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Litter-ally a cruddy idea

The Daily News is talking trash today, with occasional E2P blogger Ronnie Polaneczky leading the charge against Bart Blatstein's trash and the Marquis de Debris following up on littering by,of all groups, the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee.

The Daily News is talking trash today, with occasional E2P blogger  Ronnie Polaneczky leading the charge in a neighborhood where a Bart Blatstein property-development crew seems very lax about cleaning up after themselves.

For weeks, neighbors had complained to Blatstein-run Tower Investments - owners of the adjacent Piazza at Schmidts - about overflowing Dumpsters on the lot. Scavengers routinely ripped into the garbage, which then blew down the street.

The receptacles were supposed to hold only construction debris from the under-construction Arrow Swim Club across the street. But that's not what was fouling up the block.

"There's beer cans, restaurant trash, tampon applicators, coffee filters," said disgusted longtime resident Marie Frisbie. "Kids play here. It's embarrassing."

So fed up was Ronnie that she put a couple of the garbage bags into her car to dump on the lawn of Blatstein's Main Line residence. What a statement that would make, right? But no:

I never tossed that trash on Blatstein's lawn - an act, I sadly learned, that could've gotten me in legal hot water.

Keep that in mind as we join the DN's "Marquis de Debris" in progress:

The Marquis was surprised, and disheartened, to hear that the PMBC (Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee) distributed fliers looking for block captains in South Philadelphia and left them tucked in doorways and railings.

Of course, there are good intentions behind this grass-roots recruiting method.

But it causes litter in the same way as politicians' leaving campaign literature on your doorstep or as restaurants' looking for new customers by distributing their ubiquitous takeout menus.

The Marquis understands that the PMBC wants to reach out to people who are interested in helping out.

But why not slip fliers through mailslots or put them behind storm doors?

As stewards of a cleaner Philadelphia, surely PMBC knows that leaving fliers lying around means they'll end up blowing out of the nooks and crannies that they've been stuffed into - essentially magnifying the very problem so many, including the PMBC, are working to eliminate.

"Sometimes you have to a break few eggs to make an omelet," said Andrew Stober, chief of staff for the mayor's office of transportation and utilities.

Were omelets requested here? Seems like "Sometimes you have to a break few eggs to save eggs from getting broken" would have been the accurate analogy.

But the good Marquis, along with some activists I know, misses the point: Putting unrequested objects on people's property, whether behind a screen door or not, is littering. That's why Ronnie refrained from dumping those bags of trash.

But wait! Surely there's an exemption for leaving literature - from tracts to menus to plastic bags full of coupon specials - on the property of people who haven't requested it? Yes, with some restrictions, legally there is. But in actuality, it's still the same as litter: You're asking someone who doesn't want responsibility for something to take responsibility for throwing it away (which is what happens to the vast majority of such items). And when they shrug it off, much of it becomes actual litter on our public streets.

Earth to Philly takes the position that if you want the public to know about something you can pay to have it delivered to the one repository where everyone has agreed to get stuff they didn't necessarily ask for: - their mailbox. Conversely, if you're trying to convince Philadelphians to keep their city beautiful, messing it up is not the best way to lead by example.

This is a position we feel strongly about. Even so, we'll only convey it through this medium - you'll never find an Earth to Philly flyer tucked into your front door handle. Promise!