Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Citizens to Mayor's Summer Jobs Program: Please Stop. We Got It. Really.

Plastered or PaintedIt began with the flyers about the Mayor's Green Summer Jobs Corp. I got one in the mail. That's interesting, I thought. Then, a few days later, I got three on my front porch. And the sidewalk got about sixty of them blowing around. That's ironic, I thought. Especially considering that everyone already got one in the mail, now we're wasting paper to announce a "green" initiative and creating litter. Oh well, there are worse problems in the world.

Then the terror was unleashed. Twice this week we have read on the Prince of Petworth about healthy trees in treeboxes being cut down by the Mayor's Summer Jobs Corp participants.

Now all the fireboxes in my neighborhood have been repainted. Actually, my girlfriend thought that they had been vandalized. The one pictured here at the end of my block is far from the worst, too. If you can't tell what an awful paint job it is, please click for a close-up.

While I have no proof that the Job Corps people are responsible, it seems highly likely. The problem is, they didn't need repainting. Actually, they were beautiful. Operative word being were. They had all been painted in the last year or two, presumably by citizens who put time, effort and expense into making their own streets nicer. Much like the people who plant trees and maintain their treeboxes. Actually, all around my neighborhood, most people do a pretty good job of that. The treeboxes that have anything growing in them at all usually look pretty nice.

All I can say is, thank the stars the summer is almost over and these kids will be going back to school. Or at least not being paid to wreak havoc on the public spaces in this city. Hopefully by next year, we will all be able to undo the damage they've caused.

I appreciate the point of this program. In theory, it's a great idea to give kids something productive to do. I support programs that will teach people useful skills, and give them pride in their community.

So what the hell kind of values do they learn when they cut down new trees and mess up nice things? How are we going to instill pride if we let them slather paint all over something that was previously nicely painted? Would anyone really look at the 3-minute bull-in-a-china shop paint job they did on something that did not need to be painted and say "nice work, kids?"

Part of teaching people to do a job is teaching them how to do it, and teaching them to judge when it needs doing. You can't give kids a set of pruners and a can of paint and say "go at it." I'm not blaming the kids, I'm blaming the program, because it's obvious that there is little or no supervision. Or maybe the supervisors don't give a crap either. But all I can say is I've got three examples of things they've done being more harm than good. Actually, let me be more specific. Each of the three things I've mentioned are all harm and no good. The world would have been better off if they had stayed home.

So please take note, Mayor's Summer Job Corps. We can take care of the sidewalks just fine. We've been doing it for decades, since the city has never bothered before. We got it.

There are a million things that need doing in this city that are a lot harder to mess up. Why doesn't the jobs program tackle things like, picking up trash in the alleys and on the sidewalks? Are you too good for that? Because we all have to do that too. Oh yeah and we have to deal with throwing away the nice trees you cut down and left on the sidewalk also. Thanks. Or how about watering young street trees that desperately need it when it doesn't rain for a month? Oh right - much easier to cut them down. Silly me.

Please. A good idea can quickly turn into a debacle if you don't give a hoot how it's implemented. Considering that every single thing I've read about the impact of this program and the activities of its participants has been negative, I'm sure this isn't just perception. This program is making people angry. We all want to do things to provide opportunities to the youth in this city, but this is not productive.

Yes, I know, a sloppy paint job on a firebox is not exactly a national crisis. But the point is simple. We have a program that is supposed to teach kids something. But all I see them being taught is to not give a crap about what they are doing, and being paid to not give a crap. I guess we're training them to be future DC Government employees.

Below - the best picture of the fire box I could find before it was painted. But it's apparent it was well maintained and nicely painted. The nice gold trim was there before. The sloppy red paint is the "improvement" from this week.

Firebox - Pre Job Corps

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The program is poorly run! Joseph P. Walsh Jr, the Director of DOES overseeing the summer youth program does NOT know what he is doing. Coming into town, he shunned the community base dorganization (CBO's) by telling him he didn't need them. He is essence fired the CBO's who had been doing this for years. They know the kids best. He hired a bunch of so called 'Participant Specialists' who were a bunch of fresh out of college or other imports who don't know they kids or the neighborhoods or the businesses. This imports of Walsh did know one thing. They knew well how to make fun of the kids they were supposed to be helping as we saw in the news. Walsh fired or retired the people at DOES who actually KNOW how to work with the kids. Walsh fired the employment agency they hired at the last minute to find jobs for the kids. Walsh also fired the kids who were placed at good jobs from Capital Hill to local businesses. Many of those kids were never allowed to return to work but instead told to go home and they would still receive payment. Walsh paid some kids over $20/hour while other kids weren't paid at all. Walsh reported to the media in July that there were only a hundred people with payroll problems when the whole staff knew there were over 1,200 logged problems at of July 19, and the number was rising. Walsh let Michelle Rhee's kid come from California and collect a check from the DC Summer Jobs program while other kids who live in DC were told they couldn't participate. Walsh let thousands of kids come from other cities to collect a check at DC taxpayers expense. Walsh, came into the job and did not ASK ANYONE who has experience with the program what failure or success was achieved in the past. On oh yes, last but not least, Walsh treats the little remaining people in DOES who are strong enough to stomach the mistreatment with such disdain & disrespect that I am surprised we have a DC Summer Jobs program at all. He brought in new people and promoted them to supervisors and other high paying jobs while passing over the hard working & committed DOES staff members who remain totally committed to helping the kids. A big problem with the kids in the past has been the dress code of the kids. Did you know that Walsh cancelled a fashion & entertainment feature whereby clothing designers such as Tommy Hilfiger & Donna Karan were going to provide clothing & fashion advice for FREE.

What remains to be seen is if Fenty will let Walsh continue to set him up for the public bomb shells Walsh is trying to hide that are coming as his re-election campaign begins OR we he begin listening to the people.

If anyone wants to see proof, it's coming to the media soon! You can count on that!