By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
The lawyer who incorporated Green ECO Energy—slated to get $875,000 at Espada's request—was Daniel L. Pagano, Espada's election lawyer last year. "Some people Mr. Espada sent to me asked me to incorporate, and I did," Pagano said on Friday. He didn't recall the names. Pagano, a former Conservative Party member from Westchester County who held patronage jobs during the Pataki administration, was also Espada's choice for counsel to the Senate Housing Committee. "I work directly for the chairman; I handle the legislation," he said.
Espada's other election attorney has also prospered. After Espada was appointed as Housing Committee chairman, the two largest landlord organizations—the Rent Stabilization Association and the Real Estate Board of New York—hired Stanley Schlein, the Bronx Democratic warhorse, as their lobbyist. Schlein currently receives $8,000 a month from the two groups to lobby his own client on housing matters.
The landlords' biggest concern was a bill to end a Pataki-era law allowing apartment rents to soar when they hit $2,000 a month. The bill would have major impact on Espada's own northern Bronx district, where some 77,000 rent-regulated tenants—most of them Latino—struggle with housing costs and conditions. It was to have been considered at a Tuesday meeting of Espada's committee. Monserrate had promised tenant leaders he had his friend's support for the legislation. Then, on Monday, they pulled their coup, likely squelching tenants' hopes for this session.
Espada's hold on his seat was already shaky. He received less than 5,000 votes—a bare half of 1 percent of registered Democrats—to win his primary last year against an opponent then facing his own fraud charges.
On Friday, dozens of protesters—each of them a likely eager recruit to help defeat Espada next year—marched outside the Sears building on Fordham Road to protest the senator's deceit. The site was chosen because Espada promised months ago to open a district office there. He never bothered. "Espada wouldn't even meet with us," sighed tenant organizer Anderson Fils-Aimé. "He got awards from the landlord groups, but he wouldn't even sit down to talk."