Rattus Takes Manhattan

He goes by rattus norvegicus, but don't be fooled by the name - this rodent eats grease, not veggies. Last seen lurking in alleyways behind New York City diners, rattus is up to no good. He's frightening residents, chasing tourists away and multiplying faster than Mayor Rudy Giuliani can say, "kick him out of Times Square."

Also known as the Norwegian rat, rattus is threatening to take over the city. But New York is fighting back, forming a city council committee focused specifically on the vermin, and setting up two rat hotlines to take complaints from disgusted citizens.

Additionally, in November, officials held a Rat Summit at Columbia University to determine possible solutions to the growing rat population. The mayor, city council members, a "rat consultant" and 250 citizens discussed proposals such as banning the city's wire-mesh trash cans to keep rats from helping themselves to a streetside buffet. Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota called for citizens to be more sanitary.

Although Giuliani has bragged about the city's rat-killing record, rat consultant Bruce Colvin said killing rats won't work. The city must eliminate the rats' food sources - particularly grease from restaurants, which increases the rodents' sex drive, he said.

Source: Associated Press

Getting E-ven When residents of one Dallas neighborhood get mad, officials listen, thanks to web designer Avi Adelman.

To stem the perceived abuses of a nearby entertainment strip containing 50 restaurants and clubs, Adelman created Barkingdogs.org, a cyber town hall where Lower Greenville residents can report city-code violations perpetrated by the businesses.

Adelman launched the site with a vote for the ugliest dumpster in Lower Greenville, and the site now routes reported infractions directly to city officials. Alleged violations, such as, "constant standing water and trash in rain gutter smells terrible," are posted for all to see, along with the names and addresses of alleged violators.

The site even features surreptitious photos taken by neighborhood activists.

One Dallas official under attack by Barkingdog recently said the site contains "many, many untruths."

Barkingdog responded, "This is our neighborhood, and we are taking it back - one street and one block at a time. Either do your job or get out of the way."

Apparently, some city officials have chosen the former. Many complaints posted on the site are followed by entries explaining what the city has done to fix the problems.

Sources: Barkingdogs.org and The Industry Standard magazine