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Doug Clark: Condon, not taxpayers, should cover cost of Straub fiasco

Humor columnist Doug Clark COLIN MULVANY The Spokesman-Review_2009 STAFF MUGS (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

So ousted Spokane police Chief Frank Straub thinks the city should pay him 4 million bucks to soothe his bruised and battered ego.

All right. I don’t see a problem with that.

As long as Mayor David Condon picks up the tab, that is.

We taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay Straub a dime.

The mayor got us into this Straub mess. The mayor should get us out!

To recap current events …

Straub is cheesed about the cold, cruel way he was pushed out of his chief’s job late last month. At issue were his explosive leadership style and personnel moves involving two women transferred out of the SPD.

Now it’s not as if Straub was kicked to the curb. The guy was reassigned to the city attorney’s office – and with his full bloated pay, I might add.

If I ever get run out of the newspaper, I’m betting they wouldn’t even let me help on a delivery route.

Anyway, in his claim Straub basically says that he was in fact fired and pretty much treated like dirt.

But it could be a lot worse.

I’ve read a lot about celebrity breakups in the National Enquirer while standing in checkout lines at some of our better grocery stores. Usually, the jilted party wants some insane amount like $100 million plus custody of the Chihuahua.

Compared to that, $4 million seems like a reasonable point for Mayor Condon to start the negotiating process to make Straub go away.

Now, the city will argue that Straub doesn’t have a case, which is the city’s first response to anyone with a complaint.

The reasoning here, however, is that Straub could be let go at any time, and he resigned.

But come on. We know how these situations go when big-shot lawyers get involved.

Speaking of which, Straub has hired Mary Schultz.

I know Mary. Trust me when I say that when it comes to the shark-filled waters of litigation, this woman is freaking Jaws.

So, there’ll be some sort of settlement, and Condon should pay up as the price for his mayoral stubbornness.

The mayor hired Straub against wisdom and advice. Straub had created all sorts of havoc back in Indianapolis, where he served as director of public safety.

The Condon-Straub attraction remains one of Spokane’s weird unsolved mysteries.

I was there when a beaming Condon introduced Straub to the public as if he’d just hired Wyatt Earp.

Then Straub stepped up to speak.

I’ve seen stop signs more animated.

But there is a lining of silver in this storm cloud. And that is that Mayor Warbucks has the dough to make Straub go.

There’s that million the mayor received in an inheritance a while back.

Factor in his re-election war chest, which at last check is bigger than the annual budget of Guam.

And don’t forget all those high-powered downtown business cronies who could donate to the Straub Settlement Fund.

They’re dying, after all, to make commerce-minded Condon the first two-term Spokane mayor since the banks accepted beaver pelts as collateral.

Because we’re less than a month away from voting, it’s in the mayor’s best interest to take care of Straub quickly.

So at no added cost to your newspaper subscription, I’ve come up with a three-step plan for how Condon should handle this.

1. Don’t waste any more potential Straub money on campaign signs and media ads.

Everybody knows that Condon is the mayor. Besides, his opponent Shar Lichty doesn’t even have a war chest. It’s more like a campaign coin purse.

2. Condon should call Straub and work out a reasonable solution, as in …

MAYOR – “Hullo, Frank.”

STRAUB – “You hurt me, David. You told me I was your CFL.”


STRAUB – “Chief for Life.”

MAYOR – “Things changed, Frankie. The police brass didn’t like you. And, hey, it’s an election year.”

STRAUB - “I hate you, David.”

MAYOR – “I know. But you only have your dark detestable nature to blame.”

STRAUB – “Do not.”

MAYOR – “Do so.”

STRAUB – “Not.”

MAYOR – “Whattaya want, Frank?”

STRAUB – “A million and three commemorative Condon Coins.”

MAYOR – “The money and one Condon Coin!”

STRAUB – “Done!”

3. Pay the man, mayor.

See how easy this can be?

After settling with Straub, Condon can then refocus on convincing all the rest of Spokane that he still has what it takes to be mayor.

Which just might be the biggest challenge of all.

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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