Doug Clark: Full-time council idea needs a red-light camera


We need to stop this dangerous “full-time” City Council notion from winding up on the ballot next fall.

You know how unpredictable Spokane elections are.

This might actually pass, and then where would city government be?

More muddled than ever, that’s where.

Funny. What with the amount of heartburn these clowns generate, I assumed the City Council was already a full-time gig.

Consider the added chaos that could come from a council that was even more committed.

Makes you cringe, huh?

As with most bad ideas, there is some logic behind this one.

According to the city charter, which often doubles as a City Hall doorstop, the Spokane mayor is specifically prohibited from holding any job other than Demander in Chief.

No such language, however, is included for the council.

Because of that, council members are free to moonlight at a quickie mart, say, or an escort service.

Since council members are already getting 4 percent raises next year, the thinking goes that perhaps the time has come to officially make some or all of these positions full time and pad their pay accordingly.

Enter Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori.

The two councilmen “are proposing two advisory measures for the November ballot that they hope will promote a robust community debate over what residents expect from their elected municipal leaders,” our news story reported.

Robust community debate.

Har! Like that ever happens.

Anyway, I’d be first to agree that this full-time proposal makes perfect sense if we were talking about flipping Dick’s burgers or selling shoes at Nordstrom.

Those jobs are meaningful and require skill, after all.

Unfortunately, we are talking about the council here.

From what I’ve seen at Monday night meetings, voters would be much better off if we paid council members extra to go home after the flag salute.

Less time = Less damage.

Makes perfect sense.

Spokane doesn’t need a full-time council. Our old full-of-it council is plenty meddling enough.

Why, consider some of the nightmarish possibilities that such a change might bring.

Part-time council: Led by council President Ben Stuckart, an ordinance is passed allowing citizens to start ugly neighborhood feuds by raising pigs, sheep and egg-laying chickens on their residential property.

Full-time council: Trying to justify their improved status and higher salaries, council members say yes to a new residential zoo ordinance. Citizen farmers can now augment their livestock with hyenas, lowland gorillas and “no more than 40” ocelots per lot. Please. Don’t tease the wildebeest.

Part-time council: Weekly meetings feature lots of jabbering. Streets remain full of potholes.

Full-time council: For lack of anything better to do, the council decides to rename city streets after the names of famous pets. Southeast Boulevard, for example, becomes Old Yeller Blvd.

The potholes count, alas, remains unchanged.

Part-time council: Choosing a revenue-raising scam over citizen wishes, council members vote to have red-light cameras installed at intersections all over Spokane.

Full-time council: Seeing an even bigger revenue-raising scam in blackmailing johns, power-drunk council members order “red light district” cameras installed all along East Sprague.

Or the newly named Miss Kitty Way.

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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