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Meet the Man Who Gets Hip-Deep Every Morning to Clean Up City Hall's Reflecting Pool

Jose Peña, standing between Marta Pan's Floating Sculpture in front of Dallas City Hall Monday morning.
Jose Peña, standing between Marta Pan's Floating Sculpture in front of Dallas City Hall Monday morning.
Photos by Patrick Michels

A couple of days ago I happened to find myself, during the waking hours of business, standing in front of Dallas City Hall, where the only person in sight was the one half-submerged in the reflecting pool. In black hip-waders and a Parks & Recreation baseball hat, Jose Peña was pacing circles around the 25,000 square-foot pool that morning like he does every morning, dipping a pool cleaners' net into the water periodically to scoop up whatever good stuff he finds.

Nothing good in there today, he told me -- "just trash" -- but in the five years since he took on his duties as City Hall's pool guy, reaching into the reflection of our imposing city seat has turned up some pretty wild stuff. T-shirts, he said, and drugs. "Syringes, sometimes," Peña told me.

Which he agreed was a dangerous thing for him to have to risk stepping on every morning -- all so some daredevil can get high and naked and wave at the mayor's office window.

Peña tests the acidity of the water -- 7.6 Monday, if you're scoring at home.
Peña tests the acidity of the water -- 7.6 Monday, if you're scoring at home.
Monday's haul. This is as close as we got once we heard the word "syringe."
Monday's haul. This is as close as we got once we heard the word "syringe."
Meet the Man Who Gets Hip-Deep Every Morning to Clean Up City Hall's Reflecting Pool

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