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Dishing with Dee

Our calendar seems to be getting busier. May and June are filling up rapidly which is understandable, since most organizations either slow down or come to a halt during vacation in July and August. This year, however, has the potential of following a different pattern due mainly to the number of contestants to fill the political positions coming up for grabs.

Case in point: the June 3 special election to fill former City Councilman Dennis Gallagher's seat. Up to now, the frontrunners were Republicans Anthony Como and Tom Ognibene and Democrat Elizabeth Crowley. The initial concern was that Como and Ognibene would split the Republican vote, insuring Crowley's victory. There is now, however, a new candidate. We understand that Tony Seminerio's (D-Richmond Hill) son John has tossed his hat in the ring for Gallagher's seat.

How does the new Democratic candidate affect Crowley's chances now that she, too, is facing a party split? We will have to wait and see. We cannot help but wonder why Seminerio entered late. Is it a sincere run or a fine Machiavellian manipulative hand trying to control the outcome? Now that is speculation to ponder talk about intrigue!

Speaking of the Gallagher race, Como had a fund-raiser Wednesday night in an Italian restaurant on Woodhaven Boulevard next to the Chronicle building. As of yet, I have not heard any results of that event.

On Thursday, the Queens Council on the Arts held its 42nd Annual Benefit Gala at Long Island City's Water's Edge restaurant. The view from there is magnificent, food quite good and service excellent. I ran into many old friends and made some interesting new ones. A lovely evening!

Friday was the busy day. It started off with a breakfast at Antun's in Queens Village. The sponsor was Life Camp Inc., which celebrated its fifth anniversary awards breakfast. Its keynote speaker was the New York Giants' Michael Strahan, a Super Bowl champion. Strahan is committed to helping many worthwhile groups dedicated to focusing support on youth. Aside from being an inspirational speaker, he is also an extremely nice young man. At the auction after the breakfast, a single autographed jersey of his went for $575 a nice way to start raising money.

The next event was a Flushing Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Sheraton LaGuardia East in Flushing. Their guest speaker was U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), who informed everyone on America's role in national and international politics from his personal but interesting perspective. There was also an update on the Willets Point development project and Borough President Helen Marshal told us how impressed she is with the new stadium and rotunda due to replace Shea Stadium.

After the luncheon, there was time to network, which included time spent with Joann De Martino of HSBC Bank, Joann Ariola of Flushing Hospital, Mabel Law of the Flushing Business Improvement District and 16th State Senate District candidate hopefuls Debbie Markell and Peter Koo. It was time well spent with an interesting group.

Friday night was the biggest event of the week. It was the Seventh Annual Gala & Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan to benefit the Italian American Museum at Grand and Mulberry streets. The landmark museum reflects the struggles and achievements of the Italian-American community, whose culture and extraordinary contributions purveyed American society. When in Little Italy, check it out when it opens in a few weeks.

This year's honorees were Maria Bartiromo of CNBC's "Closing Bell" and the "Wall Street Journal Report"; Enrico Gaglioti, a partner with Goldman Sachs; and 1997 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda could not attend, so his friend, actor Tony Lo Bianco, accepted for him. Our own Michael Ricatto, founder of non-profit Better Leadership America, received an award for his efforts to help maintain the museum. Ackerman was there, making it twice in one day we attended the same event.

Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and former U.S. Congressman Mario Biaggi were there, a totally star-studded event in what must be a five-star restaurant. At that event, we received one of the nicest goody bags given out so far this season. Good luck to the museum and Joseph Scelsa, its president, and Maria Fosco, its vice president. Do not forget to include us on your list for the grand opening of new space. We love your concept.

That is it for this week.

I always look forward to hearing from you directly with information on people, parties, politics or some plain, old-fashioned gossip.

I also like receiving your voice mail at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mail at deerrichard@aol.com.

Till next week, Dee.

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