Who: Gov. Rick Snyder
Featured material: State of the State address
Truth Squad call: No foul.
Questionable material: In his Jan. 18 State of the State address, Snyder got a laugh when he mentioned, in connection with his administration’s efforts to “rescind nearly 400 obsolete, confusing and burdensome regulations,” that the Department of Environmental Quality “has 28 separate requirement for outhouses, including a requirement that the seat not be left up.” After a big guffaw, he added, “I don't know about you, but I have a higher authority at home. I don't need the state telling me that.”
We’ll leave the question of bathroom diplomacy in the Snyder home aside, but we took that statement to the Michigan DEQ for a fact-check. The governor told the truth, said department spokesman Brad Wurfel. There are indeed 28 separate requirements, and one is that the seat not be left up. But, he added, “while the regulations need to be updated, they can’t be scrapped outright because this set of regulations is part of the public health code.”
Consequently, adds Rob Nederhood, deputy director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, changes have to go through the formal rule-making process – public hearings, etc.
Meanwhile, we took a detour through the wonderful world of porta-potties, which led us to Earl Braxton in Utica, whose Porta-John Industries Inc. has 14,000 portable toilets available for rent. Not only that, Braxton claims to stand on the threshold of a revolution in movable johnnies-on-the-spot that will “eliminate the need for toilet fear.”
And while this detour has nothing to do with fact-checking the governor’s laugh line in the State of the State address, when someone gives you a quote like that, it really needs to be published somewhere. (To explain: Braxton says he holds a patent on the Comfort Station, which includes a flushing toilet, running water for washing up, soap and enough amenities to make you forget you’re using a portable facility.)
But can it lower the seat? we asked Braxton. Alas, while automatic seat-lowering technology exists, it’s imperfect. If a user misses the target and the mechanism gets wet, it can freeze and break. So gentlemen, take a cue from the governor (and the rulebook). The women behind you in line will thank you.