Talking about trash to our tea party visitors

DC resident and first amendment attorney/guru to WLDC Kevin Goldberg put together this guest piece for us and we are behind its sentiment 100%

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

An open letter to invading masses,

I love DC. I’ll even say flat out that I love DC more than you. I grew up the DC area (Rockville represent!!!), have lived in the DC area (or within 2 hours from DC) for pretty my entire 39 years (and 2 days) and, finally moved into the city itself in 2004.

Before I get to my request, let me make one thing clear, in the interest of full disclosure. I’m not one of you. I don’t agree with your politics. I’m not going to attend the “Restoring Honor” rally this Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial. But, since my politics are pretty much “First Amendment and then everything else,” I 100 percent, wholeheartedly, embrace your right to converge on my city and speak your minds.

What I don’t embrace is the way you treat my city whenever you come here. I’m not going to snark DC-wise on things like standing to the left on the Metro escalators or jamming up restaurants I wouldn’t want to eat at anyway while ignoring the hidden gems that make this city’s food scene one of the most underrated in your country. That’s too easy and it’s been done. Instead, I’m talking trash. Every time there has been a Tea Party affiliated, based or ideologically connected event on or near the Mall, the landscape takes on a post-apocalyptic feel afterward. Trash everywhere. Discarded signs litter the pavement and sidewalks, strewn amidst empty water bottles, food containers and soda cups. Maybe tomorrow will be different, but I’m not counting on it and I’m obviously already affected by it.

So, if I have but one simple request for you this weekend, it’s this: pick up after yourselves.

Photo courtesy of
‘9-12 March in DC-121’
courtesy of ‘Andrew Aliferis’

OK, OK, I know that, to some extent, I signed up for this. I chose to live in Penn Quarter because it’s in the middle of everything and with that come the little inconveniences. I also know that it’s somewhat unfair to blame your ilk when your ideological opponents are probably just as guilty. And, finally, I know that this isn’t officially a “Tea Party” event but, let’s face it, there IS a connection, spiritually, if not officially and I’ve already begun to see the tea party paraphernalia as I wait to get out of the subway at Metro Center (sorry, I know I said wouldn’t go there).

So why am I picking on you? Because the excessive trash I’ll probably have to dodge on my way seems so contrary to the values you espouse and the very reason you’re going to be visiting with us this weekend. This weekend is about “Restoring Honor.” I keep hearing about how you love America so much. I understand that you have so much national pride to exhibit that the trash cans literally can’t contain it all. I’m sorry, that’s no excuse. If you really love America and want to restore honor to our nation, you’ll stop trashing the nation’s capital. If you really want to show us the love, go the extra mile. It doesn’t take much effort to hold on to that sign just a little longer, until you find an empty receptacle, or even until you get back to your hotel room.

Oh, and since you’re so interested in giving power back to the people, take just a minute as well to support giving DC citizens a voting member of Congress. Because I can’t understand that either: your name derives from a movement opposed to Taxation Without Representation, but all the candidates you support and are likely to vote for keep preventing DC from enjoying that same basic freedom.

Thanks, I hope you enjoy your stay in the best city anywhere.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


37 thoughts on “Talking about trash to our tea party visitors

  1. The same thing happens every 4th of July and for every other big event that happens in DC. Who cares? Stop singling out one group over another.

  2. This group happens to be having a rally tomorrow, Pj. Relax. I’m sure Don would like people to pick up after themselves other times too.

  3. Kevin acknowledges that this isn’t unique to these guys, PJ. He is just pointing out that it’s a problem and saying that he thinks, given their stated theme, it’s something they should be particularly mindful of.

    Yeah, every large mob makes a mess of the mall. I think the NPS deserves some blame for what I consider to usually be inadequate trash disposal provisions. But Kevin hints at what is one of my particular bugaboos – you managed to carry that protest sign in, bub, so when you see there’s no place to put it maybe you could consider taking it back with you.

  4. @Pj I care. I care every time there is filth strewn about the city as if the ONLY thing DC has is monuments and museums. People live here, work here, and have families. Why should we have to live amongst trash all over the city?

  5. Pingback: Anonymous

  6. agree 100% enjoy your time here but dont leave a mess for the park service to clean up. Its a part of the big government you don’t like. Also, I’m really curious to hear the tea party response to the voting rights question…

  7. I don’t remember seeing these warning pre-inauguration, pre-liberal rally, pre-any other rally. This is clearly politically motivated despite the authors lip-service to the contrary.

    How about we admonish DC residents for their own general un-tidyness.

  8. I’m sure DC appreciates the REVENUE generated by the Restoring Honor rally. A Tea Party, it is not.

  9. Wow, all these teabaggers that have shown up to comment are really defensive about all the trash they’ll be leaving…

  10. Can we expect Don to make the same request EVERY time there’s a rally in DC ? If not then he’s just nit picking THIS rally and it is just another slam to make people not like him look bad .
    I would think city / parks workers whos job it would be to clean up after such rallies would look forward to some extra hours on the pay check . Is that not the way it works in DC ?

  11. Discussing issues with Tea Party members is liking slamming ones head against a wall over, over, and over again

    They want the Constitution upheld at ALL TIMES NO MATTER WHAT….except with religions not their own

    They want ALL BIG GOVERNMENT GONE…except when Bush used big government and their own use big government for financial help

    They CANT STAND OBAMA FOR THE DEFICIT…yet never said a word during Bush

  12. Pretty sure no one commenting on this story actually listens to Glenn Beck because he has said about a billion times in the last week to not bring any signs. Since many of you seem to think that Glenn Beck listeners are zombies, you can expect that, for the most part, they will heed his request and leave their signs at home anyway.

  13. Getting all snarky towards people isn’t going to win them over to your cause. Few things to think about, gun toting hunters and whatnot are much more inclined to be conservationists than most other groups. I didn’t see any articles on WLDC prior to the Obama innauguration, the 4th, anything. I agree with the statements, especially about voting rights as well, but you’re alienating potential supporters by framing the argument as “us (you) vs. them.” I’m sure you could find plenty in common with the teabaggers if you looked hard enough (most people hardly fall into strict party ideologies, especially ones that make no sense like the Dems and GOP).

  14. OK, lay off Don, folks. He didn’t write this. I did and I’ll tell you why I chose this event…

    Because I was thinking about it today as I heard more and more stories of thousands converging on DC and saw more and more tourists around town yesterday and today. I wasn’t in town for 4th of July this year or for the inauguration last year, so I had no reason to write about those events anyway. But everything I said is applicable to and in some way directed at every large group or event in DC. And I agree with Don 100% that the NPS needs to do better as well.

    But this one is happening tomorrow. And sure, there are few thinly veiled potshots at the people who support this event. It’s kinda fun for one thing (and seems to have gotten a reaction). But I also I think it’s perfectly reasonable to remind people whose NUMBER ONE STATED PURPOSE FOR BEING HERE is to “restore honor” to America that they need to show some respect to America’s capital city as they do so.

    To answer Tim, I didn’t really think I’d win anyone over anyway (I’m pretty sure there aren’t many out of towners reading — but they should!).

    If you really want, I promise to come back at some point and remind all the tree hugging Obama-worshippers not to desecrate the environment they hold so dear when they celebrate his 2nd inaugural in 2013 (and, people, before you jump all over poor Don again for that last one, know it was nothing more than a last dash of over the top rhetoric/snark).

  15. not that it really matters, but there are evidently two Tims. I am the one who posted comment #7, not #17. to avoid confusion, and avoid sullying the other Tim’s good name, (and Tim is a good name), if I respond again, Ill use this handle (fivepercentyak).

  16. Note that all the leftover signs are placed neatly in or around a trash receptacle. Perhaps the problem is that DC doesn’t have enough garbage cans.

    I’ve been to most of the major tea party events in DC and NONE of them have left the area trashed.

    Maybe the city got so used to the left wing protesters that typified large gatherings until recently and decided adding garbage cans was useless since the lefty douchebags don’t bother to use them.

    If you’re really concerned about it you can pull that stick out of your arse and use it to pick gum wrappers off the mall on Sunday.

  17. Not only is the supposed purpose of today’s even to “restore honor” to America (whatever that means), but it’s from a group that regularly:

    1) Attacks federal workers
    2) Calls for taxes to eliminate public programs, which it calls “socialist” and “tyrannical,” and
    3) Extols individual responsibility.

    So for any of those folks–let alone thousands of them–to leave a mess and expect public the servants they regularly slam to clean up after them is entitled arrogance and hypocrisy of a high order.

  18. wow…. pictures of signs in trash cans with unbiased disclaimer notice followed by biased descent. I smell a noble prize in your future; apparently they are not hard to obtain anymore.

    It takes a lot of energy to be angry. Why do you even waste your time on the tea party?

    Just for kicks why dont you compare the cost per person to clean up every other event on the mall with the tea party rally. If it pans out in your favor, you may be on to something.

  19. So , Where’s the photos of the mall after the rally was over ?? WAS there a mess ? WAS it more than other rallies ?? Where’s your follow up ?

  20. By the way DCers , whats with the reflecting pool , it’s green and dirty ! Thats our national mall . Doesn’t anyone in DC take any pride in it ?

  21. Charles, maintaining the Mall costs money. Yet the Tea Partiers, who you seem to be defending, want to cut taxes, so there’s less money to do such maintenance. Which do you support?

    Oh, and the Mall is federal property, owned and regulated by the National Park Service. So even if the people of DC wanted to clean the reflecting pool or dye it a color that you found more pleasing, we wouldn’t be able to. If you’re going to attack our “pride” in our city, you might want to pick a better target.

  22. DOI and the NPS have been dealing with, is the fact that like ALL federal agencies, they’ve been trying to deal with budget cuts (and new ones) – the NPS does the best with what they have… as others can piss and moan, if they want something done better, write your congress-people and note that there should be some funds allocated to address these flash crowds.

    Unlike a number of other parks that the NPS is responsible for, none gather as much foot traffic, casual use, and in this case, flash traffic than the areas of The National Mall. While Yosemite and Yellowstone may see more or less the same people per annum, you don’t have the compactness and, IMHO, oversubscription to available resources than the Mall does.

    Do you have to reseed in other parks as much as the Mall gets… do you also have to call in city police when the number of Park Police are tapped out. DC is left also having to flip for the costs of the bill too, so how do you think the rest of DC, who may not subscribe to any groups particular aims or politics when they are left footing the bill, having resources redirected, or some of their services (Metro, oh wait, that then includes MD and VA too! – and roads) diverted or closed.

    I like and appreciate most tourists, because they came to visit with some level of awe and wonderment of what the area has to offer in sights, culture and history. I’ve seen a LOT of these marches and rallies, and of the two most recent Tea-whatever associated gatherings, these folks were the most obnoxious and rude visitors to our fair metro area. Regardless of politics, their disregard to their surroundings was astounding… my wife and I rode her scooter through the mess on Saturday on our way to the Iwo Jima Marines’ Memorial, and noted that those visitors also had the audacity to climb places that said not to, and basically cause a ruckus in and around Arlington Cemetery as well (folks, there were a number of signs at Kennedy’s grave that said “Silence is Respect” – I guess you can’t read as well). Even during high times as the Fourth of July I haven’t experienced such behavior… I think the sentiments in this original article are quite on the mark…

  23. Matt , I’m NOT a tea party member . I just think they deserve more respect then the press gives them . Right or wrong they are our fellow Americans and still have their right to speak and be heard. It’s about tolerance. That’s not easy when you dont agree with someone , but thats when we need it the most . I think writers should be thoughtful of that and lead the way . The writers words set the feelings here. ” Tar party = dirty, un welcome, masses” One blogger writes something without thinking how it was going to sound and a whole movement is trashed for it .
    I’m saddened to see pictures of the once beautiful reflecting pound going out across the world and the water is green ! No , I dont live in your city , but I feel the National Mall and the mounuments belong to all Americans and I had a right to be upset that it looks so uncared for. That should bother you , too .
    Yes , the message is very clear here DC residents have no tolerance for non residents .
    I started reading your page a week before the rally , before the nit wit blogger . I wanted to know more about Washington before coming. Now I know more then I wanted to .

  24. I don’t get this hand-wringing or disgust that the reflecting pool is green. It’s a large outside body of water. Waterfowl come and hang out in it, and I enjoy seeing them and their little ducklings. What else would a large body of water look like?

    I suppose we could endeavor to keep it chlorinated and sparkling blue. Having tried to deal with a 5000 gallon inflatable backyard pool over this summer I understand just how difficult that might be and I’m not sure I think I’d like it better anyway.

    But I guess I have never been in lockstep with most about the Mall. I hear people – including folks in the NPS – petitioning to replace the gravel walkways with pavement of some kind and a lot of angst over the grass not being a perfect lawn. Personally I like those aspects – those bits of wear and ragged edges aren’t trash, they’re signs of something used and loved.

  25. @Charles: Your ignorance about the reflecting pool and what makes it green or not is a reflection of general society not understanding water resources in general. Green water (if not dyed that way) is a result of algae growth, which is a result of high temperatures (yes, it gets hot here with a very shallow pool of 18 inches), and nutrients (when there aren’t massive crowds there are large numbers of geese and ducks). That reflecting pool is a closed system – that means the water in there is not circulated from some river water, or does not pass through some magic filter. It wasn’t designed to be like that when it was constructed in 1923. The NPS is working on reconstructing it, but it takes time and money to do it to bring it to your visitor’s approval. In fact, your disapproval is going to cost 30 million in tax payer money. Now if more people were just satisfied with the way it is, it wouldn’t have to come to this. To expect it to be anything different in its current state during the high summer would be childish. You don’t mention where you live, but I GUARANTEE I can find a shallow pool of water where you live and find it “green” and “ugly”. I bet I could find plenty of “sad” places that belongs to all Americans where you live, and would satisfy your definition of looking “uncared for”. This has nothing to do with DC people, and everything to do with understanding what you’re complaining about.

  26. “Because the excessive trash I’ll probably have to dodge on my way seems so contrary to the values you espouse and the very reason you’re going to be visiting with us this weekend.”

    There was NO trash left from the event. The people I was with, and everyone I talked to afterward, brought their own trash bags with them. I stayed downtown till 5:30 PM and there was next to nothing. I even saw people CAREFULLY trying to get their trash to balance in the now full trash cans.

    Google some pics of what was left behind by the Obama people in 2009, the ones who classlessly booed the outgoing president, a first and a new low in inauguration behavior.

    I’ve lived in DC for 26 years and I go to every large rally since then. The messiest (and the WHITEST crowds by far) are the environmental protests, followed by the ghoulish pro-abortion crowds.

    Get this, we’re SICK of being insulted. We sick of being mischaracterized. And we don’t believe the crap that comes from the media (“tens of thousands on the Mall”, “Nuremburg rally”, “Klan rally”)

    And we’re JUST as sick at the Republican establishment, which is something that I know confounds the usual narrative. We were sick of Bush’s spending, of the spending of the Republicans in Congress.

  27. “And we’re JUST as sick at the Republican establishment, which is something that I know confounds the usual narrative. We were sick of Bush’s spending, of the spending of the Republicans in Congress.

    Oh–and that must be why you all were protesting Bush so vigorously, questioning his place of birth and religion, urging opposition to every large spending bill he passed (and there were many–the wars, Medicare Part D…).

    Sorry, bud, but it doesn’t square up.

  28. Understand ,
    I live in Oklahoma City . We only have one national monument here , the site of the Oklahoma City bombing . It too is maintained (mostly) by fed employees . Theres also a committee formed by the families who lost loved ones there . They pick up the slack . You often see grandmothers and school kids out there picking up trash , sweeping the walkways . Last week there was a group of ladies out there with buckets of water cleaning the dust off each chair that blew over from a nearby construction site . I’v donated trash bags and brooms to the committee myself . It’s a monument to Americans lost , it’s meant to honor their memory . The people here undertsnad that.
    I meant no insult to the people of DC by “complaining” about the color of the reflecting pool . It did bother me to see it green. I remember the first time I saw it how sparkling blue it was and how beautiful . I guess thats what I expected to see again .
    Now , let’s talk about ignorance . Tell me why it is the people here think when someone doesn’t see things their way they have to tag them as part of one group or another . Are you saying for someone to have an opinion different than your own they MUST be a part of some group ? That to disagree with you they must not be thinking for themselves . How’s that for ignorance ?
    I know guys who have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and the one thing I hear most is the people there will never have peace until they begin to think of themselves as ONE people instead of different tribes .
    I hope for the day we can talk to each other without putting people into groups of this and groups of that and start thinking of our selves just as Americans and talk to each other with respect . I dont have to agree with you to respect you and your right of free speech , I dont have to put you into a group to discredit you views .

  29. Charles,
    The reflecting pool was green when you were here, as I explained it is the high summer season and the algae bloom is at the peak. This occurs every summer for the reasons I mentioned. It is however, not green all year, as the algae dies off after it starts getting cooler, and the overabundant geese populations have less to graze on. In addition, the Park Service empties the pool once in a while to kill off additional algae and flush nutrients, and refills it with city water. Unfortunately, using potable water is very wasteful, and as I mentioned, the Park Service already has plans to spend 30 million dollars on a system to alleviate these concerns. Maybe you last visited the reflecting pool when it was cooler, or not long after the water had been changed. That could account for it having been blue/clear the last time you saw it. But to use it as an example that the mall looks so uncared for, is well, not a basis of argument. Remember, the mall and monuments of downtown DC see 24 MILLION visitors A YEAR (yes, that’s right, just the mall area), and guess what? 99.9% of them visiting pay nothing extra to see it. It’s there for free, for all to enjoy. There is no other federal park in the nation that gets that many visitors per square foot – and it’s only 300 acres. This means the Park Service has to contend with upkeep for 24 million people. I’m willing to bet your Oklahoma City Bombing memorial has far far far fewer visitors per square foot than the National Mall. We too have citizen committees to try to help out with the maintenance of the mall and the federal lands adjacent to the Potomac River. On top of that, over the last 20 years, 60,000 DC area citizens (yes our grandmas and school kids too) have picked up 3 million tons of trash, with a large majority of that coming from federal lands right near the national mall. I myself participate in these large scale cleanups, as well as on a monthly basis with other volunteers during what we call “Trash Runs” (we run for exercise, then pick up trash on the way home). We here also know honor, and do these cleanups to help honor people who have sacrificed for all of us and want to share this land so others can understand that sacrifice. The people here understand honor, you Oklahomans’ are not the only ones. The difference is 24 million people – and unfortunately a very large portion of those people are Americans from outside of this area that don’t pick up after themselves. Maybe if more visitors like yourself contributed their time or money to keep up this place while they were here, it wouldn’t look “so uncared for”.

    I agree with your statements about lumping people into a group. It’s not right. Unfortunately, people do it way too much. My statement about ignorance is simply about what the mall looks like and the reasons why the water was “green” or looked “uncared for”.

  30. Understand ,
    Well said and well taken .
    I first saw the reflecting pool in 1969 , I was 10 , I was on a school trip . I was in awe of your city , it truly was ” The Shining city On The hill” . That trip has always stood out as one the my favorites . Maybe that’s what I was expecting to see again .
    I never meant to imply the people of DC are without honor , I think it’s an American trait. The trouble is we don’t all find it at once . Thats why I went to the rally , to be there with other Americans who understand about national honor , having honor as a nation , to feel proud of my nation. To stand with others who are proud of who we are. Myself , I’m tired of being apologized for .
    There were no plans to campaign or complain , just come together . Beck as much as he talked about the rally before hand he also said we’d be surprised by what we heard . We only knew it wasn’t going to be political , No signs allowed , ( and I only saw a few and they were near the sides of the crowd , and posing for pics ) we were told to bring our kids , our families . We were told we’d be raising money for the kids of special operation soldiers so they will have college tuition . The theme would be Faith , Hope and Charity. So we didn’t completly know what we would hear , I think we knew more about what we wouldn’t hear . No campaigning , No hate , No Complaining . It was great to be there with a sea of Americans and everyones being friendly , I never heard a cross word as I moved around the crowd .
    I will never see eye to eye with Beck on HIS faith , I can not support other things Iv heard he’s said , But on that day the message was come together , help each other out , be a better person , take pride in America and her heros . Some amazing heros were honored . Some of the things said that day that touched me was the idea that we need to show our kids who the real heros are , that real heros dont wear capes and fly around with super powers , they are people just like us . Thats important because our next heros are our kids .
    I also liked hearing someone say what Iv been feel’n for a long time which is there are people and groups of people who keep picking at old wounds in this nation , never letting them heal , never letting us move on . We need to stop picking the past apart bringing up old feelings and old problems . Why do we do that ? We cant change it .
    I think it is time to move on , and I like the idea of moving on with a re newed sense of unity .