State Senate Coup Anniversary Party on CBS

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Our State Senate Coup Anniversary Party on CBS News (full press release after the jump, and we’ll be posting photos and video later):

Click the image to watch on CBS.com

Also check out Heather’s awesome quote on the coverage at LoHud.com:

Heather James of the Manhattan Young Democrats said the protest was meant to bring attention to corruption in Albany.

“We have a few people who need to go and we think Espada is one of them,” she said. “This is to commemorate the coup when Espada switched sides.”

Protesters Call for Espada’s Ouster at NY Home

PROGRESSIVE GROUPS AND COMMUNITY ADVOCATES HOLD SENATE COUP ANNIVERSARY BLOCK PARTY AT REAL  HOME OF PEDRO ESPADA JR.

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THE MANHATTAN YOUNG DEMOCRATS HOST A COALITION OF PROGRESSIVES IN PROTEST OF LAST YEAR’S UNDERHANDED POWER GRAB AND THE CONTINUED CORRUPTION IN ALBANY

Dozens of New Yorkers wearing “Don’t Vote For Pedro” shirts and armed with bullhorns and signs gathered outside the REAL home of State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. Saturday before marching to a nearby park for an afternoon of sushi and protesting in honor of the Senate Coup Anniversary.

Protestors delivered a “Welcome to Mamaroneck” basket filled with symbolic offerings, including sushi takeout menus, a signed anniversary card, 2 million dollars in phony money,  and a framed photo with coup-cohort Hiram Monserrate to the Espada residence. Afterward guest speakers, including Bill Samuels from the New Roosevelt Initiative addressed the crowd.

The Backstory:

Nearly one year ago, the New York State Senate sank to new lows when it ceased to function for six solid weeks, depriving 20 million New Yorkers of a functional legislature. Though many — including a disengaged public — share responsibility for fostering the vacuum of effective governance in Albany, one elected official has become the poster child of the capitol’s corruption and irresponsible behavior. That person is the current Majority Leader and State Senator from the 33rd District, Pedro Espada Jr.

Last year’s coup is not Espada’s only claim to fame. Espada has also racked up more than $60,000 in fines related to campaign finance violations. Espada has repeatedly been accused of funneling money to himself an family members through personal non-profits. In April, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed suit against Espada for allegedly siphoning $14 million dollars from Soundview Health Clinic for personal expenses, including $20,000 worth of sushi and lavish Vegas vacations.

Statements From Sponsoring Organizations:

Manhattan Young Democrats:

“We are Democrats. But just because someone has a ‘D’ next to their name does not mean that they deserve our unwavering support. MYD has spent the last year educating our membership and the youth of NYC about the importance of the state legislature. We have given presentations to students and produced a short video to raise awareness about last year’s coup to highlight Albany’s fundamentally undemocratic approach to governance. We know that a whole host of issues that we care deeply about—from women’s empowerment to affordable housing to campaign finance reform to transportation funding—are affected by the quality of leadership in Albany. We recognize that the Pedros of the world often prevent truly progressive Democrats from doing their job.”

Bill Samuels, The New Roosevelt Initiative:

“This year, which is a year of change, will see cynical, corrupt Senators like Pedro Espada voted out and decent people of integrity voted in.  I have launched The New Roosevelt Initiative, a multi-year effort to oust Senators who stand in the way of reform and elect ‘New Roosevelts’ in their place.  I have committed a minimum of $250,000 in funding for this Initiative to use in voting Pedro Espada out of office by developing smart field operations and providing independent support for Espada’s opponent in the Democratic Primary.”

ReBootNY:

“RebootNY is proud to be a co-sponsor with our friends at Manhattan Young Democrats and other groups to ‘party’ to take back New York and Fire Pedro. Reform starts with booting the worst of the worst.  Pedro Espada is the personification of everything wrong with Albany”.

Citizen Action:

“Less than 24 hours after the coup in Albany, Citizen Action of New York was on the scene in force to protest this hijacking of our state’s Senate. One year later, in the midst of a growing financial crisis, Albany is still dysfunctional, still awash in campaign cash from special interests and lobbyists. We’re joining this ‘celebration’ to remind New Yorkers that we need citizen financing of all election campaigns so we can finally get a government in Albany that actually works for the people of New York State.”

Greater NYC For Change:

“With Democrats taking control of the State Senate of the first time in decades and looking to finally move forward on long-neglected issues like repealing vacancy decontrol, navigating through our budget crisis, reforming state healthcare funding, and passing tough, fair ethics and campaign finance reform, many of us feared the worst — that New Jersey would edge out New York as ‘least functional state government.’  Luckily, the rebels from last year’s attempted coup sprung into action, returned Albany to a state of gridlocked despair that we’re still recovering from, and showed the corrupt politicians of New Jersey how it’s *really* done.  Bravo, we say!”