March 20, 2014 in City

Doug Clark: Trying to make heads or tails of Spokane’s coin craze

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Doug Clark
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So the stooges on the Spokane County Commission (Larry, Moe and Girly) are blowing $5,125 to have 300 special coins made that they’ll give away to VIPs and cronies.

This is the sort of nonsense that happens when three members of the same party occupy all the commission seats.

Sitting around agreeing with each other day after day must be so tiring. You have to come up with a crazy idea now and then just to break the boredom.

Speaking of which, any guesses what Todd Mielke, Al French and Shelly O’Quinn will call their coins?

GOPeso gets my vote, although I like Chumps Change, too.

The commission, I’m sure, will thoroughly debate this along with other important issues, like …

FRENCH: “If we buy uniforms, how much gold fringe should we have put on the shoulders?”

MIELKE: “I want epaulets and gold stars, too.”

O’QUINN: “Agreed. Let’s vote on it!”

If I had my way, every elected office from the president on down would be regulated by a strict system of term limits.

And by term limits I mean six months and out.

It’s the only way to minimize the carnage that every politician creates.

Come to think of it, this coin could serve the public if it commemorated something memorable. The commission’s boondoggle purchase of the Airway Heights racetrack, say.

One side of the coin would show a racecar spinning into a dark hole with dollar signs flying out.

The other side would contain one word: “Oops.”

I blame Spokane Mayor David Condon for this.

Last year, the mayor had 250 Condon Coins made to give to citizens who supposedly did great things for the community.

That warm and squishy feeling lasted until I ran into Councilman Steve Salvatori. He told me the mayor gave him one of the pewter-and-purple coins for attending a few dull meetings.

Six months.

Really, that’s more than any of them deserves.

YES, that was the one and only Tom Budnick in the classifieds last week.

The inspiration for my annual dubious achievement Budnick Awards made an odd and unexpected appearance in our “personals” section.

I first wrote about Thomas P. Budnick back in the 1980s after I heard about some guy who was filing hundreds of mining claims for the planet Mars through Spokane County.

Every other county he’d contacted across the country had turned down his Martian claims, he told me.

Only Spokane was willing to take (steal?) his money.

The story I wrote got a lot of ink and airplay. Budnick, at the time a Massachusetts social worker, was obsessed with interplanetary mining rights.

Budnick has now turned his attention closer to home.

“Hardluck Massachusetts Prospector has claimed 6.9 million acres of oil above China,” he wrote in his personals ad.

“Seeks attractive Chinese ladies for translation, computer help (and) cultural understanding.”

Good grief.

I called Budnick to find out what the heck he was up to. He told me he was not in the best shape economically, mentally or emotionally. He also said he’s lonely because he never married and lived 66 years with his mother, who died last year.

That’s tough.

Even so, Budnick was good-humored and jovial. And he is still dreaming that his unorthodox mining claims will one day pay off like a Vegas slot machine.

Did his oddball ad get results?

Yes, if you count the one call he received from the guy who tried to sell him a $10 million gold mine.

“What did you say to him?” I asked.

“I told him I was going down financially like the Titanic.”

What did he say?

“He cut his price to $5 million.”

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@spokesman.com.


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