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Dishing With Dee: Whitestone mourning Bob Tramunti’s death

He loved his community and was very active in protecting its rights. Everyone with a Whitestone zip code of 11357 could join his association. He was buried Jan. 29. I ran into him a short time ago in Cascarrino's in Whitestone. He sat down in the booth to gossip with me while he was waiting to pick up his takeout order. We laughed and joked and he seemed to be in great spirits.What do you think of state Sen. Serf Maltese (R-Glendale) stepping down as the Queens County Republican chairman last Thursday? It wasn't exactly unexpected. The rumor has been running rampant for a while. Maltese said he needs the time to work on his Senate re-election because the last one was too close for comfort. Maltese also said that he and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) are going to be working closely with state GOP Chairman Joseph Mondello to build up the New York downstate Republican Party, especially in Queens, which has only three elected Republicans Ð Maltese, Padavan and City Councilman Dennis Gallagher Ð and Gallagher is due to be term limited out. Phil Ragusa of Whitestone will fill in as party chairman and will then have to run in September for a full two-year term. The gauntlet has been thrown down and the battles have begun over state comptroller. In this corner, we have Gov. Eliot Spitzer with contenders Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno in the opposite corner. In spite of their gentlemen's agreement to work together, they are managing to show that dysfunctional Albany is alive and well. The three men agreed to the formation of a committee to review applicants for former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi's seat. The three committeemen were selected and seemed to be a creditable choice. Two were former New York state comptrollers Ð Democrat Carl McCall and Republican Ned Reagan Ð as well as former New York City Comptroller Jay Goldin. The three men diligently interviewed all 19 applicants. They were told to narrow their choices to no more than five. They came up with three that they deemed most suitable. They were Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, New York City Finance Commissioner Martha Stark and financier and investment banker Bill Mulrow. Since all three had impressive financial backgrounds, they seemed like logical choices. Obviously dysfunctional Albany does not operate on a logical wavelength. Silver is talking about disregarding the panels' choices in favor of making his own. Rumor has it that No. 1 on Silver's list is fellow Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli (D-Nassau) or perhaps Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester). In the world of Albany politics if you go along to get along, you get rewarded; if not, you get punished. Sounds rather simple unless you take into consideration that if a party boss appoints you to any position, you would owe that person something in return, raising the conflict of interest issue. Keep in mind that the state comptroller has charge of the state's $145 billion pension funds plus overseeing 2,400 employees. The comptroller also conducts audits of state and local governments. Could that be one of the reasons the Legislature wants to elect one of its own? That's one way to keep dysfunctional Albany's status quo ad infinitum. We might have the fox guarding the hen house. Or as former City Parks Commissioner Henry Stern quipped the other day, "Do they want a watch dog or a lap dog?" Where is it written that an assemblyman must be elected or appointed as comptroller? Is it any wonder the electorate is beginning to demand term limits for every elective office?I hope the three main men get together and come up with someone who will benefit all New York state residents. The position of managing all those billions in pension funds, the second largest in the nation, is a rather awesome responsibility. Gov. Spitzer is right; the candidate should be selected on merit rather than friendship. I always look forward to hearing from you directly, with information on people, parties, politics or some plain old-fashioned gossip.That's it for this week. I look forward to receiving your voice mails at 718-767-6484, your faxes at 718-746-0066 and your e-mails at deerrichard@aol.com. Till next week, Dee.

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