Bravo to Christopher Evans, for his editorial responding to this piece of [bed bug fecal matter] entitled “EPA Hands Out $1M in ‘Environmental Justice’ Grants,” (broadcast on Fox News on 1/6/12) where Neil Cavuto and Chris Horner rant about the use of tax dollars for “environmental justice” projects.
Among Cavuto’s concerns is the EPA’s $25,000 grant awarded to “Cleveland Tenants Org. Cleveland OH. Educating Landlords, Tenants About Safer Bed Bug Control Options.”
Interestingly, and surely for effect, I note that Cavuto omitted the word “Small” from “Environmental Justice Grants” — the CTO actually received one of the EPA’s “Environmental Justice Small Grants” [emphasis added].
But including the full title of the grant program would perhaps have included too much factual information and detracted from Cavuto’s and Horner’s opportunity to rail against out-of-control “social justice” spending.
The EPA’s list of recipients of the FY2011 Environmental Justice Small Grants (PDF) lists this award as follows:
Cleveland Tenants Organization seeks to address the prevention and treatment of area bed bug infestations. Cleveland Tenants Organization’s goal is to reduce the misuse of pesticides by tenants and landlords when treating bed bug infestations. The project will educate landlord and tenant populations in Cleveland, Ohio about safer and more effective bed bug control options This project will train outreach staff to work with landlord-tenant populations in addressing prevention and treatment issues surrounding bed bug infestations and educate landlords, property managers and tenants in subsidized multi unit family housing about the prevention of bed bug infestations and pest management methods to more safely control and treat bed bug populations in rental housing units.
We can only assume the Cleveland Tenants Organization was responding to citizens’ (presumbly including taxpaying tenants’ and landlords’) needs when requesting this grant.
And Evans writes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer,
I called Mike Piepsny, executive director of the tenants organization, to find out more about the bedbug conspiracy."Look," Piepsny said. "There’s a huge bedbug problem. All these low-income people are afraid to tell their landlord, because landlords are evicting tenants when they have bedbugs. We get 100, 200 calls a month."The $25,000 was spent on information to educate tenants and property owners about how to prevent bedbug infestations. Piepsny denied preaching the gospel of oppression and victimization.
Yes, indeed, Cleveland has a significant bed bug problem.
According to this Plain Dealer article from Jan. 2011, some Cleveland landlords report as many as 50% of their units have bed bugs.
Landlords in Cleveland may pass the cost of bed bug treatment on to tenants, which always means many tenants won’t report them. Some landlords and tenants may self-treat in ways which are dangerous to humans and property or which may spread bed bugs further. (There have been a number of high profile cases from Ohio of people burning their homes down or harming themselves while trying to treat for bed bugs.)
Preventing the misuse of pesticides and helping people save money for themselves (and others who might have otherwise become infested if the problem spreads) seems like a good use of money to me.
As I’ve always said, when it comes to bed bugs, no man is an island. If people in your community (broadly defined) have bed bugs, you can catch them too. It’s to the benefit of everyone, including Neil Cavuto and Chris Horner, if low-income tenants and their landlords (often also not rich folks) are able to get rid of bed bugs.
You’d think Fox would be a bit more sympathetic, since Fox News New York reportedly battled bed bugs extensively from 2007-2008, and the building Fox inhabits was dealing with them again in 2010.