April 19, 2009 in City

Dougbench will be sit-down against lunacy

By The Spokesman-Review
 

I am taking a stand against the city’s idiotic war on bus bench advertising.

Well, actually I’m taking a seat.

Soon my charming (alarming?) face will adorn one of the very benches that Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and her City Hall cronies have been trying so hard to rid the city of.

Yes, I’m giving Spokane a Dougbench.

Ah, I can see it now. A bus bench with my mug on it could be Spokane’s next meeting place or wedding locale.

Maybe it will become a shrine for a new religious cult.

Don’t laugh. Scientology is way nuttier than that.

Weary riders will relax on me as they wait for the bus.

Vandals will doodle on me.

Dogs will raise their legs and salute me.

But mainly, the Dougbench will let Mayor V know that I think she’s the one who’s all wet.

To recap the lunacy …

Last year Verner ordered the concrete and wood benches removed because they violate the city’s sign rules. She wants them gone by May 25, although a deadline extension is likely.

The plot took another twist this week. The Spokane Transit Authority board nixed a contract to replace 100 of the benches with seats that comply with city regulations.

I won’t bore you with any more details.

To me the whole thing is such an incredible waste of time and energy. Of all the problems facing Spokane, I’d put this a notch below cleaning cobwebs out of the Riverfront Park Clocktower.

The mayor’s bus bench concern ranks right up there with her failed attempt to regulate residential lawn watering.

(Tip to Mary: Want to become Spokane’s first two-term mayor since the ’70s? Fix the crappy STREETS!!!)

My point is that there’s nothing offensive with the existing benches. They produce revenue. They provide a worthwhile service.

You want to talk advertising eyesores? Let’s start with campaign signs that litter the landscape every election season.

And I especially loathe those garish plastic advertising skins that wrap around some city buses like giant condoms.

But benches?

Come on.

“Spokane’s a really crazy place,” said Jim, a loyal reader, in a recent phone message to me. “They’re getting rid of benches that are making money and spending $38,000 to replace them with money they ain’t got.

“This is the craziest town I’ve ever been around.”

Speaking of which, a few details must be taken care of before the Dougbench becomes a new boon to Spokane tourism.

First is location. I wanted to get a bench facing City Hall. That way, anyone gazing out a window would see yours truly staring right back.

Unfortunately, the woman I spoke with at the advertising firm told me that the company didn’t have any spots near City Hall.

Rats.

A bench available near the Public Safety Building may be a suitable alternative, but putting my face anywhere near John Law is pretty much asking for bullet holes.

The Dougbench, if you’re wondering, will cost $100 for one month’s rent. Toss in another 75 bucks for the graphics.

My editor agreed to foot the bill. I consider this an extreme act of courage in this time of recession and newsroom layoffs.

Now for the fun. Once the Dougbench is finished, I will invite readers to the site for an official unveiling. There will music, treats and special gifts.

Maybe Mayor Verner will come and cut a ribbon. That really would seal the deal on this burg being certifiably bonkers.

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


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