Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keeping It In The Family

Just when New York State taxpayers thought that it couldn't get worse....

The NYS Democrats put Pedro Espada Jr.'s son Pedro G. Espada on their (read=taxpayers) payroll by CREATING a $120,000/year position. The elder Espada is the ethically challenged downstate senator from the Bronx. Obviously, this is part of the payoff that enticed the elder Espada to return to the Senate Democratic conference.

"The conference wants to use Pedro's vast experience in the government and private sector to help improve communications and cooperation between the State Senate and various city, state, and federal agencies," he said. So what's that experience? Aside from his stint in elected office, Espada helped start the "Neighborhood Empowerment Center" in the Bronx, organizing "job training programs," says Shafran. He vehemently denies that the hiring was connected to the July negotiations between Democrats and Espada's legally embattled father, whose defection to the Republican side brought Albany to a monthlong standstill.

I love the example of Pedro G.'s private sector experience. A quick web search for "Neighborhood Empowerment Center" finds an article that suggests the younger Espada used the non-profit as a campaign office for his City Council run. Shocker...

...the Espadas have blurred the already thin line between running a service organization and a permanent campaign office. NEC [Neighborhood Empowerment Center], run by Pedro U., is supposed to be a neighborhood nonprofit, but the place looks every bit like a campaign office, with stacks of campaign literature everywhere and a box of Espada-for-Council hair combs. The sign above the door has the organization's name on it, but the words "Pedro G. Espada, Executive Director" are at least twice as big. The front door is still emblazoned with seal of the New York State Senate, a relic from the days when his father served in Albany and compiled one of the worst attendance records of any legislator.

And if Espada employees' money flows freely into the campaign, it doesn't seem to find its way so readily to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

City Limits has learned that last October the state assessed a lien on the Soundview Health Center [Pedro Espada Jr.'s non-profit], citing $413,000 in back payroll taxes that were supposed to have been deducted from employees' checks each week. Since then, Pedro, Jr. has paid back about $43,000 of the debt.

The Neighborhood Empowerment Center's listed number appears to be disconnected.

Surprise, surprise...

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