Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Don’t let bloodsucker see weakness

Words you don’t often see in a Clark column:

Great job, Spokane City Council!

I couldn’t be prouder or more impressed by the council’s unanimous decision to just say NYET to Brad Thoma, the ex-Spokane cop who was fired following an off-duty drunken-driving arrest that saw him hit a citizen’s truck and then run like a chicken.

This was not the usual City Council confab Monday night.

This was “True Grit II.”

No guns were blazing, but the rhetoric was worthy of anything Rooster Cogburn ever uttered.

“I not only say, ‘No,’ but I say, ‘Hell no,’ ” fired council newbie Mike Fagan.

I’ve heard the line before. But Fagan’s timing and delivery could get him some consideration at the next People’s Choice Awards.

This was a character-defining moment for the council, especially for those untested newcomers not even two months on the job.

All eyes were on this hot and well-publicized question:

Do we or do we not treat Thoma to nearly $300,000 in back pay and lawyer bucks, plus put the disgraced former sergeant back on the force at the reduced rank of bartender, I mean, detective?

The pressure to roll over and let Thoma’s lawyer, Bob Dunn, scratch all the council members’ tummies came straight from the mayor.

David Condon’s City Hall command post.

If we don’t hold our nose and settle, so the reasoning went, then the evil Count Dunnula will bleed the city with a $4 million lawsuit.

When that didn’t get traction, the mayor, perhaps sniffing the scent of mutiny in the air, quickly asked that the whole matter be stuck back in the fridge like unconsumed pieces of a pizza.

True, I closed my Sunday column urging city leaders to “draw a line in the grime and fight.”

Did I actually expect them to do this?

No more than I think I’ll ever see Bigfoot.

My experience spying on the rancid inner workings of government all these years has taught me that public officials are a whole lot more adept at waving the white flag of surrender.

Who knew this council would decide to open up a can of whoop-ass?

As a result, our so-called strong mayor looks mighty weak in his first ride on the hot seat.

Hopefully, he will learn from this experience.

Now that the game is afoot we can’t make any mistakes from this point on.

Sure enough, Count Dunnula made good on his threat to file a Thoma tort.

Already I’m seeing panicked people piddling themselves in dread.

And not just Mayor Condon, either.

So here’s some more free advice to the council.

Do not turn the Thoma matter over to the boobs in the city’s legal department and hope for the best.

We need an expert. We need a specialist.

We need a vampire hunter.

Yeah, I’m talking about a lawyer who comes with a briefcase full of holy water, a big mallet and sharp wooden stakes.

Take that, Count!

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

More from this author