New York City has appointed its first ever ‘rat czar’ charged with reducing the city’s infamous rodent population.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams introduced his pick for the new position Rodent Mitigation Director as Kathleen Corradi, a former elementary school teacher and Department of Education staffer who previously lead efforts to eradicate the rodents from the city’s schools.
Corradi will be tasked with leading the mayor’s $3.5million initiative to reduce the city’s notorious rat population.
‘Rats impact how you feel about the city that you’re in. And that’s why we’re taking this seriously,’ Adams said. ‘It is expensive enough to live in this city with our families children. We don’t need outside tenants, like rats, in our homes terrorizing us every day.’
According to Adams, he frequently gets direct complaints from New Yorkers about their rodent neighbors. ‘Many of us live in communities where rats think they run the cities,’ the mayor said. ‘I hear it all the time, I’m on the trains, I’m walking the streets, people stop me and say, “we’re with you man, we hate those damn rats.”‘
Adams said his new anti-rat initiative would be a joint effort between the city’s Department of Sanitation, Department of Health and Human Services, and the mayor’s office.
The mayor also highlighted several examples of new policies the administration began rolling out to tackle the rat problem, including Sanitation’s push to upgrade rat-proof garbage bins and alter collection times so that less garbage is left out overnight.
‘It’s many rivers that feed the sea of rats,’ Adams said. ‘There’s no instant rat pellet that’s going to solve this problem. You have to build dams in every area.’
He introduced Corradi as his hand-picked rat czar, who he tasked with managing the rodent removal efforts across the various departments.
‘We needed someone that was going to put all the pieces together and all the players together – we needed a maestro,’ Adams said.
Although the mayor’s office searched for candidates outside the city, they ended up choosing a New Yorker for the job – Kathleen Corradi, a former Department of Education staffer.
The new Rodent Mitigation Director said she had a ‘long history with rats.’
‘My introduction to public service came when I as ten years old, getting signatures on petitions on anti-rat measures in my neighborhood,’ Corradi said.
While working for the Department of Education, she spearheaded an effort to reduce rodents in New York City’s schools.
‘Rat mitigation is more than a quality of life issue, Corradi said. ‘Rats are a symptom of systemic issues – including sanitation, health, housing, and economic justice. You can’t just deal with one part of the problem and call it a day.’
Corradi promised a ‘science and systems-based approach’ to the rat problem, with a ‘strong focus’ on cutting off their sources to food, water, and shelter.’
However, she noted that a major part of her job will be convincing New Yorkers to change their behaviors.
‘I’m also a former elementary school teacher who knows that behavior changes don’t happen overnight, Corradi said. ‘We need to get the word out to New Yorkers – this is going to take all of us. Fighting rats starts with fighting litter, garbage, and food waste. And as anyone who’s seen the movie “Ratatouille” knows, rats love the same foods humans do.’
She continued: ‘if you see unsanitary conditions, or a colony of rats – also known as a mischief – call 311 and tell us where and when. We’ll send people to check on it.’
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