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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Mayor steps out, into world of uncertainty

Mayor Mary Verner must be tired of media events at City Hall. And we in the local news media are grateful she’s willing to leave the fairly bland backgrounds at Spokane Falls Boulevard and Post Street and take the show on the road.

During the big snowfalls, the mayor was wont to hold press conferences outside the buildings from which the plows and sanders were dispatched. Last week, when talking about problem bus benches, she headed out to Monroe and Indiana, to hold forth on the topic in front of a couple of bus benches.

But that meant Verner had to deal with the basic law of press conferences in the wild, which is: When a gaggle of news cameras tends to draw a crowd, stuff happens.

Stuff like citizen Dave Parisia, a self-proclaimed bus rider, sitting on the benches in question and telling her removing them would be a waste of money.

Or citizen Dave Schmitt complaining in the background during the press conference that city bureaucrats never listen to the public and wondering why there’d been no notice of changes to bus benches (not strictly true, because the city’s been talking about this, at various public venues up to and including the City Council, for some time).

Or four members of the City Council – an impromptu quorum, which one could argue required public notice – showing up on the sidewalk to see what Verner had to say, and offering their opinions when asked by the assembled media.

Or several high school students dashing across Monroe, dodging traffic to ask if it was true the mayor was here. When told it was, one asked: “Which one is he?”

Told that the mayor was actually a she, the student leaned forward to ask if the mayor was the 20-something woman behind him. No, he was told, that’s a television reporter; the mayor is the woman about 10 feet in front of you, talking to the intense guy with the beard. Unfazed, he ran back across traffic, returned with a friend and a camera, and asked to have his picture taken with the mayor.

She obliged, of course.

So if some mom in Spokane gets a picture of her son with the mayor in a nice frame today, she might, after saying thank you, ask just one question: “Why weren’t you in school on Monday morning?”

Speaking of Mother’s Day

A survey arrived last week from Adecco Group (self-described as the world’s largest “provider of human resources solutions”) on most-admired “celebrity” mothers. They surveyed working moms, working dads and working nonparents, and the most admired celebrity mom for all three was:

Michelle Obama.

It seems her public image has recovered nicely from a year ago, when she was caricatured on the New Yorker cover as a fist-bumping radical Angela Davis wannabe.

No. 2 for working men and working nonparents was Sarah Palin (who finished sixth among working moms). She, too, has recovered from last fall’s characterization as a moose-shooting shopaholic Tina Fey clone.

No. 3 for men and nonparents, and seven for moms, was Hillary Clinton. She’s apparently recovered from the crocodile-tear shedding teller of tall tales about her time on the tarmac in Tuzla.

So it would seem that times change, and so do perceptions.

On the Web

Spin Control appears on the newspaper’s Web site, at www., with daily items, comments from readers and video offerings from around the Internet. Mayor Verner’s press conference generated comments, as did last Sunday’s column on changes to the way Washington could award its Electoral College votes. Among last week’s better videos are a Democratic spoof of Republicans using a “Survivor” theme, a high-energy plug for National Prayer Day (which was Thursday) and a send-up of the national media’s fascination with Barack Obama’s first 100 days.

It’s called the Worst 100 Days, and features several presidents who started very badly.

Spin Control is written by Jim Camden, who can be reached at (509) 459-5461 or
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