Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Responsibility

Feeling both reclusive and contemplative, I decided to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama by myself. When he spoke about a “new era of responsibility,” it made me think of a very elementary way we can take on responsibility here in the Queen City.

I’m talking about litter. Cleanup and litter pickup campaigns have always irked me, because nearly all the discarded items came out of somebody’s hand with the expectation that someone else would deal with them. This contributes to a costly and potentially unnecessary part of Plainfield’s budget. Recently I was looking at a wall of trash up against a fence in Municipal Lot 7 and thinking just that. Soon afterwards, a Public Works crew came with trucks and equipment to dislodge all the debris, scoop it up and take it away – at the taxpayer’s expense.

The Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority also has workers who go around with carts and brooms to clean the sidewalks. Every time you see one of these workers, you are looking at a cost built into your PMUA bill, whether or not you have ever dropped a snack bag or paper cup on the sidewalk.

Now, if you walked past my building and saw the garbage-strewn lawn, you would probably think, what a hypocrite. Let me explain. My neighbor and I quit picking up trash in the front yard after the level of services here dropped and the rent soared. The front yard, according to us, is our landlord’s face to the public. The lawn guys in summer toss all sorts of junk in one corner of the front yard instead of dealing with it, and the management allows it.

We still try to keep up the back and side yards, or we did until it became a losing battle with a couple of new tenants who drop stuff all over and make no effort to pick it up. Maybe they also feel so insulted by the lack of services for high rent that they are taking out their resentment by trashing the grounds. So far, they don’t think “the time has come to set aside childish things.”

Personally, even though I don’t think it is the real solution to the problem, I will once more get out my pickup tool and pluck plastic bags off the shrubbery, gather the food wrappers and bottles, maybe later even rake the leaves in the back. As for the front, maybe someone will call Inspections at (908) 753-3386 and make a complaint.

Keeping the Queen City litter-free is such a small thing in the great panoply of problems to be solved in America in 2009. But it is something anyone can help solve by heeding Obama’s call for a new era of responsibility, at the most basic level, on our streets and sidewalks. Yes, we can keep our city clean. Yes, we will? I hope so.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could not agree with you more, Bernice. I cannot imagine the low lifes who think it is OK to litter. And it is the citizens of Plainfield who need to start a campaign of getting this city looking like something other than a war zone. How?

1- Get the administration and council to insist that landlords start policing their property - and fine them if they do not (revenue to the city which we need)

2- Citizens volunteer campaign - Don't Be a Litter Bug! Get all the associations involved

3- Be a good neighbor and police your property and pick up the trash

4- Have pride in where you live - don't tolerate ltter or unkempt appearances from your neighbor, landlord, city businesses or anyone throwing trash out in the street

Let's get with it Plainfield - get it looking good for spring!

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for that phone number for inspections bernice.will call the city tomorrow-and lets see how long it takes to clean up certain areas.code enforcement is sooo busy.NOT.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very strange,i called inspection all day yesterday( thursday).and no one answers the phone?

8:31 AM  

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