For the week of April 28, 1999  thru May 4, 1999  

Creative ways to give slobs the message

Commentary By PAT MURPHY


That nocturnal creature with wretched manners and slovenly habits – the drunken litter slob - has appeared in Adams Gulch to show how little he cares about the grandeur so many work to preserve.

A couple weeks ago, while avoiding slip-and-slide snow, I detoured my Labs south of the Adams Gulch creek near the trailhead, thereupon stumbling onto a sight that made my flesh crawl.

In what appeared to be a party site about six feet long and two feet wide were hundreds of jagged remnants of whisky, beer and champagne bottles.

It must’ve been some bash, surely enough booze for several grown men and women to make fools of themselves.

The smashed glass filled a market shopping bag, which came in at 20 pounds on the bathroom scales.

I couldn’t retrieve every sliver. So, beware. Hapless dogs may suffer cuts from shards left behind under the snow.

It’s foolish to appeal to the decency of people who leave behind a pile of such dangerous filth on public land. The mess suggests they live the way they party.

Sometimes there are ways to respond.

A friend in Hailey tells me that she and friends found a pile of sacked garbage on public land, and after rummaging through it, discovered papers with the name of the vandal. Police were able to issue a citation in that case.

Then I heard about a rancher who found garbage on his property, learned who left it, and delivered it right back to the steps of the owner.

And finally, there was Capt. Lane Guthrie, a pilot for now-defunct Eastern Airlines and an aggressive activist early in the 1960s environmental movement.

By way of background, Guthrie created a stir when he complained to Eastern brass about the fuel system on the four engines of the Douglas DC-8 airliner that then was EAL’s premiere aircraft. Shortly after takeoff, while over populated areas, the engines would dump small quantities of jet fuel that had drained into retainers during the takeoff run.

Guthrie, the father of female Indy race driver, Janet Guthrie, later was fired by Eastern when he refused to take off his DC-8 and was handcuffed and removed from the fully-loaded aircraft by sheriff’s deputies at Miami International Airport.

His crowning feat as an eco-warrior, however, came when he lured Florida Power & Light board chairman MacGregor Smith to his home in Cutler Ridge, a posh community of estate homes south of Miami, to witness black smoke pouring from FPL’s Bunker-C fossil-fuel generators about which Guthrie had been complaining.

In telling me the story years later, Smith said that while he sipped a soft drink, Guthrie slipped out the back door, and dumped a large bag of household garbage into Smith’s car.

When Smith discovered the mess scattered over his car seat, Guthrie blurted: "Your power plant dumps garbage on my home, and I’m dumping my garbage in return in your car."

This tale has sequels.

Smith got the message: Florida Power & Light thereafter accelerated development of its smokeless Turkey Point nuclear power plant.

And, Eastern must’ve gotten the message, too: Guthrie was re-hired by Eastern as vice president in charge of environmental projects.

Murphy is the retired publisher of The Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.

 

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