Espaillat Says Lack of Hispanics Is a ‘Weakness’ of the Monserrate Inquisition Panel

Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat is also calling for State Senator Hiram Monserrate to resign, but said it is a “point of weakness” that the Inquisition Panel formed last week to ponder charges against him contains no Latino members.

“Given what has happened, Senator Monserrate is no longer able to effectively serve his constituents, or the people of this state, in the Senate,” Espaillat said in a statement. Monserrate was convicted of misdemeanor assault last week. By phone, Espaillat told me that “his leadership is unsustainable.”

Then I asked if he thought Monserrate could get a fair hearing from the bi-partisan panel chaired by Eric Schneiderman and tasked with judging him. (Espaillat is Dominican and represents Inwood and Washington Heights.) There are no Hispanic senators on the panel; two Senate sources said that a seat on the panel was discussed both Senators Jose Serrano and Martin Malave Dilan, but they decided not to accept. Along with Schneiderman, Senators Toby Ann Stavisky, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Diane Savino, John Flanagan, Jim Alesi, Cathy Young and Andrew Lanza. The lack of Hispanics has been lamented by State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.

“There should be somebody Hispanic in the commission. I think that’s perhaps a point of weakness for the commission,” Espaillat said, while noting that they have hired a Hispanic counsel. “I think that Senator Schneiderman will do everything possible to ensure that he has a fair and open process. I think that the senator is someone who has a background of being always fair and equitable and open-minded.”

“I agree with him to the degree that there’s a double standard, but that other cases have occurred where perhaps the senate should have taken an equally strong stand and they didn’t,” Espaillat added. “But that doesn’t mean that I think what was done in the past was right, but that it was wrong.”