The press is starting to appear about the hearing yesterday.
Prodded by rising complaints and pressure from some elected officials, activists and the media, the Bloomberg administration gave limited support Tuesday to launching a war on bedbugs.
Testifying at a City Council hearing, representatives of the health, housing and sanitation departments announced their support for Council legislation to establish a task force to study the city’s widening bedbug problem and recommend remedies.
Although it is true that some of the experts and departmental officials who testified rejected some or other of the bills or provisions (more on that in a later post), I am not sure how limited the support was. Among those who testified, support for the Bed Bug Task Force was unanimous, and I suspect this had a profound effect on the City Council Members.
Done properly, and quickly, and peopled with the right individuals, a bed bug task force can really make things happen.
City Room blog (NYTimes.com) quoted Gale Brewer, the City Council Member who has so long been trying to pass legislation on this issue that her City Hall peers call her “The Bed Bug Lady:”
Ms. Brewer is optimistic about the formation of a task force, though there is considerable debate over the specifics, such as the mattress legislation.
“I was glad that all the questions are all out there,” she said in an interview during the hearings. It is a multifaceted problem involving the city’s health department, public housing agencies, the Police Department (since prisons are infested), the Sanitation Department (since it involves disposal of furniture), and Department of Consumer Affairs. “You have to do it as a collaborative effort,” she said.
Those who have lived with the pests say it often takes multiple exterminations – and sometimes thousands of dollars – to get rid of them.
“I threw away everything,” said Sirajul Laskar, 42, of Jackson Heights, who added that 22 of the 52 apartments in his building have had bed bugs. “They sprayed three times and still bedbugs.”
Overall, I had a positive impression of the event. The City Council members took the testimony very seriously, and do seem to grasp the importance of the bed bug problem — especially the wonderful Council Member Robert Jackson, who himself lived with bed bugs as a child, and who mentioned having seen bed bugs recently, in New York city, in public places.
It’s nice to have someone on the City Council with this sort of first hand experience and awareness of the problem, though of course we don’t wish bed bugs on anyone.
I also want to say how grateful I am to everyone who testified, especially Renee Corea who represented New York vs. Bed Bugs, and a second of my fellow New York vs. Bed Bugs co-founders who represented herself in testimony, entomologists Lou Sorkin and Jody Gangloff-Kauffmann (both also Advisors to New York vs. Bed Bugs), Rick Cooper and Gil Bloom, and the many citizens who had battled bed bugs themselves and testified about their experiences. The witnesses did a wonderful job of conveying the problems of bed bugs, which are complex indeed.
I am also grateful to everyone who showed up to support the speakers and the cause.
I will be posting more of my impressions and notes later today…