Saturday, August 29, 2009

The week that was

Things have been quiet this week. I've only reported one vandalised bus shelter (to Council) and one vandalised Energy Australia kiosk.

I think there are two reasons for this.

The first is that I haven't been travelling around as much as usual - work generally takes me to a variety of places around Sydney, but that hasn't been the case of late.

The second is that Energy Australia, the RTA and Australia Post have done a pretty good job of cleaning up their assets in this area, and the graffiti simply hasn't come back yet. There is nothing worth reporting in the places that I've been visiting.

The exception of course is Telstra, who are utterly useless. I need a major motivational boost before I start chasing them again.

I read a letter to one of the newspapers this week from a reader that was upset that the RTA had not removed graffiti along a certain stretch of road. I haven't been able to find that letter online, and I can't remember which paper it appeared in. I was going to write back saying, "All you need to do is contact the RTA and ask them to remove it - writing a letter to the paper won't fix anything".

They did have a point though - the RTA regularly patrol our major roads, but they never bother to report and act on graffiti along the noise walls etc. That really annoys me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Unusual way of feeding the birds

I know there are lots of people that like to feed birds. They save old bread and give it to pigeons or ducks, and we have a bird feeder for lorikeets in our backyard.

Some people take a different approach. They favour feeding seagulls with McDonalds scraps. Their method is to eat their dinner in a car park by the water, then toss what's left out the window. The birds pick through the wrappings pecking off what they can, and then the rubbish is left behind to blow into the harbour.

An alternative method is to have a "picnic in the park", and then leave the rubbish behind. I've circled a neat pile of it in the middle of this sports oval - that would have been a feed for 3 or 4 people. Note the proximity to the rubbish bins.

I figure this is usually done by teenagers or young adults who have always had mummy around to pick up after them. Or their mummy doesn't give a bugger either, and they have copied her slack and lazy ways.

On another note, I've put in the usual number of reports this week - two vandalised playgrounds, a few Energy Australia kiosks with graffiti on them and the odd RTA traffic light cabinet. Energy Australia have been doing a good job of getting to their kiosks quickly and cleaning them.

Bronze medal

Back on 31 July, I reported three vandalised structures that are within 50 metres of each other - an RTA traffic light utility box, a letter box, and an Energy Australia kiosk. That was a Thursday.

By the following Monday, the letter box was cleaned. Australia Post got the gold medal. There was one working day between reporting and cleaning.

It took Energy Australia one more day to clean their kiosk - two working days.

The RTA were a bit slower off the mark. Here is that same utility box on Monday 17 August - still not cleaned.

Here it is on Thursday 20 August - clean at last. A turnaround time of 3 weeks.

Just think how much better things could be if these companies pooled their resources and had a single cleaner doing the cleanup. They could all be cleaned at lower cost to the taxpayer, and hopefully at the speed of the fastest organisation.

(Although knowing how government works, the combined entity would operate at the speed of the slowest company, and it would cost four times as much to get anything done).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Caring, sharing, artistic vandals

The EyeSaw exhibition in a public space in Ultimo is probably not my cup of tea as far as art goes, but it was pretty low of someone to deface the artwork and break into a piggy bank to steal donations to the homeless. The words "uncivilised" and "barbarians" come to mind.

''We decided to do something proactive and demonstrate the vulnerability of homeless people and life on the street,'' Mr Piper said.

''People loved the idea and there was a lot of traffic looking at the work. [So] we were devastated; we spent quite a bit having the pig made.''

Munroe Griss was one of many exhibits in the lane destroyed, sprayed with graffiti or stolen.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ask and ye shall receive

Today - Friday. Good as new.

Wednesday - reported to Council late Wednesday night.

Not a bad turnaround time if you ask me. However, it's never going to get fixed if you continually treat the reporting of these things as somebody else's problem.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mysterious morning tracks

I spotted these tracks in a Leichhardt car park earlier this week. I couldn't work out for the life of me what was going on here.

Not long after, I caught up with the Council "Green Machine" that was sweeping up the litter from the gutters.

Pity the Green Machine couldn't go off road and scoop up this McDonalds refuse left in the car park behind the rowing club. It seems every car park around this way suffers from after dark diners who can't be bothered carrying their rubbish to the nearest bin (and there was a bin nearby).

I posted photos a few days ago of rubbish on a boat ramp in Drummoyne. Many people would probably blame boaties for the floating trash. I don't - I blame the slobs that chuck their litter out their car window in car parks not far from the water's edge. It's pretty easy for a gust of wind to carry junk like this straight into the harbour, bypassing litter traps.

Failure to negotiate

Failure to negotiate a bend, that is. Something has whacked this... this.. whatever this is hard enough to rip it out of the ground. It's been like this for days. Reported it to Council tonight.

Thousands of people walk, run and cycle past this spot every day. How many have bothered to report it until now? Zip. Zero. Zilch. A mess like this is always somebody else's problem.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Just who are we dealing with here?

A story from the Daily Telegraph in 2007:

Each gang is ethnically based and routinely target teens for mobile phones, shoes and popular clothing and are involved in large scale graffiti, drug selling, vandalism and assorted robberies.
Nice kids, obviously.

Not everyone who sprays graffiti is a nasty little criminal, and not every criminal runs around spraying graffiti in their wake. However, it's interesting to see how often graffiti goes hand in hand with "harder" criminal activity.

I'd like the Police to pay more attention to graffiti because it provides them with a possible opening into other, possibly worse, criminal activity.

When the New York Police started enforcing zero tolerance, they arrested a bloke for jumping the turnstiles at the subway and after finger printing him, found that he was responsible for a string of murders. Criminals commit all sorts of criminal acts; busting them for the low range crimes may in turn lead Police to detecting other activities which are viewed much more seriously.

In addition, let's say that a particular criminal is involved in all the activities listed by the Daily Telegraph; graffiti, robbery, drug dealing and assault. The harder offenses may be harder to prove, but getting them locked up for a low level offense like graffiti still has the effect of getting them off the street. Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion, not murder. Take the same approach with graffiti.

As for cleaning it off, here is a story from the Village Voice from 17 July on graffiti. This is the photo used in the story, showing a wall being cleaned.

Intrigued by the story, I visited the site on 3 August. I'm not entirely sure what they cleaned up.

Nice catch

A boat ramp in Drummoyne. The right combination of wind and tide has conspired to push all the rubbish in this section of the harbour into this boat ramp. There are three distinct lines of trash across the ramp, denoting different tide levels. There'd be a couple of wheelie bins worth of rubbish on the ramp alone, and more blown up against the sea walls either side of the boat ramp.

One of the "tide lines" of junk.

Everything that floats is represented in this mess.

My guess is that this is a problem for the Waterways department, and it explains why they maintain rubbish traps on all the canals that feed into the harbour.

On the graffiti front, I've reported 17 separate Energy Australia kiosks, letter boxes and RTA utility cabinets since the end of the school holidays, and I have more to report tonight. The haul also includes a vandalised toilet block in a park and a kids playground. I reported a vandalised bridge to Ashfield Council on Monday, and it was cleaned the following day - top marks to Ashfield for quick work.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Silver medal awarded

I started a three-way race between the RTA, Australia Post and Energy Australia last Tuesday to see who would be the fastest to remove graffiti from their assets in a particular street in Russell Lea.

Australia Post took gold by cleaning their letter box on Monday.

Energy Australia took silver today - I noticed on the way home that they'd cleaned their kiosk.

The RTA is taking bronze, but I have no idea when they'll get their medal. Hopefully this week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Stop thieves from nicking your number plates

I'm getting my plates done this weekend. If you live in the Canada Bay area, I suggest you get yours done too. I've put a note in my diary so I don't forget (like I did last time the Police did this).

Burwood Police to fit ‘free’ one-way number plate screws to stop theft

Issued between 10 am and 2:00 pm, on the following days - 7,8,9 August 2009

Police from the Burwood Local Area Command will take part in a regional program, starting over three days this month, providing drivers with irreversible number plate screws free of charge.

Operation Tabella, a joint initiative by the NSW Police Force and the NSWAttorney General’s Department, will be the biggest project of its type undertaken in New South Wales.

Police, assisted by (specific LAC volunteer organisation/companies/agencies…such as Granville and Chullora TAFE, the State Emergency Service, Rural Fire Service, Beaurepaires, Bunnings etc), will man special “fitting stations” where motorists can attend and have the ‘one-way’ screws inserted.

The fitting stations will be established on the following dates:

Friday 7 August - 10 am to 2:00 pm Council car park on Crane St Concord
Saturday 8 August -10 am to 2:00 pm Council car park on Crane St Concord
Sunday 9 August - 10 am to 2:00 pm Council car park on Crane St Concord

Motorists can log onto the NSW Police Force website for more information or contact their local Police Station for further details.

Additional, localised fitting sessions may be scheduled and the number plate screws will continue to be provided, free of charge, to the public until September 30.

Recent figures by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research indicate that number plates account for 12% of items stolen from motor vehicles.

There were 35 number plate thefts in the Burwood Local Area Command between January and May this year.

The stolen plates are often used in service station ‘drive offs’ (fail to pays), robberies, road toll fraud and other offences.

Burwood Local Area Commander, Acting Superintendent Arthur Aleksandrowicz, said smaller operations at Local Area Command level have proved successful in reducing number plate theft.

“As a result, the number of service station drive-offs in those areas has fallen dramatically,” Acting Superintendent Aleksandrowicz said.

“The tamper-proof screws can’t be removed without a special tool provided to police,” he said.

“We anticipate drivers who can’t attend the fitting stations on the allotted days will be able to attend their local police station following the operation and collect the screws, free of charge.

“People should make the effort to replace the screws on their vehicles.

“They’re free, easy to fit and difficult for thieves to remove…it’s just a sensible step to safeguard your number plates,” Acting Superintendent Aleksandrowicz added.

Issued by NSW Police Force Media Unit (02) 8263 6100
Authorised by A/Supt Aleksandrowicz, Burwood LAC)

Lights out

A light pole along the City West Link in Haberfield has been hit by something big enough to twist the pole around and snap the light off the top of the pole. Last time I went past, the light was lying in the vegetation barrier on the side of the road.

Whatever hit the pole moved it back a good six inches.

Every pole is supposed to have an asset tag like this one. I couldn't find one on the damaged pole, so I reported this number and said it was the pole next door.

It's been reported to Energy Australia via their website. Given that the pole has been like this for about a week, I am not assuming that whomever smashed into the pole bothered to report it to Energy Australia. I'm assuming that Energy Australia are "in the dark", as are the motorists who drive past here at night.

Civic Pride - or what's left of it

We have a winner.

Last Tuesday, I reported three vandalised items at the same location - a letter box, an Energy Australia kiosk and an RTA traffic light utility cabinet. The race was then on to see which company could clean their asset the fastest.

This morning, I can announced the winner - Australia Post! Frankly, I'm amazed, but they've won fair and square, so all kudos to them. They get the Good Citizenship award of the week. Next time I write them a letter, I'll attach a gold star.

I'm keeping an eye on this location to see who gets silver and bronze.

That good result is unfortunately sullied by the fact that even though a Postie visits that letter box every single working day, I had to report the vandalism to them. What is it that is stopping Posties from reporting vandalism on Australia Post assets?