March 30, 2014 in City

Doug Clark: Catch a ride aboard the county gravy train

By The Spokesman-Review
 

For those with a low work ethic and a desire for easy money, have I got an offer!

There is still a month and change left to file your candidacy for the 2014 elections.

People are always griping about the bum job market while completely ignoring the golden opportunities to be had if you’re willing to get up off the couch and run for an office.

More than a dozen dream positions are up for grabs right here in Spokane County.

Pay’s high. No experience necessary.

And unlike working at Wal-Mart, say, elected officials don’t even have to take a drug test.

Obviously.

We’ll get to some of the best local opportunities in a moment. First, the bad news: There’s a price tag before you can run for office.

The government calls it a filing fee. Al Capone called it extortion.

Potatoes, po-tah-toes.

Either way, you have to ante up.

Unless, that is, you’re lucky enough to be backed by organized crime. You know, a political party.

In that case, the Democrat or Republican bosses will coerce their underlings into anointing your candidacy and covering your campaign costs, which can include everything from your filing fee to a personal masseuse.

Democracy is bliss for the chosen.

The average Joe or Jane Citizen doesn’t have a syndicate greasing the way, alas. Most of you will have to borrow or steal your own filing fees, which usually amounts to 1 percent of the annual salary of the office you’re trying to grab.

But don’t despair.

Think of the filing fee as your Wonka ticket to a new life of power, prestige and making the little people squirm.

OK. Let’s look at a few of the offices that are open this year in Spokane County.

County Golf Pro – Salary: $148,176.

You may be more acquainted with this office under its official title: Spokane County prosecutor.

Steve Tucker, incumbent duffer, is rumored to be calling it quits after a long and lucrative slumber. If he decides to stay put, however, do NOT waste your time.

Say what you will about Tucker’s lackluster leadership, his Prufrockian indecision, that nagging slice off the tee …

Triple-bogey Tucker is more resilient than cockroaches in a crack house.

Spokane County Clerk – Salary: $88,350.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking …

Spokane County has a clerk?

Has anybody ever seen him?

Or her?

And what does a county clerk do, bag groceries at Albertsons?

Who cares?

That’s the beauty of this under-the-radar governmental office. Win the election and you can basically collect $88K for doing whatever the heck you want. Nobody’ll know the difference.

Spokane County Commissioner – Salary: $93,000.

Only one of the three seats in this high-profile office is open for conquest.

Al French is the incumbent, representing District 3.

County commissioning is a plum job. You get to waste gobs of taxpayer money on frivolous things like racetracks.

There is so much down time that every week is like a paid vacation.

No wonder French wants to keep his gig.

Boredom is a commissioner’s worst enemy, though.

To combat prattle fatigue, commissioners have to continuously come up with things to do, like holding diet contests or having their own expensive coins made to hand out to the powered pompous.

County Assessor and County Auditor – Salary: $88,350.

For the life of me, I’ve never been able to figure out the differences between these two jobs.

To make it even more confusing, both incumbent officeholders are named Vicky.

Well, with slightly different spellings.

Vicki Horton is the assessor. Vicky M. Dalton is the auditor.

I don’t know much about Horton. Or assessing, unless it’s the faults of elected representatives.

Dalton, however, has been auditor since Bill Clinton’s first affair, which is a long, long time ago.

What I know about the auditor is best explained by the late Soviet leader and noted humanitarian Josef Stalin, who supposedly said:

“Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”

Good to know!

District Court Judge – Salary: $144,544.

Eight county judgeships are on the block this election. As you can see by the bloated salary, getting one of these babies is like hitting the Powerball.

Who wouldn’t want to wear a robe and a powdered wig and sit around playing with your gavel all day?

“Guilty! Off with his head! Next?”

Becoming a judge is tricky, though. It helps to get backed by the local bar association, although that’s probably not cheap, if you catch my drift.

They don’t say “odor in the court” for nothing.

Spokane County Sheriff – Salary: $117,684.83.

Being sheriff sounds cool. Unfortunately, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Yes, you get to wear a badge. Plus you get to put your face on crime prevention billboards, especially during an election year.

But there’s a downside that makes me wonder if the big money is worth it.

In the olden days in TV Westerns, the sheriff’s job would be to walk tall through the streets and gun down a bad guy every now and then.

Here in Spokane County, it seems like poor Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has had to spend an awful lot of time firing blockhead deputies who keep diddling around on the job.

Why do we have so many diddling deputies?

I don’t know, but it’s getting old.

My advice is to go after one of the above cake jobs. Let Ozzie keep his badge. Being sheriff is too darned depressing.

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

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