Responding to sustained criticism, Mayor Marion Barry went east of the Anacostia River Sunday to admit he was wrong to propose once-a-week trash collection for the area.
Speaking at the 21st annual awards banquet of the Capital View Civic Association, Barry conceded, "I think we made a mistake about the trash collection program."
Barry has been strongly criticized by the City Council, many city residents and the sanitation workers' union for his proposal to convert only residents east of the river from twice-a-week trash collection to once-a-week. The system would utilize 82-gallon trash cans on wheels.
Barry responded by expanding once-a-week trash collection to all areas of the District except the inner city (Wards 1 and 2), where the city collects the least amount of garbage. The once-a-week trash collection program initially was to have been only in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River -- Wards 7,8 and part of Ward 6.
Trial tests of the program could start as early as next year, D.C. environmental officials said last week.
The plan was included in Barry's proposed fiscal 1981 budget last month.The mayor, who is reportedly in the final phase of buying a home east of the Anacostia River, said he will volunteer to use the new trash collection method, and urged other District officials and residents to experiment with it to see if the program would work. He admitted that District officials had to educate the public before starting the new trash collection program.
Barry, who has been speaking throughout the city explaining his austere budget proposals, used his speech at the Capitol View Civic Association to hammer the point home.
"I made tough decisions about what we are going to do about our whole budget for 1981 and some people don't like it. So I ask people who want more -- like more funding for public schools -- cause I want more, too -- where do you cut, who do you get it from?"
About jobs in the city, Barry said he recently visited the D.C. Apprenticeship Council where he learned that most of the youngsters who participate in the program live outside the District.
"Do you realize there are 1,900 apprentices in the Washington metropolitan area, but only 28 percent of those apprentices live in the District of Columbia, and about 22 percent of those are black?
"Now I'm determined to change that because I think every apprenticeship program in this city ought to have D.C. residents on it, and not Maryland and Virginia residents coming in and taking our money."
Barry said he expects to catch flack from the unions "because they are not part of the solution, but (have been) part of the problem," but he said he believes it is important to change the program.
The mayor said after the meeting that he had recently met with the unions concerning the apprenticeship program, but no decision had been made.
The awards banquet, which had an after-church feeling about it, brought together longtime residents of Capitol View, the section of Washington that makes up the northeast tip of the District. It is an active community of many small single family homes and strong heighborhood pride.
Mayor Barry noted that he was pleased to be invited to the meeting, and joked that the depth of the community's commitment was especially evident since it was a "Redskins Sunday."
Roscoe V. Cooper was master of ceremonies for the awards banquet at Howard D. Woodson senior High School, 55th and Eads streets NE.
Community Service Awards were given to: the Rev. Andrew Fowler, pastor of Capitol View Baptist Church; Ettamae Lowther; the Rev. Shellie Gardner, pastor of Randall Memorial Baptist Church, and Ernest Butler.
Adrienne Chalmers, a student at Howard University, who was instrumental in creating a dance program for Ward 7 children was given a special community service award.
Special action awards were given to Robert and Ozekre Player and Phyllis Smith. Garrett Taylor was given the past president and outstanding citizen award.
A scholarship and two savings bonds were also given to local students. Ricardo L. Randall, a Woodson High graduate, won a $500 scholarship and Nina D. Tolbert, a student at Kelly Miller Junior High School, and Walter McMillan, a student at Bruce Evans Junior High, won $50 saving bonds.