Trash and Culture on the Agenda at City Hall

[Editor's note: Well, look who's returned to Unfair Park, none other than former Girl on Top Andrea Grimes. And, for some reason, she's decided to reintroduce herself with ... a liveblog from the Quality of Life Committee meeting at Dallas City Hall, where they're covering big changes in code compliance and the state of the city's cultural centers. My, how things have changed.]

So far, here's the deal: Assistant Director of Code Compliance James Childers rocked the pants off some PowerPoint, telling a mostly alert group of meeting attendees what the nuisance abatement bunch are up to these days, which is to say, the nuisance abatement crew is way more awesome than it used to be, when it was not as awesome. Per Childers: Parts of Dallas are like supermagnets for folks who don't have any use for their busted TVs, outdated church barbeque t-shirts, cars, and in at least one case, boats. Those places are: South Dallas, Cadillac Heights and West Dallas, all of which are getting specialized crews to monitor illegal dumping, graffiti, homeless encampments and other unsightly businesses that makes for the ugly.

One of the meeting's big stars is Trash Attack Exclamation Point Lightning Bolt, a program wherein some folks ride around in a truck and are like, "Oh man, there is some trash! We should pick it up!" And then -- wait for it -- THEY PICK IT UP. Says Childers, mini-dumps over time eventually become regular ol' dumps: "If we see clothes sitting out for long enough, somebody's going to come dump a TV. Leave the TV, somebody's going to comp dump a sofa. Then somebody's going to come dump a car." And then the whole room was like "MMMHMMM!" and somebody clapped.

Sheffie Kadane asked about billing owners of properties thath have been used for dumping, to which Childers notes that people on whose property things get dumped are victims of a crime (the crime being illegal dumping, you understand).

"Somehow we've got to catch these, criminals, I call 'em! That's what they are."

Go, Sheffie, go!

Childers encouraged people who see illegal dumpers to get license plates and descriptions and not to engage the dumpers directly, unless I guess it looks like they've got something good for when Antiques Roadshow comes to town. Kadane proposed "some kind of sting operation" to catch illegal dumpers, an idea I hope TLC gets wind of immediately so we can get a reality show going post haste.

In sum, Sheffie is all, It's not my fault if these people dump on me, so you figure it out and don't charge me for it, and Childers is all, Yeah, totally.

Caroline Davis, when shown a photo of illegal dumping, wanted to know if this was a photo of illegal dumping. Childers informed her that it was, in fact, illegal dumping. Therefore, we have confirmed that Caroline Davis was just shown a photo of illegal dumping. Davis also proposed giving kids coloring books (about dumping?) to increase community outreach, and, presumably, make sure that people still have crap to throw away lest code compliance run out of stuff to do.

Steve Salazar would like to know how we are going to pay for this (answer: out of the general fund), and, further, what would happen if the budget gets cut. The answer is -- and this is just rampant speculation on my part -- crap doesn't get cleaned up as much. Proliferation of crap.

Dave Neumann asked about cost versus recovery, and, moreover, how do we help citizens and property owners help themselves? We can't just be cleaning up after others, for real? Many times it's not that they're not willing, it's that they're not able.

Neumann said there's been a "sea change" in code compliance, but wants a long-term victory wherein people help themselves. "We as a city cannot throw endless dollars at a problem," said Neumann, contradicting what many of us know and believe to be true about, uh, the way government works.

Vonciel Jones Hill joined in by noting, "I'm a very simple-minded person." And then she said some stuff about how awesome Trash Attack is. And then she said, "Not only am I simple-minded, but I am ambitious," because she wants Trash Attack to go nationwide -- hell, even worldwide. Except for in Germany and Switzerland: "Germany's clean. Switzerland is clean. I've been there, I've seen it."

Way to go, Germany and Switzerland, winners of the Vonciel Jones Hill "I've Been There" Award.

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