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Few answers at drywall symposium

By Staff | Jan 30, 2010

A special defective drywall symposium hosted by U.S. Senator George Lemieux in Fort Myers on Saturday yielded little more than frustration and anger from homeowners who were expecting answers, or in the very least, some new information on the toxic drywall.
Instead, people walked away feeling that the town hall style meet was little more than a glorified dog-and-pony show.
“It was a complete and utter waste of time,” said Cape Coral homeowner Richard Kampf, who has become a citizen activist against the drywall that produces a decernable gas that corrodes copper and other metals in the homes in which it is installed. “They stacked the agenda so people didn’t have a chance to ask any questions.”
The two-hour meeting was attended by representatives from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Lee County Property Appraisers Office to name a few.
But only 25 minutes, tacked onto the tail end of the agenda, was allotted for a question-and-answer session from the audience.
While most everyone in the Lee County Commission Chambers filled out a card to have their questions answered, very few were satisfied with the responses they received.
“We wasted our time, we already knew all of this stuff,” said Cape homeowner Lilly Carter, who attended with her husband Dan.
The Carters said they contacted the senator’s office to find out what new information was going to be available at the town hall, and said they were told it was a mix of new and old insights.
While the senator himself didn’t attend – members of his staff said he had other engagements – people from all over Southwest Florida made the trip to Fort Myers on the strength of that promise, hoping that something new, and helpful, would be available.
Charles Hummer, a Vietnam veteran drove from North Port to get a chance to vent his frustrations.
Hummer, who said he was still dealing with the effects of Agent Orange from Vietnam, now has to deal with the chemical effects of toxic drywall.
Hummer was not happy on Saturday.
“They don’t know all the effects. They say the furniture is contaminated, the concrete in my home is now contaminated,” he said. “We want answers and we’re only getting facts and figures. That’s nice, but they’re not answering our questions.”
Alva resident George Brincku thinks there needs to be a strong response from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who, to this point, has done little to address the people’s concerns.
While he hopes the federal and state response will one day catch up to the rapidly growing needs of their constituency, he was left with nothing more than he already had on Saturday.
“We got no answers whatsoever,” Brincku said.