Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Can’t See Small Litter from Carts

Speech to the Grants Pass City Council, 8/1/12.
Honorable Councilors, Mayor, and Manager:
          Yesterday, I started to walk through the Reinhart Volunteer Park with my dog when I realized that I had to be a glutton for work to do so, because I pick up litter as I walk.  It occurred to me that I had been avoiding walking in the park for just that reason, unconsciously avoiding work. 
          I have seen park workers driving around in golf carts, but never one walking with a bag and picking up litter.  When I saw one driving past the Water Reclamation Plant heading upriver, I decided to stop her on her way back and ask a few questions.
          The first question I asked was whether such workers are paid or volunteer.  They are paid.  There are nine temporary seasonal workers. 
What do they do?  “Everything:” the young lady said, “graffiti cleanup; checking trash cans…” It was quite a list, but I didn’t hear litter pickup, and asked about it.  “Oh, yes, that too.”  She passed by a bottle cap as she drove away.
          “Everything” is too much; something is bound to be neglected.  That “something” is small litter pickup, because the workers are driving around, not walking.           One can’t see much while driving.  Cleaning tree litter from pavements is also mostly neglected, and the leaves in the gutters help one ignore the cigarette butts, bottle caps, and bits of plastic among them.
          Please get your workers out of their carts.  The only reason to drive a cart is to drive to a particular job, carrying tools or trash.  When they don’t have a particular job that requires a cart, they should be walking with a litter bag.  Better yet, two litter bags, one for trash and one for returnables that the city can turn in, and a litter grabber for reaching into blackberries.  They should have cell phones on them so their supervisor can call one in to go out with a cart to do a particular job, and so they can call in and report problems.  Any worker without a phone can simply do litter duty all day.
          This is another good reason for the Council to pass a resolution asking the City Manager to order every paid public servants working for the city to pick up litter from public properties every day for one-half hour.  One unconsciously ignores problems like litter that one are not one’s job to fix.  Litter pickup is something every servant can and should do.  If they are told to look for it, they will see the problem.

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