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Clark: Debate evinces need for clean political environment


Tuesday, 5:46 p.m. – I’m walking west on Main with a spring in my step. That’s because I’m headed to the Community Building where a quartet of Spokane mayoral candidates will soon compete at who can make the most convincing armpit noises.

5:50 – I do see value in candidate debates, although not for reasons of public enlightenment. For me it’s convenient one-stop bopping whenever a herd of political targets gather to blather.

5:51 – Mayoral candidate Mike Noder greets me on the sidewalk. After some harmless chitchat, he points out a rather significant and dangling tear that has occurred in the lower lining of the aged sport coat I’m wearing.

5:52 – This encounter gives voters a solid clue as to what sort of mayor Noder would make. His attempt to micromanage my notoriously shabby attire shows him to be a sucker for lost causes.

5:53 – This forum features four of our five mayoral primary candidates: Noder, David Condon, Barbara Lampert and Mary Verner, the incumbent who is deluded into thinking she can be the first two-term mayor since the town was all but cremated in the Great Spokane Fire of 1889.

5:59 – The only MIA is Robert Kroboth. No surprise there. Kroboth has made it clear that he won’t stoop to anything so pedestrian as a debate. Which is fair. It’s highly doubtful that many voters will lower themselves to voting for Kroboth.

6:02 – What’s going on? The party is supposed to begin at 6. We need to get this sideshow rolling so I can get home in time to watch the latest episode of “MasterChef.”

6:03 – The affable moderator explains that tonight’s forum will focus on sustainability, recycling and other issues that the environmental bullies have tried to ram down our gullets.

6:04 – All this talk about resources reminds me. I’m down to my last two boxes of phosphate-rich Cascade dishwasher soap. I need to find a detergent-friendly Internet site and have a case of the precious powder shipped to me.

6:07 – Noder gives his opening statement. He looks sharp in a dark suit, blue shirt and striped tie. After he doesn’t become mayor, I may elect him as my wardrobe consultant.

6:08 – Condon’s turn to tell us what a big pal to the planet he is. The candidate is wearing Earth-friendly khaki tones. But why is this man so loud? The more Condon speaks, the more he reminds me of this huckster who once tried to get me to sell Amway.

6:09 – Barbara Lampert tells the small audience that she’s Barbara Lampert. Like we couldn’t guess. Come on. This woman has entered more races than Don Kardong.

6:10 – Lampert sports a casual plaid shirt and a haircut reminiscent of the great Moe Howard. Part of her administration, she promises, will focus on eradicating vermin. It’s about time. City Hall is crawling with them.

6:11 – Mayor Verner is dressed in a smart blue business suit. She is proud, she says, of her record regarding sustainability. That’s nice. But doing the impossible and winning a second term is the only sustainability issue that should be on Mary’s mind.

6:14 – The Earth is not changing size, claims Lampert.

I find it telling, however, when Lampert doesn’t take a position on whether she thinks the Earth is round or flat.

6:20 – Noder admits to being a longtime composter.

6:21 – Condon reveals putting in a gravel driveway.

6:22 – Lampert confesses to carefully combining errands to save gas.

6:23 – Verner outs herself as a Prius owner.

6:25 – Is it just me, or has political discourse hit an all-time sinkhole low?

6:26 – If this were a movie, I’d call it “The Adventures of Three Nambys and a Pamby.”

6:29 – Verner finishes an answer by reminding us that we all have a responsibility to the next generation.

6:30 – And why is that, Mary? Based on my dim view of this generation, there’s a high probability that I won’t like the next one any better. Let ’em find their own damn source for Cascade dish soap, I say.

6:38 – What’s that? Whoa. Must’ve dozed off. The last thing I remember was a lot of droning about railroad trains, coal dust and Whatcom County. My head feels foggier than the morning after a laughing gas binge.

6:39 – Some guy behind me asks candidates what it will take to get people out of their cars. You know, as the unashamed owner of a gas-guzzling 1967 Vista Cruiser, I’d rather discuss what it would take to get an old busybody like you to mind your own business.

6:42 – Condon concedes that we’re “still a driver community.”

That’s true. Many people I know have been driven to drink, driven to drugs, driven to cross-dressing, driven to insanity. … There’s probably something in the water.

6:51 – Lampert says we have too many laws, but that we should obey the laws, because if we don’t we’re disrespecting the laws and … Oh, brother.

6:53 – Verner says somebody gave her a book called “The Death of Common Sense.” What a coincidence. That’s also the answer to the question: Why does Spokane have so many one-term mayors?

7:00 – I’ve heard enough. Maybe I should run for mayor. Naw. The way I feel about politicians, I’d just wind up having myself impeached.

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