The reader known as Wantmyskinback has an update on what’s happening vis a vis the NYC bed bug situation, via his/her city council member’s office. The NY City Council Hearing on Bed Bugs was back in September 2006, and there has been no report of a follow-up in the media since then. (NYTimes subscribers and others with access to old NYT articles can click here to read the original NYT report on that meeting.)
At the end of December, when I first began communicating with the Bedbugger Yahoo support group, and also reading the Bedbugger Blog, I was struck by two things. 1. the wealth of excellent information being brought to me and 2. the lack of attentiveness to this problem by my city. Many of us were/are asking, “where is Bloomberg? where is the government? what happened after the september meeting with council member Brewer and the Bed Bug Task Force? ” I wanted to know these answers too. So, I asked.
I went on the NYC.Gov link, and looked up City Council, and found my district council member who’s email address was prominently displayed. I wrote an email, anonymously from this email account (which isn’t my real one, obviously), describing my situation in detail. Within a few days I received a thoughtful and courteous response from the assistant to the council member who was assigned to follow up with me. She said in her email, that the Bed Bug Task Force from last September was still being forumed and that she would “investigate the scope of the current legislation and see if we can work on the prevention aspects (do more than just ban the sale of used mattresses). ”
My continued communications with her have led her to the Bedbugger Blog website, to the NYTimes article written by Bonnie Friedman, and then, to my delighted surprise, I recieved this reply from her saying:
I just spoke with CM Brewer’s office and they have begun having focus group meetings regarding the legislation they proposed. While the legislation is still in Committee, the focus group consists of several agencies, including Dept of Health, Dept of Consumer Affairs, and Dept of Sanitation; as well as a representative from the Mayor’s Office. The main focus of this group at this time is the formulation of an education campaign.
I suggested they invite a PCO to this focus group and a victim of bed bugs.
I immediately got on the phone with her, and exposed who I was to her (the undue shame associated with Bed Bugs as Bugalina put it is probably what stops alot of us from reporting our cases publicly). She was surprised, she told me, that only two people from my district contacted them during the month of January. That is appalling! I happen to know from my PCO that my district is literally “crawling” with bed bugs! She also spoke to me about NYCHA, which is the Housing Authority which has a bed bug office, and helps people in housing.
I personally urge all of you to contact your political representatives, whether you are in, or elsewhere. Otherwise they do not know how many constituants in their districts are suffering. Please write your council members. Please use your government to make things happen. The only way we can get the information and to get things done is to SPEAK UP. It was quite easy to reach them via email (they have phones too), and they ARE interested in what we have to say. Unfortunately, takes longer than other cities to get on it, but once we voice ourselves, they may move faster!
Notes from Nobugsonme:
Many thanks to Wantmyskinback for the update and for the reminder that we need to keep contacting government officials who may remain unaware of the scope of this problem, and who generally don’t take action unless their constituents tell them to. Use your name, tell them you’re a voter, and describe the toll bed bugs have taken on your life. You do not have to be the best writer in the world, you just have to take a minute and send an email or a note. If you want to point out information in the media, like the article by Bonnie Friedman, October’s major article in the NY Times, an article in your local paper (if you’re not in NYC), or a link to http://bedbugger.com, then it might help them begin to see what all the fuss is about.
Don’t forget to alert national government representatives too. US citizens can find and correspond with state senators here. (Click the wee “Find your senators” drop down menu at the top right of the screen. “Write your congress” by using the zip code searching tool on the left of this screen.
If you are not in NYC–please comment below with a link to your Chicago alderman (is it alderperson, now, Jess?) or other local government.
I can’t include local governments around the world, but if you have the tech skills to find us, you can find them by googling–most are online. Let your city and regional government know you need help with bed bugs. There is more that can be done–legislation, and perhaps even funding for better treatment of this quickly spreading problem. If you live in a country that did not see bed bugs much for 30 years, don’t take this lying down. (Sorry, I am entitled to one pun per day.) Insist politicians do anything they can to help us get good, safe, quick treatments, and necessary research.
And while you’re at it, state and US senators, Canadian, British and Australian MPs, and so on. This is not just a blog for US Bedbuggers. We get lots of readers daily from Australia, NZ, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Columbia, France, and around the world. Tell us how you get in touch with your government officials (local, regional, national), and I’ll add the links to a FAQ on activism.
If any local politicians (NYC or anywhere) are reading this (and come on folks, we all google ourselves, don’t we?) please leave a comment below. We’d love to know that you care about us, voting citizens with bed bugs.