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Rat and Wrong at City Hall

Here’s some unsolicited advice on what to do about the rat infestation problem at Los Angeles City Hall.

DON’T irritate the animal rights groups. They’ll try to force you to catch the rats in nonlethal traps and then release the little buggers unharmed. Takoma Park, Md., was about to try that until someone considered the legal ramifications of letting loose hordes of rodents in neighboring jurisdictions.

DO consider Baltimore’s sanitation police or “rat patrols.” Unless City Hall is prepared to hold the ultimate Tupperware party, it’s time to fine the folks with half-eaten Twinkies in their file cabinets.

DON’T take the bureaucratic route. We don’t need an “Interagency Rodent Extermination Task Force” (New York City) or a “Rat Summit” (Providence, R.I.).

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DO involve City Hall employees in the extermination process. In the Philippines, the price of admission to a government-sanctioned party was 50 rat tails per person.

DON’T go high-tech. Sonar devices might chase the rats away, but only until the batteries wear out. Gassing is unacceptable too. The only thing worse than a live rat is a dead one behind your wall.

And be wary of the natural selection approach. Cats might help, but who’s going to clean up all that kitty litter? Then, again, weasels are another natural enemy of rats. There’s always a few dozen of them roaming around City Hall anyway.


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