Mad-Dog Councilman Champions No Man's Land

What will happen in that 2009 race, or with Willets Point, is unclear. On April 21, the city went forward with plans to rezone Willets Point, and Mr. Monserrate responded by writing a letter, signed by nearly 30 council members, expressing opposition to the plan.

He likes to say that even though he is actively trying to thwart one of the key remaining components of the mayor’s ever-shrinking developmental legacy, he bears no animosity toward Mr. Bloomberg. “I like the mayor,” he said. “The mayor’s a grand chap.”

He related a story about when Mr. Bloomberg took him to Puerto Rico on a private jet and they got into an argument over a bus drivers’ strike.

Mr. Monserrate was delighted. “‘You know what the beautiful thing is about this American democracy? That Hiram Monserrate, a former police officer, the son of a porter that came from Puerto Rico, is on this jet with you, discussing major issues in our city.’ I said, ‘You come from a perspective of big business, capitalism, and I come from grass-roots, union-member, and working-class people,’” he said.

At one point in the interview, he gestured to one of several wooden plaques on the wall with newspaper clippings varnished to them. “‘Political bulldog does a mean merengue,’” he said, reciting one headline. “New York Times,” he added proudly.

Then he excused himself, because Community Board 7 was waiting to meet with him.