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Doug Clark: Let’s follow Michigan town’s lead, take pothole repair into our own hands

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 5, 2015

The subject of Spokane potholes popped into my mind the other day.

Actually, it was more like the spine-jarring “Snap, Crackle and Pop” you’d get if you found yourself motoring over a long, road-sized Rice Krispies treat.

Only this was no tasty treat.

I was driving my truck west on 17th Avenue past Lincoln Park. Which, thanks to the insatiable appetite of potholes, could now be mistaken for an overgrown goat trail.

“What the hell?” I thought as I boomed and banged along.

This was once one of our smoother South Hill thoroughfares. As a kid I pedaled my Schwinn American bike on this street, heading to the park to play baseball.

So what can we do about our pockmarked roads?

Funny you should ask.

Our leaders obviously are no help. I’ve blamed the City Council plenty and sometimes even about potholes.

Sometimes they try. Mostly they’d rather focus on more important things, like letting residents raise hogs in their front yards or turning Spokane into a leftist commune.

The course of action is now clear.

Concerned Spokane citizens need to rise up and exercise our constitutional right to bear asphalt.

I wish this were my idea.

Truth is, we have the Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Repair crew to thank for giving us a road map to better navigation.

Hamtramck is a city in Michigan, all but surrounded by Detroit.

Fed up after local government dropped the ball, citizen road repairers started patching the Hamtramck potholes.

I didn’t know Hamtramck from a ham-on-rye until two of my loyal readers sent me a link to the big pothole news that this burg of some 22,000 made late last July.

I positively loved the story, especially the fact that the Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Repair crew was born in a bar.

Jonathan Weier, a Hamtramckian (Hamtramckite?), was quoted in an online news story as saying that questions arose during a spirited pothole discussion, such as …

“Hey, how do you fill a pothole? What do you need? How much does it cost?”

One of the more knowledgeable tipplers reportedly offered that pothole patching was about as easy as filling a pint glass.

Just pour some cold patch into a hole. Pack the stuff down with a tamper. Happy sailing!

(I can confirm this, having once spent some tamping time with a city pothole repair crew.)

So 120 bucks in seed money was raised, enough to purchase 900 pounds of fill. The unauthorized street repairing began.

The ensuing national media attention took things to another level.

The guerrillas set up a site on, raising $4,475 in donations.

“AWESOME IDEA!!” wrote one supporter on the site. “There’s a huge (pothole) by my house, its deep enough for the whole wheel to disappear, they are so dangerous!”

I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking things like, what about liability? Or, won’t the city crack down on these pothole scofflaws?

Some of the guerrillas had the same thoughts.

Much to their delight, however, the city of Hamtramck was only too happy for the help.

Officials even gave maps to the resident road crew, showing what streets were being officially repaired so they wouldn’t all be working on the same crevices.

Spokane, of course, would never be so reasonable.

It’s in our civic DNA, I guess. But our leaders never met a reasonable idea that they didn’t first want to smash into submission.

Which is why we’d need to raise up an army of brave pothole patriots.

I’m talking about civil disobedient desperadoes who would descend upon our pitted byways like a flash mob in an unsuspecting shopping mall.

Shovels and tampers in hand, these grass-roots heroes could fill the voids and, just before leaving, maybe tag one or two of them with a spray-painted “SAW!”

Translation: “This pockmark patched courtesy of the Spokane Asphalt Warriors!”

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