Solving Inequity

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 Dear Editor:

Jonathan Lazo was right to highlight the economic disparities on our peninsula in last week’s RT.  However, it is also necessary to acknowledge the good work many do to help their Rockaway neighbors. We should also challenge the policies that have held back some communities while others have seen their quality of life improve unrestrained.

Despite the needs of local residents, politicians continue to add large developments on our peninsula. These developments undermine homeowners who are struggling to create their American Dream in Arverne, Edgemere etc. They also exacerbate the challenges of infrastructure, education and healthcare that affect all. To Mr. Lazo’s point, these new residents have limited access to jobs. How can you break out of poverty without opportunity? I applaud efforts to create the QueensLink, which would provide better access to jobs. However, it’s important to realize that some of the elected officials in power today were instrumental in stopping this effort in years past.

The best opportunity we had for restoring the old LIRR tracks and enhancing subway service to Rockaway came in the 1990s. Back then, there were two competing projects, “Q-Rail” and what has become the JFK AirTrain. Q-Rail would have provided a single seat trip from JFK terminals to Manhattan via subway/LIRR tracks. It also would have significantly cut commuting times from Far Rockaway. AirTrain does not help our citizens at all. However, when push came to shove, local “representatives” supported the more expensive, union-backed AirTrain. Why? Because unions make campaign contributions and impoverished constituents don’t. In other words: Money talks, poor people walk. Literally.

As for sharing the bounty, I agree with Jonathan. Charity begins at home. There are plenty of folks in Rockaway who are hurting. When you consider the tremendous amount of food sent to local pantries, gifts at the holidays, and clothing year-round, it is clear that a great many people want to –and do–help their Rockaway neighbors. It’s not us versus them. Can we do more? Yes. Helping people who are hurting is always a good thing. Giving them the tools to escape poverty is an even better, longer-lasting solution.

Paul King

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