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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Bubblegum warrant beats getting chewed out by My Old Man

So the Kootenai County prosecutor has admitted that putting a warrant out on a 9-year-old who’s accused of grabbing bubblegum from a grocery store was not, um, warranted.

“I have concluded that my office’s request to have an arrest warrant issued was a mistake under the circumstances,” said Barry McHugh.

I am so relieved.

McHugh can now turn the full powers of his office back on fourth-graders who won’t do their homework and 10-year-olds who refuse to go to bed on time.

You know, North Idaho’s real criminals.

I don’t want to always sound like the crotchety old guy.

But if you don’t catch hoods when they’re young, they often will grow up to commit far worse antisocial offenses, like law school or politics.

In McHugh’s defense, however, it takes a lot of character to admit when you come off looking like a total dork.

Still, I hope the prosecutor isn’t caving in to those softies who don’t believe in arresting little kids just because the handcuffs won’t fit and cop cars don’t have car seats.

In this case, the warrant was issued after the 9-year-old twice failed to show for court.

According to Post Falls police Chief Scott Haug, the boy’s relatives claimed they had no way of getting the lad to the courthouse.

Pardon me, but does the name Uber ring a bell?

Not only will an Uber car get your sons and daughters to their court dates on time, but many Uber drivers will give them free mints and bottled water to enjoy during the ride.

Prosecutors and bench warrants never crossed my mind during my brief career as a young malefactor.

There was only one authority to fear and it was …

My Old Man.

I found this out the hard way when I attempted to swipe a toy periscope at the long-gone Ranch Market grocery at 17th and Ray.

I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old.

No budding criminal mastermind, I gazed at the display of periscopes and figured the best way to steal one was to …

1. Wait until no one was looking.

2. Stuff the thing under my pants and sweatshirt.

Unfortunately, it never dawned on me how the periscopic dimensions could interfere with a smooth getaway.

Sadly, I only managed to waddle a step or two before I felt the looming presence of the store manager.

He got me. Busted.

Even after all these years, however, I can’t believe that this adult missed his chance to utter what could have been the line of the century.

“That a periscope you’ve got under there? Or are you just happy to be shopping at Ranch Market?”

Instead, he gruffly asked me to remove the pilfered periscope and follow him into the storeroom.

At this point I would have paid him to call the cops, the prosecutor or the French Foreign Legion.

Do anything, sir. Just don’t dial my home number and ask to speak to …


My Old Man, rest his soul, said he’d be more than happy to come get the son who had just soiled the family name.

This was an era, by the way, when parents considered corporal punishment to be as much a part of wholesome American life as General Mills.

I learned my lesson, needless to say. Although to this day, I still get a queasy feeling whenever someone mentions the word “periscope.”

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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