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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Mary, Mary, you’ve become quite contrary

Listen up, gang. I’m looking for volunteers to make cookies, cupcakes and zucchini bread for our first (and hopefully last) Mary Verner Bake Sale.

We need to raise $140,000. That’s a lot of scratch, I know.

But if we don’t reach our goal, well, I’m worried we’ll never get the ex-Spokane mayor off our backs.

Verner wants 140 Gs in back pay even though she voluntarily agreed to cap her mayoral salary at about $100,000 a year for her four years in office.

City’s response to Verner: No soap!

I know what you’re thinking.

I, too, was under the impression that Mayor Mary’s paycheck gesture was a selfless act for the good of Spokane’s financial well-being.

“I have to set an example from the top to cut back,” she said last year, “so that other people can keep their jobs and deliver services.”

Inspiring! Magnanimous!


What we didn’t know was that this Vernerosity came with the following fine print:

“Offer good only if re-elected.”

That didn’t happen. The mayor somehow managed to blow the enormous lead she won in the primary and get thumped by David Condon in the general election.

So now we’re being dunned like a Mafia loan shark.

One of Verner’s last mayoral moves was to issue a formal request for the aforementioned uncollected pay from the last two years of her term.

Is she really this strapped for cash?

Or is she motivated by bitterness from losing the election?

I won’t venture a guess. But it does seem a bit telling that she wanted the money delivered in bags of small, unmarked bills with nonsequential serial numbers.

Aw, don’t be mad at her.

Verner, alas, is a politician.

We can only hope scientists will one day identify the genetic flaw that compels some human beings to say and do virtually anything for votes.

Pray for the cure, people.

For now, however, there is only one safe move.

Pay the woman off.

Be done with it, that’s what I say. Who knows what’ll happen if we hold out. I sure don’t want to be around when the leg breakers show up to collect.

The city’s bean counters turned her down, and there’s a precedent to consider, I suppose.

Give free money to one ex-mayor and it’ll only be a matter of time before Dennis Hession, John Powers and the ghost of Jim West show up with their greedy mitts out.

The bottom line is that the city is too broke to pay.

Verner should know. Heck, she was behind the wheel when the S.S. Spokane plowed into the iceberg.

Holding a citywide bake sale is the only viable solution.

If that doesn’t work, well, we can always mortgage the Clocktower.

Not to be nostalgic, but I prefer to remember the good old days with Mayor Verner.

You know, before she turned into the sore loser who took nearly a week to concede the election and then made this galling attempt to get back money she had philanthropically forfeited.

I miss that classy, gracious person. The one who came downtown and sang “Proud Mary” with me during Spokane Street Music Week.

Who knows?

Maybe she’ll accept installment payments – say 20 bucks a month. If so, she might come back next June and croon again.

If it happens, Tom Keefe, the longtime local Democrat who raised eyebrows by endorsing Condon, emailed me some clever new “Proud Mary” lyrics for the former mayor to sing.

Lost a good job in the city.

Mayor of Spokane every night and day.

But I never took all the money I was offered.

Worried how the voters thought it looked.

Turned out in November.

I suddenly remember.

Pay me. Pay me.

Pay me what you owe me!

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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