Original or fried?
It will take years for the Queens GOP to recover from the recklessness of Machiavellian schemer of the year, Tom Ognibene and his gang of cohorts.
As you know, John Haggerty was sentenced to prison for stealing from Mayor Bloomberg, but readers want to know, is he in cahoots with his brother Bart, infamous political operative, and Chief of Staff to City Council Member Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway)?
Could it be the same guy trying to steal the Queens GOP chairmanship?
Yes he is. The money John siphoned from the Mayor’s campaign war chest was used as a payoff to his brother Bart Haggerty for a fancy house on a hill where they presumably ate the fruit from the poisoned tree.
What does this mean for the Queens GOP power debacle?
Former GOP Chairman Serphin Maltese, last of the Romans, kept the Haggerty’s on a leash by keeping them hungry and feeding them tiny morsels like dogs under the kitchen table. Little did Serph know he was inadvertently feeding their malevolent lust for power.
I had a mental picture of the courtroom. Who would stand on the Ognibene side? A few nobody’s and a pesky critter known as Eric Ulrich? Yep, according to reports, that’s all that showed up.
It was like a scene from the OK Corral, but much more like the last stand of Colonel Sanders.
Birds of a feather…
Ognibene is no stranger to controversy, he was once named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an unrelated case involving bribery. While the final decision to end the civil war is still pending, in the criminal trial of John Haggerty bail was set at $250,000 because Judge Zweibel heard that John may have an Irish passport that he could have used to skip town. It may not be true, but I wouldn’t put it past him.
Mayor gets screwed, but it’s really a drop in the bucket for him. Still doesn’t justify theft. So would Mayor Bloomberg hire one of the Haggertys, again? Doubtful. Bloomberg is almost term-limited out of office, so they won’t be needed. Will we ever see the likes of the Haggertys influencing the underworld of Queens politics? No, but we will still see Tom Ognibene’s sometimes arch-rival, Bart Haggerty pulling the strings of marionette councilmember Eric Ulrich, the warlord of South Queens.
Queens GOP spokesman Robert Hornak whom in a previous interview, predicted the outcome of the trial and lends his foresight on the chairmanship struggle.
“I think this is their last hurrah, John Haggerty will be in a state-house [prison] and Tom Ognibene… he’ll find something else to do.”
He also summed up the tenure of Ulrich as the
Benedict Arnold Council Member who turned his back on the party that helped get him elected in 2009.
Eric is somewhat immature and short-sighted for an elected official. It’s probably to feed his ego and personal aspirations.”
It’s just too bad they couldn’t work things out with Chairman Phil. They really believed Ragusa was a sitting duck, according to an inside source. This squabbling is nothing new. Bart Haggerty filed the same suit challenging Ragusa in 2005, and 2007. In 2009 they played nice to win the Council seat for Eric in Howard Beach, District 32. Friends today. Enemies tomorrow. No consistency. They never trusted any of the real Queens GOP from the north.
They didn’t even trust each other. Ognibene strung Bart along, while Bart thought he strung Ognibene along. They both hated Ragusa.
Ognibene and company used to toy around with disgraced GOP City Council Member Dennis Gallagher who was arrested for raping a grandmother above his campaign office, presumably on the same desk where Ulrich ate his lunch. The charges were later dropped after Dennis pled guilty to misdemeanor sex charges for assaulting the elderly woman. Democrat Liz Crowley now holds the seat.
Political Parties Pool Their Resources
I saw Dennis Gallagher while working a poll site in Flushing for John Liu and Yen Chou. Dennis was setting up sandwich boards for now Council Member Peter Koo (R-20). He shot me a cockeyed look when I noticed he went beyond the point of electioneering setting up Peter Koo’s sandwich boards with big bold red lettering on the side that read “Property of Mike Ricatta.” In 2008 Mike hired a giant campaign bus with “Mike Ricatto Special Election 32nd City Council District” emblazoned on the side to drive up and down Cross Bay Blvd. The bus hit and killed an innocent kid. My heart goes out to that little boy.
Ognibene never liked me and I never liked him. He took issue with my graduate degree in American Government, which Eric had not finished, my board membership in a very liberal democratic club, and he got wind of the fact that I tutored Eric in Graduate School in American Government. Ognibene from the start was always breathing down my neck and making me feel very uncomfortable. You could cut the tension with a knife. I had to get out of there quickly. I resigned partly because I felt Ognibene wanted to run his own campaign through Eric, and a better opportunity had arose for me elsewhere with more level headed folk. Ognibene had prior plans to install Bart as Eric’s Chief of Staff – after all the work was complete – so there was no room for me anyway. I left a few weeks before the general election and helped John Liu become Comptroller of the City of New York.
Chairman Phil was almost unanimously elected at the Flushing Reception House.
The only exception was bootlicking former State Assembly Candidate and GOP District Leader Anthony Nunziato, who is scared to death of Tom Ognibene and who once tried to stick me with the bill for his $45 T-bone and Ceasar salad at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse in Bayside. He showed up to Ragusas meeting and voted Ognibene. No surprise there.
Why so much struggle over a Chairmanship? Azi Paybarah explains in Capital New York:
“Here’s the thing: The person who takes control of the party now will be at the helm as the city enters the 2013 election cycle, where the mayor’s seat and nearly every other city office will be up for grabs.
Candidates who have the resources to do so will presumably sprinkle lots of money around to organizations and clubs as they seek to form new bonds and underwrite campaign activities. A chairman’s organization is one good place to spend money.
The chairman of a county organization also has a powerful role to play in granting a waiver to allow non-party members to run on their ballot, granting what’s known as a Wilson-Pakula. So, being chairman does have its perks.”
Bart and Ognibene are two different people with divergent agendas. They don’t seem to match up -although they are united by their passion for cracking off color jokes. I’ll never forget that one. You laughed. You’re all guilty of xenophobia. There’s something to be said about that. Ulrich hired, or had to hire, Tom Ognibene’s son, Guy Ognibene as Legislative Director. So the proof is in the pudding. Nepotism.
It took the prospect of unseating Phil to settle their rocky relationship and bring the ol’ South Queens gang back together.
If everyone played nice than maybe we would have a solid Republican voice in Queens. Stealing is very bad guys, but not all is lost. The GOP have a fresh hope on the northside, so it’s a step in the right direction for the party. I’m not going to sing Chairman Phil’s praises but he’s clearly better choice for the future. Without them, the Democratic machine would run unopposed!
Cheers to Tom Ognibene, the soon to be the exiled pariah of the Queens GOP. Maybe he’ll open a chicken stand? I don’t know, email me about it firstname.lastname@example.org.