GO TO THE BACK OF THE BUS,WHAT BUS?,By Louise Annarino,July 15, 2012

15 Jul

GO TO THE BACK OF THE BUS, WHAT BUS?, By Louise Annarino, July 15,2012


“The racial diversity among Democrats and the lack of it among Republicans means that the two bases bring differing concerns to the national debate.”

Charles blow, Not Afraid To Talk About Race, NYT, Opinion, 6-7-2012,  http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/07/not-afraid-to-talk-about-race/?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120607


But, do we really have different concerns as Americans? Everyone wants a stable and decent job; one which pays enough to provide safe housing, safe food supply, generous health care, sound education, affordable transportation, and reliable retirement income.  Just the basics, but unpredictable for the racially-diverse urban poor, and the more-segregated homogeneous rural poor. Demographic studies and census data indicate that the gap between the availability of basic necessities for the top 2% and the rest of us is ever-widening. The issue of race as part of our analysis of how we can turn this situation on its head is clearest in considering the needs of the the multi-racial urban cores of our cities.

Some cities such as Columbus, Ohio are making come-backs while others like Detroit are decaying from within. But even in Columbus, Ohio,those areas where racial diversity is strongest, the improvements are weakest. Of course mayors are hampered by governors who turn away federal dollars meant to address the needs of the urban core as well as the rest of the state.

No where is this more apparent than in the refusal of federal transportation dollars to build interurban rail service, high speed rail, and slow rail between key cities within a state. One of the reasons unemployment is so much higher in urban cores where minorities live is that white flight to the suburbs for housing was also white flight of jobs to the suburbs. Companies moved their headquarters and manufacturing plants to the outskirts of cities. Malls and shopping areas closed in the urban core to move to suburban malls, and more jobs were lost. Even major union halls moved outside the city core. Lack of public transportation made it more likely organizations would move out of the urban core to facilitate parking. But, many of our urban poor lack automobiles and are, therefore, left out of a city’s forward commerce. They simply are denied any opportunity to turn things around themselves. If they can’t get to an interview to get a job, then get to a job to earn money, they have no way to change the game. Apartments  built outside the city core seldom have sidewalks, and are in areas not designed for walking or biking as a means of transportation. And these areas still lack substantial bus service, and no rail service.

In Columbus, bus service is limited for those seeking jobs outside the urban core. There is little to no bus service from downtown to the outlying malls, business and plants. Minorities are trapped jobless within the city core. A plan to connect the downtown with outlying areas by rail with federal transportation dollars was scrapped when Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) returned federal grant made to Ohio. In the latest transportation bill  the deficit argument was used to eliminate and cut funds for public transportation projects, bike trails etc. There is little understanding of the transportation needs of voters in our city core.

Thus, our attitude toward our racially diverse urban populations affects our transportation decisions. We are willing to spend tax dollars to maintain the status quo for those who fled the cities, abandoning our fellow citizens to second class status. Mainly white Republican voters agree with racially diverse Democratic voters that America needs a strong transportation system. The difference is that Republicans don’t notice that their tax and spend policies ignore the needs of so many fellow citizens in our  urban cores. They fled for the same reason they refuse to fund the urban core’s survival. As President Obama says, “We can do better than this.”


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