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Columnist makes unfair critiques of Queens GOP

I normally enjoy Dee Richards’ weekly column, but in last week’s column (“Ackerman holds D.C. bus trip for official swearing-in,” Jan. 13-19) I found her remarks about Queens County Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa and Executive Vice Chairman Vince Tabone unwarranted and inappropriate.

She excoriated them for not attending the party she threw for former Republican state Sen. Frank Padavan, which was a wonderful tribute to his extraordinary leadership and service to the community. There were several other events in his honor as well as an upcoming gala — like the Lincoln Dinner Testimonial for Frank Padavan in February — some of which they have already attended.

Whatever their private reasons for not attending Dee’s party, this was not the occasion to take up column space for personal attacks. Other Queens Republican Party officials did attend, including Vice Chairman Philip Sica, who was asked to say the prayers.

Having worked in the trenches together with these two unrecognized community leaders — Ragusa and Tabone — it is time for someone to say a few well-earned words of praise on their behalf. Perhaps the most dramatic civic achievements and service to the people of Queens and New York City was to start changing the status quo from the one-party system that long dominated city politics replete with a lopsided, nearly all-Democratic City Council by electing three Republican councilmen.

Last year, they ran over 20 fine Republican candidates, giving the Democrats a challenge they never anticipated. People said this was the first time in years that U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) showed his face at public events. For way too long both the Republican and Democratic party machines worked together primarily for their own self-interests and unmitigated power, with corrupt, non-aggression deals and contempt for the voting public.

The county GOP leaders, Ragusa and Tabone created a true grassroots organization of the people which broke the spell cast by 172 years of Tammany Hall machine politics, which has influenced all political parties in the city to this day. They deserve the credit for giving the voters of Queens a real choice of elected officials, which is true democracy in action.

Phil Orenstein

Queens County Republican Committeeman

Queens Village

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