Dishing with Dee: Confusion over chairmanship of the Queens GOP continues

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You know, it seems like a lot of information printed in this column is gathered by chance and circumstance rather than deliberate planning and research into the minutest of details. A case in point, on Saturday evening two friends and I stopped in the Scobee Diner for a bite to eat. On our way in we ran into Liz Berney, who was leaving. She invited us to stop by her house for coffee after we left the diner.

Liz, for your information, is the Republican candidate running for the 5th Congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, who has held that office for quite a number of years. As Liz lives near the Scobee in Great Neck, L.I., we accepted her invitation and thought it might be interesting to hear what she had to say.

I thought our conversation would be dwelling on her political race, but she had quite an interesting tale to tell. She informed me she had subpoenas served on the chairman of the Republican Party, Phil Ragusa, and was in Nassau County Supreme Court this past Thursday with the case. Liz, of course, was accompanied by her attorneys while Ragusa was represented by Joe Dubowsky and Darryl Fox. Also present was Dr. James Milano, who is a candidate for Ackerman’s seat. It seems the main bone of contention is that even though the Queens GOP promised Liz it would endorse her and she would be the party candidate, it instead endorsed Democrat Milano of Oyster Bay, L.I., as its candidate.

The Nassau County Republican Party has endorsed Liz as its candidate. The question is: Who exactly is the Queens GOP chairman or do we have two of them — Ragusa and Bart Haggerty? Ragusa has endorsed Milano while Haggerty has endorsed Liz. According to the current election system, the Queens County GOP carries 55 percent and the Nassau County GOP carries 45 percent of the combined votes. At the recent Republican state convention, when the county leaders pick delegates, both Ragusa and Haggerty were allowed to pick — in essence it appears both are recognized as chairman by the state GOP.

If that turns out to be the case, then Ragusa and Haggerty would each have 27.5 percent. With Haggerty endorsing Berney and the Nassau GOP endorsing her, she would end up with 72.5 percent and be clearly the party’s choice. Additional problems would also arise if each chairman gave a Wilson-Pakula to different candidates for the same position. As William Bendix would say, “What a revolting development this is.” Some one, somewhere, sometime has to clarify this situation once and for all so everyone knows where they stand.

I didn’t get home until late Saturday night and in all fairness to Ragusa and crew I tried to call them Sunday at their Whitestone headquarters. There was no answer. I guess they were busy on the campaign trail, but I will catch up with them this week to give them the opportunity to tell their side of the story. After all, it is the only fair thing to do and I must confess that at this point confusion reigns.

On Wednesday afternoon, there was a lovely ceremony dedicating a garden to the memory of former Queens Tribune Editor David Oats. Flushing Meadows Corona Park was David’s first and best love. He dedicated more than four decades of his life to advocating for the protection and improvement of the park. David was also the founder and president of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park World’s Fair Association. David’s Garden is between Queens Theatre in the Park and the Queens Museum.

David died Feb. 5, 2008. Due to the economic times and red tape involved, it took all this time. His friends made sure he would always have a presence in the park and that he would be remembered for his unending, loving care and dedication to the park.

David’s widow, Corrine Oats, thanked Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens Parks commissioner, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park Administrator Estelle Cooper and her organization, Unisphere Inc., for their tireless help and dedication in securing a permanent place of honor for David. I am sure he is looking down from above watching over his beloved park.

Speaking of condolences, we would like to extend them to Barbara Tabita on the death of her mother and Joe Kasper on the passing of his brother, Arthur.

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip.

I like receiving your voice mails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at

Till next week, Dee.

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