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Doug Clark: State of this city necessitates pick and shovel

Sun., Feb. 15, 2009

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner delivered her “state of the city” address on Friday.

And this eerie feeling washed over me.

It was as if I had already lived through the exact same hot air.

Psychologists even have a term for this weird phenomenon. “Deja Verner,” they call it.

Whew. What a relief. Turns out I wasn’t playing a Spokane version of Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

I did some checking. Mayor Mary delivered a state of the city address just last October.

So to avoid confusion, the mayor should have billed this one as a “state of the last four months” address.

In October, Verner declared that Spokane’s finances were much better than the nation’s.

On Friday she acknowledged that our economy was more like a trailer park, post tornado.

Those are my words. The mayor’s speeches aren’t that colorful.

She did forecast a 2010 budget deficit of some $3 million while challenging us to join her in taking “bold, deliberate steps.”

Sorry, but I must respectfully disagree. Now is not the time for bold, deliberate steps. Not unless you want to bust your fool neck. That’s because the state of the city can be summed up in three words:

Dirty snow berms.

Have you ever seen such a mess? I was up on Northwest Boulevard the other day. Some of the shops are still encased by grimy glaciers.

I felt so sorry for the merchants. Customers need to hire Sherpas to guide them to the front doors.

The mayor should skip the economic forecasting. And until she gets the snow-removal thing down, we should all be taking cautious baby steps.

Frankly, these “state of the” speeches are a complete waste of breath as far as I’m concerned. That’s because they are delivered by politicians who never tell it like it is. Every politician has the same spiel: Just hang in there and we’ll all be sitting on rainbows.

That’s why I’d never get elected. My speeches would go like …

“My fellow, Spokanians. We’re screwed.”

I’d also wander off topic and start cracking jokes about our topical distractions. The recent money scandal at the Spokane Police Department, say. For the past 10 years, some $4.6 million from dope seizures and such has been deposited into some Special Investigative Unit accounts that have been deemed “unauthorized” by the state.

What amused me about this was the part about the $600,000. Apparently there is no good documentation showing what was actually bought with this money.

Now I can see why my Old Man was always harping at me to keep an itemized account of my expenses. This kind of thing could save a lot of embarrassment.

For example:

•79 cents for 1 yellow, legal-size notepad for record-keeping.

•49 cents for 1 pen to use with notepad.

•$13.80 for snacks and air freshener for all-night car stakeout.

•$75,000 loan to partner for new uniforms (wink, wink).

You can see why I’d never be good at politics.

Not that I’d ever run for office. There’s simply too much comedy around here for me to waste time trying to save the city.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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