By The Bakersfield Californian
Sometimes, rarely, the answer to a persistently aggravating problem serendipitously reveals more than one winner. That seems to be the case with Bakersfield's infuriating (and thus far losing) battle with litter along local freeways.
The California Department of Transportation and local officials are working to firm up the details on a plan to hire residents of the Bakersfield Homeless Center to perform the cleanup work that inmates from the Shafter Community Correctional Facility once did. The agreement that had inmates working along the side of Highways 58 and 99 ended in 2011. Despite the efforts of Mayor Harvey Hall and many others, the cans, bottles and fast-food wrappers have been accumulating ever since.
The new arrangement, if it comes to be, makes winners out of Caltrans, which has taken a lot of heat over the litter problem, the city of Bakersfield, which would collect $260,000 a year for two years in the deal, and the residents at the Bakersfield Homeless Center, who could earn money and restore a sense of participation in community that many of them might have lacked due to their difficult circumstances.
There's nothing serendipitous about leaders rolling up their sleeves and committing themselves to solutions, of course. That's just plain hard work. And for that, we should be grateful.