Maura In The News

Toilet crunch to make Dems do `business' elsewhere
By Elisabeth J. Beardsley - Boston Herald
Thursday, July 15, 2004

When you gotta go, you gotta go - unless you're in town for the Democratic National Convention.

Party-hearty Democrats may have to hold it or commune with the great outdoors of downtown Boston, a fact that has city officials suddenly panicked.

Pols are terrified over the 11th-hour realization that Boston's handful of public toilets shut down at 5 p.m. sharp - long before the 35,000 convention-goers stagger into the streets after last call in local bars.

The specter is all the scarier because the images, and odors, are fresh from this year's public Super Bowl party, when portable johns were yanked off the streets for security reasons and reveling fans simply answered when nature called.

``The people who live around here, they're going to have people urinating in their back yards or against their walls or behind their businesses,'' City Councilor Maura A. Hennigan said. ``Very unpleasant.''

Hennigan and other councilors called yesterday for an emergency hearing on the lack of public restrooms in the city, but it was unclear whether it could be thrown together before the convention arrives in 12 days.

No relief is forthcoming from Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who flatly refused to extend the hours of operations on the city's five coin-operated public toilet kiosks, which are located behind City Hall, at the New England Aquarium, in the Charlestown Navy Yard, at the Boston Public Library and at Puopolo Park in the North End.

Menino aides said any conventioneer with a bursting bladder can use the FleetCenter facilities during convention business hours, and would have to brave the barroom bathrooms after-hours.

``I think we can flush these fears away,'' Menino spokesman Seth Gitell said. ``We're confident that just like for a major sporting event, this city will be well-positioned in this area.''

Convention officials wanted nothing to do with the dicey issue.

``We're not responsible for putting port-a-potties all throughout the city,'' said Karen Grant, spokeswoman for Boston 2004, the convention's host committee.

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