's activities and was instrumental in the plot that stalemated the senate, Assembly and consequently the state government entirely for close to two months.
As his reward for fulfilling the plan, which ended with chief conspirator Senator Pedro Espada Jr. becoming the powerful Democratic Majority Leader, Monserrate was rewarded with committee appointments as well as monetary benefits.
All of this would be lost if Monserrate is found guilty of the felony charges. Espada's power would also be curtailed because his 32- 30 majority would be reduced to a single vote, making it difficult to rule effectively.
The possibility still exists that Monserrate could be found innocent of the felony charges or have them reduced to misdemeanors, in which case he could continue to hold his senate post.
GILLIBRAND SIDES WITH ACORN: On Monday night, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D- New York) was among those voting to strip the nonprofit citizen advocacy group ACORN of its federal funding. At the same time, his counterpart, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, from Upstate New York, voted not to take away the organization's funding.
The contradictory votes are noteworthy because Schumer was one of the main bulwarks in discouraging several would-be candidates from challenging Gillibrand when she stands for election to hold on to the senate seat to which Governor David Paterson appointed her.
Gillibrand's "yea" vote is also noteworthy because the Senate acted after the Brooklyn district attorney started a criminal investigation into two ACORN employees who advised a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute on how to get federal funding.
GOP POLITICAL MOVES: As Rudy Giuliani continues to shy away from announcing a run for governor, former Long Island Congressmember Rick Lazio formally declared he will seek the post next year.
Earlier last week sources close to Ed Cox, a Manhattan attorney who is close to being elected the new state GOP chairman, reported that Cox would rather see Giuliani run for the U.S. Senate against Gillibrand.
Giuliani is backing his own candidate against Cox, whose supporters are saying Rudy would have a better chance of defeating Gillibrand rather than running for governor against state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who they feel will be the actual Democratic candidate, rather than Gov. David Paterson.
GIANARIS BINGO DAYS: As he does each year, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D- Astoria) will host Senior Appreciation Week to recognize the contributions of Western Queens senior centers.
Gianaris, aided by AmeriChoice and Crosby Tours, will host "Mike Gianaris Bingo Day" at the following senior centers:
•DellaMonica Senior Center Monday, September 21, at 10 a.m.
•Selfhelp Queensview/North Queensview NORC Monday, September 21, at 2 p.m.
•HANAC Lindsay Senior Center Tuesday, September 22, at 10 a.m.
•Raices Senior Center Tuesday, September 22, at 2 p.m.
•HANAC Archbishop Iakovos Senior Center Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.
•Steinway Senior Center Thursday, September 24 at 10 a.m.