Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 33° Partly Cloudy

Spin Control

What does it look like to you?

A city resident took umbrage at the e-mail address of one of the City Council candidates – with the Internet, it seems, there is more umbrage in more places – complaining that the Council District 1 hopeful Mike Fagan’s listing is a derogatory acronym well known to texters, IMers and the like.

The letters in Fagan’s “1dilligas” e-mail address, according to Marshall Smith, stand for Does It Look Like I Give A “S-word”. This “little display of indecency” has lost his support, wrote Smith.

Not being an avid texter, Spin Control had to check the Internet to see whether dilligas does mean what Smith says it means.

It does, although the Urban Dictionary notes it can also stand for “Do I Look Like I Give A “S-word”, and that “Sigh” is sometimes substituted for S-word, apparently by those with concerns of decency that outweigh syntax.

But does it mean that to Fagan? That’s where the situation gets a little murky.

When first contacted, Fagan said he wasn’t trying to convey either meaning. Rather, that address came from the license plate on a car he sometimes rode in while working with law enforcement officials in California some 25 or 30 years ago. That time had a special meaning to him and he’s used it as his personal e-mail address for years, he said.

That sounds plausible, until one starts counting letters and looking at plates. Washington plates have a space for only six characters, for example. But this was California, Fagan said.

Even in California, however, a plate can have no more than seven characters, Armando Botello of the California Department of Motor Vehicles said. 1DILLIGAS has nine characters, and could never have been a vanity plate, he said.

No, wait, Fagan said when contacted about the discrepancy. There wasn’t a numeral, just the letters. He added the 1 because his e-mail address had to have a numeral.

OK, that brings it down to eight characters, still too many for a plate.

“I’m not absolutely 100 percent positive on the spelling,” Fagan said. It was many years ago. Maybe there was only one “L” on the plate, he said.

Turns out DILIGAS was a license plate in California from 1989 to 1999 – on a Winnebago, which would make for a really unusual undercover vehicle.

But even if there was some other variation, why is it spelled this way on the e-mail address?

“Because I spell it the way it was explained to me,” he said.

So it does stand for the acronym, he said, but “I don’t use it in the derogatory sense.”

Fagan is vague about the sense he does use it, but adds “people will interpret it any way they want”. Mr. Smith is entitled to his interpretation, but that interpretation is incorrect, insisted the candidate who apparently gives more than a sigh about political issues, considering his track record of pushing statewide ballot measures with Washington’s premier initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman.

He has, by the way, asked the County Elections Office to change his listed e-mail to At least that leaves little room for interpretation.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.