The Civic Scene: Drag racers regularly afflict Francis Lewis Boulevard

By Bob Harris

On April 8, 2004, a number of near-misses turned into a hit-and-run accident as two teenagers walking home from a movie were struck by a drag racer on Francis Lewis Boulevard opposite St. Francis Prep. One died.

Civic association leaders, the brothers who live above St. Francis Prep, local legislators and the DA all appeared at a press conference at the location. A speed indicator was set up so one could see how fast cars were driving. The police stopped drag racers. Tickets were issued and cars were confiscated.

Now five years later, the drag racing has led to another death. On Aug. 12, teenagers returning from a restaurant decided to drag race along Francis Lewis Boulevard. The car reached speeds of 70 mph, then one driver lost control of his car and it slammed into the other car and then a van parked on the street. A 12-year-old riding in the back seat of one of the cars received multiple broken bones, severe trauma and swelling of the brain, which led to his death.

To the east of this location is parkland but to the west and north are homes. People can hear the cars at night. Now and then my wife or I call 311 and complain. Three weeks after this death we heard cars racing around 2 a.m., so we called 311. If more people would call there would be a paper trail, which should spur action by the authorities.

I trust the police department and Queens DA and our local legislators will keep the media informed about what they are doing to make Francis Lewis Boulevard safer and when someone is punished for these illegal activities. Printing stories about punishments should discourage teens from doing these illegal activities, especially if the punishment is severe enough to make people notice the punishment and think about it.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Regretfully, stories about mainland China often tell how well China is doing ,which reflects on how poorly we are doing in some fields.

Recent stories in the New York Times have told how China is racing ahead of the United States in the solar energy field. China owns all its factories, which produce solar panels. It can cut the cost of manufacturing and assembling products. Its cost of wages is a fraction of what we pay our workers so it can sell solar panels cheaper.

We have provided money for economic development in the United States to battle the recession. How fast is this money being used to develop solar power, a goal of President Barack Obama? Are business leaders trying to stop our government from stimulating our businesses?

Another article tells how China is pouring money into its infrastructure, which is what we are doing with our stimulus money. Our infrastructure surpasses other Asian countries, but it needs upgrading now and then. China is the leading trade partner with Japan. China is reaching out to countries in Africa, South America and Asia to lock on to supplies of minerals, which are necessary to produce high-tech products. The United States has always done this through loans, selling weapons to governments, protecting U.S. businesses overseas, showing off our fleet of aircraft carriers and support vessels all over the world and honoring foreign leaders.

China has a population of 1 billion people who work long hours for less money than Americans are used to. The United Auto Workers realized our older auto manufacturers were saddled with expensive health care costs and work rules and higher pensions than Japanese and Korean manufacturers who did not have these expenses. China’s workers work so hard for so little they are used to so little and their dictatorship cuts off complaints.

We have to cut down on our consumption but not give up the quality-of-life gains we have made in the past century. Our schools have to encourage the brightest to reach their full potential and not have slower or disruptive students slow down learning. We have to stop watering down the curriculum and giving simpler tests to make us think all children can and are learning.

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