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Clark: Volunteers aren’t worthy of paranoia, or maybe they are

Sun., Oct. 14, 2012

A ruckus erupted over Spokane’s code enforcement last week, with critics claiming that recruiting volunteer citizens to act as public snitches smacks of “Big Brother” in some book by George Orwell.

What this Orwell guy is trying to prove is anybody’s guess.

But if the jerk doesn’t like the way we do things around here, then I say, “Hey, George, go move to the dang Valley!”

For the record, representatives from Spokane have been putting out a perfectly harmless call for “Citizen Code Enforcement Volunteers.”

Those lucky enough to pass the blood, urine and polygraph tests will be, according to city materials referenced in our news coverage, “the eyes on the street for Code Enforcement Officers.”

You know, like those badass informants on “The Wire.”


Oh, maybe now and then a volunteer might have to turn in a neighbor for, say, neglecting the junked car that’s been sitting on cinder blocks in his front yard since before Desert Storm.

Or perhaps a volunteer will have to drop a dime on a family member who’s been illegally dumping dirty diapers in a ditch by a park.

Or maybe a report will have to be filed on some citizen of foreign extraction, if you know what I mean, who’s been exhibiting shifty, un-American behavior.

See? Just normal citizen stuff.

No big deal.

So it’s time all you squawkers stuck a cork in it.

Besides, if we’ve learned anything from our patriot pals at Homeland Security, it’s that people who complain the loudest about their privacy are usually the ones who have the most to hide.

It’s hard to believe that a worthwhile endeavor like volunteer stoolies would come under attack.

The agitators must not have enough to do.

But as long as we’re on the topic, let me debunk a few of the biggest myths that have been unfairly linked to this wonderful opportunity for citizen involvement.

MYTH: The program will create a network of semi-trained spies.

FACT: The program will create a network of semi-trained snoops.

MYTH: Neighbors watching neighbors watching neighbors is creepy and wrong.

FACT: “We’re minding your business” is the code enforcement motto!

MYTH: Volunteers have the power to arrest.

FACT: Volunteers have the power to peep.

MYTH: This program will spread paranoia all over Spokane.

FACT: It ain’t paranoia if the black helicopters really are hovering over your head.

MYTH: CCE’s efforts haven’t accomplished anything.

FACT: The entire community of Hillyard was once cited as a “Rampant Rust Zone.”

MYTH: Citizen volunteers only work about four hours a week.

FACT: There’s one or two lurking outside your window right now.

MYTH: CCE training deals mainly with paperwork and protocol.

FACT: CCE training includes lock picking and night-vision goggle maintenance.

MYTH: Spokane Mayor David Condon has disavowed any knowledge of volunteer tattletales.

FACT: Volunteer tattletales swear to be good “Condonistas” when they take the CCE loyalty oath.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432

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