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French ordered to pay for unused campaign signs

Sat., Nov. 15, 2008

City councilman had made failed run for mayor in ’07

In a case that could have been argued on the “Judge Judy” syndicated TV show, Spokane City Councilman Al French has been ordered to pay a sign maker more than $2,500 for work done on behalf of his failed 2007 bid for mayor.

French was taken to small claims court by Kay McGlocklin, who owns Preferred Labor Sign Association. She argued that in May 2007, French’s campaign ordered 1,000 signs that could be ready after the August 2007 mayoral primary.

But French, who testified that he didn’t order the signs, lost to current Mayor Mary Verner and then-Mayor Dennis Hession in the August tally, and didn’t advance to the November election.

McGlocklin said representatives from TV court programs “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown” expressed interest in airing the case. She said she believes French turned them down, and that she was undecided about the idea.

“I don’t know if I would want to put Mr. French through that,” she said Friday.

French told McGlocklin after the decision that he would pay her the amount stipulated by Spokane County District Court Judge Pro Tem Thomas Kelleher. French declined an interview request after the hearing.

McGlocklin entered into evidence an invoice from May 2007 that showed a billing for the 1,000 signs.

“We’re not in the business to make signs people don’t order,” McGlocklin testified.

Preferred Signs printed “Al French” in red on both sides of the 1,000 signs and waited for the campaign to bring back designs for new slogans so the rest of the signs could be printed in a teal color, McGlocklin said, adding that one of the slogans considered was “cuts the mustard.” But French never returned with new designs.

French argued he didn’t deliver new slogans to the sign company because he didn’t know the signs were being printed. He said the campaign inquired about printing 1,000 signs for the general election, but never authorized them and that the notation on the invoice from May 2007 was meant to be an estimate, not a charge.

“We never delivered the changes to her,” French testified. “So we never authorized her going forward.”

Kelleher said if French disagreed with the invoice, he should have questioned the charge earlier.

“There was more likely than not some type of agreement,” he said.

French earlier paid other charges on the invoice for work both parties agreed he owed.

Kelleher ordered French to pay McGlocklin $2,512 for her filing fee and for the cost of the 1,000 signs minus the cost of printing the teal slogans on them.


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