In his first public appearance since announcing his run for state Senate, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) held a joint town hall meeting Monday with City Comptroller William Thompson in Woodhaven.
Residents complained about city Department of Buildings issues, raccoons invading their homes from nearby Forest Park and "human animals" living next door.
When confronted with a question about how the DOB could be more effective, Thompson said complaints about the agency are "the first or second issue brought up in Queens.
"The Department of Buildings has dropped the ball," Thompson said, noting that investigators from his office found that the agency said dangerous situations existed in some situations, but did not follow up to make sure the problems were solved.
"They don't respond quickly and efficiently," the comptroller said. "They just don't."
Addabbo, who announced over the weekend that he was running for state Sen. Serphin Maltese's (R-Glendale) seat, said the City Council signed legislation last year adding more inspectors to the agency, but the DOB hired incompetent workers.
He said a remodified version of the bill was introduced this year that would provide training for new building inspectors.
A Woodhaven resident who lives near Forest Park complained that baby raccoons were grazing in her backyard.
She said that when she called 311, she was eventually referred to a private trapper who charged $299 to set up a trap and another $99 to haul the trap if raccoons got caught in it. The ASPCA gives out free traps, she said, but she would have to bring the cage with the trapped raccoon to the organization herself.
The woman said she was concerned that the two raccoons she saw would multiply.
"I'm hoping it's not a brother and a sister because there's no taboos in Raccoonland," she said.
She asked if the city had "raccoon birth control to spread around Forest Park."
Addabbo said he has contacts with local exterminators who "sometimes do favors" for his office and urged anyone with an animal or pest control problem to call his staff.
A resident of 81st Street in Ozone Park asked for help about a different kind of problem.
"Everybody's talking about animals. I got human animals. I got a prostitute next door to me," he said.
He said a few girls and a man who were living at the house and wanted for murder were arrested, but have since moved back in.
The man also said there was a graffiti problem on his block, noting that he just paid $4,000 to have his car repainted.
Addabbo said the City Council is trying to have penalties increased for graffiti crimes.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2008 Community News Group
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