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: So begins Straub’s grace period

Frank Straub has taken the oath to become Spokane’s new police chief, and already the department is running like a stolen Rolex.

No innocent civilians have been shot, shocked or shivved.

No officers have been sacked for misbehavior.

And the Police Guild has not given Straub any votes of no confidence.

True, Straub has been chief only four days.

But compared to the last administration, four scandal-free days is like a vacation in Maui.

With everything looking so rosy, I thought I’d give the new chief a hearty welcome to the hot seat.

You may recall that I was somewhat jaundiced about Straub during the rigged nomination and phony interview process.

I suspected that Mayor David Condon had handpicked the Indianapolis director of public safety and then greased the skids so Straub’s hiring would be inevitable.

As it turned out, however, I was completely …


Sorry. This is not the appropriate time or place to thump my chest and remind everyone how I called the Straub shot like Babe Ruth called that homer.

Was Straub my chief choice?

Frankly speaking, naw.

I’m a traditionalist. It made more sense to hire someone who didn’t need cop lessons before we could call him chief.

I feel the same way about proctologists, too. I’d rather they get ALL their training in before they slip on the rubber gloves and say, “Howdy, Doug. Long time no see.”

But I digress.

Straub is the chief. Period.

And like any job-hopping, middle-aged career bureaucrat, Straub deserves a fair and unencumbered chance to screw things up.

Or make things better.

That could happen, too.*

(* Although this is Spokane, remember.)

And so today I’m making a public vow to lay off Chief Straub* for the next six months.

(* Offer not valid in the event of acts of gross ineptitude, public disgrace or fisticuffs with underlings.)

Who knows?

Maybe Boy Mayor is right. Maybe Straub is the Magic Man who can make the SPD a BFD.*

(* Best Freakin’ Department.)

On the other hand, if Condon is wrong he’ll find out what that Curse of the One-Term Mayor is all about.

But don’t worry. There are plenty of other civil service issues to exploit during the Straub grace period.

Take the fate of Jon Sprague.

The Spokane Valley fire captain was fired Monday for repeatedly sending out Christian messages on his department email account.

Man, they’re pretty touchy over in the Valley.

It could have been a lot worse. Sprague could have been mass-emailing corny jokes.

And compare this to Spokane.

The last firefighter we canned, that I recall, was that louse who got caught snapping nudie photos of a 16-year-old girl in the firehouse.

That guy could have used some of Sprague’s holy mailings.

To be honest, I prefer the Bible-thumping crazies to all the other kooks who flood my electronic mailbox daily.

Just today, for example, I had to wade through several dozen garbage* emails, including: a free money offer from the China Trust Commercial Bank, a sales pitch for some “revolutionary new men’s underwear,” and a list of pumpkin pie recipes.

(* There were several emails from my editors, too. But I leave them unopened figuring the less I know about work, the better.)

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

More from this author