Dial 311 for mayoral threats

Astoria’s Margaret Ionescu, 82, was visited by police last week after she called the city’s 311 help line and said she would march to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s house to complain about repairs she wanted for her co−op. Photo by Nathan Duke
By Nathan Duke

An 82−year−old Romanian immigrant from Astoria received a surprise visit from police last week after she called the city’s 311 help line and threatened to turn up on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s doorstep to complain about repairs she wanted to her apartment.

Margaret Ionescu, who has lived in a co−op at a building on 29th Street in Astoria for 34 years, said she had made 22 complaints to 311 about damages to her apartment, including a broken door, a cabinet in need of repair and a water−stained ceiling. But she had not gotten any responses to her complaints, she said.

Last Thursday, Ionescu told 311 operators that she wanted to speak to the mayor about her problems and, after being told that she would not be able to meet with Bloomberg, she said she would show up at his Upper East Side home. Two police detectives appeared later that day, but found that Ionescu, who uses a walker to move around, did not pose a threat.

“I called 311, but I heard nothing,” said Ionescu, who speaks in broken English. “I made complaints, but they did not fix anything. What is their responsibility?”

She said 311 operators continually hung up on her because they could not understand her.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Police Department said there was no information on the incident because no arrest was made.

But a board member of the co−op who did not wish to be named said that owners are responsible for repairs to their units, unless they involve replacing windows or fixing pipes.

Sergio Cabrera, the building’s superintendent, said work had been required at Ionescu’s apartment after the city’s Fire Department had been forced to knock down her door and make a hole in her bathroom wall to put out an electrical fire.

“She always wants something — she’s a troublemaker,” he said. “She’s the owner of the apartment and the co−op’s rules say you must fix it up yourself. But yesterday, she called up 311 and said she wanted to speak to Mike.”

Cabrera said his previous visits to Ionescu’s apartment had been met with colorful language.

But a new door was put up at her apartment earlier this year and her ceiling received a new paint job, he said.

“She believed we did not want to fix it,” Cabrera said. “But we had to wait for the insurance companies to do repairs.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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