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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Knezovich spoke the plain truth

Not to belabor our ongoing coverage of the homicidal loon who took off while on a mental hospital- approved field trip to the fair, but I have one more thing to add.

Kudos to Knezovich.

No kidding. I want to compliment Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Ozzie mirrored my attitude during a televised press conference that followed the Sunday afternoon capture of Phillip A. Paul near Goldendale, Wash.

And by that I mean the sheriff looked like he wanted to interrogate someone with a wet phone book for what we all had been going through while Paul was on the lam.

“I can tell you there was an extreme amount of anger throughout the law enforcement community,” he said.

Ozzie has never been the typical mealy- mouthed public official. He’s an actual leader who isn’t afraid to confront a screw-up head-on when he sees one.

What a screw-up.

That Eastern State Hospital would send 31 criminally dangerous patients on an outing to “Family Day” at the Spokane County fair still sounds more like the plot to the next Halloween sequel.

The idiocy was compounded when Eastern officials waited two hours after Paul took off to sound the alarm.

You have to ask: Who’s the nitwit running that institution?

Oops. Make that “was” running.

*Breaking News Interruption!*

A newsroom colleague just informed me that Eastern State Hospital CEO Hal Wilson has resigned.

Resigned? Damn. I was hoping Wilson would be reassigned to the Medical Lake institution’s forensic ward for a prolonged readjustment period.

But as I was saying …

I watched Ozzie’s Sunday press conference from the safety of home. The sheriff looked large and imposing on my new 52-inch high-definition Sony flat-screen.

Ozzie had just cause to be hosed.

As he pointed out, this manhunt (or would it be maniac hunt?) was a colossal waste of time, energy and money. Not to mention what we taxpayers shelled out on corn dogs and cotton candy while Paul and the other field- trippers were at the fair.

The sheriff said he plans to bill the state for the search helicopter costs and overtime for 10 deputies.

I say we take the money out of Wilson’s goodbye check. Being the incompetent head of a state mental hospital had to have paid a bundle.

But it’s great to have this disaster over with. Paul’s three-day vanishing act created as much anxiety as I’ve seen around here in years.

There’s only one question I’d like answered.

Where in the name of Charles Manson did Paul get that nasty-looking scythe that deputies found sticking out of his red backpack?

The last time I saw an implement that wicked was in the movie “Sling Blade.” Billy Bob Thornton was using it to turn Dwight Yoakam into twins.

It’s true. Sometimes life really does imitate art.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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