July 8, 2008 in City

Doug Clark: Local government how I love thee?

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review
 

Three ways government is working overtime for you:

1. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner wants to save water and raise revenue by fining residents who violate her incomprehensible lawn-sprinkling restrictions.

That Mayor Verner is a whole lot craftier than I gave her credit for.

Like past mayors, she could get bogged down trying to fix real problems like, say, our pockmarked streets.

Or who the hell put a Claymore land mine in Liberty Park?

But one of the things that makes the Verner sprinkler plan so brilliantly diabolical is that we don’t have a water shortage.

Seen the falls lately?

They’ve been raging like a mental ward on meth.

But as most great leaders know, an imaginary crisis can be a powerful tool.

How do you think we wound up in Iraq?

Another ingenious part of the mayoral lawn-watering edict is that it’s more complicated than the Tax Code.

That means no one will be able to follow it. There’ll be enough fines rolling in to award the City Council another 67 percent raise. If it works, Verner has been overheard telling cronies to “get ready, toilet-flush rationing is next.”

Rather than attempt to explain it, let me quote directly from the ordinance:

“From May through September, Spokane residents may NOT sprinkle their lawns during the hours of noon to 6 p.m.

(See Section B for Leap Year, Lunar Eclipse and Home Color exceptions.)

“Sprinkling is, however, permitted on odd-numbered days for left-handed residents living at odd-numbered addresses and even-numbered days for right-handers with no obvious scars who live at even-numbered addresses.

“This does not apply to the park board or close friends of the mayor.

“Tinkling on the lawn after drinking too much is considered recycling.

“As long as it’s your own lawn, that is.”

2. The U.S. Justice Department will protect the identities of 10,815 scoundrels who bought fake degrees from a Spokane diploma mill and then used them to get better jobs and promotions.

At first glance, this decision appears to be not merely crazy but Charles Manson crazy.

Especially after U.S. Attorney James McDevitt’s earlier promise to release the names.

But have a little faith. Your government knows what’s best.

Let’s say the feds released the name of some guy who drove an asphalt truck before buying a fake degree and becoming chief of neurosurgery at a major hospital.

Look at all the harm his exposure would cause:

“The hospital would be humiliated.

“The patients he operated on (the alive ones) would go on “Oprah” and make the public even more afraid of the health care system.

“The phony doctor’s relatives would all want their medical school graduation presents returned.

But as unpleasant as all that seems, there is a far greater reason to not name names. And this can be summed up in three letters:

“I-R-S.”

Think how much more the government will be able to tax those 10,815 liars and cheats who are suddenly making a lot more income thanks to those fraudulently obtained jobs and promotions.

Yessir. A fake diploma can really make a difference in your standard of living.

Mine sure did. I’d probably be flipping burgers if not for the phony journalism degree I got at Eastern.

3. Last year 13 people received citations for walking drunk or buzzed on drugs in Kootenai County.

I almost spit up my morning gin and tonic when I read this in the newspaper the other day.

I used to live in Kootenai County. Walking drunk is a time-honored North Idaho tradition.

How else is a guy going to get home from the saloon after his girlfriend steals his pickup and runs off with his best friend and dog?

Those were the good old days, I guess.

A Kootenai County pickled pedestrian is now treated just like a drunk driver. With a few minor differences, such as:

Drunk drivers hand over their keys. Drunk walkers surrender their Rockports.

Drunk drivers wind up in rehab. Drunk walkers’ shoes have to be resoled.

Drunk drivers attend AA meetings. Drunk walkers must complete a 12-instep program.

(Some do check into the Betty Florsheim Clinic. But that’s usually only the celebrity drunk walkers who can afford a chic place like that.)

In Spokane, boozy stumblebums don’t get hassled unless they interfere with traffic or run for office.

Coeur d’Alene’s a lot more pedi. Police there cited a Hayden man last March for drunk walking.

The guy was tanked, all right.

After the cops pulled him over to the sidewalk he blew an 11-D.

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