Dishing with Dee: GOP must stop backing Dems and start grooming their own

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Last week, we printed Liz Berney’s assessment of her problems with the upper echelon of the Queens GOP. As we promised in last week’s column, we would contact the Queens GOP and get its rendition of the current status between Phil Ragusa and Berney.

Now for the rest of the story. I called the GOP headquarters Sunday. As there was no answer, I thought they were busy on the campaign trail. Apparently not.

On Tuesday evening I parked my car on 150th Street in front of the Greek Food Emporium, which specializes in Mediterranean and Greek food but take-out only. It has been opened about a year ago and has enjoyed rave reviews by the community. It is owned by Kimon Thermos, a Bayside attorney and Queens GOP board member. He said the lack of unity in the party distresses him and he has tried for years to establish solidarity but without much success.

We discussed the Ragusa/Berney court case being held in Nassau County Supreme Court. He said since he was not present he didn’t feel qualified to comment, but he did say that in all probability the reason I wasn’t able to contact Ragusa for some time was that he has been feeling under the weather. Get well soon, Phil!

On Thursday evening, the Queens Village Republican Club held a fund-raiser for Dr. James Milano, who is also running for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman’s 5th District seat. The event was held at the Trattoria Lucia in Bellerose. There was a nice turnout.

Among the attendees were Ed Cox, state GOP chairman; Joe DioGuardi, U.S. Senate candidate; Dan Halloran, city councilman; Vinny Tabone, candidate for the 26th state Assembly District seat; Timothy Furey, chairman of the Queens Young Republicans; and Jim Trent, Phil Sica, Phil Orenstein and all of the QVRC.

Orenstein was there with a large number of the Queens-Nassau 9-12 Tea Party group. It is a group that seems to be increasing in number. The 9-12 group presented itself as well-dressed, -behaved and -informed. I was impressed as they were not the raucous, poster-carrying dissidents I was led to believe they were but a group of serious-minded idealists whose common cause seemed to be preserving the U.S. Constitution and protecting the future of the America they and we love.

But I digress. Ragusa did not feel well enough to attend the Queens Village meeting. He sent Tabone to represent him instead. Vinny didn’t say much other than to apologize for Phil not being able to attend and to encourage those present to support and/or volunteer to help the candidates present.

While there I was introduced to a prominent election law attorney, who gave me the legal prospective on the Ragusa/Berney differences, in which even though the Queens GOP promised Liz it would endorse her and she would be the party candidate, it instead endorsed Milano for Ackerman’s seat.

The attorney said she has no contract to enforce, it is illegal as both a matter of law and public policy, public policy prohibits a party from promising line exclusivity since a primary is authorized by law and under contract law you can’t make a promise to act in the future if you cannot guarantee you are authorized to make an action, which means you would have to guarantee you would be re-elected as the GOP leadership.

Voting by district leaders is binding; recommendations of the chair are not. The weight of voting is only relevant to the Wilson-Pakula, in which a political party authorizes a candidate for public office in the state who is not registered with that party to run as its candidate in an election.

All it does, in this case, is authorize a non-GOP person to run on the GOP line. Milano is a Democrat and therefore needs a Wilson-Pakula. Berney is a Republican and does not need one. But Berney registered as a Republican after running in 2008 with a Wilson-Pakula as she also was a registered Democrat. She changed parties at Ragusa’s suggestion.

I’m not an election law attorney. I’m printing the above information in good faith, assuming the election law information provided to me by the attorney is correct.

Part of the confusion is why the Queens GOP seems to be more in favor of recruiting and endorsing Democrats instead of Republicans. Isn’t it the job of the Queens GOP chair to solicit, groom, support and endorse Republican candidates? Surely there must be some available, qualified Republican candidates out there. Why don’t you GOPers seek them out?

I look forward your voice mail at 718-767-6484 and e-mails at

Till next week, Dee.

Updated 6:28 pm, October 10, 2011
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