Best Government Leader St. Louis 2001 - Irene Smith
Twas the whiz heard 'round the globe as Ald. Irene Smith apparently decided she'd rather fill a bucket than give up a filibuster. Shielded by aldermanic allies, the alderwoman-with-'tude -- a former city judge, mind you -- allegedly peed in a garbage can after she was refused a potty break during a rigorous redistricting debate. Headlines about Smith's mid-July government leak appeared coast to coast, giving Smith her 15 minutes and, according to Mayor Francis Slay, making St. Louis the "laughingstock of the country." Of course, Slay provided additional humor when he gravely told local television that Smith's act of public urination could keep a major corporation from moving its headquarters to St. Louis. (So that's how economic development works!) Incredibly, City Counselor Patricia Hageman last month charged Smith with violating an ordinance against public urination, ensuring that the story would last longer than a Steve Fossett trip around the globe. Whether Smith actually tinkled or just went through the motions remains a matter of speculation -- she refused to acknowledge the deed; her allies saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil.