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What Now?

TimesLedger Newspapers

After Election Day, members of Clergy United for Community Empowerment gathered for a breakfast at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, who was re-elected.

Expressing a feeling shared by many in attendance, the Rev. Henry Simmons, of the St. Albans Congregational Church, said, “Isn’t this a great day to be anywhere? Especially here. I’m elated about the president’s re-election .…”

The joy may be short-lived. The country remains divided. The Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives and, despite some softening of their positions, GOP leaders still oppose much of Obama’s agenda.

Simmons noted that black communities still face serious problems: “It’s important for us to remember that 26 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of African-American children still live in poverty.”

The challenge for Meeks is to reach across the aisle to find a way to compromise that will serve the best interests of all. The House and U.S. Senate must agree on a way to keep America from going over the fiscal cliff at midnight Dec. 31. Meeks and his fellow legislators have one month to get this done before more jobs and homes are lost.

Congress must work with the president to create jobs, especially in the inner city.

Americans are tired of partisan bickering.

Just Say No

At the only hearing in Queens on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposal to raise fares, most of the chairs were empty and only a few people spoke. The MTA should not assume that riders are happy with fare increases.

Most riders think the hearings are a show. Few if any are happy with the plan to boost fares no matter which proposed scheme is used.

One of the people who spoke hit the nail on the head again.

Jason Chin-Fatt, of the Straphangers Campaign, blasted the MTA for hiking fares four times in five years. He called on Albany and the city to pump more money into the authority.

Chin-Fatt said 53 percent of the MTA’s operating costs are covered by fares. That’s the highest percentage in the nation.

The state needs to encourage commuters to rely on mass transit. It won’t do that by raising fares again.

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