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Clark: Spokane’s leanin’ alright, but toward the drab

In her State of the City address on Friday, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner announced that the city was “leaning forward,” which, as we all know, is the first move a drunk makes before falling flat onto his nose.

As a professional community observer, I think I know what is causing Mayor Verner to be so pessimistic.

We need a better class of criminals.

Really. The dumbbell dirtbags who keep pulling crimes around here are a total disgrace to our civic pride.

It’s time we took steps to attract smarter and more fascinating hoodlums like that mobster the FBI finally nabbed down in Southern Idaho last week.

The New England gangster, according to our news story, had been posing as a farmer for more than 10 years in Marsing.

Neighbors knew him as Jay Shaw. Turns out the faux farmer is really Enrico M. Ponzo, a connected wiseguy.

We’re talking real Godfather stuff, and not the pizza chain.

The feds say Ponzo disappeared in 1994 after failing to punch the ticket on his boss, if you catch my drift.

There were some obvious signs that this made man was no farm lad.

Ponzo had even more weapons than the average Idahoan, which meant he could have stocked a Third World uprising or a Cabela’s Gun Library.

Second, he spoke in one of those Tony Soprano “fuggeddaboutit” accents, which stood out among the hayseed vernacular.

Oh yeah, and Ponzo didn’t butcher chickens the normal Idaho way. You’d always find his birds flopped face-down in a plate of pasta.

But here’s what irks me. Why Southern Idaho?

It’s just a crying damn shame that Shaw/Ponzo didn’t consider this Lilac Landfill we call home as lam-worthy material.

No wonder Mayor Verner is so depressed.

Freeman. Spangle. Post Falls. … These communities offer terrific hideout potential.

Ponzo could have raised his cows here. (Jerseys, I’m betting.)

Heck, he could have settled in Green Bluff. I’ve been to that fall harvest festival and it’s a human traffic jam. A well-armed mobster would be a real asset for controlling the yahoos who keep cutting into the apple pie line.

But what sort of crooks do we get?

The dregs, my friends.

Take the Einstein who robbed a Spokane Valley Dollar Tree store the other day.

News reports said the robber “fled with a small amount of money.”

Well, of course it was a small amount of money. The moron knocked off a DOLLAR STORE!!!

Look, I’m not expecting our crooks to be up to an “Ocean’s Eleven” casino heist.

But it’s a sad state of affairs that Eddie Ray Hall counts as our most colorful felon.

Eddie Ray is no diabolical mastermind. He got his reputation through crime quantity, not quality. The guy’s been arrested close to 50 times. But it’s always for the same bottom-of-the-birdcage stuff: drugs and burglaries, with the occasional escape tossed in for laughs.

And soon we won’t even have Eddie Ray to spice up our lives.

He pleaded guilty last month to a federal dope charge, and “The G” doesn’t mess around. Sentencing is in April, and Eddie Ray’s about to be more gone than a manned trip to Mars.

It’s kind of sad. Maybe we could work out a deal with the government to let Eddie Ray visit us on a Tweaker Release Program.

We really need better criminals. Until that happens, Mayor Verner is right. The city will continue to list like a besotted sailor on shore leave.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or