News Clips— Twin joke machines

AS ANYONE WHO has seen a Hollywood movie in the last 10 years could tell you, toilet humor is funny stuff.

So the folks who work at The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer must never miss a trip to the movie theater, judging from their coverage of City Hall's epic tilt over the purchase of five self-cleaning public toilets. The P-I's copy editors showed why they make the big bucks with killer headlines such as "Public toilet vote comes to a head" and, after Mayor Paul Schell vetoed the whole mess, "Schell sends public toilet proposal down the drain." Is everybody laughing yet?

Wait, there's more. Editorial writers for the two papers stopped drafting Mark Sidran campaign slogans long enough to weigh in. The P-I dubbed pro-toilet council member Jan Drago the city's "Potty Queen"; the Times scolded the council and told members to "get off the pot" and vote for those toilets.

Even council member Richard McIver joined the humor parade when he called the toilet debate overrated. "If this is our highest priority for social justice . . . then I think our priorities are down the tube, so to speak," joked the council quipster. Ouch! Does Jay Leno know about this competition?

Leave it to Times columnist Jean Godden to bring things into perspective. She reveals that the $638,000 annual cost for the toilets breaks down to about $1.70 per household—"about the price of a double-tall latte." Oh, we understand now.

Not to be outdone, Godden's P-I rival, Susan Paynter, shared the story of a French street toilet mogul who visited Seattle to peddle his wares (do you think he really said, "Oui, oui!" when asked if his toilets would work here?). Stand back, folks—Paynter's riffing: "Decaux was invited here by then-mayor Norm Rice and, reportedly, those who were then on the throne at City Hall were charmed. But the meetings, reports and surveys snaked along and, eventually, nothing happened. And proposals have been circling the drain ever since."

Haw! Who says daily newspaper writers aren't a laugh riot? And just you wait until Candy Hatcher weighs in.

James Bush

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