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Queens Chronicle

Ragusa is GOP chairman — judge

Ognibene says he may appeal last week’s decision

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Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:59 pm, Thu Nov 10, 2011.

While a Queens judge has ruled that Phil Ragusa is the chairman of the borough’s Republican Party, there appears to be no truce between the two factions that have waged verbal assaults against each other, lobbing criticisms that each side has done nothing but obstruct Queens’ minority party from being able to function without internal strife.

Former Middle Village Councilman Tom Ognibene said he was considering appealing last week’s decision by Queens Supreme Court Justice Phyllis Flug. The ruling came after rival sections of the Queens GOP each nominated a new party leader at the end of September.

Ragusa, the outgoing chairman, landed the support of one faction that met at the Reception House in Flushing, while Ognibene was named GOP leader at a meeting led by Bart Haggerty, chief of staff for Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) at Villa Russo in Richmond Hill.

In her decision, Flug said that only Ragusa was eligible to call a meeting for a vote on new leadership. She said notices of the Richmond Hill meeting were “designed to create confusion and to disrupt the internal affairs of the Queens County Republican Party.”

Ragusa is now the Republican chairman until 2013.

“I personally congratulate Chairman Ragusa, who time and again has demonstrated his integrity, goodwill and willingness to work with everyone to advance the GOP’s principles. Now the hard work begins,” Vince Tabone, counsel to the Queens GOP, said in a prepared statement.

But Ognibene slammed the Ragusa section of the party for not supporting Ulrich’s runs for office.

“Twice they didn’t support Eric,” he said. “That was disgraceful.”

“I got no support from them running for mayor in 2005,” Ognibene continued. “They never raised any money to support the party, and they don’t give money to support the candidates. They’re so interested in maintaining power at all cost. Someone like Eric, who’s legitimately interested in serving his community, is a threat to their leadership.”

Ragusa and Tabone did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Ulrich or Haggerty.

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