As we approach the municipal elections in May 2006, maybe it's time to contemplate holding incumbent mayors accountable for how they handle environmental matters in their jurisdiction and control, and encouraging their opponents to detail serious proposals (rather than the usual empty promises) about how they would do better if elected.

It may not sink in to all the candidates this time that issues such as waste management and noise control truly matter to residents, but if people don't start raising it during this election, it may not show up on the radar for the next election either. Have to start somewhere, sometime. And when you want the attention of a politician, what better time than when he/she is worried about votes being on the line?

In any case, it could be fun to compose our own report card of the environmental performance of each mayor.

So, the Green Team wants to encourage all its readers resident in the DR to report on their mayor's environmental performance, good and bad. You can do so by posting comments to the blog, by e-mailing comments to us at [email protected] , or by volunteering to do a "guest blog" about your town and mayor.

Between the blog and the broader DR1.com readership, we should be able to provide coverage for Santiago, San Pedro de Macoris, San Francisco de Macoris, La Vega, Jarabacoa, Puerto Plata, Samana, Cabarete, Cabrera, Nagua, Sosua, Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, Bonao, Azua, Bani, El Seibo, La Romana, Higuey, San Cristobal, and all four municipalities composing Santo Domingo.

If you wish, your comments/posts on the blog can be listed as anonymous, as long as you can back up what you say to our satisfaction, particularly if you can provide us with photos, or references to specific press articles or reports produced by civic organizations or NGOs such as the Ecological Society of the Cibao. We would prefer that you at least identify yourself privately to us, as a safeguard against spurious smear campaigns from political opponents. Ultimately, though, we will choose what is and is not posted on the blog, but we'll try to be as objective as is possible, given the Dominican political context.

One area to judge a mayor on is waste collection and mangement, and street cleaning. We've started with this issue in today's installment of the Green Team blog.

Take a look around your city or town. How clean is it? How consistently is it kept clean? Take pictures of the clean and unclean parts of your town, and send them to us (please provide information on where the pictures were taken -- if not the street, then at least the neighborhoo) -- we'll post them, noting credit to the photographer if you wish it.

To get the ball rolling, we start with remarks about three very different municipalities -- the National District (DN) portion of the huge capital, Santo Domingo, the central town of La Vega, and the northern coastal town of Cabrera. We welcome comments, observations, pictures complementing or countering what we say in the blog about all three.

Regards,
Keith