When it comes to government, everyone complains.
It could be something you’ve seen or heard, a negative personal experience or shared frustrations.
Even media shares in this, some would say to a large degree. The city of Worcester came under fire for its problems clearing the streets of snow and ice last winter, and the Sun took up the issue in a report [here], an editorial [here], and David Hitch’s editorial cartoons [here, here and here].
All of this belies the fact that hundreds of people toil day in and day out on behalf of the residents, workers and commuters of Worcester. They do so in comparative obscurity, making the city generally safe and livable, and one in which everyone should take pride.
It’s important to note when things work as they should. The efforts of city employees merit more than a passing “That’s what we pay for,” or “That’s their job.”
In this vein we take a look at something you won’t see: 244 tons of trash.
In correspondence to the City Council ahead of the Tuesday, July 19, meeting, City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. presented the latest statistics for Keep Worcester Clean, a cross-departmental program with the goal of “cleaning litter and other debris from city streets and sidewalks.”
The updated totals through May claim 150 sites were cleared of 25 tons of trash by Keep Worcester Clean crews in May alone. Add another 142 sites and 24 tons of trash picked up by Trial Court and Department of Public Works & Parks crews, sites cleaned of graffiti and stickers, sites cleaned during neighborhood, City Manager and Earth Day cleanups, and park cleanups.
For the year, through May, the totals are staggering: 1,463 sites cleaned of 244 tons of trash.
In addition, this year 104 abandoned cars have been removed, 900 bags of litter collected, 107 tires picked up, 2,757 miles of roads swept and 1,417 nuisance ordinance work orders have been filed.
This builds on a successful 2015, during which 544 tons of trash were picked up from 3,594 cleanups and 6,580 nuisance ordinance work orders were issued.
There are parts of the city that remain unclean. Among the places online where you can see that is the Keep Worcester Clean Facebook page, which is not affiliated with the city’s efforts and is NSFW for language. However, we don’t dare try to consider what the city would be like with the additional 788 tons of trash removed over the last 17 months.
In a city the size of Worcester there are countless other examples of government that works because of the people who show up every day to make it so.
But looking at the nearly 1.6 million pounds of trash that isn’t there is a good start.