Heard on the Hill: Flushed Away

Posted September 18, 2009 at 6:08pm

It’s time for a little bathroom humor — although some employees over at the Library of Congress aren’t laughing.

[IMGCAP(1)]Several restroom facilities in the John Adams Building at the Library are being reduced as the Architect of the Capitol brings the 70-year-old building in compliance with fire, safety and Americans With Disabilities Act requirements.

Actual restrooms aren’t being eliminated, but some of the components within them — toilet stalls and sinks, for example — are getting flushed.

It’s unclear how much will actually go down the toilet — the Library of Congress Professional Guild says up to half of the bathroom facilities could be eliminated, while an AOC spokeswoman told HOH that only one flush toilet per restroom will disappear. But, as is usually the case with bathroom matters, “the effect will be more pronounced in the ladies’ rooms than in the men’s rooms, because urinals require less space than toilets,— Library spokeswoman Jennifer Gavin tells HOH.

Sigh.

Still, sides agree that the number of toilets and urinals available for LOC employees will meet government code. And Gavin notes that “way-finding signs are proposed to help direct staff and visitors to alternate restroom facilities should they find a restroom fully occupied in the Adams Building.—

But as one Library employee noted, there are consequences beyond “people having less privacy and having to walk farther to pee.—

Fewer toilets and sinks means employees will have to wait longer to use the restroom, amounting to a “flat-out loss of productive time at your desk,— the LOC employee said. Plus, if there’s a line to use the sinks, it’s likely employees will rush through washing their hands, which could help spread disease, perhaps even the dreaded swine flu. And that means more employees will call in sick.

Then there’s the times when, well … if you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. “Under certain circumstances, which nobody needs to spell out, that could become a real issue,— the employee said.

If that’s the case, there better be plenty of toilet paper to go around. …

The Gift of Years. Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s grandmother-in-law, believed to have been the oldest living person in Arkansas, died last week.

Ruth Myers Lincoln would have turned 112 this month, according to the Arkansas Democrat’s office. Known to family as “Mama Ruth,— Lincoln believed in the importance of family, education and faith — and, as a regular bridge player, “knew that a key component of good health was an active mind,— the Senator said in a statement.

And Ruth Lincoln wasn’t one to let her age hold her back, either, the Senator noted.

At 109, she spoke at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service, the Senator’s office noted. On her 110th birthday, she led her family and friends over the Big Dam Bridge, which spans the Arkansas River, and on her 111th, she flew over Little Rock in a helicopter and walked on the Junction Bridge, according to the office.

“She marked each birthday with a special occasion, and our family is only sorry that we are not able to celebrate her upcoming birthday together,— the Senator’s statement read.

Star Watch. HOH had a hard time keeping track of all the celebs who graced Capitol Hill last week — Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony! Paul Simon! Carole King! — and more famous folks are set to visit our fair city in the coming days.

“Mad Men— starlet January Jones will be in town Tuesday and Wednesday on behalf of the environmental group Oceana, meeting with key political leaders and reporters to push legislation that seeks to protect sharks.

On Thursday, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry is scheduled to perform at a public briefing at the Capitol Visitor Center as part of the Rock Stars of Science health care campaign. Sponsored by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, the campaign pairs celebs with medical research experts to push for “a broader base of support— to make research a national priority, according to a news release.

Gridiron Gal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was scheduled to attend Saturday’s college football game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and University of Texas Longhorns in Austin. HOH hears the California Democrat was expected to watch the big rivalry game as a guest of former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a protégé to former President Lyndon Johnson.

Emily Yehle contributed to this report.

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