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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Paul Turner: Maybe the next mayor candidate should come from a print newsroom

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Just about every time someone mentions the possibility of a person with a TV news-reading background running for mayor of Spokane, I have the same thought.

Why not someone with a newspaper background instead?

I can think of several S-R people, past and present, who might make decent mayors.

For one thing, newspaper people typically know a few things. They aren’t insulated from public feedback. And most do not suffer fools gladly.

Oh, I’m not suggesting those who inhabit print newsrooms are all exemplary characters. They aren’t.

But everyone who has worked at a newspaper for a few years knows about doing the job even when it’s certain that it is going to make some people mad. That, to me, seems like an attractive alternative to blowing with the political winds of the moment. Or trying to please everybody with some rah-rah booster pap.

Now, I don’t know anything about TV news. But aren’t the producers the ones who actually do the research and know what’s going on while anchors, well, as I said, I don’t know anything about TV news.

And yes, I’m aware ex-broadcasters have been active in Spokane politics before. So have print journalists, if you go back far enough.

Sometimes that works out. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Obviously, I’m biased. But the men and women I worked with in newsrooms knew the difference between the truth and a lie. Somehow that seems important these days.

I suppose if the right TV newsperson wanted to run, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. There are some good people in TV news. Moreover, not every newspaper person would be qualified to serve as mayor.

But I suspect we could do worse.

When the newspaper makes a mistake, we run a correction. I’ve always thought admitting you aren’t perfect is the first step toward embracing reality.

I guess name recognition and a questionably sincere smile count for something. But exactly what, well, you can decide that for yourself.

Minority report

It’s that time of year when Spokane-area residents who don’t care about college basketball face a choice: Cover your eyes and ears or come up with some things to say to hoopoholics.

If you opt for the latter, I’m here to help. Feel free to memorize the following conversational comebacks and use when appropriate.

“Oh, really? No, I missed that. I was, you know, working.”

“What’s wrong with you people?”

“No, I’m not at all confident about my bracket.”

“I don’t really experience March Madness, but my last white-cell count showed I still have a touch of Beatlemania.”

“No, I don’t, as you say, gotta love it.”

“Are you talking about bread and circuses?”

“I’m sorry, I’ve been too busy loathing the president.”

“When you say ‘We,’ are you imagining that you have anything to do with the outcome of games?”

“I haven’t really paid much attention since Lew Alcindor’s UCLA team beat Don May’s Dayton Flyers.”

“Is that something you thought of yourself or are you passing off an insight of John Blanchette’s as your own observation?”

“Are you speaking English?”

“Are you allowed to discuss that without prior authorization from the NCAA?”

“I mostly watch for the truck commercials and Viagra ads.”

“That college you say you’ve never heard of … do you think anybody there has ever heard of you?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, but I hope your team wins.”

End note

You might not have caught the TV series “Kung Fu” when it first aired from 1972-75. Some of us were busy blazing a trail for legal marijuana.

In addition, it could be that you never got around to checking it out even after that famous reference to the show in the often-quoted 1999 movie “Office Space.”

But “Kung Fu” offered an intriguing perspective on the 1800s experience in the American West. I wonder if its lessons might be applicable to life in Spokane today.

In a nutshell, “Kung Fu” showed us: When all else fails and the soft-spoken path of peace and enlightenment leads to a dead end, sometimes whirling roundhouse kicks to the head are the answer.

Something to think about. I mean, if you’ve ever imagined yourself as a Shaolin monk.

I’m certainly not advocating violence. But I wonder. If you have told someone time and again that it’s Daylight Saving Time – not Daylight Savings Time – and yet he or she persists in saying it wrong, would it be appropriate to go all “Kung Fu” on that benighted individual?

Just ask yourself, “What would Kwai Chang Caine do?”

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at

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