Perhaps it takes the specter of rats to get any serious cross-municipal talks off the ground.
In case anyone missed it, the suburbs are having a bit of a rat problem. The vermin seem to have migrated from the City of Buffalo's once unlidded, plastic-bag-at-the-curbside environment and headed out to the suburbs.
The problem has taken on serious proportions, even in areas that don't yet have the little visitors roaming.
Lancaster Town Supervisor Robert H. Giza said the other day that he does not want to wait until the town develops its own rodent problem, but he also is hedging on purchasing garbage totes. So he conferred with others -- Erie County's chief rodent control officer, Lancaster Village Mayor William G. Cansdale and Village Trustee Gary Ambrose.
The group agreed to work together, according to the supervisor, to develop a law similar to county and state laws that require garbage stored at curbside to be kept in lidded containers, and to apply enforcement.
Giza should follow through and implement effective controls. He should consider politically unpopular measures such as totes, so that Lancaster remains rat-free, avoiding the problems experienced in Buffalo, Kenmore, the Town of Tonawanda and Amherst. Getting residents to remove wood piles, composts and broken bird-feeders isn't easy, as the supervisor said. Change isn't easy.
Working together on ridding or preventing rampant rats should certainly win easier public approval than, say, merging police departments. Give the Town and Village of Lancaster credit for getting that done, despite controversy.
Public outcry greeted talk about getting Depew involved and merging that police department with either Lancaster or Cheektowaga. Cooperative rat control should be a lower hurdle.
Merger talks and cross-municipal cooperative ventures normally raise proprietary concerns. Questions of services, lost jobs, lower wages and unions come to bear. The public often locks arms against outsiders. But when it comes to rat control, joining forces should be a no-brainer.