In front of a red-brick row house in Brooklyn, it was clear that Mayor Eric Adams’ ongoing battle against rats had reached another level of absurdity.
In the middle of a busy New York City workday, a dozen or so reporters, at least eight police officers, had gathered, along with the three Guardian Angels in red berets (including Curtis Sliwa, who lost to Mr. Adams in the 2021 mayoral election). , two charismatic cats in a cage and a very dead mouse plastered on Lafayette Avenue, its hairless tail still largely intact.
“The most photographed dead rat in New York City history,” said Michael Daly, columnist for The Daily Beast.
The row house belongs to none other than Mayor Adams, who was once again fined for failing to control rats in his four-unit apartment in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
In one year of his tenure, Mr. Adams has no shortage of problems ahead of him, including the economic revival of the nation’s financial capital and record levels of homelessness.
But a relatively minor problem continues to haunt him, both professionally and personally: the humble and productive brown mouse.
On December 7, the day after Mr. Adams successfully contested an earlier call regarding rats on his Brooklyn property, the health department he controlled sent two new calls to the mayor, both of whom failed to control rats. The new subpoenas, first reported by The New York Post, call for a total fine of up to $1,200 for Mr. Adams. Both were issued by the same health inspector who collected the first subpoenas. (The inspector could not be reached for comment.)
And just like last time, Mr. Adams once again said he would fight fines in the administrative court of the city he effectively controls.
“I’m going to do like any New Yorker, go back to court, show all my evidence,” Mr Adams said at an unrelated press conference on Wednesday. “We have a mouse problem in the city. I mean, who are we kidding?
Mr. Adams’ history with rats is long and complex. She claims she was afraid of them, but also said that her childhood home was infested with rats and that she and her siblings adopted one as a pet. As Brooklyn borough mayor, he once angered animal rights activists who applauded him for extolling the benefits of veganism by publicly displaying a mouse suffocation device during a demonstration that involved scooping dead mice from a barrel.
This year, his administration announced that it would hire a rodent reduction manager with “the drive, determination, and killing instinct needed to fight the real enemy”: New York City’s relentless mouse population. The hiring process is still ongoing, according to Fabien Levy, the mayor’s spokesperson.
Mr Sliwa, the founder of Guardian Angels, who is running against Mr Adams for mayor in 2021, said he would be happy to offer his services. And to begin with, he offered to help the mayor with his personal mouse problem by deploying an army of feral cats.
“He’s tried everything,” said Mr. Sliwa as his wife, Nancy, patted Tiny, a white-nosed tuxedo cat, and Thor, a tabby, through the bars of their cage. “But it’s time we took the best precaution that has ever worked. And these cats.
The Sliwas opened their homes to save the cats; Ms Sliwa said Wednesday that 16 cats, including Tiny and Thor, share their homes.
Mr. Sliwa said the two animals would be euthanized once they were rescued. And he argued that instead of killing cats, the city should use them to keep rats away. He said many middle-aged women are already involved with feral cat colonies and that women may be enlisted to expand their operations.
And Mr. Adams suggested that Mr. Sliwa’s mayor equip his Brooklyn estate with his own cat colony, if he wanted to.
Mr. Adams seemed to take Mr. Sliwa’s offer with false seriousness. He suggested that he would welcome Mr. Sliwa’s help, implying that he could hire him as the city’s new rat czar or perhaps an intern, and then said that people should not look at the city’s rat problem as “Tom and Jerry”. cartoon.
On Wednesday afternoon, the front of the mayor’s cabin looked pretty clean except for some leaves, a stray Q-Tip, and some discarded paper.
A neighbor suggested that the real problem wasn’t Mr Adams’ property, it was right next to him, where rat excrement and animal bones of unknown origin abounded on Wednesday. So far this year, that property has received two summons for failing to control rats. Claiming to have spent nearly $7,000 on rat reduction efforts, Mr Adams’ property has now acquired three.
Architect Sara Azizian, 40, who lives a few houses down from Mr Adams’ property, said feral cats patrol the neighborhood and have little effect on the mouse population.
“I have feral cats in the backyard,” she said. I feed them. They don’t even bother to go out. They can’t even look at rats in the street. To be honest this is crazy. The municipality needs to invest money in garbage cleaning. Nothing else will fix the problem.”
Urban ecologists will agree.
“Cats prefer easy prey, not risky and potentially deadly prey,” emailed Michael H. Parsons, a visiting research fellow at Fordham University, who wrote a paper on the ineffectiveness of using cats to control mouse populations.
Dr. Parsons described rats as “battle-hardened,” “incredibly agile,” and highly protective against felines.
“And these comments come from someone who loves cats,” he added.
William K. Rashbaum contributed to the reporting.