At-Large City Councilmember Jolanda Jones, an attorney and an alum of the reality show Survivor, bikes to work each day. Last summer, she asked that a shower be built in the City Hall Annex, on the floor where Council offices are, so she could stop taking bird-like sponge baths in the ladies' room once she gets to the office -- that's one less car on the road, she told newsman Isiah Carey.
E-mail traffic between city officials obtained by Texas Watchdog shows that District E Councilman Mike Sullivan blew a gasket when he heard of the idea.
In a June 1, 2009 email to Issa Dadoush, director of general services department at City of Houston, Sullivan said - and we think he was yelling via keyboard - "PLEASE tell me that we are NOT putting in a shower/bath of some sort in the women's rest room on this floor. I am appalled at the very concept and am more than strongly opposed to the idea. I will not subject myself to the extreme criticism of the media on this, which is certain to come. Please respond by email so I have a written record."
Dadoush responded about 30 minutes later, telling Sullivan that the shower would require the "removal of two toilets" but should be a "small project."
Also copied on this exchange was Mayor Bill White.
In another e-mail Sullivan sent to White's chief of staff, Michael Moore:
1. While cost is negligible, it's still an expense.
2. Female employees on the floor were not asked about the project. I'm not so sure they would give an honest answer, because they could be viewed as disrespecting a Council Member.
3. If a shower is going to be built for the women's restroom, then a shower needs to be built for the men's as well."
4. When I tried to build a wall for my Council Office area, and offered to pay for it from my own budget, two seemingly unaffected Council Members were able to kill the project. I expect the same.
5. The media will have an absolute field day with this.
6. Last but not least, if the behavior of a Council Member is objectionable, then that Council Member should be talked to, not accommodated. That is the advice that I was given when I first arrived here.
The shower project is off the table, Sullivan said by telephone this week. But he was still a bit miffed that the idea was considered.
"After all these cuts we have made at the city level, this was not a good idea," Sullivan said. "The rebuttal was that others would use the shower, and my feeling is that they need to work when they come to work."
A spokesman in Jones' office said that the idea was a "family-type rest room" but he did not know about the shower and would forward a message to Jones.