Back and forth over illegal dumping, 140 characters at a time

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

Everyone has a breaking point. Neil Foisy hit his on Tuesday.

Foisy lives in the University Park Lofts, a building of condominiums surrounded by Walpole, Gates and Illinois streets and bordered by a portion of railroad tracks owned by CSX. The area is rife with litter from illegal dumping, ranging from paper scraps to large items like tires and couches.

He says recently he’s been “pretty passive” regarding the garbage, but after seeing city councilor Kate Toomey post a thank you note to CSX via Twitter for their donation to Park Spirit and Concerts at Elm Park, he wondered why the multi-billion dollar company wasn’t doing more to keep their property clean.

“That’s a drop in the bucket,” says Foisy, of the company’s donations.

So he after he got home on Tuesday he went out and took pictures of the tires, couches (some of which he says have been there for two years) and other assorted illegally dumped items. Then he took to Twitter (under the name 4rilla), using the @ symbol to get Toomey’s (and maybe CSX’s) attention.

He even threw in the “$” in front of CSX a couple times too, knowing that many interested in stocks/finance search companies on Twitter with their stock name and a dollar sign in front. “Just to give a double whammy,” Foisy says.

It certainly got Toomey’s attention, and she responded back to him over Twitter.

(See the whole back and forth by looking at each of their respective Twitter pages.)

Meanwhile, another Worcester blogger, Dee Wells, picked up on the open exchanges between Foisy and Toomey, and wrote about it on his blog.

“It’s great that (Foisy) posted those pictures,” Toomey said yesterday,  adding that she would contact CSX and tell them about the trash.

Apparently, she did, relaying the information on Twitter and Facebook:

On his own blog, Foisy has some questions about how the money was spent, and posts more pictures of the garbage.

Foisy’s accounts of CSX’s clean ups leave little to be inspired. “I would say they sort of clustered some trash into piles, and never picked it up. That’s the most progress I’ve seen.”

He’s tried to do clean ups himself, but says there’s no access to the train tracks. To help with the blight, he had some Shephard Fairey-connected graffiti artists (of this fame) do some mural work on the wall near his condo. The wall on the other side of the CSX tracks that he can’t reach is covered with Kilby Street gang spray paint.

“Maybe with (CSX) having a vested interest in town rattling some cages will get a response,” Foisy says.

In the short term, probably not much will change because of the back and forth between Foisy and Toomey. But as Wells says on his blog, at least it was out in the open. These open dialogues show that people are paying attention, are engaged enough to document day-to-day issues and mad enough to bring it up to those in charge. (Now if only we could have more than a handful of city officials who use Facebook and Twitter for constituent services.)

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Back and forth over illegal dumping, 140 characters at a time

  1. Yup saw that too.

    The fat lady couldn’t stem his weak tirade – pretty freaking embarrassing. And she just pushed his complaint off – call the WPD. Its a DPW issue. But what did ya expect from Toomey?

    The dude could just as as easily contacted DPW or the city manager’s office for help.

    So ask yourself Wusta, what the heck do we councilors for?

    Ain’t twitter great Kate?

  2. Mary

    Once again looks like Toomey is the ONLY responsive City Councilor.

    The whole community needs to step up to stop the illegal dumping. See something? Say something. Even neighborhood police have to rely on the eyes and ears of residents on issues like illegal dumping.

    Yes, CSX also needs to step the game to ensure its property is clean and properly/safely maintained. Fixing fences is cheaper and safer than having to clean up all sorts of waste.

    Maybe when people have an issue, they should make a phone call instead of sending messages off on Twitter. A lot more can get accomplished, and quickly, when you use more than 140 words and hashtags! If this has been an issue for more than two years, why werent concerned citizens following up? Personal responsibility. You can’t blame government and corporations for everything just because it is easy.

  3. “Can’t blame gov and corps cause it’s easy.” And why not?

    Geez, seems to me CSX has the responsibility of maintaining their properties per city ordinance. CSX knows the rules. If not, then they should be penalized. Thankfully a citizen raised the issue and Toomey got caught with her pants down.

    And yeah blame government too, it’s their job to enforce laws. The CC is responsible to the citizenry-so I been told, but quite often doesn’t seem that way.

    Before the CC jumped in on the CSX party it should have made an effort to understand any issues from the citizen’s POV, not just the economic stuff, which I understand they were hard pressed to do.

    Ole Toomey coulda taken the lead on this issue but flubbed it. Coulda pushed it off on Haller (her district), or the guy should of had the sense to call city hall or the DPW. Noooo… ole Toomey was too lazy to tackle issue; her twitter was the typical lazy bureaucrat’s response.

    Moral of the story. If ya want sumptin done in this town, ya gotta do it yourself – call/email the city manager, that’s where the buck stops.

  4. Mary

    Will, maybe you should hold off on the slander against Toomey about being “lazy” and “caught with her pants down.” I understand Toomey went out and made sure CSX was aware of the current impact on the city and and specific items they needed to make sure were mitigated. She and CSX took a ride of the neighborhood, and she pointed out all of the real neighborhood issues that needed to be addressed, now and in the future. Trash. Visuals/views. Noise mitigation. Trees. Traffic. The real day-to-day issues. While her colleagues bloviated in front of cameras and on the council floor about nonessentials, Toomey went out there, representing the concerns of people who actually called her. Just because Toomey isn’t screaming at the top of her lungs doesn’t mean work isn’t getting done for the benefit of you, me, and the rest of the city. Toomey is ABSOLUTELY making an effort to understand “the citizen’s POV.” Maybe you are being lazy by assuming she does nothing?

    How can you call Twitter a “typical beaurocratic response” when she is the only one who is ACTIVE and responsive on Twitter? That’s an accessible city councilor if you ask me.

    How is it Toomey’s fault this guy didn’t have the initiative to pick up a phone? She also shared resources with him and others about ways they can take action and use city resources to their benefits. If you want someone coming to your door to find out each and every one of your issues, sorry, that’s not how this works. Citizenry has to make contact, not just sit out here in cyberspace commenting, tweeting, blogging – whatever – complaints. Toomey is engaged with community and civic organizations and businesses throughout the city. I see her out on Shrewsbury St, one of the areas that will see a lot of impact.

    And yes – people do need to do things themselves. It’s not just making complaints, its partnering to take action. We all live here. Perhaps CSX does need to watch out – with all this awareness maybe there is some attention to negligence. People need to realize they have to dispose of things properly, so its not just CSX here, its others in the neighborhood.

    Before you throw dirt in people’s faces maybe you should find out what they are actually doing for YOU.

  5. Folks want transparency in government. They want to know what the politicians are doing and thinking, they want to know what’s happening in the backrooms and how it will affect them.

    My experience has shown a serious deficit in communication between Councilor and voter. The Councilors want the one-on-one contact with the voters. Know why? It’s not the personal touch as you may think. It’s so they can dupe the voter and no one is the wiser for it.

    If the electorate had the will they’d demand a public blog for the communications between the electorate and the councilors be established, maybe even with the city departments. Imagine seeing the posts? Then you’d see first hand the incompetence rampant at City Hall. But the councilors will call the communications privileged or use some mumbo jumbo from the City Law Department about state record laws – public dissemination illegal. I say, what’s so privileged about asking a Councilor to get a sidewalk fixed? If Toomey’s recent interaction is indicative of the quality of response from one Councilor, imagine what the other 10 are like?

    I’ll say this much, if you wanna see ineptitude, pettiness, and arrogance, a public blog would make it apparent to the electorate how little your single voice means to the democratic process in the City of Worcester.

  6. Pingback: Pie and Coffee » 508 #131: Six months

  7. Illegal dumping is happening everywhere. I am in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada fighting to have just one illegal dumper fined for the act he performed in depositing his construction waste in my back lane. We have a serious problem in our city with illegal dumping, and to date not a single person has been fined.

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