Our black cat is a stone cold killer. This morning he killed yet another rat in the courtyard. 9 this month. Our condo building is rat and mouse free thanks to our three very prolific cats. The black cat pounced in an impressive lightening speed run down of one foolish rat which made a poor choice to  poke his head inside the gate at the back of the courtyard. By the way, this is what privatization looks like.

Five years ago Rahm slashed the budget on rat abatement, which had been effective under the Department of Streets and sanitation. They made up a silly excuse, but year over year the problem has continued to worsen. Responsibility was moved, along with the Forestry Bureau to the Garbage Control. In my 50th Ward neighborhood that means a lady comes around once a year, hangs a new sign on the light pole then goes to lunch.

Ah yes, good old privatization, which means, basically, handle what once was an important city service yourself. But the catch is that you can’t. You can’t control what happens a block or two over. You can’t cite dumpers and slum lords or the owners of uncollected trash, a poorly or corruptly run business or restaurant for the sorts of things that attract and promote rats, mice and other vermin. You don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars in a slush fund skimmed from property taxes. You’re not Grossinger Auto Group or Mariano’s grocery chain, The billionaire friends of political heavyweights like the Pritzker family, George Lucas or even the billionaire developer of numerous private upscale apartment high-rises that each received millions in favors, tax credits and incentives. You’re not even United Airlines, which received tens of millions in tax cuts and credits. But the mayor is.

He cuts and cuts and cuts, but strangely enough only from the poor and working class, cutting back on recycling, trash pick up untold numbers of city services, public schools in struggling neighborhoods, mental health clinics and RAT ABATEMENT. Ah, but the vermin are now coming home to roost.

“Super-rats. Rats as big as dogs. New York-style rats…just a few descriptions residents of Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes gave of the rodents they said have taken over the six-acre public housing complex, 1448 N. Sedgwick St.” That was from a recent DNAinfo article. For those of us with a few decades in Chicago under our belt, Sedgewick was once a tough neighborhood, sided up in the shadow of the notorious Cabrini Green  CHA complex. Times have changed, and there are now pricy and upscale residences now redefining the area. On a recent bike ride along Broadway between Diversey and Foster I counted 13 smashed rats on the street.

This, however, is a far more serious issue. It is a growing health and safety issue. As rats become less fearful and more aggressive, or as the rodent population spirals further out of control, we will see attacks on humans, children bitten in beds and cradles. The Pest Control company, Orkin, rated Chicago as the most rat-infested city in America. Thanks, Rahm! report rat problems to the city by calling 311 or online here.

By the age of 3 months a female rat can produce up to 7 litters each containing as many as  a dozen offspring annually. That translates into  a potentially exponential transmission of  a wide variety of infectious diseases, including Bubonic plague. With a predicted colder than average winter, following last years El Nino temperatures, the likelihood that rats will migrate indoors to homes, residences, business and hospitals cuts backs on essential services so windfall favors can be bestowed on the mayor’s friends will risk the lives and health of average Chicagoans. Of course, we know that any lawsuits stemming from rodent-related tragedies will go the same route as $600 million in judgements due to unrestrained and out of control police shootings and civil rights abuses. Rahm and his cronies in a city hall for sale will simply raise your taxes, and like the lady in my alley, go to lunch.

 

 

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