BY JON CRONIN
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) has ignited a feud with Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) following her endorsement of Ulrich’s opponent—Democrat Michael Scala—and accused her of misusing her power to get a Broad Channel restaurant investigated by the city. However, the councilwoman’s re-election campaign said that she had merely contacted the police after her sons were attacked in front of the establishment.
Following Crowley’s endorsement of Scala, Ulrich tweeted on Oct. 10 that “Councilwoman Liz Crowley endorsed my opponent today. Not sure why anyone would want the support of one of the most incompetent electeds in NYC.”
In another tweet that same day, he wrote, “I wasn’t planning on getting involved in her race, but I might just have to remind the voters in District 30 how unlucky they are to have her.”
Ulrich and the Queens County Republican Party recently threw its weight behind Robert Holden, a Democrat and leader of the Juniper Park Civic Association who is running on the GOP line after being defeated by Crowley in the September Democratic primary.
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY)—who is the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party—endorsed Scala.
On Oct. 15, the New York Post released an article stating that Ulrich had written a letter to the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) accusing Crowley of misusing her power to get the city Fire Department, Department of Buildings and State Liquor Authority to investigate Bayview Grille and Marina in Broad Channel.
The article states that Ulrich was told by Bayview owner Nicholas Martelli that after Crowley’s sons—Dennis O’Hara, 20, who was working at the restaurant, and Owen O’Hara, 19—were attacked outside the waterfront eatery on July 1, 2016, a team of city agencies came to the restaurant to investigate.
Martelli told Ulrich that Owen O’Hara had been getting into an Uber vehicle when he was struck from behind. Dennis O’Hara came to assist his brother and was so severely beaten that he spent 10 days in the hospital.
Kevin Tschirhart, Ulrich’s chief of staff, said that he was unaware of whether the New York Post discovered the DOI complaint or if Ulrich reached out to the paper himself. He added that Ulrich made the complaint regarding Crowley to the Department of Investigation out of legal obligation.
“The councilwoman has never been contacted by the Department of Investigation about the months-old complaint because there is no substance to it,” said Doug Forand, a spokesman for Crowley’s campaign. “Her only involvement with this restaurant is contacting law enforcement after her sons were assaulted there, as any mother would do, and taking every step to aid their recovery from this attack.”
Crowley’s campaign sent a timeline to the Queens Tribune that showed donations to Ulrich’s re-election campaign in 2016 from alleged mobster Robert Pisani, who has ties to the Bonanno crime family.
Pisani, who was once a co-owner of the Bayview Grille and Marina, made a $250 donation to Ulrich’s campaign in June 2016 and his wife, Jamie Pisani, made a $100 campaign contribution on Oct. 25, 2016. Both contributions were confirmed on the city Campaign Finance Review Board’s website.
Martelli has stated that Pisani, who was arrested on sexual assault charges in May, is no longer involved with the restaurant. The city’s Department of Finance did not return a request for information on ownership of the restaurant by press time.
“It’s shameful that Eric Ulrich would stand by a violent mob associate and dangerous sexual predator by filing this fraudulent complaint,” Forand said. “Rob Pisani’s alleged criminal record was already known to the public when Ulrich used his powers as an elected official to intervene. The public deserves an apology from the councilman for this clear abuse of his office.”
Tschirhart called the insinuation that Pisani and Ulrich are friends “mudslinging.”
The city’s Police Department did not return a request for information on the altercation involving Crowley’s sons.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.