October 11, 2020
Comedian John Oliver’s wish has come true. The comic and political commentator—whose HBO talkfest, Last Week Tonight, just won an Emmy—is now the proud sponsor of an eponymously named sewer plant in Danbury, Connecticut. And it only took a TV rant and the offer of $55,000 to be donated to local charities, for Oliver to get his way.
“Congratulations, Mr. Oliver,” Mark Boughton—the ten-term mayor of the city of 80,000 located about 50 miles north of New York City—said after the council approved the resolution 18 to 1, with one abstention. “You now have a poop plant named after you.”
With the new name will come $55,000 to Connecticut charities from Oliver and a community fundraiser that could raise at least $100,000 for 10 area food banks. Donors who give at least $500 can receive a tour of the plant, the local Danbury News Times reports.
The renaming was largely popular among residents, with the council receiving about 100 letters in support. Many said the back-and-forth between the city and Oliver brought them joy during the coronavirus pandemic.
But some council members had been reluctant to get on board. “While I appreciate the humor during a time when we could all use a laugh, I personally don’t find anything funny about insulting our community or least of all threatening violence to our children,” said council member John Esposito, who voted against the name.
“Sorry to be a party pooper here,” he added. “That’s just really how I feel.”
But other council members said the name was humorous. “This was a much-needed laugh,” council member Roberto Alves said. “If John Oliver wants a poop factory named after him, in his own words, ‘cool.’”
The new name should be considered “ceremonial” and would not affect any borrowing process for the ongoing upgrades to the plant, said Laslo Pinter, deputy corporation counsel.
This whole episode began after Oliver ranted about Danbury on his show and the mayor made a joke about naming the sewer plant after the comedian. Oliver then begged the city to follow through and offered $55,000 in donations to local charities.
Although Oliver’s donations were contingent on the renaming, he has already donated to Danbury teachers’ projects on Donors Chose, a crowdfunding site. Boughton said Oliver gave about $30,000 to the teachers, which is $5,000 more than he pledged.
The Connecticut Food Bank, which is supposed to receive $25,000, did not return a request for comment. ALS Connecticut also has not received its promised $5,000 yet.
“We are anxiously awaiting any news of his contribution to the chapter but have not at this point heard anything,” said Sandy Tripodi, executive director.
Research contact: @NewsTimes