Senate Democrats from the Bronx may be out of luck – and out of funds for their districts – because of a shocking coup that brought two renegade Democrats, one, a Bronx senator, over to the Republican camp, creating a new majority.
The switch came out of the blue on the Senate floor on Monday, June 8, knocking Democratic officials out of their leadership position.
Senators Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens are sitting with the Republicans, giving the party a one-seat majority in the New York State Senate.
“I wish I could be jubilant,” said Espada, who would be the senate’s first Hispanic leader. “We know that we had five months of sheer chaos…this leadership vacuum has been filled today in a bipartisan way.”
Community groups around the northern and eastern part of the Bronx may feel the effects of losing funds they otherwise would have received from Senator Jeff Klein and his fellow Democrats. Senators in the majority, especially party leaders like Klein, receive far more for funding projects than legislators in the minority party.
“Senator Klein has been the sponsor of significant contributions to many programs in the north Bronx,” said John Bonizio of the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square. “If that funding source dries up, we are going to be back to square one, which is not acceptable.”
Bonizio also said he thought the reason the move by the Republicans occurred was that there wasn’t enough leadership in the Democratically-controlled Senate.
“If it wasn’t for the lack of leadership on the Democratic side, this never would have happened,” Bonizio stated. “Opportunity was created for the renegade Senators by the same people who now cry foul. That is the lesson to be learned.”
At the Morris Park Community Association, which just received a major grant from Klein, the possibility of reduced funding was a cause for concern.
“The grants that Senator Klein gives are really needed because we have senior citizen programs, and we also use them for the operating expenses of the association,” said vice-chairman of the Morris Park Community Association Tony Signorile. “Hopefully they don’t play games in Albany and they do give us the grant.”
Among several dozen other member-item allocations recently, Klein provided $35,000 to the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association; $25,000 to the Edgewater Park Volunteer Hose Company #1; and sponsors a free graffiti removal program.
“This throws everything in doubt now; all the good things Senator Klein was set to bring to the community is now up in the air,” said Sandi Lusk, of the Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization, which was expecting monies from Klein soon.
“What happened in Albany on Monday is troubling. The will of the people in November was a vote for real change. Unfortunately, the political aspirations of a few are casting a cloud over the lives and welfare of hardworking families. In these tough times, we need serious public servants that our constituents rely on to provide relief, restore strength and ensure security for their families and communities,” said Senator Jeff Klein.