Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hostylefax: Spokane, Wash.

Spokane is in the process of a recalling Mayor Jim West, although it's not really that simple.

About 18 months ago the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that the mayor was using his city-issued laptop to cruise and offer jobs to people he was interested in schtupping jobs in the municipal government. I imagine this is called pulling a McGreevey (CC '78), although I'd have to go back and check the timing to make sure that McGreevey didn't pull a West. But the story goes deeper.

See, the S-R didn't just stumble onto the story. In response to an anoynomous tip (from someone with the screen name MotoBrock), the paper hired a "forensic computer expert" to impersonate MotoBrock and allow the mayor to offer him a job and a chance to get poked. Now, said "forensic computer expert" had a system crash between the proposition and the copying and pasting of the chat window into Word. So the story becomes a little less a matter of proven public record and more of hearsay. There have also been accusations of child molestation (25 years ago, when the mayor was both a sheriff and, of course, a scout leader), although there have been no charges so it's probably routine homophobia. Anyway the mayor's recall election campaign strategy is to attack the newspaper. The newspaper has gone into the defensive crouch, defending its use of deception (which is indeed journalistically murky) and arguing that the gay-angle of the story had no bearing on the decision to publish.

Of course, in the end it's Spokane, so no one cares.

Here are the highlights of my weekend in Eastern Washington:
  • My flight into town landed on the second try because of the intense cloud-cover. And it was foggy from 3 p.m. Friday when I landed through 9:30 a.m. Sunday when I took off. There was so much fog during the football game I was there to cover that the school's sports information department had to send a guy with a cell phone down to the field to call up what was happening for stat purposes. Frankly, Spokane appears to be a hard enough town to navigate with perfect visibility. I mean, there are two streets that are one-way all the way north and south, except for like three blocks downtown, when they switch. So if you don't know where you're going, you'll drive into the river. Ugh.
  • My rental car had XM Satellite Radio, and I'm hooked. They have a channel called "The 90s," which for a while was like listening to 89X in my car in Detroit as a teenager. I mean, when what the last time you heard Lisa Loeb sing "Stay" on the radio? My point exactly.
  • Saturday morning, hoping to watch the Michigan-Ohio State game, I parked myself at The Screaming Yak, which advertised itself as a sports bar. It was a shitty sports bar though. At 10 a.m. I asked to watch the Michigan game, but they didn't have a satellite dish to pick up an Eastern feed of ABC, so I was stuck watching Iowa crush Minnesota. Fun. The establishment's namesake is a yak's head behind the bar with about 100 bras hanging off the antlers.
  • My flight home went through Portland, Ore., which is really one of the great American cities. Unfortunately for me, on a clear day, I couldn't leave the airport. That totally sucked.

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