Rat Fighters


The Institute for Justice is taking up the cause of a Tempe teenager who ran afoul of Arizona bureaucrats by helping his neighbors repel roof rats. Last month the Arizona Republic published a story about Christian Alf, a 17-year-old entrepreneur who was charging $30 a house to cover pipes and vents with wire mesh designed to keep unwelcome rodents out. The article prompted calls from about 250 people eager to hire Alf and his friends, plus one guy, an inspector with the Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission, eager to put him out of business.

Accused of doing an exterminator's work without the proper training, license, and supervision, Alf was threatened with a $500 fine, and his days of cutting mesh appeared to be over. "It scared the pants off me," the boy's mother told Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts after her son's brush with the law.

But now Alf has found a champion at the Institute for Justice, which specializes in fighting anti-competitive regulations like this one. In a letter sent this week, I.J. attorney Timothy D. Keller asks the pest control commission to stop harassing Alf. Otherwise, he warns, "the Institute for Justice will consider filing a civil rights lawsuit for violation of Mr. Alf's economic liberty."