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Doug Clark: DSHS report on Paul escape an exercise in lameness

Sun., Oct. 4, 2009, 12:10 a.m.

Friday found me in a downtown office watching state health officials unveil their report on how homicidal maniac Phillip A. Paul managed to escape two weeks ago while on a mental hospital outing to the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

Sure, I could have caught this yawn and phony show on the tube at home.

But I wanted to see if DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus was as uninspiring in the flesh as she is in high-def.

She is.

Dreyfus & Co. have been investigating Paul’s getaway for 15 days.

They came up with a decent timeline of events. They formed a new committee. Bureaucrats do love committees.

But other than CEO Hal Wilson falling on his sling blade, none of the nincompoops responsible for Paul’s vanishing act or the delayed call to the cops has been named. Discipline is pending.

Heck, Dreyfus admitted she didn’t even know if it would have been legal to search the red backpack that Paul took to the fair.

How lame can you get?

My review of this disaster wouldn’t take 15 days. It would take about 15 minutes once I got to Eastern State Hospital and called a staff meeting.

DOUG: “Thanks for coming. Now, please raise your right hand if you were in any way involved with the recent Paul fiasco.”

Hands shoot up.

DOUG: “OK. You’re fired. And you’re fired. And you’re fired. … Oh, and you over there hiding behind the lithium dispenser. Yeah, you’re fired, too.”

I’d have more heads rolling than Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto.”

There’s also no answer on whether the state will reimburse Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for the thousands spent on the Paul pursuit.

Speaking of reimbursement, I think the state mental health system should pay back all those credit card companies that Paul stiffed for more than $85,000.

How did Paul’s doctors not know about this?

Paul’s a psychotic who all but beheaded an elderly Sunnyside woman in 1987. He has no assets. His only income is a thousand bucks a month from Social Security. (That’s a sad commentary on our system all by itself.)

And despite all these drawbacks, Paul somehow gets a fistful of plastic and a whopping amount of credit.

No wonder the economy’s in the stink hole.

I’d like to know what Paul spent all his undeserved loot on.

I keep getting this sick feeling that Paul has a secret shed somewhere that he’s loaded from floor to rafters with dangerous sharp objects like the sickle that was protruding from his backpack when the law finally caught up with him.

Don’t you just love the way bureaucrats speak?

Dreyfus wouldn’t yell “Fire!” if flames were shooting out of her head.

Her term for the Paul mess: an “unfortunate incident.”

Unfortunate incident?

Getting a cold sore on prom night is an unfortunate incident.

A torrential rain on the Lilac Parade is an unfortunate incident.

Taking Freddy Krueger to the fair on Family Day and allowing him to scamper away?

Sorry, Susan. That is not an unfortunate incident.

That’s the new gold standard for brain flatulence.

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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