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Editorial: NY a democracy?

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At the writing of this editorial, polls show Sen. John McCain running neck and neck with Gov. George Bush in the New Hampshire presidential primary. Nevertheless, it is possible that McCain's name will not be on the ballot in March when the GOP hold its primary in New York state. Never before has it been so clear that the Republicans must rewrite the rules for getting on the primary ballot.

On Friday, a federal judge slammed the GOP for the manner in which it runs primary elections and ordered the party to reduce by 80 percent the number of signatures needed to register. He accused the party bosses of using the regulations as a means of making sure that the machine controls who will represent the party in the general election. The decision came just days before the Board of Elections was to send out absentee ballots.

Our concern here is not whether Bush or McCain or someone else gets the Republican nomination. As our readers know, we have made a point of not endorsing candidates. What worries us is the blatant attempt to manipulate the electoral process. Consider the lengths that the state Republican organization lawyers working for Party Chairman John Powers went to to invalidate the signatures collected by McCain supporters. Hundreds of signatures were thrown out because the people signing listed their village as their address rather than the township in which the village resides.

This is the same kind of hairsplitting and fine print legalism that have made a mockery of Democratic primaries in Queens County. Both parties have contributed to a widespread cynicism and the belief that the ordinary citizen has been locked out of the political process in New York City and state.

We have little confidence that Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, or Gov. Pataki will be willing to do anything to rectify this situation. However, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) has the integrity and the political power to move his party in the right direction. We urge Sen. Padavan to take the lead in taking the GOP out of the grip of political bosses and putting it back into the hands of the people.

Big brother vs. banks

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) is determined to pass legislation that will ban ATM fees at banks in New York City. He is joined in his crusade by Queens council members who are jumping on the bank-bashing bandwagon.

Councilman John Sabini compared the ATM fees to the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton. Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz declared, "This is not what the bank customers bargained for when the banks began installing ATM machines."

What are they talking about? Before the ATM machines, bank customers could only access their money during the few hours a day when the banks were open. Forget nights. Forget Sundays. Today, customers can access their accounts 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they can even move money from the comfort of their homes using telephones and personal computers. No one is entitled to such convenience. This is a service provided by banks that exist to make a profit.

Most banks do not charge their own customers for use of the ATM machines, but why shouldn't they be allowed to charge non-customers a modest fee for the convenience?

As long as the bank notifies the ATM user, we see no reason why it shouldn't be free to charge for the service. The forces of competition and the free market have created banking convenience that was unimaginable 20 years ago. We are more inclined to trust these forces than the City Council with its Big Brother mentality.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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