Which is worse: picking up pieces of litter, or “advocating a position on a piece of legislation”?
In Lakewood, it’s the latter because doing so will eliminate you from the volunteer litter (of those duly authorized to pick it up.)
According to the current rules in the 11-page application packet for the “Adopt-A-Street Litter Control Program” overseen by the Lakewood Public Works Department Operations and Maintenance Division, be assured your altruistic motive to “contribute to a cleaner environment and a more attractive city by adopting sections of a City street and removing litter along those sections,” is appreciated.
Just don’t be endorsing or opposing a particular candidate for public office; lobbying the legislature or any other governmental agency that might be adversely impacted by your initiative or referendum; and maintain no reference to a political party.
Pretty much other than those forbidden free-speech rights, your organization is free to pick up trash.
Dare speak up for community values however; organize the masses to march on city hall; or otherwise – by inflammatory rhetoric – incite a rebellion to remove, replace, recall or recommend somebody or something that you, naively, believe is for the better and your “volunteer organization shall NOT (Public Works emphasis, p.3) be eligible” to remove litter.
Don’t even think about applying.
Furthermore, and it goes without saying and indeed the Public Works department does not say it, should your people be found out to have surreptitiously or overtly engaged in any of the foregoing impermissible civic duties, well then by implication your trash bags will be taken away (maybe your Kodachrome too) along with the “‘Volunteer Litter Crew Ahead’ advanced warning signs and standards”; you will be required to return your hard hats and vests; and the sign crediting your efforts and otherwise advertising what good people you are for taking care of the environment will be taken down.
Maybe you’ll even be billed for the cost of making the sign.
‘What,’ you ask, ‘does litter control have to do with speech control?’
A litter, er letter, has been written to the City to find out.
The ruling as to who can do what on the streets, alleys and lanes – not to mention the gutters and those who, to voluntarily clean them, take great pains – is under review by the city attorney.
The Parks Department has taken over from the Public Works Department this program and updated materials are promised right around April 1st so, depending on whether the rules change to affirm the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as trumping current city policy (if not you might rightly conclude this whole litter thing is a bunch of garbage and just let the litter lie) – in the words of the Parks people, “you may want to wait until the new packet is available to apply.”
Stay tuned to this publication for more trash talk.