Let me risk stoning in front of City Hall by saying this straight out: Tampa is not always a pretty town.
Oh, we have our pockets of pretty, our Bayshore Boulevard, our minarets, our oak-shaded spots along the Hillsborough River. We have a respectably pretty downtown skyline at night and some lovely brick-street neighborhoods to boot.
But before we get to bristling with civic pride, three words: Dale Mabry Highway. Find me a stretch of pretty on that road that runs the entire length of the city.
What we are here in Tampa is an interesting town, a scrappy town, a town it would be fun to sit next to at a party. As a blind date, Tampa might best be described as having a lot of personality.
Do we want to risk being a smelly, garbage-laden town, too?
With watching our pennies a major government priority of the moment, Tampa's City Council gets credit for searching for money-saving measures. It recently got to talking about cutting back garbage pickup from two days a week to one, an alternative to the possibility of upping our garbage collection fees.
But once a week?
As you probably know, it gets hot around here about, oh, maybe 10 months a year or so. In a Southern town, you risk regularly smelling like bawdy Bourbon Street the morning after Mardi Gras as the sun bakes your neighbor's overflowing cans.
Then, imagine you miss a week, forcing you to live with your garbage for two.
All of which is one thing when you're talking about a tidy, well-kept South Tampa street, another in neighborhoods already struggling with overgrown lots and serious code enforcement headaches. We're talking basic quality of life here.
Fewer garbage trucks on the road sure sounds like a noble goal. But a report from the city's public works and utility services administrator this week said cutting back to weekly pickup still could mean trucks out and garbage on the curbs five days a week. As Mayor Pam Iorio has pointed out, fewer pickup days doesn't mean less garbage.
For some reason this got me thinking of another well-meant Tampa effort years ago called the Orangecycle program.
The idea was to leave dozens of bikes painted bright orange around downtown so anyone could grab one to commute to a meeting or lunch or wherever. Then, on the honor system, the rider was supposed to leave it in a bike rack for the next guy.
Naturally, the bikes disappeared, prompting one person to quip, "We're tempted to say we have 100 percent utilization."
Gotta love Tampa.
On the garbage issue, council member Mary Mulhern offered this Martha Stewartesque tip: we residents can store our leftover fish scraps and turkey carcasses in our freezers until garbage day.
Might sound a little let-them-eat-cake to folks who feel like they barely have time to scrape the plates after dinner, but it's a thought.
Seriously — educating the citizenry on minimizing garbage and maximizing recycling are great ideas.
Exploring city spending for sensible cuts is a good one, too.
But garbage pickup once a week? Not pretty, and hopefully an idea that ends up in the proper receptacle.