The Department of Sanitation has tripled the frequency of trash pickups at Upper West Side playgrounds to try to drive the rats away, Councilmember Helen Rosenthal’s office announced. Rosenthal is also hosting a “Rat Academy” on September 28 with the Department of Health to teach building owners and tenants how to keep the rodents away (learn more about how to sign up here). And she said she’s trying to get special “Big Belly” garbage receptacles to the neighborhood faster, to combat the rats.

Since West Side Rag exposed the problem last month, it’s gotten citywide and national press, and become an issue in this year’s City Council race. Rosenthal faces two challengers in this Tuesday’s primary, and at least two more in the general election in November.

Mel Wymore, one of the two Democrats challenging Rosenthal, says that the rat problem has “reached a new low” and urged more aggressive action. Among other remedies, he writes that he would fight for the city to be included in the mayor’s $32 million rat prevention plan — the UWS was left off the list of neighborhoods that will get extra services to combat infestations.

Wymore also filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance Board claiming that Rosenthal violated the city’s rules against using government resources to send mass emails less than 90 days before an election. Rats, his spokesman said, have become a campaign issue.

But Rosenthal’s campaign spokesperson noted that the city rules allow for notices about health and safety.

“I’m surprised Mel is upset about this –his own campaign literature prominently features a rat, so he clearly agrees that addressing this is an imminent health and safety issue. Healthy and safety issues are, as you know, excluded from the blackout period.”

NEWS | 16 comments | permalink
    1. Sherman says:

      Nobody has any problems with all the squirrels in NYC but people hate rats.

      Maybe the squirrels just have better public relations.

      I propose that the city should promote rats as “NYC wildlife” instead of wasting all these resources trying to eradicate them.

      • GG says:

        Yeah, the rats don’t bother me too much. Honestly, I rarely ever see one, even these days.

        Now, if there were ticks around I would be outta here!!! Don’t know how people deal with those. Creeps me out just thinking about it.:)

    2. Pedestrian says:

      Isn’t it interesting that Helen only does something when it becomes a “hot button” issue. Calling her office about a problem is whistling up a drain pipe! But oh wait until the press gets involved then she schedules a photo op! Is this really what the UWS needs. Mel is there before the cameras arrive. Tell Helen to pay for her own photo shoots. Vote MEL WYMORE!

    3. Kendra says:

      Seems like Mel’s campaign is about attacking his opponents.A big turn off for me since it reminds me of what was going on with the presidential election. Helen has come through for the UWS on so many issues. Wish politicians did not feel like they always have to play so dirty!

    4. Mal says:

      Say something to the losers who feed the pigeons. The rats love it

    5. Phoebe says:

      Save the rats.
      Eat the rats?

    6. Burtnor says:

      The snide comments by Pedestrian about Rosenthal are quite inaccurate. Rosenthal has been incredibly responsive to constituents and pro-active in addressing a long list of community issues. She has long fought hard and well for her district, especially those least able to fight for themselves — the homeless, low income, seniors — and has championed affordable housing, street safety, and social services. We are lucky to have her and should do everything possible to keep her in office.

      • Cato says:

        “…She has long fought hard and well for her district…”

        You’re confusing Helen Rosenthal, who has only been on the job for less than two years, with State Assembly Member *Linda* Rosenthal, who has in fact “long fought hard and well for her district”.

        Helen hasn’t had the job long enough for anyone to be able to say she has “long” done anything in it.

        • Bob Lamm says:

          Nice job, Cato. Of course you’re wrong. Helen Rosenthal was elected in November 2013 and has been on the job for almost four years. This is the great thing about Internet/social media fake names. You can “correct” others, you can be completely wrong in your “correction,” and you’re anonymous! 🙂

          • Cato says:

            Bob, you’re right – I admit my mistake. I guess I was just going by the amount of work she’s done while in office.

            And if you knew my name, would you have shown up at my home to protest my error? Made middle-of-the-night phone calls to set me straight? How *would* your response have differed from the one you posted?

            • Bob Lamm says:

              Internet/social media anonymity not only allows ugly attacks but contributes to sloppy and irresponsible posting of “fake news.” People should stand behind their words with real names. Too many are cowards who slash away at named people anonymously.

        • Rafael says:

          Re: “You’re confusing Helen Rosenthal, who has only been on the job for less than two years, with State Assembly Member *Linda* Rosenthal.

          Helen has been our Council Member for 3.5 years, and before that she served on Community Board 7 for more than a decade, and was its chairwomen for two years.

          With all the media regarding tomorrow’s City Council Election I’m pretty sure that no one is confusing Helen for Linda

      • Bz says:

        I have dealt with Rosenthal’s office a number of times…and have tried to keep an open mind. However her office is unresponsive so I have given up. Her chief of staff is extremely rude and the last time I was on the phone with her I pointed out this is not the way to get votes for Rosenthal. She then proceeded to tell me vote for who you want. Unresponsiveness + rudeness = a vote for Mel.

    7. Jimbo says:

      Jimmy Cagney used to say it best,”YOU DIRTY RAT”.

    8. Nora says:

      I saw three rats on 93rd and Riverside on Friday. There is a woman in my neighborhood 93/94 streets who walks around every day with a cart full of “bird” food which she spreads on the streets. The food attracts the rats. She’s been asked to stop and won’t. Seems that this adds to the problem and she should be required in some way to stop this.

      • B.B. says:

        There are fines and other civil actions for littering and causing conditions to attract rodents; but there isn’t a specific statue on NYC’s books against bird feeding.

        Given how the current mayor and city council seem to be bending over backwards to involve less LE action for “quality of life” issues, shouldn’t get hopes up that there will be any sudden increase in fines/actions against those scattering bird food. Especially as the main culprits seem to be middle aged to elderly.