ALBANY—Democratic Assemblyman Mark Schroeder never planned to call State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. a thug, but now he's calling on him–and Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, who "rushed to his defense"–to come to his Buffalo district and apologize.
On Friday, Schroeder called publicly for Espada to resign his leadership position.
"Usually, you would think, in a day or two they would have called for an apology. The only apology Espada's going to get is the one he issues to my constituents," Schroeder said. "They should come here and they should apologize for the behavior they have shown, especially in June, and now."
(Espada's spokesman Steve Mangione didn't return a call this morning seeking comment.)
Schroeder said the whole narrative started Friday, when the Associated Press Capitol Editor, Mike Gormley, called to ask about his co-sponsorship of a Republican-led bill calling for a constitutional convention.
"I explained to him as I explained to everyone who wants to listen that this state is beyond reform," Schroeder said. "What I really want to talk about with the press is the way to transform New York State government, and the way to do it with the constitutional convention."
"Then I said that Senator Espada is a thug, in talking about other things. I realized at the moment that that was going to be the key story around the press, rather than talking about the constitutional convention. But hey, that's how it goes."
He said the response has been entirely positive, saying he's received 100 e-mails from around the state "from people saying ‘congratulations for speaking up.'"
I reached out to Schroeder on Tuesday, and he specifically took issue with Sampson's defense of Espada, which I reported Monday.
"Not only does he have everything wrong regarding his assessment of Senator Espada and whether or not I have a standing in this–I do have a standing in this–and I am also requesting of Mr. Sampson that, starting immediately, the two senators elected in Buffalo run the Buffalo regional office," Schroeder said, calling the fact Espada has stewardship of the office "shameful."
Schroeder believes the Senate majority leader should be someone from upstate New York. He took exception when I noted that, as an assemblyman from Buffalo who doesn't normally attract much attention, he's a somewhat obscure voice articulating what is on the mind of lots of Democrats.
"Why don't I?" He replied. "Because it works by longevity? So because I've only been here 5.5 years is that why they're saying I'm an obscure legislator from western New York? I think it's because the reporters in this state are lazy. They hover outside Silver's conference room and chase them down the hall."
I asked if Schroeder's position was shared by Senators Bill Stachowski and Antoine Thompson, the Democrats that represent Buffalo in that chamber.
"You should ask them," he said.
I asked if he had.
"Why should I?" He replied.
"If it sounds like I'm not happy…I'm in a foul mood. I'm in a foul, foul, mood. The people I represent are not happy," Schroeder told me near the end of our interview. If all of the "dismayed" people in New York were to march on Albany and revolt, he said, "the people would be right."