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Tourism Day sours into kiss-off

Sun., Feb. 7, 2010

I love a great breakup scene.

Like in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” where actor Jason Segel receives his bad news in the buff?

Or how about the timeless ending to “Casablanca,” when Bogie lets his love fly out of his life?

Then there’s my all-time favorite heartbreaker: “When Harry Dumped Dougie.”

Oh, wait a second. That’s no movie.

That was a phone call last week when Harry Sladich told me I wasn’t Tourism Day material.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Sladich, the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau’s CEO/president, canceled my Olympia-bound bus ride and hotel stay despite the fact that I had already registered and paid for the trip.

Sladich didn’t care. He informed me I was “disinvited.”

Wow. I always thought of Harry as a stand-up guy. How disappointing to learn he’s just another tie-wearing weenie.

There is a chance, of course, that some civic sack of offal is working Harry like a hand puppet.

Either way, the charter bus is scheduled to leave CVB headquarters, 801 W. Riverside, about 4 p.m. Monday without yours truly on board.

Maybe I’ll take my guitar down there and sing a protest song as the bus pulls away.

“All we are saaaying, is give Doug a chance …”

Sladich conceded he didn’t have a clue about what I would or wouldn’t write about Tourism Day. But he said he couldn’t take the chance I might bring a pox upon his household.

“I will just say that your reputation precedes you on this trip,” Sladich said.

Me? Lovable me?

But if that’s actually the case, Harry, then why invite me in the first place?

That invitation came in the following Jan. 25 e-mail:

“Hundreds of tourism professionals are gathering in Olympia on Tuesday, February 9, in an effort to remind elected leaders Why Tourism Matters.

“We want you to be one of them!”

I’m no “tourism professional,” of course. But my work for the CVB has spanned the globe.

I have distributed the organization’s rah-rah material during trips to foreign outposts like Germany, Turkey and Tacoma.

This CVB field trip struck me as an entertaining way to get to Olympia, where I planned to see our state government inaction.

My editor agreed to cough up the $225 fee. My online registration was accepted. And welcomed.

Check out the e-mail Jeanna Hofmeister sent me.

“Doug Clark on a bus with us?” the CVB vice president and director of destination marketing wrote. “Sounds like a worthwhile trip.”


Not to Harry.

“I just can’t go forward with the decision of having you go on this trip,” said Sladich.

There was only one thing to do. I called attorney Breean Beggs at Spokane’s Center for Justice. I wanted to see if such blatant discrimination amounted to a full-fledged hate crime or just a minor dislike crime.

“I’m surprised the police didn’t order (the CVB) to take you just to have you out of town for couple of days,” said Beggs.

Good point.

Oh, well, I can take a hint.

At least we now know what CVB really stands for.

The “Clarkless Visitors Bureau.”

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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