Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but Baltimore officials say it's going to take more than prayers to send that message to city residents -- about $189,000 worth of advertising.
The Department of Public Works wants to hire a consultant, Innes and Willett Advertising Inc., to wage a public relations campaign to promote "urban cleanliness."
The cost would be $189,000, from a fund reserved for repairing and maintaining streets, according to the proposed contract.
"The idea is to create less mess, to create less debris and less irresponsible handling of trash by everyone," said James Kapplin, a Public Works Department spokesman. "So we have a cleaner city at less cost."
Mr. Kapplin said residents need to understand that the city's storm drains are not "a wastebasket" for everything from soda cans to hubcaps.
"A lot of people think and sincerely feel it's OK to sweep stuff down there and . . . where it goes is into the harbor and eventually into the bay," he said.
The proposal, if approved by the city's Board of Estimates next Wednesday, would be explained in detail at a news conference, Mr. Kapplin said.
The idea of spending $189,000 to promote cleanliness -- rather than to actually clean -- caught several City Council members by surprise. Public works officials told the City Council last spring during budget hearings that they didn't have enough money to maintain bulk trash pickups every three weeks, that instead, the pickups would occur every six weeks.
"That sounds like form over substance," added Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers, D-3rd. "But we do have a major problem with street trash, everywhere you go. I think we need to spend the money on crews to do cleanup and extending more services like bulk trash collections into more neighborhoods."
But Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, D-4th, said, "The awareness level needs to be heightened. If we could do this massive cleanup campaign, we might eliminate some of the dumping."