Submitted by Jeff Buster on Tue, 09/25/2007 - 14:25.

Let’s say it’s 2:30 in the morning in August in Downtown Cleveland, you are a homeless guy in your fifties named  Mr. Baskin, and you are in the grassy walkway area (pictured in daytime above) behind the County Administration Building.   And you’ve got to go.


Anyone know of any public restrooms in downtown Cleveland?


I don’t.


No one’s around so you pee next to a tree on the grass.  (pretty close to where your dog would pee). 


But there is someone watching – a Cleveland Police officer on a cctv camera. 




1.                  Nothing.

2.                  Go for coffee

3.                  Give the homeless guy a ticket for disorderly conduct which no member of the public saw or complained about.

4.                  Arrest the guy, put him in jail to check for outstanding warrants, and cite him for disorderly conduct which no member of the public saw or complained about.

5.                  Arrest the guy, put him in City jail for a day and a half to check for outstanding warrants, and cite him for disorderly conduct which no member of the public saw or complained about, and then meet with the City prosecutor to prepare for court trial

6.                  Arrest the guy, put him in City jail for a day and a half to check for outstanding warrants,  cite him for disorderly conduct which no member of the public saw or complained about,   meet with the City prosecutor to prepare for court trial, and then go to court and spend the morning in court to be sure that there was a witness available to the prosecutor to be certain to obtain a finding of guilty of disorderly conduct for urinating on the grass behind a building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio at 2:30 in the morning when no one was around to complain about it.


The agents of the City of Cleveland chose #6.


So the case goes to the 14th floor of the Downtown Cleveland Justice Center.   There are lots of people trying to get to the 14th floor of the Justice Center.  Leigh Bodden is trying to get to the 14th floor.  Tom Beres is trying to get to 14 too to film Leigh.  And Mr. Baskin is trying to get to 14 with his duffle with the torn zipper with his personal belongings showing out of the top of the duffle, and a water bottle in his pocket.  


There’s lots of activity in Courtroom 14 C because of Leigh, one would guess.   In the jury box are 3 TV cameras on tripods, one 400mm still camera, and 3 guys with reporter's note books.  Also in Court are a half dozen cops with guns.  They are wearing different uniforms, and some are undercover.  One’s a woman cop.  There’s the brown Park Ranger uniform from the Metroparks Zoo,  there’s the white shirt uniform from the Cleveland Parks Department Police, there’s the usual dark blue uniforms of the City of Cleveland Police.  And there’s swat looking guys. 


And there are about 7 or 8 court personnel - not including  3 public defenders and the City Prosecutor or the Judge or the  Spanish translator.  That’s just the count of publicly paid personnel IN the courtroom with court clerk uniforms.  Of course there is all the security staff at the metal detector at the front door, and a Sheriffs command post in the lobby.


Mr Bodden was fielded first.  He had on a sharp gold watch and a snappy brown fall suit.  He had two attorneys.  The TV guys had dropped mics on the defendant’s podium so the TV viewing audience could clearly hear Leigh’s attorneys asking for a continuance.   Leigh’s case was continued into October and the cameras were hustled out to the hallway after Leigh for an interview, I imagine.  This took about 3 minutes of the court’s time.


Mr.  Baskin was up next.  Mr. Baskin didn’t have an attorney.   The Judge didn’t offer Mr. Baskin a public defender because the charge of disorderly conduct for late night urination didn’t carry any potential for jail time, just a fine.  Unless your offense carries the potential of jail time, you can’t have a public defender even if you are penniless.  The Judge asked Mr. Baskin if he was going to hire an attorney – advising Mr. Basking that “for $500 or $600 you can get an attorney". 


Mr. Baskin said he didn’t have any money -  that he wanted to go to trial anyway. 


The Judge asked the City Prosecutor to lay out the facts.  The City Prosecutor called on the police officer who had been on the City of Cleveland Police Department for 9 and a half years and saw the urination against the tree on the lawn.  


The Judge asked the police officer where the urination took place. 


The Police Officer said “behind the County Administration Building” in the little alleyway walkway. 


The judge asked what time of day the urination took place. 


2:30 in the morning.


The Judge got the Police officer to provide his name and badge number.


Then the public prosecutor asked the Officer if he could identify the defendant Mr. Baskin. 

The officer said “yes, that’s Mr. Baskin in the green sweater, or,errr, green sweatshirt.”


The Judge then asked Mr. Baskin if Mr. Baskin had anything to say. 


Mr. Baskin said that he didn’t know anyone was watching him pee. 


The judge asked Mr. Baskin if he had a job.


Mr. Baskin said he didn’t have a job.


The Judge asked why Mr. Baskin didn’t have a job.


Mr. Baskin said no one hired homeless people.  


The Judge listed off two day labor locations on the East Side.  The judge asked him where he lived. 


Mr. Baskin said “I’m homeless”.


The Judge asked why Mr. Baskin didn’t live in a shelter so he could urinate in a toilet.


Mr. Baskin said he didn’t say in shelters because of gays.  Mr. Baskin said he was moving away from Cleveland. 


The Judge misunderstood Mr. Baskin and asked the Police Officer if there were shelters near where Mr. Baskin urinated at 2:30 am against a tree behind the County Administration Building.


The Police officer listed off two shelters.  


The Judge mentioned a Lutheran Shelter and asked Mr. Baskin if he had tried any of them.


Mr. Baskin repeated that he was bothered by gays in the shelters.


Then the judge understood,  and said “Oh, there are gays in all the shelters?”


Mr. Baskin said he was moving away from Cleveland. 


The Judge asked if he was moving “tomorrow or next week?”


Mr. Baskin was found guilty and assessed a one hundred dollar fine. 


Then one of the court personnel whispered something to the Judge.  The Judge had a sidebar with the Court personnel – both holding file folders up against the sides of their faces so no one could read their lips. 


The Judge then announced that he was suspending the $100 fine and that Mr. Baskin should go out into the hallway – where Cornerback Bodden had gone 10 minutes earlier – and wait because the court personnel were going to help Mr. Baskin find a shelter which might work for him….


I think Tom Beres and those TV cameras are chasing the wrong story. 


Mr. Baskin’s story is much more important, and much more poignant, than Leigh’s - because Mr. Baskin’s story is the story of why Cleveland is continuing to fail.  Mr. Baskin’s story is the story of why the Cleveland Police Department is purportedly “understaffed”.  Mr. Baskin’s story is the reason the dockets in the Cleveland Courts are   so cluttered.   Mr. Baskin’s story is the story behind why the Jails are overcrowded.  Mr. Baskin’s story is the story behind why our taxes are not producing effective services for the citizenry. 


I would have liked to have interviewed Mr. Baskin but I didn’t have time.  I had to take my dog out on the treelawn to pee.

Urination behind County Admin.jpg90.18 KB

Jeff, did you by any chance

Jeff, did you by any chance figure out just exactly how much money it cost the city in time, resources and salaries for all the time it took to nail a poor homeless person for peeing.

I would have liked to say, at least he had the decency to not douse the flowers with urine.  I bet nobody ask him if maybe he had a kidney problem or maybe he was a diabetic, or just plain couldn't find a place to go.

They'll hound some poor soul like that but when all the Tremont Bar patrons splash vehicles, pee right out in the open on the residents flower beds or in their flower pots, the police don't give a dam. 


Pee in the Shower. Save the Rainforest

Water stories have a strange ability to create a deluge across the world’s media. Last month it was the village of Bundanoon who voted to become Australia’s First Bottled Water Free Town. Now it’s a Brazilian environment group, SOS Mata Atlantica, who are encouraging their citizens to pee in the shower, and save 4,380 liters (1,157 gallons) of water annually per household.

And not just with a press release, but also with very cute television ad campaign. The absolutely delightful cartoon advert shows all manner people from the Statue of Liberty to Gandhi to a frog piddling in the shower. There’s even a psycho shower scene. It’s so cute we imagine it might even have Brazilian kids begging their parents to let them take a shower.

The group behind the advert is SOS Mata Atlantica, a 23 year old Brazilian non-profit private organization, with no political or religious affiliations, which works for the protection of the Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlantica), one of the richest sets of ecosystems in terms of biodiversity, and also considered one of the most threatened with extinction on the planet. They work in the areas of: public policies; campaigns; documentation, information and communication for conservation; environmental education and good citizenship; institutional development; and sustainable development, protection and handling of ecosystems.

This ‘pee in the shower’ campaign has its own website in Portuguese. But the message is universal, which might be why the story has been picked by media outlets the globe over.

Fellow TH Writer Sami is going to be so p*ssed, so to speak, that he missed this story. He hates seeing urine wasted as it is flushed down the toilet. Check out his post Is Peeing in Public Green?. Of course, he rightly prefers that we capture all that valuable nitrogen and phosphorus and put it to good use. As fertiliser and soil improver.

Now if you can’t fertilise your garden as Sami does, and aren’t so thrilled about the idea of your toes briefly sharing some yellow water in the shower, fret not. Just followed the sage of advise of: “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”

SOS Mata Atlantica (English Page), as spied at ABC and WTOP.


pee in compost

Rodale Press book on composting highly recommends urine as a wonderful addition to the compost pile, just have to remember to cover it up to ward off those smells that could bother neighbors.