Redistricting a Reminder of Infamous “Trashcan” Filibuster

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It was ten years ago this summer that bedlam struck the St. Louis Board of Alderman: could it strike again?

A decade after the filibuster over redistricting led to the infamous incident involving then-Alderwoman Irene Smith apparently urinating into a trashcan during a board session, it’s time to redraw the maps again. This time, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed is hoping to avoid chaos.

“We’ve asked each alderman to work closely with the chairperson and myself so that we have a minimum impact on neighborhoods,” Reed said.Reed says there won’t be any political vendettas in the mix with this map. In the past, the new map was drawn to weaken or eliminate unpopular aldermen. 

It was a national scandal when Irene Smith took to the floor of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in July of 2001, to fight a redistricting plan that she called “harmful” to the city’s African-American population. During the July 17 meeting, then-aldermanic president James Shrewsbury told Smith she would have to yield the floor if she left for a restroom break.

Deciding she could not yield on the issue, Smith had aides surround her and the trash can with a sheet, tablecloth and quilt. “What I did behind that tablecloth is my business,” Smith said later.

Police filed a citation, saying Smith violated a city code barring lewd conduct such as public urination, though the sheets prevented any clear proof of the act.

(Copyright KMOX)


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