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Doug Clark: Council campaign fortune could be better spent

It takes a lot to shock me after nearly 40 years of journalism.

I once had to conduct an interview while standing next to a charred corpse that lay among the scattered wreckage of a plane crash.

Another time I interviewed a sheriff as he searched the pockets of a bloated and blackened body for ID.

Then there was the time I had to sit through an entire Gallagher performance and write a review.

Took weeks to get over that nightmare.

What I’m saying is that I thought my professional experiences had made me jaded and calloused to the point of being, well, shockproof.

Then I picked up the paper Wednesday morning and read the following:

“The two (Spokane) council races have drawn a combined $412,000 in campaign funding, making them the most expensive council campaign in city history …”

It was all I could do to keep the hot Starbucks Verona I was drinking from exiting out my nose.

We’re talking about 400 grand and change being pumped into Jon Snyder vs. John Ahern and Michael Cannon vs. Candace Mumm.

This is the most colossal waste of money since the San Diego Chargers signing of Ryan Leaf.

The Spokane City Council, after all, was the basis for that popular expression “bumps on a log.”

Look, don’t mistake me for one of those sissy reformers who go around harping about the evils of money in politics.

Of course there’s money in politics.

Nobody ever bought an election with just hugs and handshakes.

Remember the first Washington governor’s race between Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi?

The contest was ridiculously close, but it looked like Republican Rossi would squeak out the win.

That is, it did until the Democrats “found” just enough uncounted ballots from felons and dead people to rob the election.

Pulling off a fraud of such beautiful magnitude probably cost a fortune. But it was money damn well spent.

On the other hand, spending a sheik’s ransom on a couple of two-bit council races is embarrassing.

Have these fool donors ever been to a meeting?

I doubt it.

They’d be screaming for a refund if they had.

I’ve attended enough council meetings to know that it doesn’t matter in the end who fills the chairs.

Oh, sure, the winners always come in with grand plans to annex this or redesign that.

Then something tragic begins to happen after a few months.

Maybe being exposed to too many flag salutes and mayoral proclamations sucks the life out of the poor souls.

Or perhaps having to listen to disjointed, off-the-wall testimonials from the same attention-starved lunatics week after week is to blame.

Whatever it is, these once fresh-faced council members start to wilt and wither like unwatered cabbages. Some of them affect nervous habits, like twitching or uncontrollable sobbing.

Gone are the big dreams.

And everything stays the same.

According to our story, the electioneering money has come from a variety of concerned union thugs and pro-business bullies.

But it’s such a waste. Consider the following better ways to spend $412,000 in Spokane …

• 179,130 whammy burgers at Dick’s.

• 123,600 Tombstone pizzas at Rosauers.

• 206,000 carrousel rides at Riverfront Park.

• 750,000 guitar picks at Hoffman Music.

• 117,714 pairs of rented bowling shoes at Lilac Lanes.

• 82,400 pitchers of beer at the Checkerboard Tavern.

• 5,421 nights at Al’s (Spa-Tub) Motel.

• Your name written 1,000 times* in my next column.

(*Please use the contact information below to arrange when and where to bring your cashier’s check.)

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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