Unite to keep neighborhood streets clean

The Chartocks are fanatic about cleaning up any dog poop that Murray the Westie may deposit. We have little blue bags and peppermint bags and red bags and Murray, with his exacting standards, will not venture outside unless his walker is carrying the aforementioned bags. I have often noted that feces of any variety are not a good thing. We do not let humans poop on the street for good hygienic reasons and dog poop should be picked up and disposed of. This is always true but especially so when we are talking about dogs pooping in yards where children play in the snow.

A few years back when the situation got really bad, I took to posting signs around our property warning folks that not picking up after their dogs was a violation of Great Barrington ordinances and asking for their cooperation.

We do have TV cameras around the property and I would have had no choice but to let the police handle the matter if we found law breakers letting their dogs poop willy-nilly around the yard. The dog owners complied and the situation improved immediately.

Now one of my near neighbors is up in arms because a major perp has been leaving deposits on his property, even in his driveway where his very young children play. He wrote me, “I hope I am not overreacting but massive amounts of dog poop in the very snow banks where my kids play leave me completely enraged and I want to take decisive action.”

In a series of conversations, I suggested that we form a neighborhood watch to catch the evil-doers. We had some trouble coming up with the right name for our new group. I suggested Association for Dog Hygiene on the Hill (AFDHOTH.) My neighbor responded kindly, saying, “Not bad. I was actually contemplating People Offended by Ongoing Poop Perpetrators (POOPP).” I wrote back and told him that his idea was much better, probably because he paid more attention in English class.

As a citizen of the Berkshires, you should walk up to anyone you see with a dog and ask them if they have a bag. If they tell you to mind your own business, tell them that what they are doing is “un-American.”

On another matter, I have always thought that Barack Obama was smarter than I am. I still do. As demonstrated by his State of the Union address, he is a brilliant speaker. Clearly, he gathered up his political advisers and they looked at the polls. People didn’t like his Rube Goldberg, technical and complicated health care plan. The voting middle class were troubled by it. Most of them had health care and were pretty happy with it.

They were deeply suspicious that the program had been thrown together in order to get all those 46 million uninsured covered. I don’t think anyone really opposed the idea of covering the uninsured but many middle class folks and businesses thought that they would have to pay the bill. Many Americans were just unsure of what exactly the new plan would entail. In Massachusetts, Sen.-elect Scott Brown, a republican, and his advisers saw the same polls that Obama saw and went for it. That’s why Martha Coakley, the democrat seeking the seat, lost.

I said from day one that Obama should have gone for single-payer, Medicare-for-all system. After all, Medicare for those of us over 65 is a great program. Why not just expand it? But Obama thought that the Republicans could be persuaded to partner with him. He actually thought they would do what was right as opposed to what was political. He was wrong — they live the land of “no.” They will do anything to embarrass him and they shot down his plan. All his negotiations with the greedy insurance companies and drug companies and the American Medical Association came to naught. He ended up with egg all over his face, big time. Had he gone with Medicare-for-all in the first place, it would have been simple and reassuring to the middle class. It would have been easy to understand and his base of independent and middle class voters would have stayed intact.

Now he should let the whole thing simmer. Once the steam rebuilds he should do what he should have done in the first place. I still think he is smarter than I am but on this one, he was wrong.

Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 1/30/10

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