‘I’m not sure why this is an issue, frankly’
From the why-are-we-still-talking-about-this/why-is-this-an-issue? beat, the Clark County Council spent part of Wednesday afternoon bickering about something that everyone says is not controversial but has somehow attracted controversy.
As you’ll recall, in February, the county council issued a proclamation in support of Every 28 Days, a group that gathers feminine hygiene products for women in need. Councilors Jeanne Stewart and Eileen Quiring didn’t sign the proclamation and were not present in council chambers while it was read. They took some heat for it.
Both have later stated that they do indeed support the group. Quiring gave me a call explaining what happened. She also told me that there is a picture of her somewhere on the internet holding feminine hygiene products. I’ll get to her explanation, but first here’s what happened at council time:
During the meeting. Quiring brought up the issue and asked who was responsible for taking her name off the proclamation.
“Your name wasn’t on it,” responded Council Chair Marc Boldt.
“It was too,” replied Quiring (who is running against Boldt for council chair).
“No, it wasn’t,” said Boldt.
“Yes, it was,” said Quiring.
“Sorry, but it wasn’t,” said Boldt. “I saw it.”
“Who took my name off of the proclamation?” said Quiring.
At this point, Councilor Julie Olson tried to interject, but Quiring and Boldt continued arguing.
“It was,” insisted Quiring.
“It wasn’t,” said Boldt.
“Yes, it was,” said Quiring.
Councilor John Blom stated that he signed a copy of the proclamation that had five signatures on it and later signed one with just three. Olson said she asked for the proclamation. She said she had it passed around to be signed and only three of the five councilors signed it. The next time she saw it, there were only three signature lines on it. The final draft of the proclamation had three lines with signatures from Blom, Boldt and Olson. Absent were Stewart and Quiring.
“So, what happened between then and then, I don’t know,” said Olson.
Quiring said that there was a breakdown in communication on the council. She said that she wanted to have a conversation with Olson about the proclamation but was unable to. Olson said she could have called or emailed and that the proclamation was drafted two weeks before.
“No, it was not two weeks,” said Quiring.
“Yes, it was,” said Olson.
Quiring said that she possibly saw it for the first time the Thursday before it was issued at the council’s Tuesday hearing.
“That’s not true,” said Olson and Blom at once.
Quiring said that she probably remembers it better because “there is a controversy about it or a question about it.” But Olson said she remembered signing the proclamation twice and she asked for it to be done and had planned the timing.
“I get that there’s controversy, but, you know, you guys made that decision,” said Olson.
This is where things start making even less sense.
“The controversy really was I wanted to find out why we were having that proclamation,” said Quiring. She added that she wants a policy and procedure for how proclamations come about. She said there should be a discussion to see if it really is “worthy.”
Olson said that it sounds like she didn’t think the proclamation was worthy. Quiring said that county proclamations shouldn’t be “watered down by many, many things, so they actually mean something when we make a proclamation.”
“Well, I don’t disagree with you,” said Olson. “But I’m not sure this one would qualify for one that’s watered down or doesn’t mean anything.”
“I didn’t say that was watered down, what I’m saying is too many proclamations about a variety of issues that maybe don’t have the same importance as other issues makes all other proclamations unimportant,” said Quiring.
Blom asked what proclamations the county shouldn’t have made. Quiring paused and said the council should have had a discussion about the Every 28 Days proclamation.
“I’m not sure why this is an issue, frankly; clearly it is for you,” said Olson.
“There’s been a lot of proclamations that I didn’t really care for,” said Boldt. “But it’s very important to the people we give it to, so that’s why we do it. It’s honoring them people.”
“I mean you sign it or you don’t,” added Boldt. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
Quiring said she thinks the council needs a procedure for proclamations. Boldt said that if the council has a procedure they won’t have proclamations.
“Yes, we will,” Quiring shot back.
Boldt said the council can talk about it.
After the meeting, Quiring called me reiterating her support for Every 28 Days and stating that she doesn’t think that feminine hygiene products are awkward or bad.
“Of course I support it,” said Quiring. “In that sense, when someone says it’s a no-brainer it is a no-brainer … I think it’s kind of been made into something that it isn’t.”
Here’s what Quiring said happened: She said that after a draft of the proclamation was brought to her she wanted to talk to Olson, its sponsor, about it. Quiring said she wanted to have a “more global” proclamation speaking to all the hygiene needs of all homeless people. She said that the council could have individual proclamations for each individual hygiene need (i.e. dental, etc.). But doing so would “water down” proclamations and make them less meaningful.
She said that she ended up not connecting with Olson to voice her concerns. She said never signed the proclamation and by the time the council was set to issue it, it was too late and the line for her signature was removed.
“When I say my name was taken off, I mean the the line with my name was taken off,” she said. “I need to make that clear. I don’t want that misunderstood.”
She said that there still should be a process approving for proclamations.