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Doug Clark: Bigger government? Send in the clowns

I’ve never been more excited about Spokane County government.

There’s a sentence you probably never thought you’d read in my column.

But it’s true and it’s all thanks to Karen Kearney.

I didn’t remember the name. But according to a news story, Kearney is a civic activist and failed Spokane City Council candidate, as opposed to the failures we actually elected.

What matters is that Kearney has proposed a positively brilliant idea.

And that is to make the Spokane County Commission an even bigger sideshow than it is now.

Not that she’d put it that way, of course.

Technically speaking, Kearney would like to give voters a chance to increase the size of our county commission from three commissioners to five.

We’ve apparently had three commissioners since back when Dick’s burgers were bought with beaver pelts and the north-south freeway was planned as an alternate stagecoach route.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, “Clark, have you lost your mind? We’re already getting fleeced six ways to Sunday with three nincompoops.

“Why would we want five?”

I understand this reluctance. Bigger government has a bad reputation due to wasting enormous amounts of taxpayer money and shady backroom deals.

But look at it my way.

Say you’re sitting under the Big Top, munching cotton candy, when a tiny car rolls into the center ring.

Now ask yourself.

Is it a better circus if five crazy clowns pop out of the vehicle one after the other to throw cream pies, light giant firecrackers and honk their oo-gah horns?

Or are three clowns enough?

I don’t really have to solve that equation, do I? More clowns equals more hilarity. Always.

I realize that it took just two commissioners to stick us with that toxic racetrack out in Airway Heights.

But imagine the caliber of poor decision-making we’d get from a five-commissioner system of malfeasance.

Why, they might decide to buy the empty old Ridpath Hotel and turn it into that new county jail that Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is begging for.

The Ridpath is conveniently located in what Spokane police call the BDFD (Bus Depot Felony District).

After being arrested, a criminal then would take a short walk to the Ridpath, where a jailer in a bellhop uniform would escort him to a moldy cell/suite with a broken Jacuzzi.

Wow. I might have what it takes to fill one of the new commissioner spots.

If it happens, that is.

Our news story indicated that Commissioner Mark Richard was against Kearney’s proposal, claiming the cost couldn’t be justified.

What a laugh. Spending money sure wasn’t an issue when Marky Mark decided to play Speed Racer.

The good news, however, is that Commissioners Todd Mielke and Al French have expressed a willingness to let the voters decide.

Five commissioners. It’s almost too beautiful to comprehend.

I’d be the first to agree that larger government also equals larger headaches.

But I am, after all, in the headache business.

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

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