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New York City appoints first-ever 'rat czar' to combat city's rodent issue

Kathleen Corradi, a former teacher, is to be New York City’s first-ever 'rat czar' to combat a growing rodent population in the city.

New York City appoints first-ever 'rat czar' to combat city's rodent issue
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Eyewitness News ABC7NY

Thanks to the city's first-ever commanding general, New Yorkers will no longer see rodents skittering across the sidewalk or scrambling down the sewers. On April 12, Mayor Eric Adams announced that Kathleen Corradi, an education department employee, will be New York City's first-ever "rat czar" to combat a growing rodent population in the city. In a news release, according to CNN, Adams’ office said Corradi will work with government and city agencies such as the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Parks and Recreation and Sanitation and find “innovative ways to cut off rats’ food sources” and use “new technologies to detect and exterminate rat populations.” 



 

 

“You’ll be seeing a lot of me — and a lot less rats,” Corradi, whose official title is “citywide director of rodent mitigation,” said at a news conference. “There’s a new sheriff in town.” Corradi will receive a salary of $155,000 a year, said Adams. As reported by Reuters, the Mayor posted about the job last year, seeking someone “somewhat bloodthirsty” with a “general aura of badassery.” Corradi, a former teacher, is not a novice in rat hunting as she previously oversaw rat mitigation efforts in public schools. The city also announced the creation of a “Harlem Rat Exclusion Zone” that covers the northern half of Manhattan, where $3.5 million will be spent to increase inspections, use equipment such as bait and traps, and harden floors at public housing to prevent rat infestations. 



 

“Rat mitigation is more than a quality-of-life issue for New Yorkers,”  said Corradi, who had served as the Queens director of space planning for the city’s Department of Education. “Rats are a symptom of systemic issues, including sanitation, health, housing, and economic justice. As the first director of rodent mitigation, I’m excited to bring a science- and systems-based approach to fighting rats. New York may be famous for the Pizza Rat, but rats and the conditions that help them thrive will no longer be tolerated – no more dirty curbs, unmanaged spaces, or brazen burrowing.”



 

 



 

Her goal will be to build a cleaner, more welcoming city and tackle "public enemy number one," Adams said. According to ABC7, Corradi was chosen out of 900 applicants and has worked at the education department since November 2015 and as sustainability manager until November 2021. "Kathy has the knowledge, drive, experience, and energy to send rats packing and create a cleaner, more welcoming city for all New Yorkers," Adams said. "The rats are going to hate Kathy, but we're excited to have her leading this important effort." As a child, Corradi used to campaign for anti-rat measures in her neighborhood and worked as a garden coordinator at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.



 

 

She has promised to immediately take on litter, garbage, and food waste where rats thrive and decide on new products the city should use to tackle rat colonies. "Rats are tough, but New Yorkers are tougher," Corradi said. "Rats are more than just a quality-of-life issue - they are a symbol of systemic issues that for too long have plagued New Yorkers, particularly low-income and communities of color," said Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack. The influx of rat infestations has jumped because of sidewalk dining, a concession to the COVID-19 pandemic. The size of the rat population in the city is unknown, but a 2014 study put the figure at around 2 million, or one for every four residents.

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