Councilors get an earful over Every 28 Days proclamation
On the first Tuesday of every month the Clark County Council holds its weekly meeting at 6 p.m., presumably so people who work day jobs can attend and offer their councilors their thoughts.
This is the first evening meeting the council has held since controversy emerged over Councilors Jeanne Stewart and Eileen Quiring not signing on to a proclamation in February recognizing the efforts of Every 28 Days, a local group that collects feminine hygiene products for women in need.
Previously, the two councilors have responded to criticism by saying they support Every 28 Days, but wanted the proclamation to address the broader hygienic needs of homeless people. Quiring said that she had a “miscommunication” with Councilor Julie Olson, the sponsor of the proclamation, and her name was left off the document.
Regardless, both councilors got an earful at the meeting.
Catherine Kroll, a local health care worker and resident of District 1 (Stewart’s district), began the public comment portion by taking issue with the rationale provided by the councilors and the fact that neither was in the room for the proclamation.
“(That’s) not the actions of someone who supports it,” said Kroll. She also said it’s easier to ask for other hygiene products, such as shampoo, than more socially “taboo” items like tampons.
“If you don’t see the importance of calling out that specific need and not diluting it I’m concerned,” she said.
Shannon Livingood told a story of being homeless with three kids. She recalled going into bathrooms with her teenage daughter and filling their pockets with toilet paper. She said her daughter still worried about ruining the few pairs of pants she had for school. She said it was upsetting the councilors didn’t sign the proclamation and weren’t present when it was read.
“I’m kind of dumbfounded by it all, to be honest,” she said.
Lisa Goodrich said that volunteers with Every 28 Days gathered more than 18 pallet boards of product and are already halfway through it after making donations to Share House, YWCA and elsewhere. She said it was not a small endeavor to collect the products and was crushed that the councilors didn’t sign the proclamation. She said she couldn’t think of a reason why they wouldn’t sign it, except that homeless women don’t vote.
Louise Jenkins, a registered nurse, told the council she’d had many experiences with homeless women who’ve been unable to afford hygienic products.
“I can’t tell you the times I’ve seen women use leaves, newspapers, articles of clothing or cloth that’s washed out in our public water ways,” she said.
She said it’s particularly bothersome that women can get infections without the proper hygiene products, resulting in a costly trip to the emergency room.
“So by supporting Every 28 Days, you’re not just helping our local women get resources they need, you’re helping all of us in the long run,” she said.
“These are necessary products and it is a matter of human dignity,” responded Stewart. She said she and Quiring have supported the effort in the past, which is evident on the group’s Facebook page.
“So clearly something unusual happened this year,” Stewart said.
Quiring responded with a statement that she said she’s made about 50 times since the controversy emerged. She said she’s supported Every 28 Days in the past and does currently. She said she’s sympathetic to women in Livingood’s situation. She reiterated that she didn’t sign because of a miscommunication. She said she didn’t “boycott” the proclamation. She said she did not leave the room when the proclamation was read. Instead, she said she didn’t enter the room in the first place figuring it wasn’t appropriate to be there because her name wasn’t on the proclamation.
“You know, maybe it turned out for good that you got a little bit more publicity because it was in the paper several times because of this incident,” said Quiring. She added that she hoped that the effort will double its collections next year and that the matter could be “put to bed.”
“Hopefully, next year there’ll be five signatures on it when we do it again,” said Olson.
“Ms. Olson,” said Stewart. “We’d really appreciate communication next year as the proclamation is prepared.”