There’s a great “Seinfeld” episode in which Kramer and Newman decide they are going to make some money running a small fleet of rickshaws in New York City. To make the business plan work, Kramer and Newman decide to select their rickshaw drivers from those who are homeless. Things didn’t work out too well. It wasn’t the homeless as much as the rickshaws. Contestants on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” show couldn’t have made the rickshaws work.
This week former Cedar Rapids City Council member Chuck Swore made note of a news story in which the city of Des Moines is looking to turn to the homeless and to prisoners to help with its citywide cleanup. The projects include planting trees and flowers, cleaning up parks and trails, tidying up the downtown and maintaining the riverfront, The Des Moines Register reports.
“We would look at people who are sort of down-and-out and looking for a way to get a little bit of income,” Mayor Frank Cownie told the Register.
The city also plans to look at prisoners, including those at the state prisons in nearby Newton. Iowa prison inmates in the past have received $5 a day for such work, according to the news report. Some correctional clients must perform community service work without pay.
Swore notes that he had proposed in the past that the city use those housed at the Linn County Jail to assist the city in a cleanup. City Hall, though, had reservations because of the expense of workman’s compensation insurance, Swore recalls.
“Out of curiosity,” how is Des Moines planning on making such a thing work? he wonders.