Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 70° Partly Cloudy

Spin Control

Mayor responds to Condon’s criticism of Verner’s handling of Zehm case


Below is Mayor Mary Verner's full response to the statement released earlier in the day by her opponent in the November election, David Condon, followed by Condon's statement. Condon offered harsh criticism of Verner's handling of the Otto Zehm matter. Verner's response was delivered by her campaign, not by the city.


Mayor Mary Verner says she is deeply disappointed in former Congressional aide Dave Condon’s reckless attempt to use the tragedy of the Otto Zehm death for his personal political ambition.

Condon wrote a campaign news release today, criticizing the mayor, city police, city attorneys, and city staffers.



“Condon clearly has not checked the facts, says Mayor Verner,  “He is a newcomer to this issue and to city government. This is a complex case with many parties and to further victimize the Zehm family by attempting to elevate himself was thoughtless,” Mayor Verner says. The City is not a party in the federal criminal trial and has been under a court-ordered stay in the civil matter for over two years.

“Why a former aide to Congress would issue a news release disrespecting the jurisdiction of the federal court is puzzling,” says Mayor Verner.  A federal judge ordered that there be no further action in the Zehm civil case until the criminal case is concluded. A federal judge has also determined that assistant city attorney Rocky Treppiedi's actions in the case have been appropriate. 

“I believe the voters will see through his attempt to blame me for actions of a former city administration, the county prosecutor, and other attorneys working on this case in Federal Court. As I have said all along, I respect the judicial process and the facts that will come forth,” says Mayor Verner.

“I expect city employees to tell the truth. Protecting our citizens, our city, and Spokane’s good name is and always has been my primary concern, first as a city council member and now as Mayor,” says Verner.

“As for the ombudsmen’s powers, Condon is proposing steps I’ve already taken. The citizens of Spokane know I championed for the police ombudsman, transparency, and sound union negotiations. I look forward to educating my November opponent on these issues in upcoming public debates and forums, rather than emailing news reporters with press releases,” says Mayor Verner.

“I believe this latest political tactic shows that candidate Condon is not qualified or prepared to be entrusted with large, complex decisions that impact the community, as a whole,” says Mayor Verner.



The city of Spokane has mishandled the Otto Zehm case from the very beginning. As mayor, Mary Verner has wasted taxpayer money and slowed the course of justice by her defense of the city bureaucracy and the mismanagement of this case. 

A quarter of a million dollars and thousands of hours have been wasted while the bureaucracy churned away, trying to obscure the process.

The indictment of a Spokane police officer by a federal grand jury was an indictment of Spokane’s city government itself.  Who is to blame? Prosecutors, police officers, and city attorneys all contributed to this terrible situation. Ultimately, Mayor Verner is to blame for failing to put on the brakes.

We elect a strong mayor because someone must ultimately take responsibility for the actions of city employees.

A federal trial will begin soon to decide if a Spokane police officer is guilty of using unreasonable force on Otto Zehm.  A jury will decide. But we already know that Mary Verner and the bureaucrats at city hall are guilty of wasting time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in a vain effort to keep the facts from coming out.

The mayor needs to show leadership and stop hiding her head in the sand. She cannot look at everything through a lawyer’s narrow legal perspective. According to the news reports, I believe Treppiedi should be dismissed immediately.

When I’m mayor, I will insist we have a strong and independent police ombudsman even if it means re-opening contract negotiations with the guild.

Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

Follow Jonathan online: