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Editorial: Strange bedfellows offer hope to seniors

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It is an unlikely trinity. A rapper, a minister and a Republican governor have come together to build badly needed housing for seniors in southeast Queens. A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week in Jamaica for the Allen Senior Residence that will provide affordable housing for 330 senior citizens.

The strange bedfellows that made this housing possible include Gov. George Pataki, rapper LL Cool J and the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressman and pastor of the Allen AME Church. The Allen Senior Residence will allow senior citizens, even those with disabilities, to live out the final years with dignity and independence.

The New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation has anteed up more than $22 million for the project. But the project would not have been possible without the skills of Rev. Flake, who has learned to navigate the tangles of bureaucracy on the local, state and federal levels. Although Flake has his critics, no one can deny that he has demonstrated the ability to get things done when others only talk.

For his part, the governor has shown that a Republican governor from upstate can be sensitive to the needs of people living in a minority neighborhood of southeast Queens. And LL Cool J has shown once again that despite his wealth and success, he has not forgotten his Queens roots.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning. The city needs to build more housing like the Allen Senior Residence to meet the rapidly growing need for senior housing. Sadly, to this day most seniors living in Queens are still forced to decide between living in houses that are not safe for the disabled or entering a nursing home. There are few options.

We believe that the partnership between the church and state can play a critical role in addressing the housing shortage in Queens, whether it’s through Nehemiah Housing for young families or the Allen Senior Residence for those entering their twilight years.

If there are some who are made nervous but such a coalition, we challenge them to come up with a better way to get the job done.

Editorial: Democracy rises

There are 93 candidates running for 14 city council seats in Queens. Some 100 Queens residents declared their intention to run, but several were unable to collect enough signatures to get their name on the ballot and others simply dropped out. Not surprisingly, most of the candidates are running in the Democratic primary.

The Queens Democratic Party bosses are not happy. Mike Reich, the executive secretary for the Democratic machine, explained to our reporter that there are too many candidates. “How can voters make a rational choice when they have to cut through all that gobbledygook?” he asks.

The real race is on now to disqualify the petitions of as many candidates as possible. So far 299 challenges to petitions have been raised. There are at least 35 reasons for challenging a petition, including illegible signatures. Getting past the petition hurdle is enormously difficult without the backing of the party machinery.

Still, we retain the hope that this fall will be the last hurrah for a political machine that has squeezed the life out of the democratic process in Queens. This is your election, not theirs.

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