My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—I wonder if the troubles which are bedeviling the city administration here are not the same type of troubles which everyone is having to meet in every city throughout our nation.

I had so many letters condemning the local administration because garbage was not properly collected and the streets were dirty that I wrote to find out what conditions really are. This is what I find:

"This has been a very trying winter for the Department of Sanitation. Their equipment is just about on its last legs. Automotive repairs are becoming more and more difficult as the equipment grows older. We are providing funds for new equipment in the 1946-1947 budget, and this will relieve the problem to a great extent.

"A large part of the refuse from Manhattan is loaded on barges and towed to Staten Island, where it is used for filling in a marsh area that will eventually become one of Staten Island's largest parks. After the fill is placed, it is covered with a two-foot layer of sand and good clean earth, to improve compaction, eliminate any possibility of light material blowing away, stifle odors, etc.

"In good weather, this method of disposal has been very successful, but unfortunately this winter, between rough water in the lower bay and the harbor strike, operation of the scows was greatly curtailed. It became necessary for the Department of Sanitation to haul this refuse in trucks for excessive distances to points in Queens and the Bronx. Good equipment would have withstood this excessive wear, but the effect on the old trucks was disastrous. The department is now back on schedule and is up to date on Manhattan collections, although it required day and night operation to do this."

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In addition, I had almost violent letters because, during the tugboat strike, places of entertainment and buildings where business is carried on were closed for one day—Lincoln's birthday. I inquired about this also, and here is the answer I received:

"The Mayor was forced into the closing of the buildings in the city for a day by a recommendation of the Disaster Control Board, a city agency established to cope with such problems. This was based to a great extent on the claims of the Health Commissioner that such a move was essential in order to protect the health of the community at a time when the oil reserves had reached a point where there was not enough to supply the city for another day. Fortunately, with a break in the weather and the help of the Navy tugs, it was possible to increase the supply of fuel during the day that the city was closed."

These are the answers to local situations, but I cite them here because people are very apt to grow critical and excited when they know very little about a situation. If they understood it better, they would see for themselves that it had to be met in some way and that the authorities met it in the way which seemed best to them.

I believe in constructive criticism, but I also believe in trying to find out the reasons why things are as they are. Blaming people without an understanding of what they are up against isn't quite fair play.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL