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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Clark: Council’s last gasp evokes past pungent pranks

I’d like to extend rare Clark kudos to lame-duck Spokane City Council members for adhering to that tried-and-true American tradition of screwing over the incoming political opponents.

This sort of sour-grapesmanship dates back to our Founding Fathers, when President John Adams left the presidential bed short-sheeted for Thomas Jefferson.

What I’m talking about occurred in council chambers last Monday night.

Spokane’s soon-to-be-obsolete council members – led by Council President Joe “I’m not Crazy, Dammit!” Shogan – decided to freeze union wages for half of City Hall’s work force until the next visitation of Halley’s Comet.

(According to astronomers, that celestial event will take place about mid-2061, which, coincidentally, is also the projected completion date for the north-south freeway.)

Getting back to the council …

Rhetoric aside, the wage freeze was approved mainly to annoy and frustrate Spokane’s incoming one-term mayor, David Condon.

Condon, you see, is rumored to have more conservative leanings than outgoing one-term Mayor Mary Verner.

Political analysts base this on “little tells” like, oh, the 80 bazillion bucks the Republican Party pumped into the Condon campaign.

Plus the fact that Verner still wears the love beads she got at Woodstock.

The November election caused a similar psychic shift in the council, which, come January, will become slightly to the yahoo right of a Montana militia.

Appalled by the prospect of such a radical realignment, Spokane’s current crop of tree huggers and commies decided to freeze the paychecks of union workers so Condon couldn’t renegotiate and put them all on minimum wage.

This sort of skulduggery is why I love politics.

My only problem is that our homegrown politicians never get creative enough.

Shogan & Co. need a lesson on the “scorched mirth” method of payback.

This is not to be confused with the brutal wartime strategy of scorched earth. You know, when victorious soldiers would burn down the homes and infrastructure of the vanquished.

In contrast, scorched mirth calls for, say, toilet papering all the homes and infrastructure of your enemies.

Take, for example, the time I exited a newspaper job some eons ago.

Before leaving, I filled the pompous publisher’s candy dish with joke store garlic candies and taffy that, when chewed, would cause the consumer’s mouth to foam like a rabid pit bull.

Impressed by my parting shot, however, a certain sports writer decided to take scorched mirth to a much darker place.

This guy really didn’t like the publisher.

So after giving his notice, he crept into the publisher’s office late one night like a Watergate burglar.

Using tools, he set about quietly dismantling the posh executive desk and placing a pound or two of fresh doggy-do in the spaces deep inside.

(He wore rubber gloves, of course.)

Back went all the nuts and bolts and drawers, returning the desk to its impressive former condition.

Word has it the publisher went a bit insane in attempting to solve the sudden mystery of why his lovely glass-walled office now smelled like a kennel.

Now I’m not suggesting that Shogan and his council mates stoop to such canine lengths.

There are plenty of mature and intelligent ways to confound the coming of Condon.

Removing the “C’s” from all City Hall computer keyboards, say.

Or fusing the mayor’s hand phone to its cradle with super glue.

In a few weeks Condon will take the oath and slide behind the desk in Verner’s former office on the seventh floor of City Hall.

We’ll all know Shogan read this if Condon’s first official words as mayor are …

“Lord! Who let the dogs in?”

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