Friday, March 02, 2007

Rats in Their Belfrey

There's more on the calorie posting controversy in this morning's NY Post editorial on the obsessions of the Department of Health. As the paper opines on the crusading commissioner, "While he's been hard at work redefinig what constitutes 'public health,'-think Nanny State on steroids-the city's rat detectives have been asleep at the switch." The editorial doesn't directly attack the Department of Health's calorie posting rule, but focuses on its obsessive concern with everything but, apparently, its core mission in New York City.

You see, while Don Quixote de la Frieden is attacking secondhand smoke and trans fat, and examining the intimate health details of the city's citizens, his department has failed abysmally in its core inspection function. So much so that we have become the butt of the late night comedians because of the rat carnival in, yes, a fast food outlet.

As the Post points out the DOH, having failed to notice a herd of rats at the Taco Bell in the Village, proceeded to go on an inspection rampage, targeting hundreds of local eateries with scores of violations. This is from an agency that has already collected over $20 million this year in fines. The point is obvious, and is underscored by the rat failure: the inspections have more to do with revenue generation than the protection of citizen health.

The Post's observations here hit the mark: "Of course, none of this would have been necessary had Frieden been in charge from the get-go. Instead he was busy unveiling New York City-brand condoms, lecturing new mothers on breast feeding and warning of the dangers of secondhand smoke to pets. Meanwhile the rats were running wild. Back to basics, Dr. Frieden."