How a New York City Irish gang raised over $1 million for charity

Members of The Kelly Gang, pictured in 2002, including founding member and Stuyvesant Town resident Keith Kelly, standing behind former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (Photo courtesy of the NY Post)

By Sabina Mollot

What began with an annual get together by a group of media professionals with the last name Kelly has morphed over a period of 18 years into a charity that this week will have raised over $1 million for various notable causes.

Stuyvesant Town resident and New York Post columnist Keith Kelly, who’s one of the founding members of this group, spoke with Town & Village this week about The Kelly Gang and how its supporters have included former top cop Ray Kelly and even Donald Trump.

Ahead of its annual corned beef and cabbage dinner, which was held on Tuesday night at midtown restaurant Michael’s, Keith Kelly said the gang began with an informal Christmas meal in 2000. At first it was Keith, Ed Kelly, who was then CEO of American Express Publishing, Mike Kelly, then the publisher of Entertainment Weekly, Jim Kelly, editor in chief of Time magazine, and author Tom Kelly. At the time, it was for a news story on various media Kellys who’d gotten promotions and they met up at The Four Seasons.

“Ed Koch saw us and sent over a round of drinks,” Keith recalled. One day, when spotting the group at the pub Langan’s, Post columnist Steve Dunleavy dubbed them The Kelly Gang.

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Gramercy novelist launches third series about investigative reporter

Dick Belsky’s new character was inspired by women journalists he’s worked with, especially at The Post.

By Sabina Mollot

Gramercy author and former journalist Dick Belsky writes what he knows. In the 1990s, he penned a series of novels about a television reporter named Jenny McKay. In the past three years, he wrote four novels about a newspaper reporter named Gil Malloy. Now, he’s begun a third series about yet another journalist, this one named Clare Carlson, with the first book, Yesterday’s News, to be released by Oceanview Publishing, on May 1.

In an interview with Town & Village, Belsky said it’s stories centering around newsrooms that come most naturally to him after decades of working in them himself. Prior to becoming a novelist, Belsky worked as a top editor at the New York Post, where he helped create the famous “Headless Body in Topless Bar” headline. He also later worked for the New York Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News.

“No matter what someone says, I don’t think anyone can legitimately say, ‘This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about,’” said Belsky, who writes his novels under the name R.G. Belsky.

His most recent series of books, published by Atria Books, centered around an ambitious investigative reporter who had to climb his way up from the bottom after making a serious error in judgment that ruined his reputation. And Belsky still has plans to return to the series. However, the story he had in mind for Yesterday’s News wouldn’t have worked with Malloy as the protagonist.

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When stores denied this disabled woman’s service dog, she sued

Cheryl Krist, pictured with her husband Joseph and her service dog Bocci in Stuyvesant Town last year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, Town & Village published an interview with Cheryl Krist, a Stuyvesant Town dog owner, who spoke about how her service pooch, Bocci, once saved her life. Krist, who walks with the aid of a cane due to a neurological condition that gives her tremors, had fallen backwards into a dip on the road after becoming started by a wild turkey. (This was in a rural road in Pennsylvania.) When Krist was unable to get back up, Bocci blocked his owner when a car came down the road, by standing up on his hind legs in front of her. Meanwhile, Krist also mentioned then as well as in prior interviews with this newspaper that she’s often had Bocci denied entry to neighborhood stores.

On Sunday, The Post published a story about two disabled New Yorkers who’ve filed lawsuits against various businesses over access issues, including Krist, who, according to the paper, has filed a total of seven.

Reached at home this week, Krist (who recently moved from Stuyvesant Town to Riverdale), declined to get into detail about specifics for the cases that are pending. One, however, she said she won last year against Gracefully. The store paid her a sum she said she isn’t allowed to discuss as well as a fine to the city. (A call to Gracefully wasn’t returned.) Another suit, against a local diner, she lost. But, according to Krist, there’s never a reason to deny her dog entry because Bocci wears a jacket that identifies him as a service dog.

“It saves a lot of questions,” she said.

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GOP-leaning candidate enters Council race

Melissa Jane Kronfeld says she’s a “progressive Conservative.”

Melissa Jane Kronfeld says she’s a “progressive Conservative.”

By Sabina Mollot

The race to replace term-limited City Council Member Dan Garodnick has a new candidate in the GOP-leaning Midtown East resident Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

Kronfeld, a former New York Post reporter, said she is not yet sure what party she’ll be running on, although one thing is for sure. It won’t be Democrat. The 34-year-old, a lifelong resident of the City Council District 4, which snakes its way from Stuyvesant Town to the East 90s, identifies as a “progressive Conservative.”

Asked what this means, Kronfeld, known to friends as “MJ,” said, “Being progressive and conservative are not mutually exclusive. Democrats didn’t copyright it. I checked.

“But,” she added, “we don’t bend so far to the left that it’s a free for all for everybody.”

This, she said, means support for immigrants. “There should be a process (to become legal) but I don’t want to send you anywhere because (your) parents didn’t fill out the proper paperwork,” Kronfeld said. “I’m not a conservative who will tell you don’t have the right to choose or that you don’t have the right to hold your husband’s hand if you’re a man.”

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