Scott Levine.jpg

Scott Levine

City Services Committee members made a good compromise this week.

For years, the city has conducted large-item pickup for residents twice a year. But with a growing concern about implementation of the service by city staff and a general consensus from the public, the service was pared down to once a year by committee members. The measure now moves on to the full council, which should win support.

Compromises like these will make life as a City Councilman much easier if they continue. When the city announced it would change the system to include vouchers only, many citizens voiced their displeasure through phone calls, letters and columns (including me). With the committee’s decision this week, it shows that our elected representatives are listening to constituents’ valid complaints and moving forward to address those issues.

Despite that solid decision, though, I did have a problem with the way the compromise was presented.

After reading the article, it seemed like some members of the committee were warning residents about following the letter of the law regarding the service...or else it would be closed forever.

Residents’ perception of City Hall doesn’t generate a glowing recommendation. Making threats about ending a nice, city-wide, large-item pickup service based on a few bad apples is not a good way to change those attitudes.

I fully believe that many people within City Hall are trying to turn the page on some bad choices made during the past few years and work toward a better future. But when I see a City Councilman say “As far as I’m concerned this could be the last year we do it (large-item pick up),” or see a city official say he just dislikes the program in general, then I cringe.

Clinton isn’t the only city that offers this service. Cities all around Iowa give citizens an opportunity to unload their junk once a year, to help alleviate problems that could arise in eyesores later. Thankfully, Clinton participates and gives back to residents, something that people overwhelmingly applauded and participated in the past.

Sure, there will always be some people who take advantage of the program. That happens in every business, but when it’s a matter of good PR, sometimes you just have to swallow your negative feelings, and give people what they want.

If you read Thursday’s newspaper, you might have noticed a Dean’s List announcement from Ashford University. Did I enjoy reformatting the text and moving every name around within the story? No, I didn’t. But is it good for the Clinton Herald to have hundreds of names of local citizens listed in a Dean’s list story? Yes.

And that’s why I did it, because it shows the local newspaper doesn’t only focus on what’s going on in City Hall, or who’s been arrested lately. We also have good news and can give back to people who have supported us through the years.

So when the city still searches for answers in solid waste collection and reports that a sewer hike may be on the horizon, I become a little agitated when I read that city leadership is nearing the end of its patience with the large-item pick up program.

Ask any resident about their patience regarding some of the decisions by the city, and it may include a few four-letter words.

So I hope the city remains patient with its now yearly undertaking, because giving back to taxpayers and showing they matter will go a long way in changing perception.

Follow Scott Levine on Twitter @ScottLevineCH.