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These thugs have disgraced Colombia and they have made life even more difficult for the honest hardworking Latin American immigrants in Corona.
We congratulate the detectives that smashed this gang. In the few days that they have been locked up, burglaries in northeast Queens have already declined significantly. Capturing the gang was not easy. This was a sophisticated, well-planned operation. It took patience to bring the entire gang to justice and not to settle for a handful of easy arrests.
But we have to ask: where was the INS? Most, if not all, of the Codwise Gang members are in this country illegally. Many of them have already been arrested more than once. Why weren't they deported after their first brush with the law? We have taken a decidedly tolerant position on the issue of immigration, but we draw the line when it comes to illegal aliens who come to our country to commit crimes. Illegal aliens who get arrested and convicted for stealing, selling drugs or assault should face the certainty of criminal punishment followed by deportation.
These alleged thugs are accused of having done enormous damage. Had it acted more swiftly, the INS might have spared 300 families a great deal of suffering.
Better bus service
It now appears that the mayor will succeed in his goal of taking over the seven privately run bus lines in Queens. If the state Legislature approves the plan, the MTA will run all commuter bus service in the borough.
In order to determine whether or not this is a step in the right direction, bus riders need to ask themselves one question: are you satisfied with the quality of bus service in Queens? The answer is a resounding no. For years bus riders have complained about the quality of service. Advocacy groups such as the Straphangers agreed with the riders.
The system that the mayor wants so badly to replace had little incentive to respond to consumer dissatisfaction. The bus riders were a captive audience with little affordable alternative. They could take the bus or they could walk.
It isnt that the owners of the seven bus lines didnt try to provide a decent service. We are certain that they did. The system itself was not workable. The combination of private and public ownership left riders in the dark.
Under the current system, a bus ride costs only $1.50, compared with $2 on the city buses. However, riders had to pay an extra 50 cents for a transfer and couldnt take advantage of the special packages and discounts offered to other bus and subway riders in the city.
But most important, under the new system, the mayor will be held fully accountable for the quality of bus service in Queens. (Think of it, who do you blame now?) If your bus is falling apart, it will be the mayors problem. If the bus routes in your town dont make sense, it will be the mayors problem. If fares go up, it will be the mayors problem.
Although we are champions of free enterprise, there are some things that government does best. Public transportation is one of them. Furthermore there is reason to question whether the combination of private and public service in Queens ever represented free enterprise or whether, as some critics say, it was the result of corrupt political system.
The time is coming soon when commuters in Queens will enjoy the same service that the residents of the other boroughs take for granted.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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