September 6, 2009 in City

A not-so-teary goodbye to politics’ summer flings

By The Spokesman-Review
 

No matter what the weather people tell you, Monday is the end of summer. The kids are back in school and most adults have burned up their vacation.

That should mean the start of serious political campaigning and the end of the summer crazies, which this year included an Idaho gubernatorial candidate talking about hunting tags for President Barack Obama, a referendum campaign trying to keep its donors names’ secret, Mayor Mary Verner getting a tattoo on television …

OK, so her honor’s tattoo is the henna variety, which fades over time. But when one returns to Spokane from two weeks off, is paying only marginal attention to the evening newscast with the TV volume on mute, and sees a fleeting glimpse of the mayor’s leg being tatted up, one can’t help but wonder if something changed in one’s absence. Has Verner decided to quit her day job and hit the road as a rapper, or is this just another “dog days of summer” TV story?

More of the latter, it turns out. Verner got temporary body art on her ankle last week as a part of a fundraiser for Cancer Patient Care, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said. She picked out a design that features a cancer ribbon wrapped around a sword, with the words “Still Fighting.”

For Verner, who has lost several family members to cancer, support of cancer research is very personal, Feist said.

That’s admirable, if unconventional. One can only imagine, however, what other local politicians might choose for body art if this kind of thing catches on. Spokane Valley council members might have “We (heart) Spokane Valley” tattooed on some expanse of flesh in celebration of the disincorporation forces announcing, yet again, that they can’t gather enough signatures to put their initiative on the ballot. Idaho gubernatorial hopeful Rex Rammell might have the president’s face with a target applied to his chest, giving him yet more opportunities to ask why people don’t get the joke. Perennial candidate Barbara Lampert could have “Vote for Me for ___,” and use henna to fill in the blank with the office she aspires to in any given year.

The possibilities could be endless, at least during the summer doldrums. But as Jim Morrison once said, summer’s almost gone.

Thankfully.

Regarding that un-endorsement

Spokane County Republicans endorsed against incumbent Municipal Judge Tracy Staab last month on the theory that she’s not a city resident. They decided to rethink that position, as colleague Jonathan Brunt reported in the online version of Spin Control, after Council- woman Nancy McLaughlin sent a note saying Staab is the more conservative choice in that race, as well as a Christian and a gun owner.

It should be noted, however, that challenger Bryan Whitaker – whom the Republicans are not endorsing – also says he’s a Christian and a gun owner. Conservative is a tough quality to quantify for a municipal judge, so that sort of takes one back to the original complaint: City judges should live in the city.

In a ruling Thursday that the city’s old municipal court system was legal, the state Supreme Court sort of blew the residency objection out of the water. The high court wasn’t talking about the current campaigns, but an aside on who can be a municipal judge is on point:

“From its inception, the statutory scheme governing municipal departments provided specific procedures by which they could be staffed with judges,” the unanimous court ruling said. “The statute did not limit who was eligible to be appointed or elected, but only city voters could vote for municipal judges.”

Spin Control is a weekly political column that also appears online at www.spokesman.com/blogs/ spincontrol with daily postings, videos and comments from readers. Political reporter Jim Camden can be reached at (509) 459-5461 or jimc@ spokesman.com.


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