Sometimes you read things in the newspaper that are hard to believe. One of my old bosses, Al Diaz, said that these crazy stories were made up by an “overnight editor” for news wire services who didn’t have enough stories, so he made up a few to meet his quota. You know the kind of stories that I mean. Things such as “man bites dog,” or “man goes over Niagara falls in a barrel and survives.’
Best yet are the countless stories of someone flushing down something valuable into the sewer and recovering it years later in the belly of a fish.I heard one the other day. It appeared in the North County Times, a daily newspaper in northern San Diego.
I read the story quickly and later went back in the newspaper website to double check it. There was no “overnight editor” involved, just some crazy businessman.
A local contractor in the little town of Escondido decided he was going to do something about the perennial problem of pot holes that appear on roadways after rain storms.
He bought himself an asphalt-patching truck and is filling potholes.
It is his way of helping the city because, like all cities, Escondido is having financial problems.
“Somebody’s got to do something, instead of digging in our heels complaining,” said George Weir, 55, a lifelong Escondido resident with a long history of philanthropy, according to the North County Times.
What a crazy guy!
City officials confirmed that the truck and crew entirely financed by Mr. Weir is going to repair potholes every Friday later this month. It will cost him from $1,500 to $2,000 each week.
What a crazy guy?
Can you imagine what a revolution Mr. Weir could start.
Maybe he’s not so crazy.
Can you imagine citizens and business people in our communities sweeping their own gutters? That would probably save a city a million dollars a year. Of course, the commercial street sweepers would not be very happy.
How about picnickers picking-up after themselves after using a city park?
How about smokers picking up their cigarette butts?
We are pretty fortunate in the West San Gabriel Valley because have hundreds of volunteers manning desks and patrolling streets. But I think we need a few people like Mr. Weir.
There are still a lot more to do. For example, this year, cities cut out a lot of after school programs. The “rec leaders” help the kids organize games at school sites. I feel sorry for the rec leaders, because most of them are part-timers going to college. But what if some people with time, such as night workers or retirees pitched in to work with the kids.
A friend of mine suggested that recruit a “Committee of 100” to help out at city festivals to reduce overtime costs, and use city workers on priority projects. What would volunteers do? Well they could help set-up and take down things, sell tickets, run events and clean-up.
The role model for this already exist in the annual Cherry Blossom festival. It is an event driven by volunteers. This year, they are going to have even less help from city staffers and are going to have to provide more of their “muscle.”
Then there’s Langley Senior center, which I am told is almost fully staffed by volunteers.
In the downtown area, the businessmen through the Business Improvement District are paying for some of the trash clean-up.
We’ve got a lot of volunteers, but maybe we need a few crazy guys like Mr. Weir, who will tackle some of tougher dirty jobs.