Dishing with Dee: Chamber of Commerce celebrates at Belmont

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July 14 was the 41st annual Day at Belmont for the Queens Chamber of Commerce. The sponsors were the New York Community Bank, the NRG Astoria Gas Turbine Operations Inc. and the Queens Center. The luncheon was at noon and post time was at 1 p.m. The sixth race was the one designated as the Queens Chamber of Commerce Race. Horse No. 4 (Western Times), ridden by jockey Jose Santos.

Among all the chamber members and friends in attendance were Bill Egan and the chamber staff, Lucy Nunziato and her friend Joan, Estelle Cooper, Jim Rodgers, Dolly DeThomas, Carol Conslato, Dolores Hoffman, Linda DaSabado, Debbie Markell, Hank Auffarth, John Frank, Georgiana Reese, Charles Callahan, MaryAnn McAleer and many others too numerous to mention.

As usual at most of these events networking is one of the most important factors. John Frank was seated next to me. I have known John for years and have always enjoyed his company. Seated across the table were two new members of the Queens chamber. They were Maureen Duane of Austin Travel and Adam Michelin of Rent A PC. They apparently knew each other and were partners in their betting picks for the day. They did rather well.

There was another couple at the far end of the table — too far to engage in much of a conversation — but they were fun nonetheless. Our table also included Mark Mantell of New York Life. We all got along so well and had so much fun the day was over before it began. As they say, I guess time flies when you are having fun.

Belmont Day is one of the more fun days that the chamber arranges in its yearly calendar. If you didn’t make it this year, be sure you join us next year. You’ll have a lot of fun.

It’s funny how things have a way of working out. In the July 15 column I had mentioned I didn’t know that much about Stephen Graves. As it happened, I was attending a fund-raiser for 26th Assembly District hopeful Peter Boudouvas and found myself sitting next to Stephen Graves. After inquiring if he had read the TimesLedger and my column, in particular, he said that he usually gets the paper on Friday and therefore had not read it. His next question, of course, was why?

I explained that he might not find it to his liking, as I felt this was an excellent opportunity for him to answer some questions or at least provide some explanations. He very affable agreed.

He said that he is a small businessman working with the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce. He decided to stop complaining about the status quo and do something about it.

“Although Bayside has been my home for a number of years, both the Democratic and Republican Parties had candidates for the 5th Congressional District,” he said.

“My business is located in the 7th Congressional District. While the Democrats had an incumbent, the Republicans didn’t seem to have a candidate. I asked the Republican Party if I would be able to run in the 7th Congressional District. They said OK. After setting up an office and getting ready for the race, I found out the Queens County Republican Party was not going to endorse me as their candidate for the 7th Congressional District.

“Having spent both time and money, I asked if I could switch and run in the 5th Congressional District, my home district. As I had heard, they had decided not to endorse the Republican candidate in that district. After getting their OK — it was rather late in the game — I started to set up all over again. Those facts may have been what contributed to the public’s confusion as to exactly where I intended to run. I do think that congressional district is ready for a change. They are getting tired of being taxed to death and not having any say where their tax dollars go,” he said.

“I also believe that the conservative people of Queens are getting rather tired of extreme social issues, like protecting flag burners while failing to support our troops who are in harm’s way. Our community as I see it doesn’t support those positions and they really desire someone who will represent them and their views. This year I’m going to fight to try and make a difference.”

That’s the gist of what the young man had to say. He had a lot more to say but we could not allocate sufficient room for everything. The young man seemed very sincere and personable; however, I got the definite feeling that he knows what a tough row he has ho.

The rumor mill reports that Meilin Tan has decided to run for the 22nd Assembly District. If true, it would seem that she is running rather late, and comes across more as a spoiler rather than a serious contestant for winning the prize. Meilin hosted a Bush/Cheney party at the Flushing Mall. She was gracious enough to invite me. However, it was the same time as a fund-raiser, a birthday party and a Jefferson Democratic Club baseball practice game.

Since I often complain about the impossibility of being in more than one place at one time, I opted to attend a fund-raiser and found myself so engrossed in the conversation with Graves that I missed the other events.

Please, guys, it is bad enough when you all schedule on the same day, but do you also have to schedule on the same times?

Well, that’s it for now. Be sure to check the Focus on Queens Page and call me at 718-767-6484, fax me at 718-746-0066 and keep the e-mails rolling at deerrichard@aol.com.

Don’t forget to read the column next week when we will give you the lowdown on that big-time baseball game between the Jefferson Democrats and the Northeast Queens Republicans. Ta Ta!

Till next week,


Updated 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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