Spin Control: Palin movie elicits stiff-arms, light turnout

SUNDAY, AUG. 14, 2011

Sarah Palin may not be much of a draw in Spokane.

That’s one conclusion – and a charitable one, at that – to draw from an event a little more than a week ago at The Bing Crosby Theater featuring the new biographical movie about Palin. Planned as a chance to raise money for charities, food for Second Harvest Food Bank and pet supplies for SpokAnimal, it was a disappointment, said organizer Mike Noder.

“The Undefeated,” which is not to be confused with the 1969 John Wayne/Rock Hudson horse opera of the same name, is playing to limited release and generally scathing reviews around the country. But if ever there was a place not beholden to the slings and arrows of the lamestream media, it should be the Inland Northwest. Palin is, after all, one of our own, having been born in Sandpoint and graduating from the University of Idaho before making her way back north to Alaska – which, come to think of it, is another John Wayne movie.

Noder, a candidate for Spokane mayor in Tuesday’s primary, said he was contacted by representatives of the film’s producers with an offer to screen it as a fundraiser. They liked some things he had on his campaign website, he said, and he likes some things, but not everything, she says.

“She’s a citizen advocate. I have to speak for myself and she speaks for herself,” he said.

Unsure how much it might bring in, and unwilling to run afoul of the state Public Disclosure Commission, he didn’t want to collect money for his low-cost mayoral campaign. But he offered to hold the screening and collect for some local charities.

Admission was free, with would-be watchers urged to bring food or pet supplies or donate to charity.

“People responding were kind of vicious,” Noder said. The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery wanted no part of the gig and the food bank wouldn’t bring down donation barrels, he said.

The movie, which aired on a Thursday night, didn’t draw a big crowd. Noder estimated it at 50, although others thought it might’ve been half that. The Northeast Community Center Youth Group got the door receipts. The food bank got some donations and a plastic grocery bag of food. SpokAnimal got some donations and a couple cases of cat food.

Noder actually got less than nothing: “My web traffic dropped. The association was not good for my campaign.”

Maybe if he had shown the John Wayne version of “The Undefeated” things would’ve gone better.

‘I am shocked – shocked! – to find that gambling is going on’

Reporters have been known to bet on almost anything, from when a jury will come back to which candidates will win the races they are covering.

It’s a tendency that even some professional gamblers find appalling. So when a Craigslist ad offered a cash prize for the best handicapper of Tuesday’s mayoral race, it caught some eyes in the newsroom.

Even more curious, the referenced website seemed to be that of Mike Noder. But a closer look showed that it wasn’t his mikeforspokane site, but a mocking site, mike4spokane, set up by someone he describes as a former friend turned critic.

To be fair, the mike4 site is close to being an equal opportunity annoyer of all five candidates. The photo of Mary Verner looks like it was shot by the photographer who did Michele Bachmann for Newsweek, and the shot of David Condon makes his head seem as round as a balloon. The other three candidates’ photos are so out of focus as to be almost unrecognizable.

Only 13 people found their way to the site and left a prediction before the contest closed. The average: Condon 40 percent; Verner 38 percent; Barbara Lampert 9 percent; Noder 7.5 percent; and Robert Kroboth 3 percent. Actual results may vary.

One last reminder

Even if you don’t bet on elections, you still have something riding on the outcome. Tuesday at 8 p.m. is the deadline for casting ballots in the primary. Remember, with the current ballot system, there are two ways to get your vote in.

You can mark it, seal it, sign the envelope and put it in the mail – with a stamp – so that it is postmarked by Tuesday evening. If you hold on to it until Tuesday afternoon, you should take it to a post office to make sure it’s postmarked in time.

Or you can mark it, seal it, sign the envelope and deposit it in one of the drop boxes set up by county elections. In Spokane County, drop boxes are found at public libraries and several other sites. A list can be found on the Web version of this column, at

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos.

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