4 ways Lawrence can help micromanage people’s lives


By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — The City of Lawrence is continuing its crusade to assist fully-grown adults in accomplishing some of their most basic responsibilities.

Last week, the city unveiled its new and shiny trash day alert system, through which community members can sign up to receive a text message or an email reminding them to haul their refuse to the curb. No longer will folks who hold down a job, pay bills and even — gasp — raise children be saddled with the laborious task of remembering when trash day is.

The system is the product of four months of work by the city’s in-house technology staff ahead of a shift in the municipal trash schedule, one which has been widely announced through trash can sticky notes and other informative avenues ahead of time.

Communications manager Megan Gilliland said staff didn’t track the exact cost of the effort, and that as of Friday a few hundred of the city’s more than 89,000 residents have signed up. Gilliland noted there hasn’t been a rash of forgetful residents, and said it’s just another way to communicate with folks.

With that in mind, I thought of a few other ways Lawrence could help keep adults on task:

1. Don’t forget to stop at stop signs

You’d think that a giant, fire-engine red octagon emblazoned in all caps with “STOP” would be enough to get peoples’ attention. But a quick perusal of the Lawrence Municipal Court docket reveals at least 11 motorists stepping before a judge for just such an infraction within the last two weeks. Perhaps the city could take a note from the Missouri Department of Transportation and use these newfangled “sound cannons” to literally blast a warning message into the ears of absent-minded drivers.

2. Take a shower, you reek

spongebob smelly

Lawrence is a college town. You know what I remember from college? Besides late nights, long days and copious naps, I also recall college students aren’t always the most clean folks around. You know what’s worse than being smelly? Being smelly in public. Perhaps the city could chuck bars of soap wrapped with a helpful flier reminding community residents not to be the stinky guy in the grocery store.

3. Listen to momma, eat your veggies

According to statewide statistics gathered back in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control, only a quarter of Kansans eat the recommended three servings of vegetables on a daily basis. Clearly, with public health in mind, Lawrence should step in and help encourage residents to swap out the burger and fries for kale and squash. Perhaps the city’s new electronic alert system could be leveraged to gently nudge heavier citizens toward better eating choices? I can see the text messages now: “Put down the hot dog! It’s like you don’t ‘carrot’ all! #yolo” or perhaps “We will ‘beet’ you into submission if you eat another Twinkie. #realtalk”.

4. Tie your shoelaces already, for safety’s sake

The National Safety Council says slips, trips and falls land nearly 9 million Americans in the emergency room every year. Lawrence has previously taken personal safety and responsibility out of residents’ hands — a la the infamous font porch couch ban last year — so we say take it a step further and mandate Velcro shoes citywide! No longer will hospitals be plagues with the menace of untied shoelaces and their legacy of bruised knees and battered futures.

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on Twitter at @muckraker62. Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!