2008-04-30 / Political Page

Bruno Heads Queens GOP Annual Star-Studded Dinner Bash

The most powerful Republican in New York state, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, will journey down to Queens on May 22 to be honored as Man of the Year by the Queens Republican organization at its annual dinner.

Philip Ragusa, the Queens party chairman, will also honor two of Bruno's top operatives- state Senators Frank Padavan and Serphin Maltese- who will be running for re-election this year with hopes of winning and returning to Albany continuing as members of the majority party.

Both are being challenged in November, Padavan by City Councilmember James Gennaro, and Maltese by Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr.

Another top Albany Republican, Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco will be the keynote speaker, and radio- TV personality Curtis Sliwa will be a special guest.

Other honorees include Margo Catsimatidis who will be honored as Woman of the Year. She is the wife of tycoon John Catsimatidis, owner, president, chairman, and chief executive officer of the Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods. The Red Apple Group a subsidiary of United Refining Company has holdings in aviation and real estate interests in New York, Florida, and the U.S Virgin Islands. He owns and operates the Hellenic Times newspaper, and is a prospective Republican candidate for mayor in 2009.

Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor in the Rudy Giuliani administration, will be another honoree.

Rounding out the dais will be Anthony Como, the party's choice to win former Councilmember Dennis Gallagher's vacated seat in the June 3 special election; Tom Dooley of Astoria, who is challenging state Senator George Onorato in November; and Tony Nunziato, who's running against Assemblymember Margaret Markey, also in November; and Robert Hornak, who plans to run for the Astoria city council seat in 2009.

Ragusa said he's expecting a big turnout at Douglaston Manor, possibly because the audience expects to hear some interesting comments from Senator Bruno about his battle with former Governor Eliot Spitzer last year. Tickets are $150 per person.


OGNIBENE: Former Councilmember Tom Ognibene has picked up the endorsement of Tom Long and the Queens Conservative Party in his bid to win the special election for the seat vacated by Dennis Gallagher.

It was an expected move since Ognibene ran for mayor on the Conservative Party line in 2005. He also had that party's backing in his days as a councilmember in the 10 years before he was bumped by term limits and succeeded by Gallagher.

After Ognibene was voted the party's endorsement, Long stated "During his tenure in public office, Tom Ognibene was a strong voice for our conservative principles."

As previously mentioned, Anthony Como of Middle Village is in the race, as are Joseph Suraci, Elizabeth Crowley, Michael Mascetti and Charles Ober. The candidates will not be listed by any party affiliation on the June 3 ballot.

HEAVY SUPPORT FOR DROMM: Showing broad support from a swath of Democratic public officials, labor and the Queens Democratic organization, Daniel Dromm will head a gay pride parade in Jackson Heights on June 1.

Queens Democratic Leader Congressmember Joseph Crowley is billed as the special guest speaker for Dromm's 2009 city council election campaign, and sponsors of the event include Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assemblymember Jose Peralta (D- Corona), and Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers union (UFT).

The parade will be preceded by breakfast at the Cavalier Restaurant, 85-19 37th Ave., Jackson Heights, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The Queens Pride Parade will follow. Breakfast tickets are $50 each, available through People for Daniel Dromm at 718- 457-2928.

OTHER DEM EVENTS: The Ridgewood Democratic Club, headed by Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, has a huge event, a 100th anniversary dinnerdance on Thursday, June 19, at which a long list of leaders will be honored.

Nolan tops the list as Woman of the Year. Crowley and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum will both receive the Public Service Award. Longtime Ridgewood Dem leader Robert Rothermel is the club's Man of the Year, Gerard Tate gets the Lifetime Achievement Award; Bruce Bendell and Annette Rodriguez- Soriano are Business People of the Year; Alan B. Lubin and Veronica Montgomery Costa Labor Leaders of the Year, and Debbie Egel and Patricia Grayson are Community Service Award recipients.

Mark the date- Thursday, June 19, at Terrace On The Park in Flushing Meadows- Corona Park, cocktails at 6:30 p.m., tickets are $100 per person, call 718- 229-4201.

MARKEY RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN: Another date to mark for this busy spring period is Thursday, May 8 for the re-election campaign kickoff for Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D- Maspeth). It's from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dazies, 39-41 Queens Blvd., Sunnyside. Markey launched her career as a Maspeth community leader then moved over to the political sphere as Democratic co-leader with Congressmember Joseph Crowley.

In her role as Assemblymember, Markey last week took the opportunity of Crime Victims Week to get several bills passed which would help crime victims and their families through financial compensation, counseling programs and victim advocacy.

The bill on easing financial hardships for crime victims' families would expand benefits by making them eligible for a crime victim's award to cover loss of earnings due to the hospitalization of a child victim or reimbursement for transportation costs getting to court appearances.

PADAVAN'S 'CAREER CRIMINAL' BILL: For the fourth consecutive session, the state senate has passed Senator Frank Padavan's Career Criminal Bill, a measure aimed at keeping streets safe from recidivists.

The bill establishes the new crime of aggravated criminal conduct, which could subject any person who commits three or more Class A misdemeanors or felonies within a 10-year period to up to four years in state prison.

ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUP BACKS MALTESE: Noting state Senator Serphin Maltese's interest in legislation protecting and defending animal rights, the League of Humane Voters of New York City, a leading animal rights protection organization, has endorsed Maltese for re-election. The Western Queens veteran lawmaker is expected to be opposed by Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D- Ozone Park) in November.

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