It seems that trash, as well as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder if two studies of New York’s street cleanliness are anything to go by. Travel + Leisure recently released a much-publicized list that found New York to be the dirtiest city in America. In an effort to try and rebut this filthy scarlet letter, the city’s Independent Budget Office dug into the Mayor’s Management Report, released the following week, that found 95.5 percent of the New York City’s streets here are “acceptably clean.”
The IBO collated information from the 2012 fiscal year, which found that the vast majority of streets in New York only have scattered litter here and there. It is a far cry from the results of the magazine’s survey, which apparently sees the place as one giant trash heap. This makes the city’s $81m investment in street cleaning measures seem pretty futile. Oh, and the other $570m spent on curbside garbage collections. The pricey debacle takes blowing money on trash to a whole new level.
Not even the technological wonders of 450 mechanical brooms could help clean up the disparity in perceptions between the two conflicting sources. Each year, the mayor’s office asks community boards to rank local services in order of importance, with street cleaning coming in at 17th. This placed above the likes of services for the homeless and economic development initiatives, reinforcing just how selfless the good people of New York really are. Why spend money helping those without a roof over their heads when your taxes can go towards funding a mechanical broom? At least we can all agree on that.
A few feeble ‘explanations’ have been offered up in order to elucidate the gulf in public and municipal opinion, namely that the mayoral rating scale was drawn up some 40 years ago and probably doesn’t reflect our diminished tolerance for dirt. Let’s not forget that Donny Osmond was also acceptable in the 1970s, so that period of LSD addled disarray may not be the best indicator of contemporary opinion. Operations staff has promised to update the system accordingly, so only time will tell if the new ratings will be as amusingly shambolic as those currently in place.