Street renamings have become a ubiquitous part of life in New York City. Just about every week, you can bet that a street or two or three is getting renamed for some person, place, or event. The last weekend in July/first weekend in August, a street in Corona was renamed for an entire country, as the corner of 94th Street and 37th Avenue was renamed "La Mitad del Mundo" (Middle of the World) in honor of the large Ecuadorian population in the neighborhood. Pretty simple, feel-good event, right?
Enter Hiram Monserrate.
In case you've been living under a rock or just too engrossed with all of the quality reality television out there (Dancing With the Stars, anyone? Yeah, we thought so!), Moserrate was forced from the State Senate after he pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge on his girlfriend. That left his seat open, which he tried to reclaim by running against Assemblyman Jose Peralta in a special election, but lost. Which in turn left Peralta's Assembly seat open, which, you guessed it, Monserrate now has his eyes on.
As it turns out, the bill to rename the street was first introduced by Monserrate in 2008, when he was still a member of the City Council. It didn't make it to the Council for a full vote, but Ferreras, who served as chief of staff for Monserrate and eventually filled his post, kept the process moving along. Before the event, Monserrate sent out a press release announcing that he would be "joining" Ferreras at the event.
"I...appreciate the current council member’s role in ensuring the eventual passing of a bill I introduced in 2008,” read a press release issued by Monserrate. “I also want to take this opportunity to salute the Ecuadorian community in celebrating their Independence. Que Viva Ecuador!”
Well, Monserrate has a funny definition of the word "join." In fact, it was more like Monserrate crashed the street renaming party, and attempted to discredit Ferreras. According to witnesses, Monserrate showed up with a group of "protestors" with signs denouncing Ferreras for firing a allegedly firing a disabled person who worked in her district office.
Here's the account from a press release sent out by an unnamed group (so be warned, that means its probably a one-sided account, but nevertheless...) that quotes Peralta, Ferreras, Councilman Daniel Dromm, and a co-organizer of the event:
"Hiram Monserrate arrived with a group intent on disrupting the festivities,” read the release. “The group blew whistles, stormed the stage, and tried to physically confront the organizers and guests who tried to calm their antics and restore decorum. This bizarre and potentially violent choreographed outburst interrupted a key event of a weekend celebration within the Ecuadorian community."
If you had told us that Monserrate showing up at this renaming would turn ugly, we would have said “never!” Actually, we probably would have said, “that sounds about right.” Let the campaign season officially begin!