Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Question of the week...Habitat or Harborage?

At a recent Area 4 meeting, "Have dinner with the Mayor," many more folks than expected came to enjoy food and conversation. Despite the moderators attempt to "allow" questions on all subjects, most grilled the Mayor on what is now known as rat infestation. The Mayor and City Manager attempted to satisfy everyone that everything that could be done was being done. The Mayor finally stated that the City was suing at least one homeowner for "harborage," or having weeds in his yard.

What does this have to do with persons with disabilities?

A few years ago, a passer-by dumped a large white plastic kitchen bag full of garbage on the sidewalk in front of my house. It happened a couple hours after the DPW had collected the trash from my street, and a couple of hours before they would get to the side streets in my neighbourhood. I called DPW to inform them, and was treated quite rudely....

"We are not going to come out and pick it up!" (You are kidding me, aren't you? The City wouldn't let a bag of garbage just sit all week on the sidewalk? Would they?) "But, I protested, you wouldn't have to send someone out to pick it up, because the truck will make the turn right across from my house to collect trash on the side street, and they could easily pick up that bag at that time, if you notify them." "No, the way it works is, you have to bring that bag into your place and put it out next week." (??? You can't be serious?) "Excuse me? You want me to collect someone else's garbage, and keep it in my place for a week? I just can't agree with that." "Well, if you don't you will be ticketed because you are responsible for the sidewalk in front of your house." "Gee, I am totally disabled, and on the City's Snow Exemption Program, I don't think I am able to pick up that big bag, nor am I required to pick it up." "Oh, what is your name, Oh I see, OK, so you won't get a ticket if the trash is out all week."

"Wait a minute," I say quickly, as she is about to hang up, "Here is my address, please have them pick this up." "Oh, no, we are not going to pick it up, but don't worry, you won't get a ticket." Does she think this is about the rules, and getting fined if you break the rules? "So, if the bag of garbage sits out there all week I won't get a ticket, so you won't radio the garbage truck to pick it up when they swing past my house in an hour or two, so the rule is that bag of garbage will sit out on the sidewalk all week, until the next pick up day?" "That's right, you don't need to worry, you won't get a ticket."

"But what about the garbage, won't it attract rats?" I don't want it out there all week, I want someone to pick it up. "It is a nuisence!" "Why are you giving me a hard time, I told you you won't get a ticket." "I am not giving you a hard time, I didn't call because I was afraid of getting a ticket, I called because I want that bag of garbage picked up as it is a nuisence, and if it sits out there all week, animals will get into it, and it will attract rats." She responded, "I am calling inspectional services."

Shortly thereafter, the garbage truck lumbered down the street, stopped in front of my house to negociate the tight turn, rolled 20 feet, and picked up the garbage in from the front of the two houses on the corners opposite my house. They did not, of course pick up the garbage bag that had been dumped in front of my house. I even went over to them and asked nicely. No. That is against the rules, "You should have put it out on time."

Couple days later, the large white plastic kitchen bag full of garbage was broken open, and garbage was strewn up and down the sidewalk. Skunk, I suspect. Then the inspectional services "man" arrived. He did not give me a ticket for the garbage, but he did write up a "violation" ticket for my covered, unregistered car parked in my driveway. He left, and no one came to pick up the garbage, broken bag and all. After all, the rule says they will pick it up on the next schedualled collection day.

The City Instructs Me On It's Rodent Control Policy

Naturally, I called to complain, but all that happened was I was subjected to a verbal version of the City's rodent control policy. So, that is the whole point here. I told them their rodent control policy was based on nonsense, and if they continued to "feed the rats" soon the whole City would be over-run with them, and it wouldn't be just me complaining, but the City Councillors phone would be ringing off the hooks. Of course I was ignored, and told I didn't know what I was talking about. They were the "experts." I then called the City's Commission For Persons with Disabilities, to ask about a program for PWD's and to solve this problem, and was told, "don't worry, you won't get a ticket." (for the garbage, that is.) LOL

Today The City IS Over-run With Rats

Several meetings have been held as a result of dozens if not hundreds of calls to the Mayor's office, and other City Councillors. The City has held the requsite "Talk Shows" where they present In Person their bogus Rodent Control Program. Everyday folks get up and challenge the "Rat Facts." Whatever happened to using the knowledge in the community? The inspectional services "man" displayed his complete lack of accurate knowledge on the subject. He sounded like the exterminator that you won't ever call again. The City's "science" expert on rat behavior was spewing more disinformation, like what you might hear in a bar.

We are subjected to Did You Know..."Rodents die off in the winter, breed in the spring, and the way to get rid of them is to find and fill in their borrows?" Just pure bunk. I stand, and point out that if they fill in the borrows it will just drive the rats further into the community. One of the "experts" then tells the crowd that I am wrong. Another person affirms what I said, and said she had complained about that very thing, and even brought the "experts" out to look at the new borrows, and they still denied it. The Mayor responded that he had confidence in the City's employees, (he did not call them experts,) so she said she was going to get a camera and take pictures. Bravo!

Shall we now sterillize the City to get rid of the rats?

At the most recent rodent control emergency meeting, the City's program no longer included filling in of borrows. The City did agree rat proof containers with tight fitting lids were important, and once again I pointed out that the City must not collect the lids with the trash. Then the City's experts got into the nonsense again. Bringing legal action against homeowners who had "weeds" in their yards. Someone pointed out that the rodents did not discriminate, and chewed rosebushes and garden veggies as well. The City claimed that Habitat and Harborage must be eliminated. I pointed out that their "science" was based on opinion, and there was no scientific study to show that neat clean grassy lawns, or indeed, bricking everything over was a deterrent to rodents in search of a meal or a home, due to filled in borrows and harborage elimination!

Then the issue of rabies in possums, coons and skunks was brought up as a reason for harborage elimiation. HUH? I pointed out that "rabies in wildlife" and "rodent infestation" were two different issues. I pointed out that even if we eliminated all wild life we would still have the rodent problem. I asked if it was the City's goal to eliminate all wildlife from the City as a rodent control measure. And I suggested we "bait for rabies" if we were afraid of rabies in our wildlife population. I also requested that the City change it's policy, and when someone called and wanted garbage on the sidewalk or street picked up, the City should pick it up. Of course, the City must end the use of garbage dumpsters at public schools and housing as feeding stations. (Stop blaming property owners, and clean up it's own mess.)

Once again, we control the rodents by not feeding them. And harborage is NOT more likely to cause rodent infestation.


At Tuesday, October 30, 2007 11:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city has garbage cans in those black metal frames on sidewalks in Central Sq, Harvard Sq ect for public use but they dont EVER have lids on them. Why is it ok for the city to have HUNDREDS of garbage cans with NO lids but we the home owners get tickets for temporarly removing OUR lids for just a few hours a week so that the trash guys cant throw the lids in the truck with the trash???

At Wednesday, October 31, 2007 1:49:00 PM, Blogger Kathy Podgers said...

You are absolutely correct. In addition to authorized recycling bins, the City has two other kinds of receptcals, one is the Authorized rubbish receptical, the other is the authorized litter receptical. The first requires a lid, the second does not. One can place a sign on the litter receptical ststing "No Littering - $50.oo fine."

Gee, I wonder, can rats read?


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