Hail Our Easy-Access Town Officials; Curses Those Drive-By Litterbugs

What to love and loathe about living in East Greenwich this week.

RAVE: I was doing random Google search on the accessibility of government – as one does – and what do you think? Links to government openness popped up for Canada, England, even Africa. The United States didn’t make an appearance until I had scrolled two-thirds down the results page and then the context was trust – or rather, a lack of trust  - in our political systems.

I mention this because say what you will about our town’s council or management, one thing you cannot say is that they are not available. It is amazing to me how easy it is to get the ear of Town Manager Bill Sequino, Police Chief Tom Coyle, Parks and Recreation head Cathy Bradley, School Superintendent Vincent Mercurio, Fire Chief Peter Henrikson, to name just a few I have had had the need to call on in this past year. I have heard similar comments about the Town Council and I know that going to one of their meetings is a bit like stepping back in time to those town hall public meetings when our country first began.

It is the duty of these offices to be accountable and accessible to the public so we can be sure that we are receiving the highest possible standard of services. And these folks do it in spades.

Nothing reveals our small town heart more clearly than the way that we govern ourselves. These officials serve as the spokespersons for the residents of East Greenwich. In a world of politics as usual with a slick spin and mirrors and smoke policies, this is refreshing, to say the least. A transparent and accessible government is essential to a successful free society, and fosters trust and confidence in government. So thanks, guys (meant in the non-stereotypical gender label sense).

RANT: Every night, there seems to be a party going on outside my house. Problem is, I'm not invited. But I do have to clean it up. I don't know if it's the same group of beer swilling, fast food junkies who are leaving a pile of trash in my yard or if we just happen to live on the ley line of party central or we have a party-hardy group of raccoons, skunks and possums. But I am fed up.

I just don’t get litterers. Yes, it is an act of laziness – but it almost has to be a conscious one. After all, it takes effort to toss your trash outside the car window – you have to open the window, pick up the trash, make a wide, sweeping arc with your arm – that’s at least 15 calories right there.

My husband, the most non-confrontational man in the world, once did a reverse litter while we were walking down a city street – when a gang of twentysomethings tossed their partially-eaten Micky D’s out of their convertible car and it landed by his feet, he immediately scooped it up and tossed it back on their laps! Priceless!

A few months back, I was at Niagara Falls with my kids when we saw a teenaged girl drop a piece of paper, pause, and then literally decide not to pick it up. You could practically read her thoughts as clearly as if they had been stage directions. So here is where I handled it badly. I should have done my usual M.O., which is pick up the litter, hand it back the person, saying ever-so-helpfully, “I think you dropped this.” This method has never not worked.

But I was tired and it was hot and so I went into Mom mode.

“Pick that up!” I snapped.

Which of course made her real mother, who was walking a few paces ahead of her, chew me out. Fair enough. But she could have chewed out her kid too – after all, Niagara Falls is one of nation’s beauty spots. If you can’t have pride and a vested interest in keeping things unsullied there, there really is no hope for you.

Maybe kids just don’t get outside enough these days. It seems practically from infanthood, many of our children are inside, glued to some screen device and not playing in the dirt, rolling in grass and learning to love, appreciate, and respect nature. One study reported that more than half of kids never play outside at all unless it is in an organized sport. In fact, our kids are so disconnected with nature these days that there is a new exhibit at Roger Williams Zoo specifically formatted to teach kids how to play outside!

Whatever the reason, I am thinking of putting a trash can in front of the house. Though chances are, the only difference it will make is that I will no longer have to go down to the garage with an armload of someone else’s garbage!

Alicarn August 04, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I've always thought that littering is an assault on our earth and really hate when people do it. It's incredible how much litter ends up in my front yard also, and I get tired of having to pick it up especially since I end up walking all along my road completely filling a trash bag!
Russell Yates August 04, 2012 at 05:39 PM
One thing the town council can do is to make it an ordinance in order to have take out whether it be a drive up window or a restaurant that lets people order to go that they are required to have a trash containerposted just before and after a drive up window. It's very annoying to drive up to a McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts and have yesterdays coffee cup in your car and no where to dispose of it before you can get a fresh cup for the day. They are so willing to hand it out but not willing to help dispose of it. A restaurant, sandwich shop or deli has to have trash recepticles close wlak ways to their establisments. A main reason for litter is lack of trash recepticles of the businesses that have take out. Also all establisments with a drive thru or take out has to have their name and address printed on their napikins and containers so we would know where the trash is coming from and better be able to control it.
Renu Englehart August 04, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I am all for public embarrassment on the litter front. I always honk or yell out if I see littering ongoing. Most of the offenders are young but occasionally I see an older person as well. I once saw a well kept Escalade with a middle aged driver who proceeded to dump his litter on the corner of Division and Rt. 2 and I pointed out his infraction, he drove quickly away and then turned into his well kept home of the condos in the Preserve on Division St. Lo and behold he lives in the same town he so carelessly fouls. I also pick up trash in my area and what is depressing is so much of it is alcohol related. There are nip bottles, beer cans and even the occasional wine nip along with countless empty packs of cigarettes. I occasionally see a car from CT who goes along and picks up all the fine RI trash to take back for bottle deposit in CT. I think the fine for littering should be doubled both as a revenue maker and as a deterrent.
Maceo Parker August 04, 2012 at 07:24 PM
"It's very annoying to drive up to a McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts and have yesterdays coffee cup in your car and no where to dispose of it before you can get a fresh cup for the day." IMHO, I don't believe it is up to our local businesses to take on the personable responsibility of their clientele when their clientele opts to not exercise personal responsibility, even though to a certain degree they do through the requirement of a State Of Rhode Island Litter Control Permit, which is required for all businesses that "give" their clients the "option" of littering. http://www.tax.ri.gov/regulations/other/lit90-01.php Perhaps if those folks who can't seem to be able to dispose of the unwanted refuse they have accumulated in their cars at days end by easily carrying said refuse into their kitchen and depositing it into thei own garbage cans, we wouldn't need to further tax our businesses to the point where they close their doors and go to more hospitable business climates.


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