Nauseating Things, Vermin / Rodents / Pests

Move Over, Muppets: Bedbugs Take Manhattan (D.A.’s Office)

I recently wondered, on Twitter, whether it’s only a matter of time before everyone in Manhattan has bed bugs. Bedbugs are like death and taxes: they will get you eventually, and the only question is when.

For lawyers and staff in the legendary Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the answer may be: soon. An employee in the office informs us that a bedbug-sniffing canine was brought into the 80 Centre Street building this afternoon — and that the dog alerted to the presence of bedbugs in multiple locations. Furthermore, rumor has it that (1) the powers-that-be in the office have known about bedbugs at 80 Centre Street for at least a week, and (2) the main building, at One Hogan Place, has had bedbugs for even longer.

(Right now Robert Morgenthau is probably thinking to himself, “Thank God I left that dump for Wachtell.” Morgenthau’s sucessor as DA, Cyrus Vance Jr., is probably scratching himself.)

“Several offices apparently came back positive for bed bugs,” said our source. “But, bizarrely, they are only going to fumigate those specific offices — not the entire building, like they should.”

Um, why the heck not?

The usual reasons: budgetary. Fumigating the entire premises would be too expensive. Our tipster told us: “People are generally livid.”

As well they should be. For fighting these critters effectively, half-measures are ill-advised. To quote the Cassandra of bedbug infestations, Not Taking Bed Bugs of the Brooklyn DA’s office, who exhibits the expertise of an obsessive:

All electric outlets should be unscrewed and removed. All light switch pads should be unscrewed and removed. All folders and books should be removed from the office and placed in storage for 2 years until the bed bugs die. All couches and chairs should be discarded, they are like beds. All carpet should be ripped up. All wall art should be removed. All cracks in the walls should be fixed.

I’m not saying this is cheap. But, it’s the right way and the only way that is going to do it.

But, to play devil’s — or bedbugs’ — advocate, here’s a question: Might such expensive efforts be Sisyphean? The bugs are probably being brought into the building by some of the office’s (hundreds of) employees. Even if you conduct a comprehensive sweep for bugs on one day, won’t the vicious creatures just return at a later time?

(Yes, I realize this could be construed as an argument for doing nothing. And maybe that’s not such a crazy position — at least until we bring back DDT and similar chemicals. When it comes to bedbugs, perhaps we all just need to suck it up. Or let them suck it up, as the case may be.)

Until this latest news, the most well-known prosecutor’s office with a bedbug infestation was the Kings County District Attorney’s office, in Brooklyn. Alas, it appears that bedbugs feed not just on human blood, but on prestige — just like lawyers. If you were a bedbug, wouldn’t you want to work in the office that inspired Law & Order?

So, in an effort to upgrade their résumés to compete in a down economy, the Brooklyn DA bedbugs got together, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, and joined the Manhattan DA’s office. When reached for comment, the bedbugs released the following statement to Above the Law: “We live in Manhattan now. Don’t dare call us ‘bridge and tunnel’!”

P.S. This not the first time that prestige-loving bedbugs have “traded up.” In the law firm world, remember how they started at Cadwalader and wound up at Cravath.

UPDATE: As reported by Gothamist, the Bronx DA’s office also has a bedbug problem. Who’s next? Queens? Staten Island?

A Bedbug Feeding [YouTube]

Earlier: Bed Bugs v. Brooklyn D.A.’s Office: Round 2
Bed Bug Emails From Brooklyn
Musical Chairs: Former New York D.A. Bob Morgenthau to Wachtell Lipton

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