Rats!

 

RatsRats and violence in Baltimore, as in other cities, are indicators of basic civil society and local government breakdown. President Trump, as a developer between New York and New Jersey, has a long memory of stories that fed his tweets about Congressman Elijah Cummings’ hometown. This is not dinner-time viewing, but it is a fair sampling of local Baltimore stories since 2013. If you find the following a bit much, I note that cats chase rats, and you can chase the images here with a wonderful cat tale: “The Mother.”

The Atlantic had this 2014 story of an independent photojournalist documenting neglect of entire blocks of empty buildings:

Here is a 2013 local television news story about the city government of Baltimore trying to respond to increased numbers of citizen complaints about rats:

That effort apparently failed, because here is a 2015 local television news report about residents being terrorized by rats:

And that was not the only 2015 local rat problem story:

Residents of Baltimore public housing, in 2015, said it was more than just rats and pinned the blame on corrupt public workers.

From the Baltimore Sun in 2016:

Here is an AP story from 2018, just last year, in which a rat was so bold as to climb into a pastry case and nibble with a crowd of customers watching. No, it wasn’t Ratatouille:

Also in 2018, a local television station reported the cell phone video of a rat in a Baltimore 7/11 convenience store.

Here is the Baltimore mayor in 2018 talking about rats and smelling dead animals, presented in a local Fox45 report on both murders and urban blight:

Here is the current mayor, Mayor Jack Young recently touring a neighborhood and ordering city workers to clean up the trash:

Rats are always present in town or country, but they become obvious when basic public sanitation enforcement and services break down, as is the case with street crime surging with loss of basic community order and law enforcement. President Trump should make Baltimore and Chicago his two top priorities for application of every tool in the administration’s belt: DOJ, HUD, HHS, SBA, and more. HUD Secretary Carson should probably lead the interagency effort.

Published in Domestic Policy
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There are 23 comments.

  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    This should not be happening in a first-world country. Unbelievable.

    • #1
    • August 9, 2019, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. Jimmy Carter Member

    Clifford A. Brown: President Trump should make Baltimore and Chicago his two top priorities for application of every tool in the administration’s belt

    Completely disagree.

    It ain’t the federal government’s responsibility. The Citizens are responsible. If the Citizens are so concerned, then They can vote others in, move, or wallow in the filth. 

    • #2
    • August 9, 2019, at 4:39 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: President Trump should make Baltimore and Chicago his two top priorities for application of every tool in the administration’s belt

    Completely disagree.

    It ain’t the federal government’s responsibility. The Citizens are responsible. If the Citizens are so concerned, then They can vote others in, move, or wallow in the filth.

    There are already massive overlaps of federal law, regulations, and dollars with the local government. Make them count.

    • #3
    • August 9, 2019, at 5:01 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Jimmy Carter Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    There are already massive overlaps of federal law, regulations, and dollars with the local government. Make them count.

    Hell, no. The local politicians should make Their own count. Many other cities do.

    If President Trump is to do anything with Baltimore, He should use Yer post in an ad, “You really want democrats running things?” 

    • #4
    • August 9, 2019, at 5:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    There are already massive overlaps of federal law, regulations, and dollars with the local government. Make them count.

    Hell, no. The local politicians should make Their own count. Many other cities do.

    If President Trump is to do anything with Baltimore, He should use Yer post in an ad, “You really want democrats running things?”

    Which does nothing. You want the same playbook used by every modern Republican candidate, with predictable results. I suggest we try actually changing hearts and minds and take away the guaranteed voter bloc from the Democrats.

    • #5
    • August 9, 2019, at 5:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Jimmy Carter Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    You want the same playbook

    Really? My playbook is for people to live with consequences of Their votes. Not bailing Them out.

    You are the one Who stated,”There are already massive overlaps of federal law, regulations, and dollars with the local government. Make them count.” Throw more money at it. That is what’s called “same playbook.” 

    • #6
    • August 9, 2019, at 5:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Stina Member

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    You want the same playbook

    Really? My playbook is for people to live with consequences of Their votes. Not bailing Them out.

    You are the one Who stated,”There are already massive overlaps of federal law, regulations, and dollars with the local government. Make them count.” Throw more money at it. That is what’s called “same playbook.”

    Unless you are ready to limit state elections to residents for x amount of years, for x >= 10, then your way advocates spread of the disease, as they will move out before cleaning it up.

    • #7
    • August 9, 2019, at 5:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. MarciN Member

    Clifford A. Brown: The Atlantic had this 2014 story of an independent photojournalist documenting neglect of entire blocks of empty buildings:

    Sad and troubling post.

    The vacant property problem is huge all across the country. Even on Cape Cod, we have an occasional building that becomes vacant and then an eye-sore. I don’t know how the real estate laws work exactly and how property owners can be held to some decent property maintenance standard, but there must be a way.

    Cities and towns that don’t fix this problem create places that become over time, as the photographer said in the Atlantic video, nests of crime. It is terrible.

    • #8
    • August 9, 2019, at 8:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. JennaStocker Member

    I find the decay of these cities almost as reprehensible as the political “leaders” who make excuses for such conditions and turn blind eyes to the hard work of rehabilitation. It’s not the fault of police but the refusal of mayors & governors to support them; it’s not ignoring homelessness & rampant drug use but the choice to accept these problems as inevitable & open homeless camps and open-use drug programs. It’s taking funding from basic school curriculum and start new-wave multicultural culture studies. So I agree with @cliffordbrown about the desperation, but as @jimmycarter argues, it’s a community problem to solve. A very good documentary on Detroit is worth viewing “Requiem for Detroit” from 2010.

    • #9
    • August 9, 2019, at 8:43 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Trump managed to hit Cummings where it hurts and in so doing he again did the thing that is the chief function of the Presidency for decades; he focused attention and energy on a problem.

    solutions That said, the reason American’s eastern states are plagued with rats is that they were built over a long time with jury-rigged and jerry-built constructions of ill-meshing materials. These rats have been there a looong time and they are good at what they do. 

    • #10
    • August 9, 2019, at 9:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. MarciN Member

    There’s a great story about the women in Boston who set out to rid the city of rats in the early 1900s. Here’s an excerpt:

    In 1908, a group of well-to-do Boston women formed the Boston Women’s Municipal League (BWML) “to promote civic betterment.” According to the League’s historian, the founders believed that “housekeeping of a great city was women’s work. It was their province to see that the city was kept clean, as it was also their province to see that their own homes were clean. So obviously, the garbage and ashes should be promptly and scientifically removed from the streets and alleys, the markets freed from dirt, and dust, and flies, and the air cleaned from soot and smoke.”

    The BWML’s founders were drawn from the city’s most established families. The members were the wives and daughters of businessmen, ministers, professors, doctors, and lawyers. Within a short time, the League had a membership of 2,000. Their dues funded studies and programs, usually carried out by paid professionals; however, volunteer committeewomen managed many of the League’s activities.

    BWML concentrated on three main areas of concern: public health, education, and social welfare. The Committee on Public Improvements and Sanitation almost immediately identified a serious problem with rats and flies. A subcommittee was formed.

    It would no doubt have seemed strange to their mothers that wealthy Boston women were spending time investigating the habits of rats and flies, the health risks they posed, and different methods of extermination. The women became so well-informed that the committee was asked to endorse various methods of extermination. The League’s reputation spread, along with the slogan: “If we have to go to New York for our hats, New York comes to Boston to ask about rats.”

    And not just New York. The League sent its anti-rat literature to every library in the U.S. and Canada, to scientific libraries in Europe, and to every major newspaper in North America. Requests for the materials came from places as distant as Australia, Brazil, India, and Russia.

    • #11
    • August 9, 2019, at 9:50 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    TBA (View Comment):
    That said, the reason American’s eastern states are plagued with rats is that they were built over a long time with jury-rigged and jerry-built constructions of ill-meshing materials. These rats have been there a looong time and they are good at what they do. 

    That is excellent additional context. I sought to cover the ubiquity of rats with the last paragraph. My claim is that, beyond the base population in town and country, population will vary with food supply, read poor public sanitation in urban areas. So, we should expect to see numbers and size go up with more edible garbage left out for them.

    • #12
    • August 10, 2019, at 12:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Judge Mental Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):
    That said, the reason American’s eastern states are plagued with rats is that they were built over a long time with jury-rigged and jerry-built constructions of ill-meshing materials. These rats have been there a looong time and they are good at what they do.

    That is excellent additional context. I sought to cover the ubiquity of rats with the last paragraph. My claim is that, beyond the base population in town and country, population will vary with food supply, read poor public sanitation in urban areas. So, we should expect to see numbers and size go up with more edible garbage left out for them.

     

    • #13
    • August 10, 2019, at 12:37 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. I Walton Member

    We don’t want the Federal government directly involved in cities. That, in fact is part of the problem. Some cities will be run by crooks and, as we’re seeing, those cities gradually die. If the Feds do it, we’ll gradually lose power in cities that are well run, and we won’t learn what works best over time. Indeed the worst run cities tend to focus on national matters, ideological matters, etc. and not their cities because the big bucks and the big corruption are there. The Federal government is too big and too remote, its employees are removed from daily local reality. Their corruption is just good pay and indifference, or at best ill informed inappropriate focus. We could have some demonstration projects, individual grants, limited of course as Washington and local politicians will abuse it. We should have more finger pointing, attention, focus on the crooks and that is what Trump is doing in spite of our media’s dishonest indifference to real issues.

    • #14
    • August 10, 2019, at 6:13 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    I Walton (View Comment):

    We don’t want the Federal government directly involved in cities. That, in fact is part of the problem. Some cities will be run by crooks and, as we’re seeing, those cities gradually die. If the Feds do it, we’ll gradually lose power in cities that are well run, and we won’t learn what works best over time. Indeed the worst run cities tend to focus on national matters, ideological matters, etc. and not their cities because the big bucks and the big corruption are there. The Federal government is too big and too remote, its employees are removed from daily local reality. Their corruption is just good pay and indifference, or at best ill informed inappropriate focus. We could have some demonstration projects, individual grants, limited of course as Washington and local politicians will abuse it. We should have more finger pointing, attention, focus on the crooks and that is what Trump is doing in spite of our media’s dishonest indifference to real issues.

    OTOH it would be pretty fun to send out a Federal Eradication of Rodents and Roaches Environmental Team. 

    • #15
    • August 10, 2019, at 9:31 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Doctor Robert Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    We don’t want the Federal government directly involved in cities. That, in fact is part of the problem. Some cities will be run by crooks and, as we’re seeing, those cities gradually die. If the Feds do it, we’ll gradually lose power in cities that are well run, and we won’t learn what works best over time. Indeed the worst run cities tend to focus on national matters, ideological matters, etc. and not their cities because the big bucks and the big corruption are there. The Federal government is too big and too remote, its employees are removed from daily local reality. Their corruption is just good pay and indifference, or at best ill informed inappropriate focus. We could have some demonstration projects, individual grants, limited of course as Washington and local politicians will abuse it. We should have more finger pointing, attention, focus on the crooks and that is what Trump is doing in spite of our media’s dishonest indifference to real issues.

    OTOH it would be pretty fun to send out a Federal Eradication of Rodents and Roaches Environmental Team.

    Bingo! Great acronym.

    • #16
    • August 10, 2019, at 11:06 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Judge Mental Member

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    We don’t want the Federal government directly involved in cities. That, in fact is part of the problem. Some cities will be run by crooks and, as we’re seeing, those cities gradually die. If the Feds do it, we’ll gradually lose power in cities that are well run, and we won’t learn what works best over time. Indeed the worst run cities tend to focus on national matters, ideological matters, etc. and not their cities because the big bucks and the big corruption are there. The Federal government is too big and too remote, its employees are removed from daily local reality. Their corruption is just good pay and indifference, or at best ill informed inappropriate focus. We could have some demonstration projects, individual grants, limited of course as Washington and local politicians will abuse it. We should have more finger pointing, attention, focus on the crooks and that is what Trump is doing in spite of our media’s dishonest indifference to real issues.

    OTOH it would be pretty fun to send out a Federal Eradication of Rodents and Roaches Environmental Team.

    Bingo! Great acronym.

    I demand furry costumes.

    • #17
    • August 10, 2019, at 11:07 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    We don’t want the Federal government directly involved in cities. That, in fact is part of the problem. Some cities will be run by crooks and, as we’re seeing, those cities gradually die. If the Feds do it, we’ll gradually lose power in cities that are well run, and we won’t learn what works best over time. Indeed the worst run cities tend to focus on national matters, ideological matters, etc. and not their cities because the big bucks and the big corruption are there. The Federal government is too big and too remote, its employees are removed from daily local reality. Their corruption is just good pay and indifference, or at best ill informed inappropriate focus. We could have some demonstration projects, individual grants, limited of course as Washington and local politicians will abuse it. We should have more finger pointing, attention, focus on the crooks and that is what Trump is doing in spite of our media’s dishonest indifference to real issues.

    OTOH it would be pretty fun to send out a Federal Eradication of Rodents and Roaches Environmental Team.

    Bingo! Great acronym.

    I demand furry costumes.

    Set-aside programs for Furry-Americans will be one of the first things I will enact if elected President. 

    • #18
    • August 10, 2019, at 11:24 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    My mother served in the Philadelphia Public Health Service in the 1950s, before the national and then transnational drug gangs cranked up the level of violence from knives, chains, and zip guns to effective late 19th century, early 20th century firearms (double action revolvers, eventually superseded by semi-auto pistols). The old men sat on their tenement stoops keeping watch. Young nurses, women, often white, walked alone because they were under community protection.

    And. She treated small children in their apartments with rat bites.

    Read this partial transcript from Tom Skinner at Urbana 1970 (then go read the rest if you identify as Christian):

    Harlem was more than 40% slums. Thousands of people lived in rat-infested, rundown, dilapidated apartments where the landlords never came around to provide services.

    It was not uncommon for some mother to wake up in the middle of the night and send a piercing scream through the community as she discovered that her two-week-old baby had been gnawed to death by a vicious rat. You could set your watches by the police who drove into the neighborhood to collect their bribes to keep the racketeering going.

    Now, during this great upsurge in revolution and rebellion that has been going on, there have been great numbers of evangelical Christians who have joined the hoot and cry for “law and order.”

    But how do you explain “law and order” to a mother who stands at the foot of her bed watching her baby lie in a blood bath, when she knows that that baby would never have been bitten by the rat in the first place, and the rat would have never been in the building, if the landlord to whom she had been paying high rent had been providing the kind of service she deserved for the kind of rent she was paying?

    How do you explain law and order to her when she knows the building code inspector, who represents the city administration, who is supposed to check out violations in buildings, came by that building the day before but was met at the front door by the landlord who palmed a hundred dollars in his hand, and the building code inspector kept going? Now that is lawlessness

    But the point is, we never arrest the landlord. We never lock up the building code inspector. But I tell you who we do lock up. We lock up the frustrated, bitter, sixteen-year-old brother of that two-week-old sister who in his bitterness takes to the street and throws a brick at that building code inspector. Then we lock him up and say, “We gotta have law and order!”

    Make no bones about it: the difficulty in coming to grips with the evangelical message of Jesus Christ in the black community is the fact that most evangelicals in this country who say that Christ is the answer will also go back to their suburban communities and vote for law-and-order candidates who will keep the system the way it is.

    • #19
    • August 10, 2019, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Stina Member

    TBA (View Comment):
    Set-aside programs for Furry-Americans will be one of the first things I will enact if elected President. 

    This conversation is begging for a PIT worthy photo to dissuade you on that…

    • #20
    • August 10, 2019, at 1:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Stina (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):
    Set-aside programs for Furry-Americans will be one of the first things I will enact if elected President.

    This conversation is begging for a PIT worthy photo to dissuade you on that…

    The PIT and Vegas have one simple rule.

    • #21
    • August 10, 2019, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Of course, we could see President Trump as the Nutcracker prince battling the Rat King, the Maurice Sendek version of course:

    • #22
    • August 10, 2019, at 2:48 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Basil Fawlty Member

    Perhaps the rats are a necessary step in the eventual gentrification of Baltimore.

    • #23
    • August 10, 2019, at 5:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes