The NY Times has a great story in today's paper about rats "swaggering" in East Harlem. Swagger they do because the latest city effort to curb their population hasn't really made a dent into the profusion of their numbers. An audit released last week by Comptroller Thompson found that the city's response to rat complaints "was slow" even though DOH has improved somewhat in its fight against the rodents. All of which underscores what we have been saying all along about the need to go after the source of rat nourishment, the food waste that attracts them in the first place. This can be significantly accomplished through a program to install both commercial and residential food waste disposers. It is exactly why the NYCHA has installed disposers in housing projects on the Lower East Side and Bushwick. Instead, precisely because of the misguided effort of some of the city's leading environmental groups Intro 133, a measure that would eliminate the rat food source, remains stalled. Stalled because groups such as the NRDC are more concerned about the algae in the Jamaica Bay than they are about the poor folks of East Harlem. A concern for public health was the primary reason for the City of Philadelphia to mandate the use of food waste disposers for any store and restaurant that applied for a dumpster permit. The solid waste benefits of disposers are clear, but when we add the positive impact that their use will have on neighborhood public health it is inexplicable that the City Council has not seen fit to act on legislation that is sponsored by 36 members.
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