I know. Shocking.
It began on Tuesday when Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. launched into an angry tirade on the phone with New York Daily News political blogger Elizabeth Benjamin just as the deal with the so-called 'Gang of Three' was evaporating. Said the Reverend then:
The gays are calling my office. They're jamming my phones. They're going to see what we can do. They've going to see exactly what we can do. Ed Koch is going to see what we can do. They're just going to see. That is what I'm telling you.Yes, he actually said "They've going to see exactly what we can do". Which, come to think of it sounds a tad threaten-ish. Don't ya think?
Well, after the phone outburst, the Reverend seemed to think he might have gone a bit too far so what followed was a statement posted on the Room Eight blog in which he sought to set the record straight:
I need to state exactly what I told Liz Benjamin from the NY Daily News this past Tuesday evening because some of the important facts that I told her were not reported:
I told Liz
SmithBenjamin that the gay community has been jamming my office phone line and making threats to me and my staff. I told her that I am very angry that my office has received phone calls threatening my life and calling the women on my staff “whores” and “bitches”. I told her that to add to those names, Ed Koch called us rats.
I told Liz that the only rat is Ed Koch. I told her that when he was Mayor and was rejected in my community, the only person who stood by him was this rat, and that now this rat is good no more. I told her that I am so angry that because of their calls and editorial boards and because of the insulting Koch statement, there is nothing else that they can do to us or say to us, and that they will see what we can do.
That, my friends, was the basis of my anger, not because the gay community is jamming my phone lines. I am an elected official and I am an old man, and they can do this any time. It was the content of their calls that made me angry. I welcome people to call my office – but with respect to me and to my staff.
When I told Liz that they will see what we can do, this was not at all meant to be a physical threat. As far as what we can do, we have many options, which include: going to the Republican Party, staying neutral to create an impasse, or going to the Democratic Party.
So that is the whole story, and I hope it will set the record straight, for good or for bad.
That begot the following blog post by Ms. Benjamin:
So from almost maneuvering himself into a sweet deal to spouting off homophobic rants in the blogosphere in frustration in one short week. Life is sweet!
In case you haven't seen it, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. has put out a press release to "set the record straight" regarding an interview he gave to me following the implosion of the deal the Gang of Three struck with Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith.
Basically, Diaz wants to stress he wasn't upset his phones were being jammed by members of the gay community who are infuriated that he insisted as part of the deal that a smae-sex marriage bill not come to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
What made Diaz angry, he says, is the fact that the people who were calling were allegedly threatening his life and calling his staffers names.
He also seems to think I somehow construed that when he said "just wait to see what we can do" it was some kind of physical threat, when what he really meant was that the Gang of Three might go back to the Republicans, remain neutral to create never-ending gridlock or return to renegotiate with the Democrats.
Unfortunately, the senator mixed me up with gossip columnist Liz Smith, who is a blonde, has a few years on me (with all due respect) and works for a rival publication.I'm not sure I've ever before been the subject of a press release, and while I wish I had received a friendly heads-up about it, it seems only fair to post Diaz's statement in its entirety.
As for the state of State politics, not sure anyone came out winning.