The Alleged “Cure” Is Worse Than The Disease: Why NYC Ought to Stop Spraying Toxic Pesticides — Central Park/Upper West Side to Be Sprayed Early Friday Morning

Updated

Should we be killing lady bugs?

My first foray into grassroots activism in New York City was in year 2000 when I first became aware of the mass pesticide spraying being conducted to allegedly stop the spread of West Nile virus. I read an article in the New York Times about the effects this spraying would have on the ecosystem, down to the smallest insects. I later learned about the problems the pesticide had on human health but honestly it was the wildlife and the insects that first got my attention and my concern. I went to a meeting and immediately became involved in the No Spray Coalition and, for the last 12 years I have been involved, through our lawsuit against the City of New York, media work, organizing, and on-the-ground activism.

Year 2000: Pesticide spraying of pregnant women and kids on streets of Harlem – video shown in federal court and all news channels

Via the No Spray Coalition’s attempt to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) to STOP the spraying in 2000, that year in federal court, our lawyers showed footage (shot by two volunteers who followed the trucks) of one of the spray trucks careening through Harlem with its toxic brew covering kids, a pregnant woman, people walking out on the street with no warning. That evening, this footage and news of the law suit was shown on every New York City news channel.

The spraying has gone on year after year since then, it gets less attention each year, and less media coverage – that does not mean that it is less problematic. Members of the No Spray Coalition, including myself, met with the City’s Department of Health in January of this year, the final one of two meetings that they agreed to, mandated by the court. This was a result of the settlement of our lawsuit in which the City made some concessions to the health effects of pesticides. You’d never know it from the way the spray program is continuing this summer.

Manhattan has not been sprayed in years; in recent years, the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens get the brunt of it.

In the wee hours of the morning, Friday, August 31st, trucks will be blanketing the Upper West Side of Manhattan from 58th Street to 97th Street, West End Avenue to West Drive – including parts of Central Park – from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The pesticide the city is using Anvil 10+10 is comprised of sumithrin and piperonyl butoxide, the former is a suspected neurotoxicant and hormone disrupter; the latter a suspected carcinogen.

Local Law 37 passed by the City Council in 2005 – advocating the city’s use of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) first – Is this how it was supposed to be implemented?

In 2005, the City Council passed Local Law 37 which was supposed to incorporate IPM (Integrated Pest Management) into the city system. With the West Nile Virus spraying, the Department of Health grants itself an “emergency” exemption every year for every occurrence and the person who grants the exemption to the Vector Control office of the Department of Health is the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Health. So there’s basically no real oversight of how this is handled.

I’ve been told the The Department of Health cut their budget for larvaciding this year – larvaciding is a preventative measure and the CDC says the most effective one.

I called the Department of Health press office and asked some questions that went beyond the information that was in the press release:  FOUR mosquito pools had “infected” (West Nile virus) mosquitoes in Manhattan? Where were those pools? Is a mosquito pool the same as a trap? What is the criteria for spraying? — It was fairly clear that no one from the press is asking these detailed questions because the answers to those questions were not quite so rehearsed as the others, if they were answered at all.

You have a greater chance of getting hit by lightning than getting West Nile Virus

2600 people die each year in New York City from the flu – the question of whether West Nile Virus is a credible “health threat” looms large. Most who get it won’t even know they have it. Yes, for some people, they may have more severe symptoms but that is not a reason to be exposing EVERY PERSON across countless blocks to these toxic pesticides which weaken our immune systems and make someone who might be susceptible to West Nile virus more so.

Anvil 10 + 10 – Pyrethroid Pesticide

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10″ — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory — as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”)

Spraying in Parks = Bad Idea (Again, Should We be Killing Lady Bugs?)

Spraying increases the mosquito population and kills the mosquitoes’ natural predators including dragonflies, bats, frogs and birds.

Spraying parks is particularly horrifying because there is a natural balance there and it harms many of the living beings that inhabit the park, as well as, again, the mosquito natural predators. Some years ago, when I was handing out flyers at Prospect Park before another round of pesticide spraying, a woman told me she walked through the park the morning after it had been sprayed and encountered endless numbers of ladybugs on the ground dying. Should we be killing ladybugs? I don’t think so.

Another resource on the pesticide being used.

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** When I first read the Department of Health press release I thought this round of pesticide spraying was taking place TOMORROW morning not later tonight (Thursday) into Friday morning 8/31. A small clarification, instead of writing “Friday morning August 31 between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.,” stating “EARLY Friday morning” would have made a world of difference. I am sure there are people who made the same assumption and do not realize their Upper West Side neighborhood will be pesticide sprayed imminently. **

Chichi, Sweet Male Tabby Cat & Staff “Favorite,” Still Hanging on at Manhattan ACC Shelter Needs Some Help — (Now)

Chichi!

I wrote last week about Chichi, a 7 year old male cat who desperately needs a home. This sweet tabby is at the Manhattan ACC (Animal Care & Control) after being sadly relinquished by his family. Well, even more wonderful information has been discovered about him! I updated Chichi’s info here. Can you give this guy, a “gentle giant” and shelter “favorite” who “stole” one volunteer’s heart, a new chance at life?

Adopt Chichi ! visit Pet Harbor here.

Next Up for NYU Expansion “2031” —

Next steps on NYU 2031 (yes, Borough President Scott Stringer announced today a modest reduction in the plan which means little) —

From Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation:

Come to the City Planning Commission public hearing on the NYU plan Wednesday, April 25th at 10 am at the Museum of the American Indian, at 1 Bowling Green (Broadway at Battery Place/State Street near Battery Park; 4/5 to Bowling Green or N/R to Whitehall Street)

More in the news:

Capital NY: Faculty Steps up Opposition (Extensive piece.)

Washington Square News: University curtails expansion plans in Village
(From NYU’s daily student newspaper. Title is misleading but they included good and informative quotes from those in ‘opposition’ to the plan.)

Three (or Four) Red-Tailed Hawks Have Turned Up Dead in NYC Parks This Year

Via WPIX11Hawks Turning Up Dead in Manhattan Parks:

Several red-tailed hawks have been found dead in and around parks in Manhattan over the past two months. Two hawks were discovered in different sections of Central Park, and one in Riverside Park, according to Parks Department officials. All three were sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s pathology lab to determine the cause of their deaths.

“That to me is absolutely overwhelming,” said bird lover Virginia Arrea, who goes to Washington Square Park twice a day to look for a hawk she’s spotted there on a number of occasions.

I love to see the majesty of the bird in the middle of New York City,” Arrea said.

Other recent deaths include Lima, the mate of celebrity hawk Pale Male. Two more dead hawks were found, one near Columbus Circle, and another near Peter Cooper Village on the Lower East Side.

Experts suspect the hawks may have consumed poison indirectly by eating sick rodents or pigeons which they might find outside the parks.

We value our wildlife and work diligently to create the necessary balance between public health and safety, and wildlife health and safety,” said Parks’ First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “Out of concern for the resident red-tailed hawks in Central and Riverside Park, poisoned bait is not currently used.

Here is the story from the NY Times when Pale Male’s (latest) mate, Lima, was found dead in late February.

Then there was this dramatic aspect to it when Lincoln Karim from the Pale Male Blog was arrested for possession of Lima’s body.

He was concerned that the body would not be tested accurately by governmental agencies to reveal the true source of her death.

NY Daily News reports on three but also mentions there’s a fourth: Three (Perhaps Four) Hawks Dead from NYC Parks March 9, 2012

Related at this blog:

* Parks Department says Rodenticide Removed at Washington Square; On Rethinking Use of Poison in Our Parks, May 7, 2011

Community Board 2 Letter to Parks Commissioner: Parks Department Rules at Washington Square “Overly Restrictive and Unnecessary”

At its recent full board meeting, Community Board 2 passed a resolution opposing the city Parks Department’s rules that instigated the recent performance crackdown at WSP. The letter below – which the entire board signed on to – was sent to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe on January 20th.

According to CB 2 Chair Brad Hoylman and District Manager Bob Gormley, no response from the Parks Commissioner has been received as of yet.

January 20, 2012

Adrian Benepe, Commissioner
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
The Arsenal/Central Park
830 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10021

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

At its Full Board Committee meeting on January 19, 2012, Community Board #2, Manhattan
adopted the following resolution:

A Resolution Opposing Enforcement Restricting Performances in Washington Square Park.
Whereas

1. Parks Enforcement has recently issued summonses to musicians and other performers in Washington Square Park; and
2. this new restrictive policy was initiated without discussion with CB2 or prior notice to
performers; and
3. the policy is contrary to park traditions and to promises made by Parks during the design period for reconstruction of the park; and

Whereas the summonses stifled activities that are popular among many park users and
community residents and were harmful to the artists; and
4. Community Board 2 had not received complaints regarding performances in the park; and
5. the summonses were issued as enforcement of new park rules pertaining to sales of expressive materials and other charges such as blocking paths and view of monuments;
and
6. when these rules were presented to Community Board 2 last year there was no mention of their potential use with regard to performers; and
7. CB2 passed a resolution against these rules as overly restrictive and unnecessary; and
8. in Washington Square, the required distances from monuments and benches, clearances on paths, and restrictions on lawns, appear to leave no legal locations for performances for sale of expressive materials; and
9. CB2 believes the application of the rules to performers are inappropriate in that performers are not vendors because anyone is free to watch the performances whether they contribute or not, and
10. 25 performers, park users, and residents spoke at a public Speak Out organized by CB2 in support of the performers; and

Therefore it is resolved that

1. CB2 expresses its consternation regarding the issuance of summonses to performers and
requests that all summonses that have been issued be dismissed;
and
2. CB2 requests a statement of Parks policy regarding future enforcement initiatives or any other restrictions related to performers or other expressive activities in CB2 be referred to CB2 prior to their enactment ; and
3. CB2 requests reconsideration and replacement of current rules pertaining to artists
selling their works and other expressive activities in Parks; and
4. CB2 requests the use of great care in the formulation of any rules, policies, and enforcement initiatives regulating First Amendment rights in Parks, with the broadest possible public discussion to assure that such regulation does not exceed what is required to provide for safe enjoyment of the parks.

Vote: Unanimous, with 39 Board members in favor.

Please advise us of any decision or action taken in response to this resolution.

Sincerely,
Brad Hoylman, Chair, Community Board #2, Manhattan
Tobi Bergman, Chair, Parks, Recreation & Open Space Committee Community Board #2, Manhattan
BH/gh

c: Hon. Jerrold L. Nadler, Congressman
Hon. Thomas K. Duane, NY State Senator
Hon. Daniel L. Squadron, NY State Senator
Hon. Sheldon Silver, Assembly Speaker
Hon. Deborah J. Glick, Assembly Member
Hon. Christine C. Quinn, Council Speaker
Hon. Margaret Chin, Council Member
Hon. Rosie Mendez, Council Member
Jessica Silver, Man. Borough President’s office
Pauline Yu, CAU
William T. Castro, Man. Boro. Commissioner, DPR

Jinx at Manhattan Animal Care & Control Shelter Needs Home ASAP

Jinx Needs Home

From Animal Care & Control Volunteer:  Jinx – super sweet 2yr old cat DECLAWED front paws. Hard to take a pic of him he loves to be petted!  Neutered male, black Bombay mix.

About Jinx: The shelter staff think I am about 2 years old. I weigh 10 pounds. May be FeLV positive. Found in NY 10461. I have been at the shelter since Jun 14, 2011.

JINX – ID#A900436   http://www.petharbor.com/pet.asp?uaid=NWYK.A900436

What a sweetie! Not on Death Row YET but will be soon. See more here on Facebook.

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The ACC is the city’s shelter system. I’ve written about it here before. Tho’ it is a quasi non-profit, its small Board of Directors is comprised mainly of heads of NYC governmental agencies. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe is on the Board of Directors; it is overseen by the NYC Department of Health.

This is the latest: A list of demands for ACC shelter reform from activists (it would be about time):

This declaration is addressed to Julie Bank, Executive Director of the NY ACC, Mayor Bloomberg, the entire City Council and the Department of Health:

We Will No Longer Tolerate the Slaughter of Innocent Defenseless Dogs & Cats in the City of New York. We Declare That Tax Dollars Must Be Allocated For:

1) Free Spay Neuter for Dogs & Cats for Citizens of NYC

2) Superior Veterinary Care Given to All Animals at the NYACC

3) **No** Animal is Killed Unless Terminally Ill

4) Behavior and Training Specialists Rehab For All Dogs & Cats

5) Solid and Continuous Volunteer & Adoption Program Staff

6) Immediate Queens and Bronx Shelters in High Visibility Locations

7) A Better Communications Center for Adoptions So Animals are Not KILLED Because of Mistakes in Phone Calls and Messages.

8 ) Demand From The NYC Housing Authority the Rescission of the Weight Limit in Public Housing

Update on Nino, now Nico, “Animal Spotlight” from Last Week

Nino Last Week

Last week, I posted an “Animal Spotlight” about gorgeous Nino who was abandoned at the Manhattan ACC (Animal Care & Control) hi-kill shelter by his previous owners/guardians and needed a new home – quickly. The clock was ticking and he would be out of time soon if not adopted. Luckily, Zani’s Furry Friends Pet Rescue “pulled” him from the ACC and is looking to find him a forever home. So, now, look at the difference.

Nino, now called Nico:

Update 5/23: Nino is now Nico! See Nico’s Petfinder page. (A good photo is so important.) Nico is about five years old, his front paws are de-clawed, and he has lived around both cats and dogs.

You can arrange to meet Nico and fill out an application for him at Zani’s Furry Friends Pet Rescue. Also, consider donating to assist them in helping more animals. Thank you!

So many animals from the ACC need and deserve homes. Please read my other posts for background info and consider adopting.

Manhattan Community Board 8 Asserts Itself: Expresses “Outrage” Over Parks Department Installation of Mobile Food Carts at Tavern on the Green space; Behind-the-Scenes Deal

From the list serve , “1000+ Friends,” that keeps many of us informed on Parks/Parks Department issues, news that Manhattan Community Board 8 — blindsided by NYC Parks Department actions which kept them in the dark, and, in fact, misinformed them on what would be coming to the former Tavern on The Green space — issued a resolution expressing their “outrage” over the decision to place mobile food trucks in the Central Park space, contrary to what was previously presented as their plans.

Just a note that Community Board 2’s Parks Committee often hides behind the oft quoted statement “community boards are just advisory,” but, of course, the body can always issue resolutions which are submitted to the City Council and the media to raise awareness of issues like this one.

And certainly more than a few issues were raised at the last Parks Committee meeting earlier this month in relation to Washington Square Park – but more on that another day.

From 1000+ Friends:

WHERE’S my CRYSTAL CHANDELIER?

Fans of the old time gaudy excess at the Tavern On the Green are definitely not happy with what’s been happening at there lately. In fact, they’ve resolved to oppose it — or at least look for some more facts amid the lack of fancy.

Witness the following resolution was passed by Manhattan Community Board 8 at its last full Board meeting:

RESOLUTION: WHEREAS the Parks Dept. failed to inform Community Board 8 about the renovations to the Tavern on the Green site, which is a landmarked structure in a landmarked park; and

WHEREAS the Parks Dept., without any consultation to the Community Board 8, awarded contracts to food vendors who will sell cooked food from unattractive and potentially polluting trucks at the Tavern on the Green site, in contrast to plans presented to Community Board 8 for vending via specialty carts; and

WHEREAS the Parks Dept. ignored Community Board 8’s July 2010 resolution asking the Department to (more…)

Community Board 2 Washington Sq Park Task Force Meets Thurs. July 17th

After a long hiatus, Community Board 2’s Washington Square Park Task Force meets this coming Thursday, July 17th, at 6:30 p.m. NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 520 (ID Required). I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that it’s being held in an NYU Building (although it would be more reassuring if it was in a different location).

This is the agenda, as posted on Community Board 2’s web site:

1. Status report on phase 1 construction.
2. Status report on phase 2 planning and design, including initial report on dog run design.
3. Status report on comfort station and maintenance building planning.

4. Design of playgrounds including “mounds” area.

When I encountered Council Member Alan Gerson at the City Council Parks Department Budget Hearing in May, he alerted me that the Task Force could weigh in on the pathways and design elements (planters, benches, etc.) which are clearly already underway at the Park. And not just the playgrounds and the “mounds.” (I would call Council Member Gerson’s office to clarify this but, as his office does not return my phone calls, I have no way of getting his take on this.)

Is that not so? None of the items on this agenda seem to have any empowering aspects to them or any regulation over the look or design of the park. (For those who have been entrenched in this issue for the long haul, I realize that may sound naive.) It’s not the playgrounds that are going to change the entire character of the Park.

What do we want this Task Force to be doing? What should the Community Improvement District be asking for? The Community Board has a tendency to shirk back and then attribute this to their “advisory” status (which is also used as an excuse for not taking stronger positions), now it’s time for them to step forward.