Is a former pol back on the scene?
Mar 08, 2017 | 15610 views | 0 0 comments | 1063 1063 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It looks like a former Queens politician is looking to get back in the game.

Former councilman Hiram Monserrate has been slightly more visible in the community since he was forced from office (more on that later), but this week he really upped his profile.

First, he sent a statement to the media remarking on the passing of former Queens borough president Helen Marshall, noting that it was he who took her place in the City Council in 2001 in a subtle bit of self-promotion.

Not that unusual, but just one day later Monserrate's name was at the top of a list of people scheduled to attend a press conference calling on elected officials to move ahead with the original redevelopment plan for Willets Point, a plan that called for 5,500 units of housing.

In the media advisory, Monserrate touts his own role in the negotiation of that plan when he was still a member of the City Council, and calls out the current City Council member, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (a former Monserrate aide), and the mayor for hijacking the project to the benefit of the developer.

Monserrate was elected to the State Senate in 2008, and long before there was all of this controversy surrounding the Independent Democratic Conference, he and Pedro Espada of the Bronx broke with the Democratic Party, giving the Republicans a 32-30 majority.

Monserrate didn't make many political allies with the stunt, but his political career would really come crashing down later that year when he was arrested on December 19 for assaulting his girlfriend with a broken drinking glass.

Monserrate steadfastly denied the allegations and said it was an accident, but he was eventually convicted of one misdemeanor, although he was acquitted on two counts of felony assault.

He was sentenced to three years probation and community service. Eventually, his colleagues voted to expel him from the State Senate.

Even before that political maneuvering and subsequent conviction, though, Monserrate was a polarizing figure.

Early in his career, he supported a project for 9/11 responders that included a Purification Rundown, a “detoxification” process invented by L. Ron Hubbard as part of Scientology.

The former Marine went through the process himself and drafted official proclamations honoring Hubbard and Scientology's biggest celebrity, Tom Cruise.

In 2006, Monserrate first ran against 16-year incumbent John Sabini in a heated and contentious race and came within 200 votes of pulling off an upset. He ran again in 2008 and won.

In that race, he was endorsed by the Empire Pride Agenda, a group that advocates for LGBTQ rights. The next year he would turn his back on them and vote against a same-sex marriage bill that failed in the State Senate.

Now it looks like this polarizing figure is dipping his toe back in the political waters. If we know Monserrate, if he decides to jump all the way in, it will make bog waves.

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