Pedro Espada Throwing Money Away -- at Protestors

For those following it, there was a pretty good episode of the Pedro Espada Jr. reality show yesterday. First, there was the rascally Bronx senator's announced boycott of the special session in Albany, on the grounds that the meeting -- which finalized the state's four-months-late budget -- wouldn't include "serious and meaningful" discussion about legislation.

This was followed by a complete about-face after some arm-twisting and promises by other senate leaders who lacked a majority without his vote. Espada sped up the Thruway, relaying his ETA via his good friend and fellow Gang-of-Four senator from the Bronx, Ruben Diaz Sr.

On arrival, the chairman of the senate housing committee ran smack into a crowd of protestors denouncing his lack of action on -- affordable housing legislation. Espada, always pumped and ready for a good confrontation, snarled and yelled back at the demonstrators, calling them "crazy" and pulling dollar bills out of his pocket and thrusting them at the crowd. (He said later he was trying to offer them bus fare home). The ex-boxer tried to duck into a senate men's room to get away, but a protestor held the door open so he could still get an earful of the chanting outside.

Espada got yet another news bite yesterday morning out of his demand for a federal investigation of his up-and-running Bronx senate challenger, Gustavo Rivera. As the News' Ken Lovett pointed out, this was a bit of a twist since Espada has been denouncing investigators from the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn who are teamed with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's probers in a multi-tiered investigation of Espada's performance as chief of a chain of Bronx health care clinics. Espada had attorney Daniel Pagano cry foul to the Board of Elections over the fact that both the Working Families Party and a PAC called the Roosevelt Initiative are working to defeat his reelection.

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