Pizza Rat Had Better Watch Its Back as the Big Apple Declares War

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“Rat czar” listing seeks someone “highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty.”

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Late last month, New York City posted a job listing for a new “director of rodent mitigation,” a title that was soon slimmed down to “Rat Czar,” to work under the direction of Mayor Eric Adams and his deputy mayor for operations, Meera Joshi.

Taking on New York’s rat population, the listing said, would take someone who is “highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty” and possessed of both “stamina and stagecraft.” The new Rat Czar, it added would need a “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor, and general aura of badassery.”

“Do you have what it takes to do the impossible?” it read. “A virulent vehemence for vermin? A background in urban planning, project management, or government? And most importantly, the drive, determination and killer instinct needed to fight the real enemy—New York City’s relentless rat population?”

The city’s rat population, it has been widely reported, has become something of an obsession for Adams, who marks his first year in office on January 1. Two months ago, he laid out a three-prong plan to fashion a “livable city” out of New York. “Fighting crime, fighting inequality,” he said, “and fighting rats.”

Adam’s rat fixation is notable: According to Gothamist, he’s mentioned “rat” or “rats” more than 80 times during public press conferences since mid-October, signed four rat-focused bills into law that include establishing “rat-mitigation zones,” require trash to be put out at times that limit the opportunity for rats to feast and for buildings to use secure trash containers for two years if they are cited twice for rodents. At the same time, rat complaints have risen 49 percent to 39,000 during 2022.

But it is not Adams who will be declaring victory in New York’s war on rats. It will be his deputy Joshi, whom the coming rat czar will report to. “New York City is like many big cities across the nation coming out of Covid, the number of complaints about rat sightings skyrocketed,” Joshi said “During Covid, when people weren’t occupying public spaces, the rats moved out and started to occupy more of the cityscape.”

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