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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Wayward snow toss will cost you

In the latest example of your busybody government at work, Spokane’s City Council has decided to make outlaws out of we citizens who dare toss snow into the streets.

Weird. I don’t remember snow fines being promised by any Council candidates during the recent campaign season.

But in a 5-1 vote, the council ruled to charge homeowners 52 bucks for acts of slushy defiance.

Well, bring it on, plowboys.

I’ll come clean. I’ve been known to throw snow into the boulevard now and then.

And I liked it.

That’s because it was usually after some renegade plow jockey turned the Clark driveway into the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

So no cheesy fine is gonna scare me.

Besides, who’ll enforce this snow job?

Cops don’t have the manpower to catch burglars, let alone bust a shoveler with a wayward aim.

Maybe Mayor David Condon and his council mates will form a special Spokane Flakes Unit and prowl the neighborhoods with citation books in hand.

Well, come and get me. They can have my snow blower when they can pry my frostbitten fingers off the handle.

Yeah, I finally broke down and bought myself an actual gas-powered snow thrower.

It’s pretty good, too. If I set the tosser at just the right angle, I can almost spew snow onto the sidewalk all the way across the street.

That’s probably a violation of several snow ordinances.

Political sources tell me these new rules were passed at the urging of street department officials who were extremely bored due to the wimpy winter we’re having.

I don’t know if that’s true. But if they want to do something constructive, they’d come up with a berm alternative.

Every time we get pounded by blizzards, city plow crews start piling whatever they scrape up (snow, frozen chunks, slow panhandlers …) right into the middle of practically every street in the downtown business core.

What a mess.

If the snow keeps up, these abstract ice mounds start rising up like the Himalayas. I once saw John Roskelley planting a flag on the summit of this enormous berm near the Paulsen building.

Here’s a question.

What is it about winning an election that turns seemingly normal human beings into intrusive know-it-alls who want to control the most niggling aspects of our daily lives?

Take the last mayor, Mary Verner. Remember when she came up with that idiotic scheme to regulate lawn watering?

When a homeowner got to douse his grass depended on this complicated formula that involved his astrological sign and whether his house had an even or odd number of unwanted houseguests.

I could never figure it out.

But why can’t these snoops just let us water or shovel as we see fit?

I’m not saying I’d be any different.

Vote me into office and within a week I’d try to legislate my own pet peeves.

Like waiting for an elevator. I’d love to make it a felony for anybody to push an up or a down button that is already lit.

The Elevator Redundancy Act, I’d call it.

My point is that candidates sure love to talk about the virtues of smaller government when they’re running for office.

Once elected, however, these big talkers start passing laws like bunny rabbits passing pellets.

And it all rolls downhill on you know who.

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

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