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CB7 Tapes Reveal Complaints Swept Under Rug

by HOWARD GIRSKY Community activist Joyce Shephard dropped a taped bombshell at last week’s Community Board 7 meeting in Flushing leading to a probe of Board operations.
The tape, played at a packed meeting of the Board, purportedly showed that "telephone personnel" at the board merely complete complaint forms, file them and don’t follow up on complaints "because we don’t have time."
As a result of the revelation, two Community Board 7 staffers are reportedly facing disciplinary action. They are believed to be staff members who handle the majority of complaints received at the offices of the Board 7.
"The playing of the tape was not a case of Linda Tripp(ing)," Shepard said. "There are serious issues being ignored here."
Board President Adrian Joyce told The Queens Courier that "sometimes things fall between the cracks." He promised to set up an early staff meeting to find out why complaints aren’t being dealt with on a timely basis.
Joyce insisted, however, that in general the Board "does a fine job."
The Community Board meeting turned stormy when a group of residents pleaded for help with a series of flood-related incidents on 153 St. and 54 Ave. In one case, a young couple appealed for action after a sewer exploded and ruined furniture and caused a flood.
"The community has been inundated and there’s no help for them," Shepard said. "We have cases of living rooms cracking because of tractor trailer trucks being diverted through residential neighborhoods."
She said that some residents had been calling the Board for five months.
Shepard played a tape she had made earlier with a clerk at the board. It went as follows:
Shepard: What happens when a constituent calls CB 7 with a complaint?
Clerk: A form is sent to the appropriate agency. That form is then put in file.
Shepard: What’s the follow up procedure?
Clerk: Nothing. We don’t have time to follow up on all complaints. We get hundreds a day. So our complaints stay in a file.
Shepard: What if they call again?
Clerk: We make out another form and send it to the agency.
The taping was interrupted by board members who began yelling, "stop the tape…stop the tape."
"I had tears in my eyes after I was cut short," Shepard said. "Why do these complainants have to plead for help after we pay $250,000 of our tax dollars to support the community boards."
Shepard said she will ask for a meeting with Borough Hall officials to remedy the situation on Community Board 7.
She said she will seek a meeting with Assemblywoman Ann Carrozza, Borough President Claire Shulman and Melinda Katz, director of community boards.
"If that doesn’t prove effective," she said, "I will file a class action suit in behalf of those individuals who have been hurt by Board inaction."

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