On Friday I set out on a downtown quest to determine the street value of Spokane’s newest mode of currency, the Condon Coin.
Haven’t heard of the Condon Coin?
I’m not surprised.
Only 250 of these babies were made at the behest of Mayor David Condon, who had the coins struck as an afterthought while he was designing a new mayoral seal for use on his podium, letterhead, three-ring binder and – who knows? – maybe T-shirts to come.
Count me among those who didn’t even know that Spokane had a mayoral seal.
But apparently we did and it wasn’t good enough for Boy Mayor.
According to the city, Condon spent $1,407 of his mayor’s budget for a new seal design, plus 250 special coins to be given as appreciative tokens to citizens who supposedly do great things for the community.
It doesn’t seem like a whole lot of money unless you think of it as, well, ours.
Made by Rainmaker Creative, the handsome pewter-and-purple coins feature the new seal on one side.
Local icons are recognized like Mount Spokane, the Clocktower, the falls, the Monroe Street Bridge and blooming lilacs, as well as a nod to Spokane’s Native American roots.
A little larger than a silver dollar, the coin’s B-side bears an inscription:
“Presented by Mayor Condon in recognition of your role in making Spokane the ‘City of Choice’ for the Northwest – David Condon.”
If the mayor could go five minutes without uttering “City of Choice,” I’d eat my fedora.
At least the mayor held off having “re-elect David Condon” inscribed on these things.
He should award himself one of his hubris coins for exhibiting such epic restraint.
Quite frankly, in terms of a seal I’d rather have Condon spend my money on one of those adorable circus creatures that says “Ort! Ort!” while slapping its flippers and balancing a ball on its nose.
Having a trained seal cavorting at City Hall meetings would make George McGrath diatribes tolerable, almost.
Aw, but what do I know? I’m not exactly on the short list of Condon Coin recipients.
I learned that Friday when I tried to get one. They are only for citizens who make significant contributions, Condon spokesguy Brian Coddington said.
Significant contributions? He’s right. That ain’t me.
But after I whined a bit, Coddington agreed to loan me a Condon Coin so long as I brought it back. I’m good for it, I vowed.
I began the experiment while depositing my paycheck.
“I’d like to cash this, too,” I said, slyly handing the Condon Coin to the teller, who held it up to the light.
“Um, as nice as it is, there’s not much value in it,” she said, handing it back.
Next stop: the bus plaza, where an “Airport/Browne’s Addition” bus waited out front.
“Can I use this for a ride?” I asked the driver.
“Nope. Don’t think it’ll fit,” he said, pointing to the slot on his money-taker.
Swell. We paid four bucks apiece for these things and they won’t even buy a seat on a smelly bus.
A little later I tried to use one to plug a parking meter. No soap there, either.
At Starbucks, I plunked my Condon Coin on the counter to pay for a small cup of drip coffee.
The counter kid picked it up and gave it a constipated look.
“Don’t think we’re accepting these,” he said in an apologetic tone.
He cheered up significantly when I handed him three real bucks for my $1.90 cuppa joe. “Keep the change,” I told him.
On to Nordstrom where I attempted to pay my monthly bill with a you-know-what.
“We got bupkis,” said the clerk, laughing.
Finally, I carted the coin all the way to Dutch’s pawnshop.
“Look, I know you’re closing and not taking pawns anymore,” I pleaded. “But if you were taking pawns, what would you give me for this rare and uncirculated Condon Coin?”
“Five bucks for you to get it out of the store,” employee Jason Kull snapped.
An attitude like that won’t win you a Condon Coin, Jason.
So back I went to City Hall to make good on my promise. A few steps from the security counter, however, I bumped into City Councilman Steve Salvatori.
“Oh yeah,” he said, eyeballing my Condon Coin. “The mayor gave me one of those.”
I repeat: HE WHAT?
I asked Salvatori what great thing did he do for the city to deserve Condon’s version of the Medal of Honor.
He told me he essentially got it for sitting through a bunch of boring meetings.
“You’re a city councilman,” I squawked in astonishment.
Sitting through boring meetings is what idiots like me pay people like Steve to do.
The bottom just dropped out of the Condon Coin market.