AST WEEK, we asked what you thought of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's comment that Philadelphia was even dirtier than his Hurricane Katrina-ravaged city.
Ray Nagin is absolutely correct. Our streets are dirty, filthy and unsightly.
People need to properly dispose of their trash and the city needs to regularly clean the streets and aggressively enforce the law. Unfortunately, this failed, corrupt, do-nothing city administration has no clue and couldn't care less.
I returned to Philly after years in the San Diego area to a total transformation of my native city. Trash everywhere. Black plastic bags from the corner bodegas every few feet, floating over the sidewalks. With a wind, it seemed as if it was raining black bags.
Adults and children discarding wrappers as they walk or thrown from moving cars. I live in North Philly, in the Kensington/Lehigh section, where discarding trash on the sidewalks and streets is a sporting event. Basketball player-wannabes toss McDonald's cups or Happy Meal containers into invisible hoops.
You can tell when a new fast-food eatery opens - trash with its logo appears on the streets. No need for a grand-opening sign!
Solutions? Take your trash home and dispose of it, and when you've mastered this difficult task, teach it to your children. Most important, take your trash out on trash day. And show some pride. This is your city - and it reflects on you.
Peter Olivo, Philadelphia
I was born in South Philly, and lived there for 53 years. I spent my last 20 taking a broom, hose and trash can outside to clean up both sides of the street.
I did this three days a week, sometimes more. Every morning, it looked like it was never cleaned. When I tried to put a trash can outside, I got two warnings, then two fines.
Eighteen months ago, I moved to New Jersey, and not once have I had to clean up, not even a cigarette butt. Once a month, I drive to the city to see my doctor, and every street I turn down, all I see is trash.
The mayor of New Orleans wasn't wrong. The city is full of graffiti and trash. I've seen people park their car, open the door and toss their McDonald's trash in the street, then walk to their house.
My real-estate taxes may be higher, but gas is cheaper, there is no corner hangout, no trash, my water bill is lower, and I don't wear out brooms anymore.
Joe Pineiro, Voorhees, N.J.
I don't know about New Orleans, but I've spent time canvassing various neighborhoods here, and have been frequently aghast at the debris, litter and rubble that's allowed to pile up along sidewalks and in empty lots. I've worked with neighborhood groups on cleanups only to find the mess back within days.
I live in Center City, where the improvement district sends uniformed men to sweep up after sloppy trash trucks and careless pedestrians, and you can see that service is desperately needed everywhere.
Perhaps if the streets were cleaner, people would be less likely to drop their trash on the sidewalks mere feet from a trash can. It must be possible to combine neighborhood pride and government resources to ensure that some minimum regular effort is made to keep the streets and sidewalks clear, and make the city presentable for visitors and residents alike.
A.C. Missias, Philadelphia
Mayor Nagin is right, Philadelphia is filthy. You might not see it in Center City, but the rest of the city is really dirty. Just go up and down Market from 52nd to 56th.
It's a shame how some parts of the city are clean and others are filthy. Oh, that's right, I forgot - we live in the ghetto and not in Center City or Society Hill, so we don't deserve clean streets. But we pay taxes just like everyone else. Are we being discriminated against?
Eleanor Ball, Philadelphia
Philadelphia's love of filth is sadly most apparent along the biking and jogging trails of Fairmount Park and the Wissahickon natural area.
The people who run and bike through these lovely places presumably do so to enjoy relatively unspoiled natural beauty. Yet, shockingly, these same people regularly drop their empty water bottles and all sorts of litter along the paths they use in total indifference to those who follow.
And we've all seen the fields of garbage left behind when large picnics and parties occur in Fairmount Park. If Philadelphians are unwilling to clean up after themselves in our beautiful parks, no surprise that the rest of the city is trashed.
John Nernoff, Philadelphia
I love this city, but I'm ashamed when visitors see just how bad our neighborhoods are kept.
I'm 67, and when I was growing up in North Philly, we took pride in cleaning our street every Saturday morning. Now, just try to get young people to sweep their sidewalk. I did keep a trash can on the sidewalk because I sweep my block, then I got a $25 citation, so I had to remove It.
Also, abandoned houses: It takes years to have the city clean and seal up these eyesores. Solution: Make the owners responsible. The 5800 block of Crittenden St. may not be the worst,but it can be better if everyone would help keep it clean.
Thelma Gorham, Philadelphia
Last summer, my family drove to Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cleveland and Indianapolis, and none of those cities had the kind of trash on the streets and graffiti that is seen here.
I'm a Philadelphian and love this city - except for the trash (and the wage tax). I see people throwing all kinds of trash out of their car windows - including dirty diapers and containers from fast-food restaurants.
The next mayor has to instill pride in our city and encourage people to keep it clean - and, since there are many who will continue to be slobs, to initiate the cleaning of all our neighborhoods, not only Center City.
Michael J. Rosen
The city is filthy, unsafe and badly run. Does the truth hurt?
I think the politicians are just embarrassed cause they know what Mayor Nagin said is true.
I had the opportunity to travel last year and was shocked to see how people in other cities treat each other and keep their cities cleaner than ours.
Sure you'll always have bad sections, but nothing like Philadelphia. Maybe the politicians don't have a clue, but the citizens do. Shame on us for letting it get this bad.
Lou Rosmini, Philadelphia
Walk or drive down virtually any street, any parking lot, any public space in the city and loads of trash and debris can be found.
Where does it all come from? Pop up from the ground? Fall from the sky? NO! It comes from the inhabitants of the city, many of whom are SLOBS!
People throw trash from their cars or as they walk the streets. Too many people weren't taught to behave in a responsible manner - they were raised to be slobs.
Too many people do not understand the concept of disposing of their trash in a trash can or holding their trash till they get home. Too many people are stupid and lazy. I have personally seen people throw trash on the ground NEXT to trash cans. Why? I do not understand, but it is a fact of life in this city.
Be a responsible citizen and take the time to care about your city. Be a good role model for your children and teach them by example. The next time somebody says the city is dirty, don't hate the messenger. In this case, the message from New Orleans was the absolute truth!
Richard Ratko, Philadelphia
Philadelphia, the city I've come to love since moving here in 1974, has deteriorated to the point of my refusal to show it to out-of-town friends and family.
Mayor Nagin could have said it a little better, but he's right. Just walk, or better yet, run or drive through some North Philadelphia neighborhoods.
I remember when my elders used to speak of the Roosevelt Boulevard area (9th through Whitaker) as paradise on earth. Well, paradise has become a hellhole of trash and prideless residents who have let neighborhoods become what they are today.
The campaign against graffiti some years back did wonders for the city, but I've noticed that it's creeping up again. We are letting our guard down, and now more and more places have been defaced with this urban blight.
Maybe if we look at the city with Nagin's eyes, we may get to see a different picture.