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Some legislators command attention by banging a gavel. Others do it by pounding a fist. And at least one D.C. politician prefers squeezing a rubber rodent. In a Committee on Human Services budget hearing last Friday, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham ceremoniously squeaked a 7-inch toy rat at every mention of the D.C. Department of Health’s rat-control program. Characterizing his hi-jinks as “impactful but not adorable,” Graham asked fellow councilmembers to support the city’s $600,000 rat-management plan. At one point, Graham displayed his own fangs by criticizing the disappointing results from D.C.’s $47,000 rat-poisoning program as well as the efforts of the city’s 13 pest controllers. Behind the scenes, some councilmembers objected to their colleague’s new pet. “They wouldn’t let me keep it out [at the hearing],” says Graham, who later placed the toy in his pocket. “It was 7 inches long, but not like the ones in our neighborhood.” —Andrew Katz
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