St. Louis lawmaker apparently urinates in waste basket during a filibuster
ST. LOUIS (AP) – City Hall is in a furor after a female member of the Board of Aldermen apparently urinated in a waste basket rather than yield the floor during a filibuster.
During a meeting Tuesday, Alderman Irene Smith and three other members were trying to hold up debate over a redistricting plan they said would hurt blacks.
Acting Aldermanic President James Shrewsbury ruled Smith must yield if she left for a restroom break. So about 40 minutes later, her aides surrounded her with a sheet, tablecloth and quilt while she appeared to use a trash can to relieve herself.
”What I did behind that tablecloth is my business,” Smith said after the board quit without voting on the issue.
Some aldermen were critical of Smith.
”No one was stopping her. She chose not to go to hold control of the floor,” said Alderman Kenneth Ortmann. And Alderman Kenneth Jones said Shrewsbury’s ruling was proper because filibusters are ”a test to see which side can last the longest.”
Smith’s allies argued that Shrewsbury disregarded common courtesy.
”This is about sensitivity to people’s needs,” Alderman Gregory Carter said. ”We’re talking about a basic bodily function.”
Supporters of Smith also complained that female aldermen are at a disadvantage because the closest women’s restroom is down the hall, while a men’s room is next to the chamber. Shrewsbury, who is white, also was accused of racism by Smith’s supporters, most of whom were black.
He said he would have ruled the same way regardless of sex or race.
Mayor Francis Slay said Smith’s conduct was unacceptable and could hurt the city’s image. His chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, put it this way: ”The people in Butler, Missouri, must think we’re a bunch of morons.” Butler is a town of 4,000 people, about 250 miles from St. Louis.
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