When you write for a quarterly publication concerning the current political atmosphere, your mind has the luxury to scan not only recent events that are relevant but past events that have led up to the acrimonious circumstance that exists as I write this column today. Therefore, I shall start in the recent past.
Councilman Dennis P. Gallagher initiated the machinations and skullduggery that led to the most undemocratic and illegal vote on record for a not-for-profit organization, the Maspeth Town Hall's election of a new president in March 2006. This was followed by the removal of Anthony Tony Nunziato from Community Board Q5 after 10 years of faithful and successful execution of his duties as a VOLUNTEER. I was hard pressed to understand why these two events happened. After all, Councilman Gallagher was a Republican and Anthony Tony Nunziato was a very respected Republican and community activist for the town of Maspeth. Yes! It is quite correct that Mr. Nunziato had expressed to a few people that he was considering a run for Assemblywoman Marge Markey's seat, but that alone did not explain Gallagher's moving towards stopping a Republican from running for the seat held by a Democrat.
During the wet spring of 2006, the first protest against the development of the historic St. Saviour's site into 71 housing units took place and our councilman, Dennis P. Gallagher, was not standing or marching with his constituents, he was already in bed with the developer and Kenneth Rudzewick, the CEO of the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, who provided the six million dollar mortgage loan to a group of foreign-based developers to make a suspect purchase of the property from the Korean Church. These events widened the rift between Councilman Gallagher and the Juniper Park Civic Association. By the summer of 2006, the differences were not reconciled and Councilman Gallagher was bent on forming his own civic that would concur with all his machinations. The summer of 2006 also manifested the depth of his vindictiveness when he refused to no longer fund the Midville Dodgers, a local baseball team made up of area high school students, who had just won the national high school age baseball championship.
In retrospect, the fall of 2006 brought about an exchange of published letters written by people that were part of Dennis Gallagher's civic association and members of the Juniper Park Civic Association. Indeed, the councilman himself circulated and published a few letters to the effect – "Why is the Juniper Park Civic Association picking on me? I used to be their poster boy. Well, I compare that political comment to a piece of fruit that was once ripe and delicious but nature turned it rotten before we had a chance to eat it. Often we read in the newspapers of politicians who are fueled with unbridled greed that turns them sour before their term has expired. That is apparently what happened to Gallagher.
Gallagher's devious plan
And that brings us to the present day. Now Councilman Gallagher is sending out certified letters to members of Juniper Civic and regular mail to other members of the community board notifying them of their duty to come in for an interview because there is a lot of competition for their VOLUNTEER positions. The object of these, so called, interviews is to remove all those who will give opposition to his proposals for variances and zoning changes such as the one required for the crock he has dreamed up to save St. Saviour's. The Juniper Civic members who Gallagher knows he will remove, when interviewed, have been asked about such important nonsense as whether or not the Parks Department should be locking Juniper Park's upper ballfields. Gallagher has already told several city officials that he wants Bob Holden, Lorraine Sciulli, Steve Fiedler and me taken off of the community board. The non-JPCA members have been asked mostly about how they will vote on the St. Saviour's zoning change during their interviews. Asking the St. Saviour's question allows Gallagher to determine which of them he will also be forced to remove from the board in order to get Maspeth Development's zoning change through and impress his friends at Parkside Group, where he hopes to one day become a lobbyist.
The volunteers in his dragnet include board members who have served for many years without pay to keep this a viable community where people want to work, live and operate businesses. Rest assured, his tactics will not go unchallenged.
(see JPCA press release "Councilman Gallagher Corrupts Community Board Process")
Recently, Councilman Gallagher said in the Queens Tribune newspaper that he was shocked and upset to learn that his name may have been added to our online petition without his permission. We had posted the petition asking people to enter their names in support of dogs leashed at all times in NYC parks. Assuming there is only one Dennis Gallagher in this world, and knowing online petitions are not legal documents as anyone can submit any name, it's amazing that our councilman would even comment on such silliness. Gallagher went so far as to call for an investigation into who was responsible.
Is he serious? I agree there should be an investigation. However, the investigation should be into the office of Councilman Dennis P. Gallagher. Here is a man who for one full year has waged war against dedicated volunteers in the community. A man who used his city council office staff and city funds to try and destroy our very successful 70-year Juniper Park Civic Association. A man who has also used his city council office staff to raise money for his political campaign. A man that has sat on the sidelines and watched as our community continues to fall prey to real estate developers. (He is even on a first name basis with the developer who wants to destroy St. Saviour's!)
What has he done except attack volunteers?
What has Dennis Gallagher done during his five years on the city council? Can you name one thing, one bill, one law that he has sponsored? If he had done his job, the JPCA would not have had to form an overdevelopment task force to survey each house in Middle Village and Maspeth and push to downzone our community.
If Gallagher had done his job, the JPCA would not have had to file a lawsuit against the Department of Parks to get dogs leashed in NYC parks. Unbelievably, Gallagher sits on the NYC Parks Committee, yet never pressed the issue, and never bothered to attend our court hearing, the Department of Health hearing or the Parks hearing about the dog issue. Instead, he left that up to volunteers from the Juniper Park Civic Association who not only had to work hard on the issue, but also had to fend off Gallagher's mean-spirited attacks.
Dennis P. Gallagher has certainly been an abysmal failure as our NYC Council representative. But he has been an even bigger failure as a human being.
**The views expressed in this column represent only those of the author and not the board or membership of the Juniper Park Civic Association.