Sunday, November 21, 2010

Littering: It's OK if you bully City Hall enough

The Gannett chain, owners of the Salem Statesman-Journal, are really throwing their weight around and doing their best to intimidate Salem's City Council by threatening legal action against the city if it takes any action against the weekly dumping of tons of unwanted waste paper and plastic bags on Salem's streets -- with costs of cleanup all billed to us, with all profits from the unwanted junk going to Gannett.

The photo shows just one of countless examples of Gannett's narcissistic, socially destructive behavior -- that's 15th St. NE, not too far from the Statesman-Journal presses. Four, count 'em four dumped advertising junk bags left foul the streets and block proper drainage.

The legal issues are interesting, because it shows bullying at its finest. Gannett has no legal leg to stand on if Salem passes a content-neutral ordinance that requires anyone who distributes unrequested commercial materials to collect any remaining outside a day or two after they are first dumped. That would simply be an ordinance for the public health and safety, what the legal types call an exercise of the city's police powers.

But after learning that Gannett has been threatening to throw its weight around over the issue, I realized that we can even do it better with an even more untouchable ordinance that Gannett would like even less: Require anyone distributing unrequested commercial flyers or other dropoff materials to register the dropoff with the city, provide a toll-free collection number, and to post a bond to ensure proper collection of unwanted copies -- say, a nickel for each copy to be distributed. There'd be no opportunity for censorship or government meddling: the city could not stop or hinder the dropoff. The only thing the registration would do is establish the dates where the dropoff was going to occur and the number of copies (to set the bond amount). Then, after each dropoff, anyone who didn't want the junk would call the toll-free number provided by the distributor, give their address, and the distributor would have to collect the material within 24 hours.

Any copies that remain on the street 48 hours after distribution are charged against the distributor's deposit at the rate of 50 cents each. City Neighborhood Enhancement Services staff collect the dumped-and-forgotten copies and keep the 50 cents to improve Neighborhood Services throughout the city.

Or, I suppose, Gannett could stop dumping garbage on Salem streets and making us pay for cleaning it up.

WORD: America just going through the motions on reforms

DIY Fake Ice CubesFake ice is just as real as our commitment to dealing with reality. Image by Kyle May via FlickrSad but true.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Spotted: An extremely sane Republican . . . lost in a primary of course . . .

Amazing - a Republican from South Carolina no less.

Local Heroes: Salem's coolest new nonprofit's cool new newsletter

Local Harvest, which is about a year old right about now, having just gotten started last year, is still in the lead for Salem's coolest nonprofit for 2010. Now they've gone and got a newsletter even (pdf), so you can see some of what you missed if you didn't sign up to help out.
Thanks so much for your support of Neighborhood Harvest. Almost 800 community volunteers picked more than 50,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables this season, with half donated to the Marion-Polk Food Share. We wanted to send a link to our first newsletter, and invite you to join us again next year.

Best wishes!

Steering Committee Members
Neighborhood Harvest of Salem
And don't forget to thank these local heroes for supporting Local Harvest:
Thanks to our supporters!
$1,000 or above
Shannon Blake
Renato and Maria Labate
Lake Labish Farms
The Marble Center
Molly Pearmine McCargar
Norman and Kay McDonald of McDonald Family Farms
Karen and Steve Weiss
Dick Yates and Nadene LeCheminant
Mike and Lisa Zwart
Nathan and Alicia Bay
John Savage
Matthew and Kimberly Boles
Lisa Clark-Burnell and Kelly Burnell
Jeffrey Egan, in memory of Diana Egan
Roz Shirack
NEIGHBORHOOD HARVEST OF SALEM was established in January 2010. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is a project of Friends of Salem Saturday Market and supports Marion-Polk Food Share through donations of produce. Our mission is to build community, alleviate hunger, preserve our heritage and promote simple, sustainable lifestyles.