I received this article in an e-mail from a friend yesterday... I still don't know what to make of it. It's so patently insane... I... I... just can't believe it...
Fort Lauderdale mayor says $250K robotic toilet may put stop to 'illegal sex'
By Brittany Wallman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
July 4, 2007
FORT LAUDERDALE -- Mayor Jim Naugle has never been shy about voicing his beliefs.
He's called some environmentalists "wackos" and said people complaining about high home prices were lazy, beer drinking "schlocks."
Now the mayor has shifted his attention to a robotic toilet, saying the invention could have a special edge over a traditional restroom in preventing the "homosexual activity" that he said plagues other public restrooms.
The robo-john the city might buy for $250,000 or more allows occupants to stay inside for only a short time before the door opens. Probably not enough time for "illegal sex," Naugle figures.
The restroom, already in use in Atlanta, Seattle and New York, also plays music and cleans the seat automatically.
"We're trying to provide a family environment where people can take their children who need to use the bathroom," he said, "without having to worry about a couple of men in there engaged in a sex act."
Though police say sex in restrooms is no longer a hot crime, the mayor thinks it is. He talked about the illicit sex recently in public meetings, in an interview and in e-mails to residents.
Naugle, not a stranger to public controversy, particularly on the issue of gays, said public restrooms are pickup places for "homosexuals. ... They're engaging in sex, anonymous sex, illegal sex."
The proposed location for the city's experimental automated toilet is the parking lot at Sebastian Street, at what many locals call the "gay beach." Naugle told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the intelligent commode's security features are vital at this location, which he called "the rainbow parking lot."
"The homosexual newspaper said it's the 'gay parking lot.' That's not me saying that," Naugle said in the interview, "that's what they said. I don't use the word 'gay.' I use the word 'homosexual.' Most of them aren't gay. They're unhappy."
Naugle has been outspoken as a Christian and a social and political conservative.
When the Christian outreach event Beachfest came to town in 2003, he said anyone who had a problem with the city's official embrace of the religious festival "can move to Iraq."
He angered middle class residents last year when he said housing prices would be affordable if people worked more hours instead of sitting on the couch drinking beer. Earlier this year, he refused to sign a mayor's pact to reduce greenhouse gases. Naugle said global warming is not caused by humans and that the pact contained "hate-America stuff that the environmental wackos want in."
His latest comments about gays thus didn't come as much of a surprise to some.
"Excuse me?" said Marc Hansen, a leader among local gay residents. "Thank God this is his last term."
Dean Trantalis, the openly gay lawyer who sat on the Commission with Naugle for three years, laughed when told of the comments. Trantalis said he's proud the beach welcomes gay families and continues to attract gay visitors.
The beach needs more toilets, he said, and the decision shouldn't be made on whether people will use them for sex. And they still might, he said, even in the short time-frame.
"I'm not an expert on public toilet sex," said Trantalis, "but there are those who would say one minute would be enough. Or 30 seconds."
The City Commission still has to vote to buy it, and would use property tax funds from the beach Community Redevelopment Agency, money that cannot be used for police or lifeguards, officials said.
Police officials said male sex in restrooms is actually not a problem, anymore.
"There's no evidence, no reports or arrests made for any men having sex in any restrooms," said Sgt. Frank Sousa.
Brittany Wallman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4541.
Copyright © 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel