January 5, 2012 in City

Doug Clark: Hopefully, Condon won’t stop the insanity

By The Spokesman-Review
 

First real day on the job and Mayor David Condon makes noises about fulfilling his campaign promise to restore the public’s faith in the Spokane Police Department.

Folks, I’m worried.

We might have elected a lunatic.

True, the mayor’s office has housed more nuts than a PayDay bar wrapper.

Paranoid. Perverted. Narcissistic. …

And that’s just the one kook we had to recall.

But no mayor in my near-elephantine memory has been so unhinged as to call a press conference right out of the chute and start keeping promises.

Come on. A promise to a campaigning politician is like a wristwatch on a sermonizing preacher.

Don’t mean a thing.

I realized Spokane’s 44th mayor might be unhinged last Friday morning. Condon and I exchanged pleasantries outside the Riverfront Park Clocktower, the site Condon picked to take his oath of office.

Now I ask you: Who in his right mind schedules an outdoor social gathering in this burg during the dregs of winter?

Factor in that Condon, like me, is a Spokane lad.

That means he knows how fickle the winter weather around here can be.

One second we’re all trying to make it through an ice storm.

Next second we’re all out raking the yard.

Factor in also that the town’s TV weathercasters had unanimously predicted a blizzard-free Friday.

So odds were even we’d be digging out of an avalanche before the Condon Coronation had reached the swearing-in stage.

Planning an outdoor Spokane wedding in summertime will turn most brides into neurotic wrecks.

All along the Clocktower, however, Condon was as upbeat as an Avista exec with a new rate increase.

The mayor even agreed to play tambourine with me next June during Spokane Street Music Week.

Yep. Must be insane.

The only other alternative is that our new mayor is actually bent on keeping the promises he uttered while huffing and puffing on the campaign trail.

I know. The concept’s almost too weird to comprehend.

But if that’s the case, he couldn’t have picked a better promise to make good on.

I won’t rehash all the police stuff that has caused the citizenry to think of local enforcement as loco law enfarcement.

You know, the Karl Thompson conviction, the saluting court cops, the neutering of our so-called police ombudsman …

The point is that the police department is in a scurvy-ridden state.

Poor morale and internal divisions are just symptoms that have been exacerbated by inadequate leadership.

I liked Anne Kirkpatrick a lot. The outgoing police chief has a good heart and plenty of good ideas.

But she wasn’t up to changing the element of cowboy culture that has caused the SPD to be far less than it should be.

In his press conference, Condon named Maj. Scott Stephens to step in as interim police chief. The mayor also gave the green light to reviewing the police department’s policies and training regarding use of force.

Good start.

I don’t know much about Stephens, but I’m willing to give the man a chance.

And I’m actually excited by Condon’s eagerness to get cracking on the promises he made to get elected.

Like giving Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi the boot.

A lot of us can’t wait for that shoe to drop.

Maybe he can take care of that one on Friday.

And who knows?

Keeping your word just might turn out to be the recipe for re-election in Condon’s hometown, the birthplace of mayoral term limits.

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


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