by ROBERT HEROLD & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & o the City Council chooses as its seventh member Michael Allen, the former EWU assistant athletic director and all-around good glad-hander. I wasn't all that surprised. The two culprits on Council -- I refer to Al French and Brad Stark -- knew what they were doing, and in the end must have seen Mr. Allen as the lowest common denominator candidate. They obviously sought from the first salvo to neutralize Richard Rush's election victory by winning through French's corrupt appointment process what they lost at the polls. I say "obviously" with some confidence: Had their motives been pure they would have supported Joe Shogan's deliberative approach and waited until Culprit No. 2 -- that would be Ol' Brad -- was off the Council and the legitimate spokesperson for District 2, Richard Rush, had been seated.
Actually, I suspect they didn't exactly get who they wanted. Either of the two real estate salesmen who made the finals would have been closer to the interest-group bull's eye; but perhaps both of these candidates, even to them, seemed a tad too transparent. Stark, who said he wouldn't vote, then said he might, then did, has indicated that without his vote the South Hill would not have had any representation -- which, of course, because of his vote, it didn't get anyway.
So, our very own Our Gang Comedy cast made the safe choice: Allen, a self- proclaimed know-nothing. The term "politically undefined" doesn't quite capture Mr. Allen's nonexistent qualifications. Knowledge of growth management issues? Nope. Neighborhood Council work? Nope. Civic work? Nope. Relevant education? Nope. Police? Neighborhood associations? Issues on the South Hill -- Bernard Street trees? Big box stores? Poverty? Halfway houses? Parks? Nope squared.
After reading his letter and application, I immediately awarded him my coveted "Vacuous Candidate Award." Here's the topper, what won it for him: "As for representing District 2, I have a unique experience. In the past 20 years I have lived on West 10th Avenue, East 26th Avenue, West 24th Avenue, West 18th Avenue and now on West 29th Avenue."
Can you believe it? The man apparently believes that past home addresses and qualification for office are synonymous. And, what's worse, the gang of four was actually impressed by this mindless drivel!
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & o review the sordid mess, here's where things stood at the beginning of Monday night's festivities: With little or no vetting (they intentionally left themselves no time) the so-called Council search committee had arbitrarily and capriciously reduced the list of 26 candidates to eight. That the Council intended to ignore election results was made clear by their list of finalists. Case in point, the previously mentioned realtors, both college dropouts who had little serious civic experience. Others could come up with little more than promising to keep an open mind.
Placing the likes of the unqualified Michael Allen and the two salesmen on the list of finalists meant that any number of highly qualified candidates had to be summarily dumped. By way of dramatic contrast, let us compare one dumpee's resume with Mr. Allen's non-resume resume. I refer to John Covert. Covert, a Washington Department of Ecology hydrogeologist (B.S., University of Michigan; M.S., University of Utah), is one of the brightest people I've ever met: A relentless empiricist, a person of impeccable character, Covert personifies integrity. What's more, unlike Allen et al, Covert has actually made a difference in the community, a big difference. It was his volunteered research that destroyed the city traffic engineer's assertion that Spokane had to have the Lincoln Street Bridge. More recently, Covert produced the most telling criticism of Mayor Hession's rush to make a mess of Bernard.
We watched unfold here the Al and Brad show. I've suspected all along that French has been looking for a way to get even with District 2 after it gave him that dismal 20 percent of the vote in the primary election. Were he a disinterested and fair-minded person, having been so drubbed, he could be expected to approach his selection responsibilities with a sense of modesty, humility even. Nope. Instead, Al ramrods through his pernicious fast-track process, thereby managing, at worst, to disenfranchise the district with the highest voting turnout in the city. No doubt his campaign backers approved.
About Lame Duck Brad: After informing a breathless public that he had prayed about the course of action he should take, Brad announced last week that he would defer to Richard Rush. But then God spoke again: "Brad, I've made a mistake; you must participate, it is your duty -- and besides all your backers are counting on you. They have a couple of realtor shills for you to consider and would be pleased to see either on the Council."
So instructed, Brad reconsidered. Challenged by a frustrated Joe Shogan, Stark shouted obscenities. Having no doubt prayed some more, the next day, he apologized -- just in time to help steal the 2007 election by voting for the unknown and unqualified Michael Allen. Brad, we counted on you doing something just like this and you didn't disappoint.
It seems clear that we are left to depend entirely on Mayor Mary Verner to protect us from the Council. Obviously we can't count on elections.