By Dominick Romeo
In the latest Zoom forum hosted by City Council Member Erik Bottcher called: A Conversation with NYC Rat Tzar, Kathleen Corradi, which is part of a series of forums that Council Member Bottcher has held to, as he says, “help demystify government for folks,” Mr. Bottcher sat down with our newly appointed Rat Tzar for a Q&A on July 25th, 2023. Unfortunately, though, none of the Building Superintendents questions to Councilmember Bottcher’s office had been asked to Ms. Corradi, and my question was so watered down that I could swim laps around in it.
My question to the Rat Tzar was simple: Ms. Corradi, you have had success handling 120 public school rodent problems, which led to a 70% drop in complaints – did you accomplish this by forcing your Building Superintendents to go back to work at 8 PM, when they get off from work at 5 PM?
The closest Councilman Bottcher ever got to my question was when he asked Ms. Corradi this: I want to talk about the changes in setout times, The Department of sanitation Issued Rules, early this year, and changed the setout times from 4 O’clock, to now 8 O’clock, unless you put trash bags out in containers, and preceded to say that some of our Superintendents are upset with this, and then asked her for her thoughts.
Mrs. Corradi response was this: “Absolutely in favor of sanitations position here and all of the changes [the decisions] this administration is making [about] changing NYC relationship with garbage on the curb. And I think it starts with [this] real direct connect to of quality of life, when we have waste sitting out on the curb, when we have [most] people using our streets, commuting home, and the difference between 4 PM and 8 PM and bag sitting out, is a real game changer for many New Yorkers, and how we think about our streets landscape.”
BINGO! Finally, someone saying the quit parts out loud! That this has little to do with rat control in our city and everything to do with Mayor Adams tripping over trash bags as he stumbles out of high-end nightclubs after dark. It’s About Council Members who don’t want to see trash bags on the sidewalk as they walk home from City Hall. That this is affecting their quality of life and they could care less about our quality of life as Building Superintendents and Porters, who are forced to go back to work 144 nights each year.
One of City Council’s favorite responses to this debacle has been to say that we can toss out our trash at 6 PM, just as long as it’s in a container with a lid on it – but this is not that simple. On an average disposal night, which is twice a week for us Superintendents – not including our once-a-week recycling night – this is entirely possible to do! We would have enough containers for each bag of garbage to be placed into, then bring these containers to the curb the night before. But where this becomes an impossibility is on recycling nights. On recycling night, we bring our regular trash, recycling metal & glass, and recycling paper and carboard to the curb. I can have as many as 40 to 60 bags combined on those nights. That would mean that the owners of our building, and management companies, would have to purchase anywhere from 40 to 50 extra containers to comply to this regulation, at purchasing price of $170.00 a piece! That’s over $10,000.00 per building, for a building the size of mine (60 units) for a regulation that property managers and owners are not sure will even exist a year from now.
Owners of our building are simply not willing to purchase any extra containers in fear that a new city pilot program will go in effect soon called, The Clean Curb Program, which is being tested within the Time Square area now. This program will eventually force building and homeowners, as well as small businesses, to purchase one giant container that cost over $5,000 a piece in an effort to curb the city’s alleged rat problem. This container has six access doors to them. Three facing the sidewalk, for building supers to us, and three facing the street, for DSNY gain access to by means of combination locks. These bins are the length and height of a standard SUV and will take away even more parking spaces from us New Yorkers, as well as limiting the amount of revenue that our city pulls in via parking tickets once these eyesores are placed at the curbs of houses and buildings soon. The city would have to make up for this lost revenue somehow, though. Which would mean more taxes for us along with more fines and tickets everyone else who wants to visit. This is not dissimilar to what democrats in leadership have in mind with congestion pricing, that also has nothing to do with their states cause (pollution in and around our city) that will tax vehicles up to $23.00 that choose to drive past 60th street, as well as taxing the roughly 749,00 residents who live below Lincoln Center even more for their everyday goods like food, prescriptions, and clothing, just to name a few items.
I guess this is the price we will soon have to pay if we want to live in the minds of democrats running our city, and their version of an ideal utopia city, that has no garbage bags on city street and no cars that will get in their way.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Lord Acton, 1887
The other smokescreen that City Council Members have been using is to blame this regulation on the Department of Sanitation [DSNY]. A city agency that has no powers to pass regulations, city ordinances, or laws, without the express authorization of City Hall. In other words, City Council isn’t willing to take responsibility for the take-out hour being moved to 8 PM in an election year, so they have been blaming everyone else including DSNY for their mistakes.
I’ve talked to serval members of the Sanitation Department this year about this rat regulation and every one of them have told me that they had nothing to do with this regulation, and that they were just as mystified as everyone else was. I’ve even joked around with some of them by saying, that “I’ve never killed a rat with an Apple Watch strapped to its wrist to know the difference between 4 PM and 8 PM when it got hungry.”
Building Superintendents are now being asked by our Council Members to email DSNY directly, with our complaints. City Council’s auto reply to our complaints has been this:
Thank you for reaching out about the new set-out times for trash. This program was a DSNY initiative and was not voted on by the council. We have received complaints about the new times and understand the frustration of the buildings and the supers, and have passed the complaints on to the sanitation department. You can also make a complaint to DSNY. At the bottom of the link is a place to write the commissioner. I encourage you and your neighbors to write:
And so, I did just that… Within my email to Laura Kavanagh, DSNY’s commissioner, I wrote: Dear Commissioner Kavanagh. City Council is blaming you and your department for this rat regulation that is forcing us building superintendents to go back to work past 8 PM. This has been disrupting our lives in so many ways as you know. We can no longer eat dinner with our family or hang out with our friends, or take evening classes to better our lives with, 144 nights out of each year. Please put back the take-out time to 4 PM, because we get off from work at 5 PM, not 8 PM, just like everyone else does.
Their generic cut and paste answer back to me was:
Dear Mr. Romeo: I am responding to your message regarding the new set out times for residents/ building owners which began April 1st. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to this new rule. As part of our commitment to keeping our streets clean, the NYC Department of Sanitation implemented this rule to reduce the time that trash, recycling, and curbside composting will sit on sidewalks. Previously, trash and recycling could be placed at the curb after 4:00pm the night before collection – the earliest set out time of any major American city – meaning that in many neighborhoods, these items can sit out for more than 14 hours, including during the evening pedestrian rush hour. (* the real reason why they are forcing us to toss out our trash later!) The new rules significantly decrease the amount of time that trash is left at the curb, diminishing the eyesore of black bags, reducing food sources for rats and other rodents, and improving the overall cleanliness of the city. As you are aware, residents and businesses were required to comply with the new set-out times as of April 1, 2023.
We appreciate that these new rules may pose challenges to large building maintenance staff if materials are going out later. We ask that residents/building supers to be mindful that all materials must be out by midnight to ensure that waste is out for DSNY collection services in either bins with secure lids at 6:00pm, or at the curb in bags at 8:00pm. Residents/supers should continue to place out trash and recyclables according to their current collection schedule(s). Failure to follow the new rules can result in a summons.
For buildings with 9 or more units, there is an option to sign up for a 4AM-7AM collection time. The opt-in period runs each year for the month of January, which allows DSNY to design quick and efficient routes that take effect on April 1 each year. Unfortunately, the application period to enroll closed on January 31, 2023 and does not reopen until January 1, 2024. You may enroll in the earlier collection time program in January 2024. Thank you for sharing your concerns and taking the time to write about the earlier set-out times. Sincerely, Brian Nolan, Supervisor, Central Correspondence Unit Bureau of Community Affairs New York City Department of Sanitation – DSNY
My reply back was this: But you didn’t answer my question within my last email – does the Department of Sanitation now possess powers to pass laws and regulations that go around City Council? Has our city’s constitution changed in the last couple of months?
I’m still waiting to hear back from Mr. Nolan as of today…
It was interesting that Mr. Nolan mentioned that we had the earliest “set out time” in comparison to other major cities. That turned out to be true! After doing some research it appears that the tristate area (New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – excluding New York City for the moment) have indeed changed their take-out time to a later-time of the day. These time changes seem to have started within the last couple of years during Covid. Parts of Pennsylvania have indeed changed their trash take-out time to 6 PM, while other parts of New Jersey (let’s use Fort Lee New Jersey as an example – where a little know candidate named Erick Adam’s was living while running for Mayor of New York City, but claiming to be living in Brooklyn at the time) have regulated their citizens to throw out their trash out at 7:30 PM.
I suspect this is where Mayor Adams got the idea from in the first place.
But we are not like every other major city in America. We are an economic powerhouse with over 8.4 million people living here – one of the world’s major banking institutions. We are the city that never sleeps but us supers and porters need to our rest too. So, to compare our bustling city to places like Fort Lee New Jersey, with a population of 40,000 people, or Kansas City, Kansas, with a population of 150,000 – both placing having little influence on our country GDP and having no similarities what-so-ever towards the culture of each city – is utterly ridiculous at best, or a really bad proverbeal comparison of apple to oranges at its very least.
How did we get here? Well, it started during covid when our city was shut down – when we were not permitted to walk our city streets or congregate in large numbers, – and when we ate Thanksgiving dinner with families and friends through Zoom meetings. This started when our subway system came to a screeching halt. When ridership fell to a staggering 8.9% and the only people using our transit system at the time were essential workers like myself. It was budget cuts to the MTA during the pandemic that caused the rise within the rat population in our city. There was no one treating the 669 miles of subway tunnels with Rodenticides anymore, as well as the 472 subway stations that are sprinkled throughout our cities landscape. Reports from all over our country started to come in of wildlife taking over places where they had never been seen before. This was a result of us humans not being there to shoo these animals away. And this included the rats in and around our subways that later spread throughout our city streets. These rats thrived during the pandemic. There wasn’t anybody rebaiting the thousands of bait-boxes within our subway system anymore. And then, the restaurant sheds changed everything. The rat problem went from bad to worse seemingly overnight. But this all started because of bad management by city officials who created the rat buffet we now are living through today. The same city officials who haven’t addressed the second cause of the rat population rising; these restaurant sheds that are still feeding these rats This rat influx had nothing to do with us throwing our trash out at 4 PM and everything to do with city officials not wanting to see trash on our streets while they are walking home from City Hall – as both Mr. Nolan, Supervisor of DSNY and Mrs. Corradi, the so-called rat Tzar, have alluded to already.
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.”
I am a 3rd generation Building Superintendent. My father was a Superintendent before me, and my mother’s father was a superintend before him. I was raised to be a card-carrying member of the democrat party, but our party has been failing us miserably lately. They can no longer hold the title of being “the working-class-party” anymore, as more of us Democrats try to look for other people to vote for because we have lost faith in them nationally.
The voice of Ronald Reagan has been haunting me lately, where he once said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic Party left me.” But I’m not going anywhere – and nor should you go anywhere. I will remain a liberal and start voting independently because of this though – as so many of us superintendents and workers have already started to do.
If we don’t start removing this cancer from our party, now – starting with every-primary season, every-two-years, then we will be handing our state over to a party that seek to govern women’s reproductive rights – that has a history of gerrymandered the Black and Hispanic community out of elections – and, who has written laws that force the transgender community to go back into hiding – We will be handing this state over to the Republican party in, general elections, if we don’t start primary-ing these politicians out soon.
This is where New York City and New York State is headed, I fear. All because of a party that’s moved away from being the party of the working class.
Building Superintendent’s & Porters
List of Demands
To City Council
1. We demand a NON-ZOOM, IN PERSON public hearing on this matter.
2. We demand that they meet with our group.
3. We demand that City Council take responsibility for this regulation (instead of using The Department of Sanitation as their scapegoat).
4. We demand this vote be taken before their elections on November 7th, so they can take responsibility for their lack of actions before their elections.
5. We demand that they move our trash take-out hour back to 4pm.
Because we get off at 5PM, just like everyone else.
Ask yourself this. Can your nights be disrupted for another two years? Ours can’t.
For information regarding The Superintendent & Porter Rally scheduled on October 9th, in front of City Hall, and for more information regarding the month-long champagne of civil disobedience, starting on October 7th, leading up to City Council’s election on November 7th (where we are asking every Building Superintendent, Porter, and Home Owner to toss their trash out at 4 PM in defiance) please go to our website at NYCBuildingSuperS.com – and please forward this site to every superintendent and porter you know! Post our website NYCBuildingSuperS.com on your social media sites when you can, please.