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Dishing with Dee: Political rites of spring usher in new columnist

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Something is about to be added to the TimesLedger Newspapers and we hope you will enjoy it! With the untimely demise of columnist Arthur Nitzburg, a rather large void was left in the Queens political scene. Some people loved Arthur, some people disliked him, but everyone read his page.

To help all you political junkies out there who miss the weekly fix of news, gossip and just pure, unadulterated speculation, we hope you will enjoy being titillated with our compilation of whatever tidbits we become apprised of, so read on.

The early “Political Rites of Spring” have begun. Otherwise known as “fund-raisers,” they are composed of three distinct groups: the incumbents hoping to get re-elected, the neophytes tossing their hats in the ring for the first time and those who ran unsuccessfully in the past but believe they have learned much from the experience and are better-equipped to run the second time out.

The early bird fund-raisers I’ve been invited to and attended so far are those of Councilman Jim Gennaro, Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, Councilwoman Helen Sears, Councilman Dennis Gallagher and city council candidate Helen Cooper-Gregory, of St. Albans.

Both District Attorney Richard Brown and Phil Ragusa have announced their intentions to run but haven’t had a fund-raiser yet, though Phil is scheduled to have a breakfast at the Reception House in Flushing on March 27.

Among the latest fund-raisers was Gallagher’s at Durows restaurant in Glendale. In spite of the snow that accumulated all day, an impressive number of supporters turned out for the Republican, including Democrats — Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Assemblyman Michael Cohen and Councilman David Weprin. Dennis looks and sounds great. He said his stint in St. Francis Hospital convinced him to give up smoking — way to go, Dennis!

State Sen. Serf Maltese was at Dennis’ fund-raiser and said the final count still isn’t in on Rosemary O’Keefe’s (former commissioner in Giuliani administration) run for Councilman Martin Golden’s seat. Stay tuned.

Several of the non-profits have also held fund-raisers recently. Jim Rogers of the Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Committee said his group was very pleased with the turnout and results. MaryAnn McAleer of the Queens Centers for Progress (formally United Cerebral Palsy of Queens), said the “Taste of Fine Food” gala was a success, as it usually is, thanks to the cooperation of some of Queens’ best restaurants and purveyors of fine foods and wines.

The Queens Library held a legislative reception at Café on the Green. Host Joe Franco picked up the tab for the cocktail party, an “Attaboy Award” for Joe. Gary Strong is deeply concerned about the 15 percent cut the Queens Public Library is scheduled to receive. Are there any corporate angels or politicos with some discretionary funds out there? Gary would love to hear from you.

He has been appointed university library at UCLA, effective Sept. 1.

State Sen. Frank Padavan has been on a roll last week. He was honored by the Queens Centers for Progress at Terrace on the Park, by the Little Neck Douglaston Lions at the New Hyde Park Inn and then by the Order of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association at the Whitestone Greek Church’s new building on 150th Street.

Padavan was also one of four honorees at the Whitestone Dwarf Giraffe’s Association Dinner at Leonard’s of Great Neck. The other honorees were Al Punzi, Mike Silvestri and Richie Keeaen. The powerful senator’s guest was the beautiful Judge Diccia Pineda-Kirwan. The Queens judges are getting better looking all the time.

To paraphrase Alice Roosevelt Longworth, if you have anything interesting to say, call me at 718-767-6484 or fax me at 718-746-0066.

Till next week,

Dee Richard.

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