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The mayor actually wants to see me?

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner summoned me to City Hall Thursday.

It was actually the Mayor’s Mouthpiece (aka press flack) who called. She told me her boss wanted to present me with something special during an afternoon meeting of the Urban Decay Committee.

(Or maybe it was Urban Development. There’s so much gathering and blathering going on at City Hall that it’s easy to get confused.)

Of course I was suspicious.

The last time a Spokane mayor presented me with something special was in the late 1980s.

Mayor Vicki McNeill, sore about something I’d written (go figure), officially proclaimed Halloween as “Doug Clark Muckraker Journalism Day.”

Good times.

I told the Mayor’s Mouthpiece I’d be there with bells on.

Why not? If our mayor can take time out of her busy schedule of ruining (sorry, I meant running) the city to abuse me, the least I can do is bend over and smile.

And so I arrived at City Hall 20 minutes early. That gave me time to loiter in the lobby.

Pretending I was a stranger to Spokane, I browsed through the rack of pamphlets and literature promoting our Lilac Wonderland.

One brochure I found advertised two “Exploration in Printmaking” workshops.

That would a cool thing for a visitor to do. If they hadn’t already happened on Jan. 21 and Feb. 18.

I found a copy of a neighborhood newspaper.

The February edition.

I especially loved the pamphlet, “Love the Ducks. But Please … Don’t Feed Them.”

That’s a good rule of thumb with crackheads, too.

There was some timely stuff, too. A little blue flier, for example, told me we had a “New Solid Waste Web site.”

Whoa! Can’t wait to check that out.

Speaking of garbage, I was really excited to read in a news release the other day that downtown Spokane was getting “18 black urban-style garbage cans.”

The cans will replace our “12 gallon Expo ’74 cement receptacles.”

In these harsh economic times, the new expansive trash bins will be a welcome improvement over the old ones.

Oh, yeah. These babies will sleep six.

Anyway, I eventually left my reading post and made it up to find a seat in conference room 2-B.

“Why’s Dick Clark at the meeting?” asked a gruff older guy who slid into the chair next to me.

I patiently explained that my name was Doug, not Dick.

“Unless you’re being pejorative,” I added.

I could tell by his smirk that the guy thought he was right the first time.

Soon the room began to fill with leadership luminaries.

City Council President Joe Shogan arrived followed by Councilman Al French and Councilman Bob Apple.

Mayor Verner, looking radiant, asked me to sit in a chair at the head of the conference table.

Then it all became clear.

She began giving me items she said would help clear up my confusion about the restrictions she wants to impose upon the lawn-sprinkling public in order to save water in this dire time of non-drought.

A green plastic watering can. Two cheap plastic clocks. A day/month planner …

I get it.

Earlier in the week, I had mocked the mayor’s plan to prohibit lawn sprinkling between noon and 6 p.m. from May through September.

As further insanity, sprinkling would only be conducted on an odd-even system of days, home addresses and party affiliation.

Incensed Spokane residents have reacted the way National Rifle Association members get about gun control.

You know …

You can have my lawn sprinkler when you pry my cold, dead fingers off my Rain Bird 20B-ADJ.

True, some places have actually adopted these draconian sprinkling measures: Post Falls, Medical Lake, San Quentin …

But I don’t think the lawn-sprinkling populace of Spokane will be so easily duped by a bunch of City Hall drips.

Even so, I thanked the mayor for her gifts, waved so long and headed back out into the free world.

When lawn sprinkling is outlawed, only outlaws will have lawn sprinklers.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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