March 26, 2009 / Uncategorized

Open Letter to NY State Senators Regarding the Indictment of Hiram Monserrate


This morning The New Agenda issued the following open letter to the members of the New York State Senate.

March 26, 2009

Open Letter to NY State Senators Regarding the Indictment of Hiram Monserrate

Honorable members of the New York Senate, men and women, Republicans and Democrats elected to serve the people of the great state of New York.

The public’s trust, the safety of our citizens, the leadership of this state are in grave jeopardy. We implore you to take immediate and decisive action in asking that Sen. Hiram Monserrate step down.

The New Agenda is a national, non-partisan women’s rights group. The New Agenda and its members are troubled by the fact that Hiram Monserrate has been indicted on three counts of second-degree felony assault and three counts of third-degree misdemeanor assault, yet he continues to serve as a New York State Senator.

We applaud New York State Senators Catharine Young and Elizabeth O’C. Little for issuing a statement on March 23, 2009 in which they expressed disappointment at New York State Senator Malcolm Smith’s decision to take no action after Hiram Monserrate was indicted.

A March 23 press release reflecting the voices of The New Agenda and NOW-NYS demanded that Hiram Monserrate step down immediately. Now we call on the remaining 60 New York State Senators to speak out on this important issue.

The New Agenda believes this issue is an urgent national crisis and calls on Valerie Jarrett, who has taken on an important leadership role for the women of this country, to speak out about Hiram Monserrate. In introducing Ms. Jarrett in her role as Chair of the newly established White House Council on Women and Girls, President Obama cited domestic violence as a main concern that the Council would focus on.

What lesson are we teaching our children if we allow an individual indicted of felony assault to continue in a position of leadership? Is this the type of individual that we want our children to see as a role model?

Monserrate’s indictment comes on the heels of Chris Brown’s alleged abuse of Rihanna and the Buffalo, New York murder of Aasiya Hassan, who was beheaded by her husband. How many more women need to be abused and murdered at the hands of intimate partners before our country wakes up to the national crisis that is violence against women?

According to the Human Rights Watch organization, the projected number of domestic violence incidents against women increased by 42 percent between 2005 and 2007. According to a study conducted by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, 55 percent of New York women murdered in 2007 were victims of domestic violence. Also, due to the current recession, many domestic abuse shelters are now reporting a 20-25 percent increase in hotline calls.

If Smith and other legislators think this is going by unnoticed, they are sorely mistaken. To allow Monserrate to continue as state senator despite being indicted of felony assault will cost them far more than their Senate majority: it will cost them their credibility, and it will leave New York’s citizens with lawmakers who gave up their moral authority to legislate and lead.

Please do the right thing for our state and demand that Sen. Monserrate remove himself from office.


The New Agenda

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  • Ali

    This is an excellent, excellent letter. How can Malcolm Smith take no action at this time? Incredulous!

    Well, I have contacted my state Senator, Suzy Oppenheimer. As is, I’m feeling like my state senators are a bunch of spineless jelly fish.

    Also, I love that you tied in Valerie Jarrett in this letter. Yes, let’s ask Jarrett to speak on our behalf!

  • Suze

    Very impressive letter.

  • MaryL

    “WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to hear from the chief executives of some of the country’s biggest banks as he caps a week in which he clarified his overall plan for stabilizing the financial system.
    The president was set to take the temperature of the bank CEOs on Friday at the White House. The session will be the latest in a series of such meetings Obama has had with financial industry representatives and business executives since taking office amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
    Obama in recent days has dialed down his rhetoric against AIG and Wall Street. The administration needs the industry’s cooperation for its financial stability and financial regulation plans to work.
    White House officials said Obama likes to hear directly from those who will be affected by his decisions.
    “Our future is inextricably linked to these financial institutions, and their future is linked to the economic health of the country,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama.”
    …Looks like Jarrett is busy with other things? This is the first public statement I have seen of hers since she was appointed to the “Women’s Council.”
    Interesting that she chooses to speak out on this—a very safe topic…

  • marille

    can we make a concerted effort to write letters on a particular day. letters from out of state useful? can you post the contact email, phone?

  • Sheryl Robinson, Editrix

    I want to know who in the Democratic party is in any way invloved in fundraising for Monserrate. I would like to see their names in big, banner letters on anything they participate in with regards to such activities.

  • Ali


    I know, when I read this in the NYT about the fund raising I couldn’t believe it.

    I like your idea in regard to targeting the funders.

    Could New Agenda make some buttons? I’d like to have some kind of conversation starter about this. This is unreal and more people need to know how insignificant the New York State Senate think women are.

  • Carolyn

    Why, indeed, isn’t Valerie Jarret speaking up?!!? Such a condescending attitude — we’ll create a little committee and shut them up — is more frustrating than being ignored altogether.

  • Carolyn

    … pushed the button before I was through …

    I hate to bring in race because it has a way of getting us derailed, but just to make a comparison — Senator Trent Lott stepped down as Senate Majority Leader because he made a COMMENT in a speech (I believe at a private party) that was considered racist.

  • Sheryl,

    The Dem leader of the NY State Senate held a fundraiser for Monserrate last week!

    Espada is the name that the NYT threw around for leading this new “legal defense” fund.

  • ER

    Wonderful letter! Thank you to TNA for keeping up the visibility and advocacy.

    How disgusting that NY Senators are fundraising for the monster’s legal defense . . .

  • ER

    So this is what a NY State Senator looks like? And Monserrate allegedly continues to collect his $79,500 base pay . . .


    1. Email the NY state senators demanding that Monserrate step down immediately. Some suggestions:
    • Note that a Grand Jury charged Monserrate with 6 counts of assault, 3 of which are a Class D felony.
    • He has been arraigned in State Supreme Court on 6 assault charges
    • Is this what a NY state senator looks like?

    Here are the emails of all of the NY State Senators, including Monserrate’s:

    2. Malcolm A. Smith, the NY State Senate majority leader, held a fundraiser for Monserrate last week. Let Smith know what you think about this.
    • You can email Smith here: and
    • Leave comments on his website via his contact form here (scroll down):

    3. Formally Valerie Jarrett and the entire White House Commission on Women and Girls to attend The New Agenda’s Violence Against Women Forum in New York City on April 18th at the Benjamin Hotel.

    4. E-mail Valerie Jarrett about the Monserrate issue and implore her to start with a massive public health campaign to educate the American public about violence against women.
    Here’s the email she used when she was heading Obama’s Transition Team:

    5. Send your comments urging Jarrett and her office make violence against women an immediate priority that we want to see tangible action on: (500 character limit)

  • ER

    In #3, meant to say “Formally invite Valerie Jarrett . . .

  • Mary

    A two prong approach is needed, both federal and state.

    from NY Times 3-24-2009
    The chairwoman of a Senate task force on domestic violence, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, would not comment on Mr. Monserrate’s treatment. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.

    Told of the backlash from some women’s rights groups, Ms. Hassell-Thompson said, “ I’m sorry that’s their opinion, but they haven’t expressed that to me.”

  • ER

    Thanks Mary. Here are additional strategies for a state approach. (See above post from March 31st for a broad Action Plan involving Valerie Jarrett).

    The chairwoman of a Senate task force on domestic violence, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, would not comment on Mr. Monserrate’s treatment. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. Told of the backlash from some women’s rights groups, Ms. Hassell-Thompson said, “ I’m sorry that’s their opinion, but they haven’t expressed that to me.”


    1. Let’s make sure that Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson hears from us, since she says she hasn’t. Write to her here:

    Her FAX and Mail:
    District Office
    959 E.233rd Street
    Bronx, NY 10466
    Tel: (718) 547-8854
    Fax: (718) 515-2718

    Albany Office
    612 Legislative Office Building
    Albany, NY 12247
    Tel: (518) 455-2061
    Fax: (518) 426-6998

    2. Write to Senator Martin Golden and THANK HIM for speaking out against keeping Monserrate in office.
    His quick online Contact Form (and office numbers) are here:

    3. Puma Responders –can you post this on the Puma Responders website?

    4. Please see the Action Plan above (March 31st) for additional steps to take.

    Let’s make sure these NY State Senators hear from us!