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Doug Clark: News as hard to escape as a speeding citation

Tue., July 28, 2009, midnight

Returning from vacation is always such an emotionally traumatic time.

If President Barack Obama were smart, he’d scratch all that Cash for Clunkers nonsense and instead focus on a federal program that grants every worker a Vacational Loafing Transition.

During this three-day protective bubble, no worker could be fired for, say, nodding off at his desk or swearing at the editor who tries to wake him up.

(Speaking of Cash for Clunkers, I did some figuring. If I turn in all the fossil-fuel swilling rust buckets I own, the government will give me Rosalia.)

What I’m saying is I’m out of the loop.

I went to the lake. I went to a Spokane Indians ballgame, where I bought a cap and a jersey. Then I went back to the lake …

I’m not ready to start savaging politicians again.

I don’t have a clue about what our idiot leaders have been pulling or if Spokane City Council candidate David Elton has threatened anyone lately.

Unlike during past getaways, I left my computer home this vacation. Plus I forced myself to not watch or read any news.

After a few days I found myself enveloped in a warm and blissful fog of ignorance.

“Ahhh,” I thought. “So this is what it’s like to be Sarah Palin.”

My news eclipse wasn’t total, alas.

While flipping TV channels one afternoon, I caught a local reporter interviewing Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick about her getting a ticket.

Apparently the chief was clocked doing 13 mph above the speed limit.

I didn’t hear all the details. So I’m not sure whether it was just the speed that caught a county cop’s attention or the sight of a car whizzing down a country road without anyone behind the wheel.

Whatever it was, the officer wound up giving our diminutive law-enforcer a $154 citation.

That seems a little stiff. I really like the chief. She bought me doughnuts once. So I would have probably let her slide with a warning as long she promised not to speed in the future and always sit on at least six phone directories while driving.

But what grabbed my attention during the Kirkpatrick interview was the chief’s utter cheerfulness.

The last time I got a speeding ticket, my demeanor was downright dour.

Chief Kirkpatrick acted like she’d just won “America’s Got Talent.”

Then I got to thinking about all the turmoil Kirkpatrick has had to contend with:

Cop-involved shootings, the Jay Olsen trial, a federal indictment of the cop involved in the Otto Zehm disgrace, the police omdudsman controversy, the public’s declining trust for the police …


So when you add it all up, getting a ticket is the rosiest thing to happen to the chief since she took the job.

I have a theory about her speeding, too.

I don’t care what she says. The chief wasn’t going to any picnic.

The poor woman was lead-footing it the hell out of this Lilac Looney Bin.

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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