Austin residents need to clean up their act

Littering makes us look nasty

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By Arlene Jones

Commentary
The recent warm weather has melted all the remaining snow. But now that our community is no longer hidden underneath a blanket of white stuff, we are exposing the yellow, green, red, blue, pink, purple, white and every color under the sun of trash littering the streets of Austin.

Flamin' Hot bags, blue juice bottles, potato chips bags, used pampers, beige plastic bags, white plastic bags, paper bags, chicken bones, milk cartons, used condoms and more. Our community is filthy and 95 percent of the filth was left by people living right here in Austin. For the life of me I cannot understand how someone can spend good money to drink the best of liquor (Courvoisier, Hennessey or Dom Perignon) and then toss the bottles to the curb. What the hell is going on?

How can people spend thousand of dollars on rims, tires and sound systems and then park their car next to a curb littered with everything-and I do include the kitchen sink! The free-for-all known as eating and dropping while walking and talking needs to stop. Worst yet is the multitude of storefront churches which don't open daily, so there is no one to clean up in front of them. What would Jesus think if he showed up in Austin today?

How does a community that has more churches than businesses look and sound like hell itself? From the foul-mouthed folks and children who use profanity to the prostitutes strolling Cicero Avenue, we are in dire straights. Add to it the constant blast of rap music blaring from vehicle after vehicle, the corners filled with too many unemployed young people, and the stench of the blunts being smoked inside passing cars, and our community is becoming the poster child for a ghetto-in-the-making!

Austin is currently represented by Aldermen Smith, Mitts and Carothers. I am calling on them to join together and begin a serious and consequence-filled campaign to stop the littering that occurs minute-by-minute in our community. I'd like to offer them an idea for the campaign. Call it "Nasty People Litter." Include in the poster a mirror section so that the person can see their own face. Caption the poster with this: "Nasty People Litter. You Are Not Nasty. Please Don't Litter." If there is one thing black folks don't like, it's being called nasty.

I would love to see those posters on the exit doors of every liquor store, fast food place, and corner store. I want to see an immediate crackdown on those who are littering. If we can't get financial compensation out of them, then put them in orange jumpsuits with a big sign on their back saying "Litterer." Each of the three wards has a Streets and Sanitation supervisor who should be given immediate instructions to not tolerate any household here in Austin that puts more garbage on the ground than they do in the can.

Many homes here in Austin keep their cans in the alley. But in truth, your can should sit on your property and not in the alley. Most of us have a couple of feet in the back near our garages where we store our cans. But if you don't have it, then we should have an immediate crackdown on those who put their cans in the alley with no regards to cars passing through or neighbors trying to park. No wonder garbage is everywhere. We're tolerating it!

Another vexing issue is how many garbage cans should a house have? For years, Chicago's answer to complaints about excess garbage coming out of a home has been to give them additional cans. Perhaps it's time to make those households pay a fee for more than three containers. If you have a fourth, then just like a city sticker for your car, you'd have to buy one for that can annually. I wonder how many bins would soon be stored inside the fence and not outside of it if one had to pay for the extras?

Next, I'd like to see a serous initiative undertaken to encourage people to recycle by putting their aluminum cans in a separate bag and hang it on their fence for the can collectors. Quite a bit of the trash that ends up on the ground comes from those scavenging for cans. Once those scavengers find cans mixed with garbage, they are known to throw the garbage on the ground while picking through it for cans. I'd also like those same scavengers to network with blocks to do a quid pro quo. In exchange for the cans, they will agree to sweep the alleys and help to keep them clean.

I also propose that our three aldermen go down to the City Council and advocate for a WPA-type project to employ many of our unemployed young men and women to clean up the neighborhood. Yes, the same City Council that just voted to authorize us taxpayers to be responsible for $500 million for the Olympics should be finding a million or two to hire young people to clean this city. In a few short months, the youth already hanging on the corners will be joined by high school children on summer break without a job. Let's give them one!

Lastly, how about a bounty on those who drive down our main streets leaving those black plastic garbage bags filled with who-knows-what? Since most folks have cameras on their cellphones, all they need to do is snap the picture, send it to the proper agency and await their reward. I wonder how few of those bags will continue to show up in our neighborhood once those responsible are fined several hundred dollars.

Austin, let's get it clean and keep it that way!

Contact : www.arlenejones.blogspot.com

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