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Doug Clark: ‘8th Man’ not exactly City Council’s biggest fan

Is the Spokane City Council ready for a brave new era of fan worship?

The signs seemed to be there Monday night. For the second week in a row, City Hall was busier than a Nordstrom half-yearly sale.

I arrived 45 minutes ahead of the banging gavel to find people milling about the Chase art gallery and signing up for chances to speak their minds.

No wonder Councilman Mike Fagan had advised me to come early or bring my own Barcalounger. Something like that.

But it looked like Jim Lippold may be right.

It might be time for our City Council to embrace what he has dubbed the “8th Man” movement.

Lippold is one of my loyal readers. He fully admits that he’s blatantly ripping off the “12th Man” phenomenon that has come to stand for lovers of the Seattle Seahawks.

I wouldn’t know, being a diehard Dolphins fan.

In Lippold’s defense, however, nobody so far as I know has used this digit device to signify citizens who find municipal government worth screaming about.

“Take all of the Seahawks’12th Man points and apply them to the City Council,” urged Lippold in an email to me.

Lippold did the math.

Six council members.

Check.

Plus City Council President Ben Stuckart.

Check.

The rest of us, therefore, would qualify as that all-encompassing 8th Man.

Or 8th Woman. I don’t want to be tagged as a sexist.

But I get it. Plus Lippold pointed out the huge marketing upside this could have on the city should this catch on.

Just like with the Hawks, for example, the council chambers could soon be equipped with decibel meters to record those boos or huzzahs that come when Council Mascot George McGrath gets carried away.

Or hauled away.

And why stop there?

A special council chambers seating section could be reserved for face-painters, costume-wearers and wavers of towels.

This could be the most fun anyone’s had with government since Julius Caesar had that unfortunate run-in with his political cronies.

Lippold doesn’t even want a kickback on 8th Man gear.

He only had one request.

“All’s I ask is a one-time column mention of my name – spelled right,” he wrote.

Now, that’s what I call a cheap date.

To get the ball rolling, I showed up at Monday night’s meeting wearing a prototype 8th Man badge.

The “8” came off an old photograph of a Matt Hasselbeck jersey that I found languishing on the Internet, much like Hasselbeck’s career.

My badge, alas, evoked only a mild chuckle from Stuckart when I showed it to him before the meeting.

Hmm.

Guess I couldn’t blame him. You may remember that last week’s meeting got so raucous that Stuckart gaveled the meeting closed and stormed out early.

That incident still on his mind, Stuckart opened Monday’s show by reminding unwashed onlookers that we’re not in Olympia or Washington, D.C.

We’re in the Peoples’ House.

OK?

Stuckart began quoting from Robert’s Rules of Odor and some other no-fun edicts. To cut to the chase, we learned that the “enforcing officer” has a duty to maintain decorum and that the council is not the place for demonstrations or banners or …

Oh. Oh. There go the towels.

Stuckart then gave us all 30 seconds to laugh, clap and get the fidgets out of our systems.

After that, we got the word that hoots or hijinks will not be tolerated. Not only might we be given the old vamoose, but it might go on our permanent records, too.

Stuckart wasn’t kidding.

A couple of times during the meeting, he stopped to warn us about “back and forth” dialogue and partisan audience laughter.

I haven’t felt so tense since high school study hall.

The meeting far from over, I slid my 8th Man badge into my pocket and decided to depart on my own terms.

Sorry, Jim. Your idea is going to have to wait until someone finds his sense of humor.

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

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