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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Espada's Town Hall Meeting Rescheduled

[Ed. note: this post has been updated from its original version.]

The town hall-style meeting at Church of the Mediator featuring State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., which had drawn the attention of pro-tenant housing advocates who were planning to hold a protest outside of the meeting, has been rescheduled because of safety concerns, said Diego Delgado-Miller, the head pastor of the Kingsbridge area church.

A new date has not yet been determined, Delgado-Miller said.

When asked why the church had decided to reschedule the meeting, Delgado-Miller offered a short chuckle as if he was amused by all the attention the meeting was receiving. "We wanted to make sure it was more secure, more peaceful," he said. "We wanted people to feel safe."

Activists from the Real Rent Reform campaign, which includes several pro-tenant housing groups, including the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and Housing Here and Now, had planned to protest outside of the church because the meeting was limited to an invite-only crowd and they wanted to highlight Espada's inaction on several key pieces of pro-tenant housing legislation.

Delgado-Miller said he had invited Espada to speak at his church, "Because I wanted to people to know him and what he is doing."

Michael McKee of Housing Here and Now also wanted people to know what Espada is doing, or not doing, as Chairman of the Senate's housing committee.  "He has bottled every single one of our housing bills in his housing committee," he said.

Earlier today, Espada's chief of staff, Alex Diaz, told the Daily News that they needed to limit the town hall participants to those who had registered because of space concerns.

McKee said it was because Espada only likes to participate in events that he can "tightly control" and where he can hand-pick the audience.

Espada just sent out an angry press release about the postponement. "The meeting will be rescheduled for those who registered to attend so their questions can be answered and their concerns addressed in the civil environment that was intended," he said in the release. [Update: these quotes were technically sent out in a joint statement by Espada and Diego-Miller.]

He went on to denounce the protesters as "political rabble-rousers" -- "the same people who are paid a small stipend and a food voucher to some cheap restaurant to appear at events to disrupt, spit on people, use obscene language, intimidate and push people around."

Indeed some of the protesters, including McKee (who said he was about to get on the 1-Train before learning of the cancellation) are from outside of the community, but many were from the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which is made up of local volunteer activists, most all of whom are from Espada's 33rd District.

McKee said it is actually Espada who buses in and pays people -- such as employees and patients of his Soundview health clinics -- to show up at his events.

Espada is running for re-election this fall. 

We'll have more on this later. Stay Tuned.


  1. Can you verify whether Fr. Diego-Miller really authorized that statement?

  2. I think that these outsiders, which they are, should STOP THEIR STUPIDITY ONCE AND FOR ALL. Let the voters of the 33rd District, not the upper west/east side, midtown, Brooklyn or Queens, DECIDE IF THEY WANT ESPADA OR NOT.

  3. I had called to RSVP and was told if I did not have the invitation addressed to me I would not get in. This despite being a constituent who lives blocks away from the church. I went to the church to see if I could still get in. I also knew that tenants' rights activists would be there. I thought I would join them if I did not get in -- since I agree with their goals. Outside the church I met many concerned citizens, yes some from outside the district. But many, many people from the district-- several actually holding one on Espada's invitations. Everyone was quite good-natured and quite civil. The statement from Mr. Espada is not surprising at all. But I am shocked to read that Fr. Delgado-Miller has lent his good name such an insulting, paranoid and absurd statement. I hope he re-considers and retracts. Perhaps he is even willing to meet with people from the district and even outside the district to see just how absurd his co-authored statement is?

  4. Pedro Espada (from Westchester) had no problem in the past having people from the New Alliance Party, 99% of who were from outside the community and outside the Bronx do his petitioning and run his campaign and he has no problem taking money from landlords from outside the district.

  5. It can't be a Town Hall meeting if only the invited can attend. Contradiction in terms.


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