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Editorial: Democracy on the ropes

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Just as democracy was about to rear its head in Queens, it was stomped to the ground last week by the Queens Democratic Party machine. City Councilman Walter McCaffrey announced last week that he was abandoning his challenge to Queens Congressman Joseph Crowley.

Crowley enjoys the support of party boss Tom Manton and his political machine. Manton reportedly has been boasting for more than a month that he has "the goods on McCaffrey." When he announced his resignation, McCaffrey cited "questions about my financial filings and difficulties in raising sufficient funds."

At issue is $50,000 in campaign funds that McCaffrey, who cannot drive, claims he used for car service. We do not know if McCaffrey has in fact used campaign funds inappropriately. What we do know is that Manton and his henchman have a stranglehold on democracy in Queens. The Republican Party, with a few notable exceptions, is virtually nonexistent here and Manton does his best to make sure that no one runs on the Democratic ticket in Queens without his blessing.

McCaffrey is one of the hardest working people in the City Council and he has served his district well. We were looking forward to his primary campaign against Crowley.

Our concern goes far beyond one political race. Next year voters in Queens will help to elect a new City Council thanks to term limits. Will voters really have the opportunity to choose from among a field of candidates or will Manton and his machine make all of the decisions for them? When will the registered Democrats in Queens cry "enough?" When will they throw Manton overboard? Only when this happens will democracy return to Queens.

Bashing the Boy Scouts

The Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee has asked Schools Chancellor Howard Levy to tell the Boy Scouts of America to take a hike. The committee maintains that allowing the scouts to "recruit" in public schools is a violation of the Board of Education's anti-discrimination policy.

The complaint follows a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the Boy Scouts of America have the right to bar openly gay men from becoming Boy Scout leaders. Because the scouts are a private organization, they are free to restrict leadership and membership to people who share the values of their organization.

Two things strike us about the QLGCP complaint. The first is that it is political in nature, designed to promote the gay political agenda. The second is that the people who filed the complaint don't care a rat's tushy about the thousands of children in New York City who benefit enormously each year from scouting.

Daniel Dromm, a teacher and the co-chair of the QLGCP, claims that the presence of the Boy Scouts in our public schools cultivates a "hostile environment" for gays. Nonsense. We have not heard even once of a Cub Scout or Boy Scout meeting where the children in attendance were encouraged to be intolerant of anyone. In fact, the Supreme Court case centered on a self-proclaimed gay man who was fighting for the right to be a Boy Scout leader. If, as Dromm claims, the Boy Scouts create a "hostile environment," why would this man want to be a part of the organization?

Should the atheists of Queens ask the schools to boot the scouts because a scout pledges to be loyal to God and country? If we carry their argument to extremes, the QLGC should be denied use of public facilities because this organization is inherently intolerant of a belief system held not only by the scouts, but also by hundreds of Christian, Jewish and Moslem congregations.

Those who would preach tolerance should also practice it.

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