By: Rita Joseph, District 40 City Council Candidate
If you meet two New Yorkers, you’re guaranteed to hear at least three opinions from them. We’re an opinionated group with diverse beliefs, but there’s one thing all of us can agree on: trash stinks.
However, some in our current political leadership seem to have forgotten the lessons of when the city failed to adequately give the New York Department of Sanitation the respect and funding it deserved, resulting in a massive strike.
As a result of this failure of leadership, there’s too much trash on the streets. This result is not surprising, as the Department of Sanitations’ budget was cut by $106 million dollars last year. We need an adequately-funded and fully-staffed sanitation department. The current staff work hard and need help.
As a private citizen, I am doing my part to back up my words with action. I routinely participate in community clean-ups to try to make up for the fact that our hardworking sanitation workers aren’t given the resources they need to do their job to their fullest potential. As a Councilmember, I will insist that the Sanitation Department budget reflect the urgency of clean streets and timely trash collections.
Until that happens, my staff and I will clean the streets ourselves if we have to, because not only does poor public sanitation look and smell bad, it is actively dangerous to our health. Clean streets are a serious matter of public health, and as we near the end of this dreadful pandemic, we shouldn’t need another reminder about the importance of protecting public health.
When I’m out on the campaign trail, talking with my neighbors in District 40, one of the most common complaints I hear is that our streets are consistently dirty. As a Councilmember, I will make certain that we have enough resources for the Department of Sanitation so it can meet the demands of the city. I’m proud to support Int 2273-2021, which would mandate the installation of at least 1,000 modern, environmentally-friendly, covered waste receptacles in NYC.
I pledge to use a portion of my office’s discretionary funding to invest in the Department of Sanitations’ efforts in District 40, where our community has been neglected for too long. Furthermore, I won’t vote for a budget that doesn’t give the Department of Sanitation the funding it deserves. I’m committed to making sure we invest in the infrastructure necessary for a clean and livable city, not just for the current moment but for the future as well. We need electric trash trucks and facilities capable of sorting and dealing with waste in an environmentally sound and cost-effective manner.
These investments won’t be free, but they will pay for themselves many times over when we have a cleaner, healthier, and more environmentally-friendly city. Any jobs created will be New York jobs; the money will stay in the city’s economy.
We need these investments now. This isn’t a matter of getting back to pre-pandemic levels, as the total weight of garbage collected has increased, not decreased, from pre-pandemic levels. We have a choice between investing in the jobs and infrastructure to keep our streets clear and clean or doing nothing, between doing the obvious or watching our families get sick, and between breathing fresh air or having a residual smell of rot stuck in our noses, clothes, and houses.
This isn’t a choice at all—our only option is aggressively working to ensure our streets get cleaned up. The consequences of not acting to adequately fund and staff the Sanitation Department are simply unacceptable. There are no shortcuts or quick and easy fixes; we just need to fund this vital service.
The local government in the greatest city in the world should be able to handle the basics. Few things are as foundational to our well-being as not having trash piling up in our streets. Let’s get the trash off our streets so our children can play outside without dodging mounds of trash bags, overflowing with days-old pizza boxes and buzzing with flies.
As a mom and a teacher, I know how important it is to live in a city where our children and students can live unburdened by rotting trash and giant rats. As your next City Councilmember, I will fight to help our hard-working sanitation workers, who have been undermanned and overworked, keep our city clean. Vote Rita Joseph for City Council.
Rita Joseph is a Democrat and teacher at PS6 (Norma Adams Clemons Academy), running to represent District 40, comprising the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Ditmas Park, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Lefferts Garden and Southern Crown Heights.
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