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Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Hession at the MAC: right man, right place

By Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

Look at the big brain on Dennis Hession.

Word broke this week that Spokane’s most recent ex-mayor has been appointed the new interim CEO of our Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture – commonly known as the MAC.

It’s a rare thing when an out-of-office politician summons up the courage to give honest work a try.

It’s also quite refreshing to see a former Spokane mayor step right into another visible civic role. Most of our ousted mayors (and Lord knows we’ve had a slew of them) tend to vanish quicker than flatulence at a stockyard.

John Powers, for example.

I swear the guy blew town before the last primary ballot was counted.

The museum is a natural place for an ex-mayor. So many antiques wind up there, anyway.

One of my co-workers pointed out that this is not the first time Hession has been associated with the acronym MAC.

“Hell,” wrote my friend in an e-mail, “he was MAC at City Hall – Mollify, Acquiescent and Capitulate.”

I would have gone with “anemic” for “A.” But there are enough current disappointments going on at City Hall. No need to dwell on the bitter past.

I’ve always been a patron of the local museum scene.

When I was kid I had no choice. About every month or so, my mom would drag me down to the Cheney Cowles Museum, which made no sense because the exhibits never seemed to change.

I remember staring at the same musty artifacts, butterfly collections and rocks – a whole bunch of rocks.

Then, when I was 12, my opinion that museums were boring changed drastically.

It happened on a trip to Chicago. My parents took me to the Field Museum and I recall coming face-to-face with the leering skeletal remains of some giant prehistoric creature.

I almost wet myself.

I went away thinking how lucky I was. That’s right. Lucky enough to live in a town like Spokane, where there was virtually no chance of ever being exposed to anything so educationally terrifying.

The MAC has come a long way since the drab old Cheney Cowles days, of course.

Not long ago I went to a MAC exhibit that featured artwork by some clod named Monet. It wasn’t bad. Although I think if this Monet character sprung for an eye exam and some bifocals his paintings would be a lot less blurry.

As Hession steps in, the MAC’s attraction of the moment is “Samuel Colt: Arms, Art and Invention.”

This show features scores of rare and vintage guns.

Don’t worry, though. Much like Hession’s last campaign, there’s no fear of anything explosive occurring.

I’d like to contact Hession and see if he could exert his influence and persuade the MAC curators to put together an exhibit I would call: “Spokane One-Term Mayors: A Retrospective.”

This city goes through mayors like popcorn at a Cineplex. As a result, we tend to forget the accomplishments of our failed leaders.

A MAC mayoral retrospective would be a huge draw.

I’m talking about showcasing historical items like Powers’ plan for a City Hall rooftop garden. And Ron Bair’s stunning collection of powder blue leisure suits.

The Jim West laptop would be available in a special rubber-coated interactive room.

Hession, who was appointed after West was recalled, could donate that expensive and controversial city efficiency report that he got from a hoity-toity consulting firm.

I wouldn’t dream of excluding Mayor Mary Verner either.

Verner has barely been in office, so she doesn’t qualify as a one-term mayor.


But she could still commemorate her role in the recent Blizzard of ‘08 by loaning the MAC the city’s fleet of snowplows. It would be a real treat for taxpayers to be able to examine (and maybe even touch) these big, costly machines that have never been used.

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