Bellone, Schaffer deny rift

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Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone has given county Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer the silent treatment for more than a month, party and county sources said. They haven't spoken since the election of Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) as presiding officer, the sources said, with Bellone -- miffed because he wanted Legis. Louis D'Amaro (D-North Babylon) to get the post -- blaming Schaffer for "not using his political capital," as one said, to make it happen.

Some sources say Bellone wants to oust Schaffer, county leader since 2000, whose term ends in September, to install Babylon party chairman Robert Stricoff. Bellone aide Jon Schneider denied any rift; Schaffer said he and Bellone are "on the same page," adding: "Most of the time, political leaders get accused of talking too much to elected officials." -- Rick Brand

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