January 17, 2010 in City

Doug Clark: We’ll miss Davenport’s ‘curator’

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Pardon me. But have you bozos over at the Davenport Hotel lost your (insert your favorite expletive) minds?

I’m still pinching myself in disbelief over the local news shocker of the week: Tom McArthur lost his job as the Davenport’s communications director.

Aw, say it ain’t so, Walt Worthy.

I always figured Worthy, who bought and brought the Davenport back to life, to be savvier than this.

Yeah, I know. Times are tough. The Spokane economy is more bottomed out than a squashed marmot in a North Side pothole.

And for the record, McArthur wasn’t the only Davenport employee to be handed his walking papers. The layoffs included two other managers as well as a few nonmanagement types.

But if I were running that grand downtown hotel, McArthur would be the last I’d let go.

Why?

Because Tom McArthur was the Davenport Hotel’s greatest salesman.

McArthur wasn’t just a communications director; he was more like the curator of a grand museum.

As one still-employed Davenport worker put it, “There’s a lot of people who can do a PR (public relations) job. But with Tom it’s a passion. He absolutely loves this building, its history and what it stands for.”

McArthur conducted tours, gave speeches and dealt with the media in all forms. A former TV news anchor, McArthur produced a public TV documentary about Louis Davenport, the hotel’s founder, that is still being aired.

McArthur was always on hand to put a friendly face on special hotel events.

Speaking of which, could the timing of this layoff be any more idiotic?

McArthur’s ouster came just before the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The Davenport Hotel and nearby Davenport Tower will be a hub and home for visiting skaters, skating fans and members of the media galore.

Getting rid of McArthur is about the dumbest move I’ve ever heard of.

As for McArthur, however, he remains a class act.

“I have no ill will against Walt and Karen,” he said of the hotel-owning Worthys. “They’ve always treated me with respect. They did a great thing for Spokane in restoring that hotel.

“I’m a symptom of a situation. It’s nobody’s fault.”

On his last day at work, McArthur spoke to the Spokane Valley Kiwanis.

Returning to the hotel, he led a group of 30-some high school students from Colville on a tour of the Davenport wonders.

At one point he showed them two rounded grooves worn into the marble floor near the elevators.

I remember McArthur pointing these out to me once. I was amazed to learn that the marks were made by hotel bellmen standing in the same spot day after day, year after year.

Not long after finishing the tour, McArthur received the bad news.

He never saw it coming, he said.

McArthur went back to his desk. He packed up his things. Two teary colleagues helped carry his belongings to his car. They said their goodbyes.

Then “I said a prayer in my car and then drove away.”

Amazingly, McArthur is still the hotel’s greatest salesman.

“I look forward to my next cup of coffee in the Davenport Hotel,” he said. “The building represents timeless human values and I’m glad I had eight years here.

“To be part of that was a blessing.”

As long as I’m on the subject of crappy things …

I’ve been receiving questions from out-of-towners who are bemused and bewildered by the U.S. Figure Skating Championships logo that boldly adorns the ice at the Spokane Arena as well as all official skating event material.

They claim – and I’m not making this up – that the logo appears to have an outhouse on it.

I tried to tell these poor misguided souls that the rectangular structure in question is actually our beloved Riverfront Park Clocktower.

Besides, I tell them, Spokane has indoor plumbing. Unless you count the sidewalks outside the downtown bus plaza, of course.

But upon investigation (see image at left), I see that whoever designed this logo drew a crescent moon where the round clock of the Clocktower would be.

So I guess now I have a question.

Is our beloved Riverfront Park Clocktower a one-holer or a two-holer?

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


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