If you want to make sure your street is free from litter, your best bet may be to invite Mayor Michael Bloomberg to your neighborhood. A NY1 investigation conducted over the last four months found that hours before Bloomberg and the reporters who cover him arrive at one of his regular events, clean-up crews are working on the scene.
Garbage trucks descend on the neighborhood, litter is swept up from the sidewalks and gutters and trash bins are emptied. On one occasion, NY1 found two anti-graffiti trucks parked across the street from one of the mayor's events, removing unsightly scrawls in advance of his arrival.
Employees on the city payroll seem to be acting as the mayor's personal clean-up crew, putting a shine on neighborhoods that goes far beyond what's normally done. Sometimes the streets are cleaned by sanitation workers and other times, New Yorkers performing court-ordered community service sweep up.
The practice is coming under fire from Common Cause, a government watchdog group, which says it raises questions about the way the city is allocating its resources. They also say it raises questions about the extent to which Bloomberg operates in a bubble, insulated from the way the city really looks.
“It reminds me of what I read about the Beijing Olympics, that the Chinese wanted to look good to the world. They just built blank walls where there were slums, so that people didn't see the slums,” says Susan Lerner of Common Cause.