Municipal politics went right down the drain Monday in Santa Ana.
Councilman John Acosta, reacting to public criticism that $16,000 be spent to install toilet facilities for the exclusive use of City Council members, offered a tongue-in-cheek solution by presenting a makeshift portable model to illustrate his point.
Unveiling the device before the council's afternoon session, Acosta announced that, because of "undue pressure and harassment," he had decided to "take a new stand on the issue of toilets."
Followed Into Restrooms
The proposal was made two weeks ago after Acosta complained that discommodious citizens, not content to limit their testimony to public meetings, were following council members into public restrooms where the officials became a captive audience, so to speak.
On Monday, Acosta told the council that his toilet could be outfitted with a crocheted seat and brakes on the rear wheels and comes with a "CAL-OSHA-approved seat belt."
In addition, plenty of reading material--a year's supply of Santa Ana magazines, the city-run publication--would be kept on the toilet.
Some of Acosta's peers did not seem to appreciate the joke. Vice Mayor P. Lee Johnson, along with Councilmen Dan Young and Wilson B. Hart, left the meeting room until the stunt was over. Johnson peeked in shortly after the toilet had been wheeled away and said: "Hart and Young want to know if it's safe to come out of the bathroom now."
Acosta said that those absent would be recorded as "yes" votes on the item.
But those who remained for the presentation seemed to throughly enjoy it. Councilwoman Patricia A. McGuigan, who would get her own model of the Acosta toilet, received a plaque, inscribed "Patti's Private Potty," to go along with it.
However, she said she could not vote on a "walk-on" (unscheduled) item. Councilman Robert W. Luxembourger corrected her, pointing out that this was "a sit-down item."
Not His Color
Luxembourger indicated that he supported the plan but had one misgiving. "John, I object to the color," he said. "I cannot support your modified motion because of the color (light blue)."
The council tentatively approved the private toilet plan two weeks ago, sparking the criticism that came mostly to Acosta. He suggested the council-only restrooms, which will cost an estimated $16,000, arguing that council members shouldn't be subjected to public harangues while using the restrooms.
There was no formal action on the matter Monday. The council is awaiting bids on the work and will evaluate the proposals when the bids are in.