Tag Archives: Queens Republican Party

Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa passes away at 74

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Phil Ragusa, chair of the Queens Republican Party, died Tuesday after a short battle with leukemia, party officials confirmed in a statement. He was 74.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our very distinguished Chairman, Phil Ragusa,” the statement said. “Chairman Ragusa will be remembered for his integrity and commitment to the democratic process and was viewed by many as not just a friend but a mentor.”

Ragusa died surrounded by family members, according to the statement.

His leadership survived a challenge to lead the county committee last year from former Congressman Bob Turner. Ragusa has been Queens GOP chairman since 2007.

“I was deeply saddened to hear of Phil Ragusa’s passing and I feel terribly for his family,” said Northeast Queens Republican Club President Kevin J. Ryan. “But if there’s a bright side, we have an opportunity to rebuild the Queens GOP and move forward together, following the procedures and giving every committee member a voice. I hope we all work together in his memory.”

Viewing hours will be held Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Quinn-Fogarty Funeral Home, 162-14 Sanford Ave., Flushing.



Turner, Ragusa both claim victory to lead Queens GOP

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

The Queens Republican Party civil war is not over, and Phil Ragusa did not reclaim his throne yet, his opponents say.

Both Ragusa and former Congressmember Bob Turner have declared themselves winners in the election to head the Queens GOP after a six hour contentious meeting on September 27.

According to Party officials, Ragusa won re-election as chair by 52 percent of votes cast by district leaders and state committee members. His challenger, Turner, garnered about 48 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

But Councilmember Eric Ulrich, an outspoken critic of Ragusa, said Turner in fact had higher tallies than reported and had the support of “a clear majority” of voters.

There was no independent monitor in the room to count the votes, he said, and the Party’s leadership had thrown out valid proxies.

“The county’s members are using fuzzy math,” Ulrich said. “Their attempts to disqualify the proxy votes of duly elected county committee members are shameful. When every single vote is counted, it is clear that Bob Turner is the chairman.”

Both Turner and Ragusa have submitted certificates of election with the state and city Board of Elections.
Ragusa released a statement, saying he had been declared the “clear winner.”

“I am honored and humbled by the show of support given to me by Queens County Committee and State Committee members,” he said. “I will continue to lead the party honorably and faithfully and will work to unify the party so that the

Queens GOP continues to grow and become even stronger in the future.”

Turner said he was confident court litigations over the next few weeks would find him victorious.

“We know we won,” Turner said. “This is going to have to be solved at a different level.”

A similar internal battle occurred in 2011, when both Ragusa and former Councilmember Tom Ognibene claimed victory, though Ognibene was later defeated.

Ulrich, an insurgent of the Queens GOP, has long called for Turner to take over Party leadership, especially after a bombshell corruption scandal emerged this April.

Queens GOP Vice Chair Vince Tabone and Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran were among a handful of officials indicted in a bribery scheme to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the GOP mayoral primary ticket.

Shortly after Tabone resigned from his post, more than a dozen Republican State Committee members wrote Ragusa a letter, asking him to step down, too, and allow Turner to take over.

The county boss, who was not accused of any wrongdoing, stayed on and won re-election earlier this month to his district leader post, beating back challenger and Ulrich ally Sal Bacarella.

Others elected to the Queens GOP include Robert Beltrani as executive vice chair and James McClelland as first vice chair. McClelland served as chief of staff to Councilmember Peter Koo and recently left to work for State Senator Simcha Felder.



Ex-councilmember Anthony Como replaces indicted Queens GOP vice chair Vince Tabone

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Councilmember Anthony Como will become the new executive vice chair of the Queens GOP, replacing indicted attorney Vince Tabone.

GOP chair Phil Ragusa confirmed Como would be taking over, saying the former city legislator would be a good fit.

“I know Anthony for a long time,” Ragusa said. “He was our City Council candidate we ran against Liz Crowley. I had extensive conversations with him.”

Ragusa said the agreement to install Como was mutual. His experience as an elected official would make him a good fit for the party, he said.

“I think he’s going to do a fine job,” Ragusa said. “He knows the political process like I know the political process.”

Tabone was arrested on April 2 in connection with charges that he took bribe money to help get State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, on the mayoral ticket as a Republican.

GOP Councilmember Dan Halloran is also accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes to sway party chairs to sign off on Smith’s Republican run.

Como served in the City Council for about six months, replacing disgraced Councilmember Dennis Gallagher in June 2008. He lost the general election to now-Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley for District 30 in December of that year.

He previously served as commissioner of the Queens Board of Elections, and then president of the New York City Board of Elections. He also worked as an assistant district attorney and was chief counsel to former State Senator Serphin Maltese.

In 2010, he made an unsuccessful bid at unseating incumbent State Senator Joseph Addaboo in District 15.

“I look forward to working with Chairman Ragusa to strengthen the organization to ensure that NYC has representation on both sides of the aisle,” Como said in a statement. “I will be contacting our district leaders, party members, and loyal Republicans to let them know that we are energized, motivated and moving in a direction in which we can all be proud.”

When asked if Ragusa believes Como and his years of government experience would breathe new life into the party, the chair said the GOP was still strong and functioning.

“We’re all here,” Ragusa said. “We’re working hard. Queens County is going to survive.”

Ragusa said he has not spoken to Tabone, who was arraigned in federal court yesterday.

The Queens GOP also appointed: Robert Beltrani, first vice chair; Anthony Carollo, vice chair; Deborah Heinichen, vice chair;  Samiha Makawi, recording secretary;  James McClelland and Pierre Alcantara, members at large

Bob Dole, Donald Rumsfeld endorse Reyes for State Senate

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo is Courtesy of Reyes for State Senate

Heavily shorthanded in endorsements this campaign, Republican candidate Juan Reyes picked up the backing of former presidential candidate Bob Dole and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“[I am] humbled and grateful to have the endorsement of two giants in the Republican Party,” Reyes said in a statement.

The former mayoral counsel and current lawyer faces off against Councilmember Eric Ulrich on Thursday, September 13 to see which Republican will run against incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

Reyes worked as a staffer to Dole, who served five terms in the Senate, before serving a number of positions in the second Giuliani administration.

Dole called the senate hopeful “an outstanding leader who will fight for you and your family in Albany. He won’t tolerate the political nonsense that has done so much damage to New York’s economy.”

Rumsfeld said Reyes was a good conservative who would cut taxes and help economic growth.

“Juan is smart, tough minded, decent and hardworking,” he said. “He is a solid conservative who stands for lower taxes, less government spending, and a strong emphasis on economic growth in the private sector.”

Along with these endorsements, Reyes also has the backing of the Queens Republican Party. In contrast, Ulrich has a score of endorsements including: former Governor George Pataki, the Independent Party, the New York State Senate Elections Committee and Congressmember Peter King.


Politics Aside: The lie of the temporary tax increase

| RHornak@queenscourier.com

When is a temporary measure, even with a set expiration date, not temporary? When it’s initiated by government, of course. How many times have we been confronted with the supposed risk of major calamity due to state and local government budget shortfalls? How many times were these supposed impending disasters staved off by “temporary” tax increases? And how many times were those temporary tax increases rescinded?

We saw this in 2002, when local politicians told us that a temporary 18.5 percent increase in the property tax was required to keep New York City functioning after the September 11 attacks. And most people believed those politicians that this was a desperate time and this might be necessary in the short term. But it didn’t take the city long to rebound, especially in the financial services industry, which has always been the economic engine for the city.

But that temporary tax increase turned into a permanent increase. Our leaders had become too comfortable with the new rates and new revenue.

The same thing just happened in Albany. Even though Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged not to raise taxes and to allow the income tax surcharge to expire (that was enacted to close a supposed disastrous shortfall in state revenue), that temporary tax increase has just been made permanent.

To justify his reversal, Cuomo claimed that if he didn’t increase taxes, he would be forced to implement “reckless” cuts health care, education and infrastructure. Does anyone believe that was really the other option? He also marginally cut the rate for people earning under $300,000. For earners between $40,000 and $150,000 the rate will be 6.45 percent, up to $300,000 it is 6.65 percent. Previously it was 6.85 percent. So a worker earning $50,000 per year will save $200 annually, or less than $4 a week.

Meanwhile, politicians have wrecked one of the most acclaimed features of the N.Y.S. tax system, its relative flatness and simplicity. Instead, we now have multiple rates that will only serve to confuse. In fact, the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows that 40 percent of New Yorkers think they are getting a tax increase, and only 28 percent think they will get a cut. And the 28 percent will be even more confused when the cut turns out to be more like a nick.

Ultimately, this highlights Cuomo’s failure to control the municipal unions that really run New York government and have a stranglehold over its spending. In spite of promises to tame the union beast that keeps New York state on the edge of bankruptcy and taxpayers on the verge of relocation, Cuomo has made no progress at all. In spite of his current popularity, he just may have fashioned the noose that will hang his administration.

Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.