NEW YORK — In his battle against rats, New York City Mayor Eric Adams scored a split decision Tuesday when a hearing officer dismissed one summons while upholding another issued by a city inspector citing him for not doing enough to keep rodents at bay from his Brooklyn townhouse.
In a city where some residents consider rats Public Enemy No. 1, the mayor’s own troubles with rodents has been the source of amusement among those keeping score of the city’s mostly losing battle against the vermin.
The hearing officer, noting the thousands of dollars Adams has invested in addressing his rat problems, credited the mayor for taking “credible” steps to control the rat population at his rental property.
But the hearing officer admonished the mayor for not sufficiently heeding his health department’s advice for the proper disposal of trash and recyclables, saying that “the presence of several bags on the ground could provide shelter or protection for rodents, which amounts to a harborage condition.”
For that offense, the hearing officer ordered Adams to pay a $300 fine.
The mayor’s spokesperson, Fabien Levy, said in a statement the mayor was “grateful” that one of the summonses was dismissed. The mayor would consider his options about the second decision, Levy said, adding: “One decision is clear, however: The mayor still hates rats.”
Last week, Adams via telephone contested the two summonses he got on Dec. 7, just a day after another hearing officer dismissed an earlier $300 ticket for failing to control the rat population at the same property.
Participating via telephone, Adams contested the findings of an inspector who found rat burrows along a fence line and “fresh rat droppings” in front of the mayor’s garbage bins.
Adams denied he has a rat problem, telling the hearing officer last week that his own inspections produced no signs of rodents.
The hearing officer was swayed by the the mayor’s arguments that he’s made good efforts to address rodents at his property, which he rents out.
Adams said he pays an exterminator monthly and spent $7,000 a year ago to keep the property rodent-free and produced receipts showing that he continued to rely on outside expertise to assure the his property would remain free of rats.
Before he became mayor, Adams, as the Brooklyn borough president, was known for his dislike of rats. He famously turned stomachs when he demonstrated a trap for reporters that relied on a bucket filled with a vinegary, toxic soup to drown rats lured by the scent of food.
The trap wasn’t very effective, nor was every other attempt by previous mayors to vanquish the city’s rat population.
Adams has often professed his dislike for rats. Last fall, he began looking for a rat czar to help him control the city’s rat population.
“Let’s be clear: I hate rats, and we have too many of them and we have to get rid of them,” he said in June while announcing a proposed city spending plan.