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Clark: That’s one solution to bloated government

Thu., Jan. 31, 2013, midnight

I couldn’t be more impressed by the $2.8 million upgrade being planned for Spokane Indians Stadium* by the county.

(* I truly hate using that sterile, commercialized A-word when referring to the name of our beloved ball field.)

But as grand as this project will be, my interest today is in a lesser-known, yet far more daunting, makeover:

The County Commission Attrition Plan.

This is my name for a weight loss contest between Commissioners Todd Mielke, Al French and Shelly O’Quinn.

Each commissioner is trying to shed 10 percent of his or her body weight by Bloomsday, which is about a dozen weeks away.

It’s a nice goal although I’m not at all sure what that would mean in every case.

I’m not saying the good-humored French could stand to lose a few.

But erasing 10 percent of the commissioner’s presence is pretty much like the Paulsen Building getting rid of four or five windows.

In his defense, French claims he only gained so much weight because his constituents wanted to see more of him.

O’Quinn, the newest commissioner, came up with this losing proposition.

She said she wanted to drop the pounds she gained during her pounding of Democrat Daryl Romeyn last fall and decided to challenge her fellow Republicans to join in.

All due respect Shelly, but I’m thinking that this story is as fake as processed cheese.

The Spokane County Commission may leave a giant carbo-footprint, but not because of O’Quinn.

Nobody would ever accuse her of needing a diet.

Here’s what I think happened: After a few weeks of hanging around Mielke and French, O’Quinn decided to do something to improve what she had to look at all day.

Whatever the motive, Mielke and French agreed and an official weigh-in was conducted the other day.

Make that a fully clothed official weigh-in, I’m happy to report.

I’ve got enough mental problems without filling my brain with images of nude county commissioners teetering on bathroom scales.

So what are the stakes in this challenge?

Bragging rights, for one.

Plus the Biggest Failure – that is, the person who drops the least amount of tonnage – must buy the others dinner.

A rather counterproductive payoff for a weight loss competition, don’t you think?

Also taking part in this is the county’s lobbyist, Mike Burgess, who presents a problem for anyone thinking of establishing a betting line.

Burgess, I’m told, is a younger guy. So his youthful metabolism should give him an edge when it comes to flab loss.

Being a lobbyist, however, could nullify that advantage.

Since when did you ever hear of a lobbyist passing up a free meal?

I interviewed the commissioners just after their Tuesday night hearing.

They told me that part of the plan is to present their new slimmer bodies by running Bloomsday in a yet-to-be-named* Corporate Cup Team.

(* Got any snarky, yet appropriate names? I’ll send you a free CD of my parody tunes if it’s the best one.)

It strikes me as funny that none of these commissioners wanted their actual weight made known to the public.

It’s an old, old story.

Politicians talk and talk about transparency yet never deliver.

After some Clarkian cajoling, however, they gave me their weight with the proviso that I keep their poundage secret until the contest was over.

This all seems way too cute and cozy.

This, I fear, is the sort of situation that can only come when a governmental body is made up entirely of the members of one political party.

Imagine, if you will, that O’Quinn was a Democrat who suddenly came into this office with this diet contest.

Would Mielke and French just sit there nodding their noggins like a couple of bobble-head dolls?

Not likely.

They’d probably carry fresh cherry pies into the next meeting and scarf them in front of O’Quinn – with THEIR FINGERS!!

Aw, but I don’t want to be too cynical.

When you think about it this is really what every voter dreams about: members of government actually trying to trim the fat.

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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