Dennis Holt of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote in an editorial Friday that he and his wife got a mailing from HPD, Diana Reyna and Gale Brewer, inviting him to one of the city’s bed bug seminars. And, since he has never seen a bed bug, though he has heard talk of them since being a child during World War II, he assumes they can’t be much of an issue. He admires the city for trying to tackle such a minor problem.
It might be considered ridiculous, but I have been pondering this attention being paid by the city on bedbugs … not to giggle at the thought … but to sort of admire that the arcane subject should reach the level of spending city resources.
Here, the mayor has launched an enormous undertaking to think about planning for the year 2030 with the staggering prediction that we will have one million more residents. And plans are for planting thousands of trees, reducing pollution, building more schools, getting cars off our streets, being 10 minutes from a playground or a park — an enormous number of things to do. And we have the time to think of bedbugs.
One could say, “Only in New York,” and that’s probably true. One can’t suspect that such a gathering would be held in Olathe, Kan., for example.
This could lead some cynics to complain that with all the “real” problems in New York, why spend time on a rather piddling subject? But most of the “real” problems are understood; it’s the solutions that seem to escape us.
For example, look how long it has taken this city to figure out how to create public toilets in places where crowds gather — a “problem” that hasn’t seemed to perplex other major cities — and we still don’t seem to have hit on a logical answer.
So maybe we should commit resources to something we might be able to master, like the forlorn bedbug, and let the think tanks concentrate on such things as improving commuter ferry service.
Perhaps Olathe, Kansas, is not holding any bed bug seminars, but Mr. Holt might be surprised to find that cities like Cincinnati and Lexington, Kentucky have concerns about bed bugs. Cincinnati is doing far more than New York to deal with the problem. And they’re right to do so. Bed bugs are a lot harder to “master” than Holt thinks.
And, sadly, bed bugs become less arcane every day, here in New York. If more isn’t done–yes, more even than hosting a few seminars on the topic–New York City in 2010, let alone 2030, is going to be a nightmare for many, many more people.
You can read the rest of Holt’s editorial here. And consider sending a letter to the editor, perhaps?