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Editorial: Boycott election

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The party gods have spoken. On Feb. 24 Queens Democratic Party Boss Tom Manton met with the boys in the backroom of party headquarters in Forest Hills to select the candidate who represents the party in the special election for the 10th Senatorial District. When they emerged, the 16 Democratic district leaders held a brief public meeting in the course of which Malcom Smith was named to fill the seat vacated by Alton Waldon.

A special election will be held on March 28. Yawn. This is what passes for democracy in Queens.

Moments after his virtual coronation, Smith said, "My campaign is now off and running." Can you feel the excitement in the air? What campaign? The only opposition that he will face will come from former Assemblywoman Cynthia Jenkins, who is running on the Independence Party line. Smith could sleep from now until Election Day and still win by a landslide.

Once again we are reminded that in Queens the "D" in Democratic Party has nothing to do with democracy. The formula for elections proceeds like clockwork. Tom Manton and the good old boys meet in the backroom to name a candidate. A candidate who tries to force a primary battle for a given seat risks the wrath of the party's legal team, which specializes in challenging the nominating petitions. Few survive the costly legal process.

Since Republicans are outnumbered 10-1, the general election is over before it begins. In many cases, the GOP doesn't even run a candidate. As a voter, you have been disenfranchised by a machine that exists not to serve the public but to dole out patronage.

By showing up to vote on March 28, you become an unwitting accessory to this fraud. This election offers voters the opportunity to make a powerful statement by not voting. The time has come for the people of southeast Queens to dump Tom Manton and the bosses who have done everything in their power to strangle the democratic process.

Vote for a future free from political bossism by not voting on March 28.

Cemetery of shame

The city now believes that as many as 1,000 bodies may be buried beneath the playground at Martin's Field in Flushing. In a speech given at the Flushing Library, local activist Mandingo Tshaka said the playground located at 164th Street and 46th Avenue was a burial ground for blacks an other poor people in the 19th century.

An archeologist hired by the city Parks Department, relying on radar and archives, confirmed that the site was once a burial ground. Records show that in 1919 the property was given to the Parks Department. We are reminded that there was a time in New York City when the lives of the black and the poor meant very little to city administrators.

The question now is what to with Martins Fields that will respect the memory of the unknown hundreds buried there. Mr. Tshaka would have the entire area fenced off as a memorial ground. The families who live nearby prefer a compromise in which the bodies would be moved to one end of the area where a memorial could be created. They say that their children should not be denied a place to play based on a decision made generations before they were born.

If Martins field becomes a cemetery once more, who will care for it? Who will come on a regular basis to honor the memories of the unknown buried there? Under the compromise solution, the grounds would be forever cared for by the Parks Department. Rather than feeling resentment because their children are deprived of a place to play, the families that use this park would be reminded of an important, albeit shameful, part of New York's history.

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