Arrow-right Camera


Doug Clark: Peccadillo signals progress in department’s deportment

Tue., June 30, 2009

You complainers have the Capt. Clinger caper figured all wrong.

Ronald D. Clinger, that is.

More than a few readers let me know how shocking and disgraceful it is that the 54-year-old Spokane Fire Department captain is back on the city payroll despite serving a day in jail on charges related to helping his son avoid the law following a knife fight in a saloon.

Please. Let’s calm down and look at the bright side.

•No 16-year-old girl was photographed naked at a firehouse À la Daniel Ross.

•No civilians were slaughtered on a highway À la David Batty.

•No prescription drugs were stolen for personal use À la paramedic Rebecca Singley.

So compared to our past firefighter-related scandals, this Clinger mess is a sure sign of Fire Department progress.

Oh, sure. In a perfect world we taxpayers wouldn’t still be paying this embarrassing boob $102,000 a year.

That would be insane.

There’d be no plea bargain, which dropped a felony charge of eluding police and let Clinger cop to three misdemeanors. That allowed the captain to go from unpaid layoff to paid-leave status while an internal investigation continues.

But need I remind you?

This is Spokane.

This is the Land of Lilac Lunacy, where we measure our municipal advances in baby steps.

Take what happened the other day.

Undercover cops launched a big sting operation in People’s Park and High Bridge Park. The bushes down there have more sexual turnover than a seedy motel with hourly rates.

Anyway, when it was all over seven men had been arrested for lewd conduct.

But I’m proud to report that NOT ONE of these foliage frolicking freaks was a city official.

That’s progress, my friends – progress!

So you people who keep urging me to unload on Clinger need to chill.

Yes, I’m talking to you, Nick.

“Doug Clark, where are you when we need you?” he wrote in a recent letter to the editor. “You should be on this like a fly on a fresh meadow muffin.”

(I’m not sure that fly/manure image is the most flattering metaphor I’ve ever heard.)

Look. My point is that we all need to count our blessings here.

Arrested last November, Clinger was accused of speeding away from the cops with his son, Daniel Clinger, who had been involved in a knife fight at a Chattaroy lounge.

I ask you: What sonny boy wouldn’t want his ol’ pop to come racing to the rescue when blades are brandished in a barroom?

It brings tears to my eyes, I tell you.

This isn’t a story about irresponsible behavior from a trusted public servant who should get the book thrown at him.

This isn’t about breaking the law and running from the police.

I’ll tell you what this is. This is Spokane’s version of family values.

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

There are three comments on this story »