Sunday, May 18, 2008

Seven actions Mayor Sarno could take RIGHT NOW to improve Springfield's environment

I know a number of Springfield, MA citizens are tracking the commitments Mayor Domenic Sarno made at his Inaugural Address on January 7. He named his five priorities as increasing public safety, improving our schools, creating jobs and expanding our tax base, maintaining and expanding basic services to Springfield residents, and environmental stewardship.

Specifically regarding the environment, Sarno stated:
  • We will designate a municipal official to coordinate and manage our "green" initiatives.
  • We will consider the environmental impact in procuring goods and services.
  • We will critically evaluate our use of energy of all types and institute measures to reduce energy consumption.
  • We will develop and implement smart growth policies that encourage "green" design and sustainable development.
  • And we will look at ways to reduce the city's carbon footprint and to remediate existing environmental issues.
More than four months into Sarno's term-- more than one-sixth of the period in which he will serve-- and he has yet to implement his very first priority-- designating a municipal official to coordinate and manage green initiatives.
I think we can assume that without that first step, no progress is being made on the rest of his environmental commitments.

In light of the city's fifth murder this year on Friday, I understand that improving our city's environment probably doesn't rank very high on the list for a lot of people. But that doesn't mean that nothing can and should be done to keep this Sarno commitment, just as all his commitments need to be closely monitored..

Here's seven things Mayor Sarno can do right now that will cost little or no money and that will make immediate improvements on our city's environment. Some will even save us money! Not all of them are the most important in the grand scheme of things, but it gives you an idea of what can be done with just a little thought:

  1. Appoint a municipal official to oversee green initiatives.
  2. Appoint an audit team to assess the current siutation to to recommend improvements in city services including water supply and sanitation and solid waste management.
  3. Re-examine all the intersections which do not allow "right turn on red" with the goal of identifying intersections that can safely be added to the list.
  4. Monitor and aggressive promote any statewide environmental legislation that would improve our city, and pass local versions if necessary. (I wrote here about school bus anti-idling legislation; there is nothing to prevent a local version from being passed ASAP.)
  5. Ban all toxic chemical use in school systems and public buildings and replace them with safe alternatives.
  6. Introduce legislation right now that requires that any new construction that uses any public funds to include green design elements.
  7. Mandate that all city departments, including all schools, thoroughly sort its trash for recycling.
Talking about the environment, especially on the day you are inaugurated as mayor, certainly sounds good, but actions speak louder than words. If we the citizens don't hold Mayor Sarno accountable to his commitments, who will?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What has Sarno done? He has yet to fulfill any of his promises. The city of Springfield has not seen any benefit to having a new mayor. People will regret -- if they don't already -- voting out the only politician who seemed to actually care about the city.