Today’s news:

The Civic Scene: Beware of shady contractors, illegal rental apartment ads

Civic associations not only fight to preserve their communities, but provide useful information in their newsletters.

In its October 2010 newsletter, the North Flushing Civic Association advised its members that someone was calling 311 to report illegal apartments. Inspectors found that these calls were false, but sometimes found other violations.

Joe Amoroso, of the Kissena Park Civic Association, reported this problem and found with the help of City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), that three contractors were the cause of most of the 1,700 phone complaints in the area. The city has been investigating this.

In an unrelated activity, the civic reported that city Department of Buildings inspectors had recently posed as renters and found that 90 percent of the properties advertised were illegal with dangerous gas line violations, paddle locks on bedroom doors and an inadequate number of exits. All these are serious threats to life.

Last year, the state Consumer Protection Board updated the state do-not-call telemarketing law because telemarketers were using robo-calls to get around the law. For free, people can register by calling 1-800-697-1220 or visit donotcall.gov.

The North Flushing civic, in its April 2011 newsletter, informed people that a new dog tethering law is now in effect. A person can no longer tether a dog longer than three hours at a time in a 12-hour period. Call 311 or your local community board to report such a problem. CB 8 can be reached at 718-264-7895; CB 7 at 718-463-3891.

The Jamaica Estates association’s June 2011 monthly bulletin warned people to be careful about leaving windows open during the summer months. Burglars will enter through any opening. A recent wave of house burglaries was stopped when the 107th Precinct made some arrests. People should take reasonable precautions. Each precinct has a crime prevention officer who can visit one’s house or apartment and do a survey to find any security weaknesses.

The June 2011 Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association newsletter informed its members that the state Public Service Commission approved a request in October 2010 for Verizon to discontinue delivery to residences of the White Pages. Customers who still want a phone book can have it delivered free. The Yellow Pages will still be delivered.

The newsletter informed people that watering a lawn is only permitted before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m. Since catch basins are not cleaned on an automatic basis, you must call 311 to report a clogged catch basin. People are asked to pick up after one’s dog and make sure it does its business in the gutter and not on lawns or malls.

People were warned to always lock the doors of their vehicles. Thieves often just open an unlocked car door and steal things left on a dashboard or in a glove compartment.

If your car is towed from a shopping center or other private property, look for a sign with the name and phone number of the towing company. If there is no sign, call your local precinct. If your car was towed from a local driveway you blocked, call the local precinct. If your car was booted on a private street or in a parking lot, look for the posted sign which says the name and number of the towing company.

They must remove the boot within 30 minutes, must accept payment by credit card and may charge no more than $25. If the car is towed from a private lot without booting, the maximum fee is $100. There is no maximum fee for booting on private streets. The fee must be posted on signs at all intersections of the private street with public streets. To file complaints, call 311.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Recent discussions about paying the local and national debts have uncovered the fact that some people and corporations earn huge sums of money but pay little in taxes due to loopholes. Hopefully, these inequities will be corrected by the time you read this column.

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