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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: A lawmaker of a higher caliber

Nothing says “Welcome back from vacation, Doug” like a Road Rage Republican.

So thanks to whoever gifted the newspaper with court documents about the firearms violations that were issued to Matt Shea after the Spokane Valley legislator’s dustup with another driver last November.

Yeah, I realize this hubbub’s a bit long in the tooth.

But you learn to settle for whatever you can get in this game.

The sad truth is that we’ve been in a dry spell as far as ill-behaving politicians go.

It’s a cyclical thing, I believe.

A few years ago, for example, we were up to our fedora feather in GOP cross-dressers, toilet stall toe-tappers and city council psychos.

It was a glorious time to be a columnist.

Then something really disturbing happened: Many of our elected officials started behaving responsibly.

Too many, if you ask me.

Take Spokane’s Boy Mayor, David Condon.

The guy made headlines the other day by turning his office into a G-rated chat room.

“It should be easier to contact the mayor and (for me) to get back to you,” said Boy Mayor.

Well, ring-a-ding ding!

Condon isn’t the first Internet chatter we’ve had leading the Lilac City, of course.

That would be Jim West, who got caught using his mayoral computer for trolling gay chat rooms and arranging a date with a high school lad.

Like I said, those were the days.

The point is that our legislative landscape has had a bad case of the blahs until this Shea debacle showed up.

If you read our Sunday story then you know that Shea is running for his third term in the 4th District. Now in some places, being linked to a road rage incident might be construed as a negative for a candidate.

Nonsense. Packing heat in your pickup is a vote-getter in Spokane Valley.

Plus Shea’s got that macho made-for-TV name appeal.

Every time I hear it I think of …

“Matt Shea: Private Eye.”

Or …

“Matt Shea: Sasquatch Wrestler.”

Boy, wouldn’t that make for a great show?

Shea’s opponent, Amy Biviano, isn’t blessed with such a high-caliber show-biz moniker.

That said, “All About Dough with Amy Biviano” could work on the Food Channel, I suppose.

But getting back to Shea and his difficulties. The politician supposedly went for his gat last fall during a manic moment with another motorist.

Shea’s mouthpiece, Bob Cossey, claimed his client’s roscoe wasn’t loaded and, besides, it was the other dude who was all in a lather.

“Matt doesn’t keep a loaded gun in his car,” huffed the lawyer in the paper. “He has small children.”

Good to hear.

Leroy Norris, the other involved party, said he honked at a pickup after the vehicle cut him off on Monroe.

The driver, he said, gave him a one-fingered salute and also pointed a handgun at him, causing Norris to speed away like a scalded gibbon.

Like most insanity, you probably had to be there to know exactly who did what and to whom.

Shea later admitted to pulling his iron.

He also told a police officer that he “thought he was being targeted because of his work.”

Those last nine words may be the craziest thing in this whole crazy tale.

Out of the entire area, I’m betting only a handful of people could tell you who the heck Matt Shea is and what office he holds.

And those would be Shea’s relatives.

Shea does tend to get a bit hysterical now and then.

Earlier this summer, he actually claimed to be the victim of a hate crime after finding that four of his campaign signs had been spray-painted with swastikas and the words “Vote No.”

Hate crime?

A more likely scenario is that the signs were vandalized by some delinquent dork with a spray can.

Anyway, the good news is that the lone charge Shea wound up with – “having a loaded pistol in his vehicle without a valid permit” – will be dismissed next January.

So long as he doesn’t go brandishing his blunderbuss at anyone, that is.

By then the election will be history.

Rep. Shea will continue to lead Washington to further greatness.

Or Citizen Shea will find himself out of office and reading my script for an exciting new TV pilot.

“Matt Shea: Have Gun; Will Unravel.”

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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