City residents are responsible for own trashI am dismayed...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 24, 1998

City residents are responsible for own trash

I am dismayed that The Sun's editorial "City must clear way for cleaner streets" (Oct. 15) placed the burden of responsibility for clean streets entirely on the city.

While I very much applaud the students who took their time, effort and money to assist a neighborhood clearly at risk, I think that the perception you leave, that city government is doing nothing to address grime, is disingenuous and ignores all that really is going on.

More attention needs to be placed on the personal responsibility of every citizen of the city to be a good neighbor. That means that everybody needs to be held accountable for keeping clean the area around his or her property. The city did not dump trash in the alley. The city does, frequently, clean up the trash in areas where irresponsible people dump trash. I prefer investing more of our resources in preventing the type of behavior that led to this situation in the first place.

As part of a coordinated effort to make the city cleaner and safer and to promote personal responsibility, the city recently established new positions called sanitation enforcement officers. The new Environmental Review Board is ready to begin hearing civil citation cases, and the number of criminal citations for housing and sanitation code violations prosecuted in District Court has increased more than 300 percent in the last year.

The only way to fix the problem in our neighborhoods is to encourage all people to take pride in the appearance of the community. That must be a comprehensive approach. It would be encouraging if our city's main newspaper would help by acknowledging more cleanup efforts by citizens and the city, instead of picking arguments it can't lose.

As a final thought, I must note that our Office of Homeless Services has been in touch with the students' advisers at Coppin State to explore possible avenues of involvement for those energetic and civic-minded students.

Daniel P. Henson III

Baltimore

The writer is the city's housing commissioner.

Your editorial struck a nerve and draws from me a mixed reaction. On one hand, I am sympathetic with the city bureaus that run the trash pickup, recycling and street cleaning efforts. In neighborhood, all but the recycling seems to run like clockwork. Even recycling is responsive to my phone calls when a pickup is missed. Complaints about trash-filled back yards are acted upon on a timely basis.

On the other hand, I have become painfully aware that the main problem is the people who live in the area, and I suspect it is a problem all over the city. The people cause all the vast amounts of litter we wallow in. Beer bottles do not get on the sidewalk unless someone puts them there. Potato chip bags arrive on the street only when thrown down by someone. Rats tear open the garbage bags when someone puts the bags in alleys when garbage collection is not scheduled. Trash cans get overturned by vandals.

Mattresses don't walk into our alleys; people put them there. For the city bureaus to achieve a litter-free city would cost more than we could ever raise in taxes, given our collective attitude.

Maybe we can blame the city for not campaigning hard enough to persuade the population that littering is selfish, filthy and anti-social.

I moved here from Illinois this year after retiring. I chose Baltimore for its location and because the rowhouse I acquired and renovated affords great living space at low cost. Now every time I go outside, I am picking up litter. Every time I go to Patterson Park with my dog, I find myself not only scooping up after her, but also retrieving cans, bottles, clothing, Styrofoam cups, plastic bags and stuff too unseemly to mention.

I have never lived anywhere where the problem is as widespread and unrelenting as here. I can sweep the sidewalk in front of my home and it will require sweeping again a half hour. I'm beginning to believe I made a poor choice.

It is gratifying that you care enough about the issue to give it prominent space among your editorials. You are very right that it is one of our more important challenges. For the moment, when (( people ask me how I like living in Baltimore, my response is not very flattering. It's a nice place to visit, but living here . . .?

Charles L. Russell

Baltimore

Slugging, slinging in governor's race

I can barely understand Gov. Parris N. Glendening's unsportsmanlike mudslinging at opponent Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

I cannot understand his unfounded insults aimed at the many law-abiding, God-fearing, tax-paying, voting, Maryland citizens who happen to be National Rifle Association members.

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