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Mayor to honor Gallagher as Man of Year despite differences

That's because Bloomberg, a Republican, will bestow Gallagher (R-Middle Village) with the Juniper Park Civic Association's Man of the Year Award. It is the mayor's first trip to Middle Village - a neighborhood Ognibene represented for a decade in the City Council - since a majority of more than 40 leading borough Republicans threw their support behind the former councilman Feb. 10, causing a split within the Queens GOP. That same night a breakaway faction of Queens Republicans endorsed Bloomberg at a meeting in Whitestone.Gallagher, Ognibene's chief of staff before he resigned because of term limits in 2001, is in the camp critical of Bloomberg's 18.5 percent property tax hike on homeowners and his liberal stance on issues such as gay marriage. The divide is expected to cause problems for Bloomberg in the primary because Queens is the borough with the most Republicans. But Gallagher said he and the mayor would put their differences aside on March 3 during the meeting at 7:45 p.m. at Our Lady of Hope School Auditorium on Eliot Avenue and 71st Street. "I think it's an honor to have the mayor come down and present to me the award," Gallagher said. "This is not political. This is governmental."Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden said Bloomberg's staff arranged the visit to the civic back in January, before Ognibene announced his candidacy for mayor. It will be the mayor's third visit to the 3,000-member civic, which publishes a monthly magazine with a circulation of 7,000 called the Juniper Berry. He got a standing ovation from more than 500 residents when he dropped in as a mayoral candidate in October 2001. He returned in June 2002. In December 2003, Bloomberg made another appearance to receive the civic's 2003 Man of the Year Award for brokering a deal with Keyspan that prevented a Home Depot from being built on the Elmhurst Gas Tanks Site."We owe a debt of gratitude to him," Holden said. He said the civic is giving the honor to Gallagher this year because the councilman played a large part in the Elmhurst deal and is always receptive to residents' concerns."He's deserved it. He's delivered a lot of things," Holden said. "You can call this guy any time. Any problems he's the first guy we turn to." Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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