Snowmelt reveals a mess 2 years after Milwaukee littering fine increase

Melting snowbanks have revealed an underlying layer of debris across the city and a man who works in Milwaukee says this isn't just a seasonal issue, and it's time to take action.

Tom Librera was born and raised in Milwaukee, left for his career, and came back to work in the inner city. Over the last year, he says that job has opened his eyes to the piles of trash, debris and even furniture lining Milwaukee's streets -- and he wants to do something about it.

As a heat wave rolls through, crushed cans, fast food waste and other trash has come out of hiding in Milwaukee. Librera takes notice every day.

"This is a beautiful city, and I have a lot of love for this city and to see it like this, it's really, really tough," he said.

Just like he does for work, he took FOX6 News on a ride across the city, revealing what he calls a disheartening sight, like mattresses stacked in an alley or damaged furniture on front lawns. He says the actions of a few reflect poorly on the city as a whole.

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"That's really what you're doing here, is you're throwing it in your front yard," he said. "This is where you live, and I just...I don't get it."

So he's trying to do something about it, launching the "Help Keep MKE Clean" initiative. He says it starts with education.

"We want to get to hearts and minds of the citizens here that it's unacceptable to throw things out," he said. "It makes the city look bad."

After that, it's about pride and caring for your space, like Natasha Prescott and company picking up outside a Milwaukee day care.

"I just wish they'd keep their trash inside their car," she said. "If they're gonna do it, just put it in a bag. Put it in a garbage. There's a lot of trash cans around here."

Librera scheduled a meeting with Alderman Khalif Rainey to look at how the city can respond. In 2019, the littering fine in Milwaukee increased from $50 to $200. Libera said there's clearly more work to be done. Tom says if anyone is interested in helping, they can contact him at 262-893-3696.