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New York City Is Hiring a “Swashbuckling” Rat Czar? What the Hell Does That Mean?

NYC Rat Rodents Eating Off Ground Near Trash Can

Rats. Mice. They have been part of living in a city for as long as anyone can remember. Yet, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is working to deal with the influx of rat migration to the city—by paying someone $120,000 to $170,000 to be what is called a “Rat Czar.”

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First noticed by the Gothamist, the rat czar’s write-up there points out all of the strange choices within the job listing, including that requirements include “proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint” and a “Swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor, and general aura of badassery.” I asked for that in my diary when I was 13, but seeing it on a job listing is weird.

The Times has mentioned that Adams has often been anti-rat, despite saying he once owned one as a pet. I know not all Black people are a monolith, but I call shenanigans. Back when he was working as Brooklyn borough president, he had a demonstration of a rat trap that “involved ladling drowned rats out of a vat.” Even as a rat-hater, that entire concept makes me want to gag with horror and disgust.

Meera Joshi, the city’s deputy mayor for operations, has defended the decision, saying it is part of the mayor’s agenda. “The idea is that an experienced and skilled leader can get us the most efficiency out of the different assets we have,” said Joshi. “I think anybody who has met our mayor knows it is clearly a priority for him.”

​​Professor Jason Munshi-South is quoted in The New York Times as calling this a “potentially a good idea,” but saying that the real solution will come from the way we handle trash.

“The biggest issue is the way we deal with garbage in this city, which is bags of food essentially are put out on the street every night,” Professor Munshi-South said. “What we know doesn’t work is just poisoning them, drowning them, all these kinds of things that get brought up.”

Benjamin Miller, policy director for the Center for Zero Waste Design, agreed and told the Times in an email, “Our current collection system is heavenly for rats. Back in the day, NYC, by law, required the use of metal trash cans — to avoid rats.”

The comical dragging of this comes after the horrifying announcement that Mayor Eric Adams made on Tuesday that the city police can now remove people with severe, untreated mental illness from the city’s streets and subways. This is being done as a supposed solution to a rise in crime, but it is alarming to anyone who deals with the mentally ill.

Mayor Adams stated that with this new protocol, the city would require hospitals to keep patients until they are “stable” and only discharge them when there is “a workable plan in place to connect them to ongoing care.” Of course, there are reasons people refuse treatment that can be found in, like, several episodes of Law and Order, if people don’t want to take experts’ word for it.

In both cases, we need better solutions to problems than just quick ones that are just inhumanity painted as efficiency.

(via New York Times, image: Katie Dobies/iStock / Getty Images)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.