Saturday, December 10, 2011

NOT a political post...

But I really felt I wanted to comment on the Occupy Boston movement. They were moved out of Dewey Square this morning, after having been requested to leave on Thursday night. The encampment had become a health hazard, as you can imagine with a group of people living in a small area in tents for 2 months.

I'm not commenting on the movement's ideas, or its goals. I am commenting on what they left behind. Large posters stuck on the side of buildings, mud on the recently landscaped Rose Kennedy Greenway, and a mountain of garbage overflowing garbage bins and trucks. Yes, they tried to clean up after themselves as best they could. However, even that is not enough to avoid large quantities of city services being spent on just this small group. I heard the word "UNFAIR" thrown about by the protesters who were moved out by the police. I consider their use of city services solely for them to be UNFAIR.

I am a fan of the undisturbed exercise of First Amendment rights. However, I also remember what my college Philosophy professor said - your freedom ends where my nose begins. That land belongs to, and is maintained by, the City of Boston. Last time I checked, the City does not have an abundance of resources to spend cleaning up after one specific group of people. All city and town budgets are tight. For whatever reason - and debate those reasons as you will - those resources are now having to be used to clean up, replant, and rehabilitate an area that looked quite lovely and inviting when I last walked by there in July. Now it looks like a mud pit, with no chance of any replanting until Spring. So if I walk by there through the winter, I will see eroding soil being washed into the street because the grass that was planted to hold the soil in place is now gone.

Boston runs out of money to plow the streets every year. It's the nature of budgeting, to budget a lower amount for snow removal than the city might realistically need. It's a tactic that avoids budget line-item overages, and maintains at least that amount in the budget for the following year. At any rate, the money is gone by early March in a light year, and by the beginning of February in a heavy snow year. Last winter, the money was gone by the end of January, and we got a whole bunch more snow after that.

Now, imagine the money that was used for the Dewey Square cleanup coming from that snow removal budget. It has to come from somewhere, and it's not like this was a budgeted expense. So, because the protesters wanted to live in tents in Dewey Square for 2 months, I will have to climb over snowbanks to cross the street, because the city can't afford to clear the streets properly?

Thanks, protesters. You made the point that protesters even impact those who don't want to get involved with your protest.


Julianne said...

This is really well-written. It captures how I feel, in a way I couldn't really articulate. I too love that Americans have a unique freedom of speech. I am grateful for civil disobedience--without it, there would be no social, economic or political evolution. I don't think the protesters needed to camp out on public property for a month to get their message across. Plenty of people would have offered them office space. March through the streets everyday, but camping out? The "1%ers" leave work by 6 PM. You're not affecting them by spending the night in the financial district. Again, maybe I am not expressing myself in the best way, who knows. It's really special when a city has a few open, green spaces, and they should be preserved, not trashed by anyone (occupiers or not). Occupiers have resources in thousands of sympathizers with connections, and yes, money. I just heard they were in the beautiful Garden today, and I was horrified, afraid it would eventually suffer the same fate as Dewey Square.

Pegi said...

Thanks, Julianne. You added some things I hadn't considered.