May 18, 2010
When I ran to be Mayor of Austin back in 1997, I promised I’d get us started on building a new City Hall. Not being an architect, I brought what you could call a learned practicality and common-sense approach to the process.
Here’s the thing: at the old City Hall, there was just one way from the Mayor’s office to the men’s room – through a public hallway. So some folks – almost all of whom had already talked with me and made their positions quite clear – would simply lurk in that hallway, wait as long as it took, and walk me to the toilet to keep pushing their point.
If the person in question was a man, he’d often follow me into the restroom. Most women would go as far as they could without crossing the threshold, but some pushed it a little. Once, someone held the door as I entered, and then she sort of stepped through the doorway. I asked her if she was really going to follow me in, and I’ll never forget the look on her face as she seriously weighed her options.
So, when it came time to build the new City Hall, I made only a couple of suggestions. One was that the mayor didn’t need a private restroom – just a way to get to the restroom privately. The architects took my suggestion to heart, and there’s now a restroom that more than the mayor can access, but few can access the mayor when he or she has to, y’know …
I figure this is one of my prouder architectural contributions to our city. Thankfully, it’s finally receiving the recognition it deserves.
Our current mayor, Lee Leffingwell, heard the story of why, from now on, nature’s call won’t necessarily be interrupted by a constituent one. And he saw to it that the genius behind the idea was properly recognized:
So in Austin, people now may go to the restroom, the baño, the loo, the head, the john, and … the kirk. My parents would have been so proud.
If you absolutely, positively must catch one policy conversation this week at an unusually (some might say appallingly) early hour, may I suggest this one?
The Texas Tribune, of course, is the relatively recent and very welcome newcomer to Texas’ journalistic landscape. For the last several months, the good Tribune folks have been getting up early every week or two to host an interview between at least one prominent Texas political figure and Evan Smith, the website’s editor-in-chief and our city’s Secretary of Ubiquitousness.
Tomorrow is my turn.
I’m not sure just what will be on the agenda. Certainly some budget talk. A bit of politics, I imagine. Maybe some grunning.
All I know for sure is that it will easily be the most interesting thing going on at 7:30 tomorrow morning. At least, unless there’s some insanely early Iron Man 2 showing I don’t know about.
Seriously, I hope to see you at the Austin Club tomorrow morning at 7:30. Should be interesting.
Here’s another reminder about the new feature on kirkwatson.com, Texas Questions.
As I explained last week, this is my effort to open a forum where you can ask the tough questions that our leaders too often fail to answer or, seemingly, even hear – despite the fact that the answers will determine where Texas is now and where it’s headed.
We’ve already had a great response, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the questions with you in the Watson Wire over the next few weeks and at the Texas Democratic Convention next month.
So just take a minute, head over to Texas Questions, and ask what needs to be asked. Then we can start getting the answers you deserve.