And what a year!
There’s nothing we love better here at Pol Position than political scandal and intrigue, and 2008 was jammed full of both. There was money, sex, bribery, extortion, drugs…you name it, the New York City political landscape was full of it in 2008.
Way back in May, there was Dennis Gallagher, who pleaded guilty to sex assault charges in connection with an incident in 2007 in which he was accused of rape. He was forced to leave office, which gave us not one, but two elections this past year!
First, there was the special election in June of 2008, which Anthony Como won by a narrow margin over Elizabeth Crowley. Down but not out, Crowley ran again in November, this time defeating Como, giving us three different people representing the 30th District in one year. That has to be some kind or record. (Okay, technically Crowley doesn’t officially represent the district until she is sworn in, but we’re fudging the rules.)
Speaking of sex, who can forget the scandal that rocked New York State’s new governor, Eliot “I Keep My Socks On” Spitzer, who was busted as part of an investigation into a high-priced call girl ring? Spitzer was caught with his pants down (but his socks on, as we were all made aware…that’s almost too much information even for Pol Position – almost) in a Washington, D.C., hotel room in March and forced to resign shortly thereafter.
Don’t feel too bad for Spitzer, or “Client 9” as he was known to federal investigators, he joined the good side and now writes a column for the website Slate. Granted, that’s not quite as powerful and high profile as being governor of New York, but at least the man is keeping busy.
Spitzer’s departure, though, made room for David Paterson to enter the spotlight, and he didn’t wait for scandal to find him: he put all of the old skeletons and ghosts right out there from the get-go. Rather than let some nosey journo dig up that he cheated on his wife and used to like the occasional snort of Booger Sugar every now and then, Paterson just flat out said that back in the day he just might have been a bit of a cocaine-fueled adulterer. The revelation made him the most honest man in Albany politics.
When we started this column, we mentioned extortion, and we shan’t disappoint, but really all of the credit goes to Queens assemblyman Anthony Seminerio. Seminerio was busted this year for allegedly taking kickbacks from individuals and corporations that had business before the state.
He is accused of raking in millions of dollars for his “consulting” work, as he characterizes it. It’s going to be up to the courts to decide if what Seminerio did was against the law or not, but we here at Pol Position have already judged him guilty of fashion crimes for failing to buy at least one decent suit with all of that dough.
And speaking of stealing cash, remember that flap Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin got into a couple of years back after he was caught stealing cash from everybody from major contractors to his local little league? Well, that finally gained some closure in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. According to some courtroom witnesses, it took McLaughlin about an hour to list his indiscretions.
But when it comes to political scandal, Pol Position got a big fat present under the tree this year. Before we could close the door on 2008, we received a scandal that nearly trumps all scandals to date. The week before Christmas, current councilman and state senator-elect Hiram Monserrate was arrested for allegedly slashing his girlfriend across the face with a broken glass during a heated argument.
No one is quite sure what happened in Monsey’s apartment that night, and the story keeps changing. First, the councilman said it was a trip, fall, and honest accident that landed his girlfriend in the hospital with a gash that required 20 stitches to close. Then, the story was that Monserrate was upset about his lady friend’s drug habit, but reports in papers stated that the councilman became enraged after he found the PBA card of some other fellow in her purse.
Whatever the story, Monserrate is facing some pretty serious charges, although now that his girlfriend is refusing to cooperate with investigators, it remains to be seen just what kind of trouble he’ll actually be in when it is all said and done. We’ll have to save that for next year.
A busy year for scandal indeed, and we’re a little concerned that 2009 won’t be able to compete with the 365 days that just passed. But just a little.