Al French Spokane County Commissioner

Mother’s Milk

Tender are the teats of Spokane County Commissioner Al French because he is a Perkins Coie cash cow.

There’s only so much tax revenue Spokane County commissioners can spend on fixing roads, improving public safety, or anything else that increases quality of life for county residents. Alas, road quality and public safety be damned, because Commissioner Al French has a casino to slay and price is no object. As a result, the attorneys at the law firm Perkins Coie can light their cigars with Spokane County tax dollars.

For instance, the attorney “J. MacLean” of Perkins Coie charges us $685 per hour for her services. Then there’s “O. Smith” at $625 per hour, and “M. Weinberg,” the runt of the litter, at $585 per hour. Underwritten by county tax payers and at the behest of Commissioner Al French, there’s a whole sty of high-priced attorneys stumbling over each other for a chance to suckle billable hours from Spokane County.

Nuzzle up my little Perkins Coie piglets because Mama French provides all that nourishes. For instance, when she started chasing casino phantoms back in 2012, attorney “J. MacLean” charged us $490 per hour for her expertise. Today, she’s made partner and now charges us $685 per hour. (Congrats!)

Perkins Coie defies normal logic that, when you’re an attorney, the more you win the more you get paid. Nope, not in Mama French’s farmhouse. Round these here parts, the more you lose the more you get paid. Someone in the County Courthouse oughta’ ring a big cowbell before the commissioners jump on conference calls with Perkins Coie, because supper is on.

From an actuals perspective, since 2012, Spokane County tax payers have spent $902,761.55 on Perkins Coie attorney fees chasing nothing more than a specter. Based on public records – invoices from Perkins Coie – here’s an illustration of how Mama French nourishes his litter.


Al French's Milk


If you think all that milk Spokane County commissioners wasted is frustrating, buckle up because their judgment gets even worse. In early 2013, the commissioners voted to withdraw from the contract that stipulated mitigating payments from the new casino in Airway Heights to Spokane County in lieu of hunting an apparition. If Al French and the gang were still a party to that agreement, Spokane County would be splitting a cool $600k this year with the City of Airway Heights. In short order, the payment from the new casino doubles to $1.2 million annually and then it grows 3% per year until it hits $2,000,000.

Thus, not only has Mama French wasted tax money on Perkins Coie chasing a phantom, but he also snubbed his snout at casino money. If it’s Al’s goal to wallow in the mud as much as possible by way of wasting your tax dollars and not accepting incoming revenue, he can’t do any better – mission accomplished. Rest assured, Airway Heights is squeaky clean and giggling their way to the bank.

But enough about money and metaphors that center around Al French lactating and farm animals, let’s move to metaphors about pirates because there is a booty of information courtesy of the billing notes from Perkins Coie that outline all manner of hornswaggle and, you guessed it, Commissioner French is the cockswain.

For instance:

  • The Kalispels are getting screwed by Spokane County and Greater Spokane, Inc., too. With one hand, Al French conspires with the Kalispel Tribe to close a competing casino, and with the other he conspires with GSI to oppose actions of the Kalispel Tribe, such as clean air designations and fee to trust applications.
  • On numerous occasions, underwritten by Spokane County tax payers, Perkins Coie drafted questions and talking points for Representative Kathy McMorris Rogers to help prep her for important conversations throughout the casino approval process, as well has had conversations with her legislative staff strategizing about how to quash the casino. Thus, we Spokane County tax payers underwrote CMR’s anti-casino education process.
  • In 2015, attorney “O. Smith” spent about 13 hours drafting a letter to Governor Inslee regarding casino approval. At “O. Smith’s” 2015 hourly rate of $500, that’s a $6,500 letter. For that kind of money, I sure do hope Mr. Smith wrote a Shakespearean tragedy for Governor Inslee.

Turns out “O. Smith’s” $6,500 letter wasn’t any good, much less Shakespearean, because there sits that new casino out in Airway Heights. It’s one thing if the Kalispel Tribe wants to blunder into wasting their own money chasing phantoms, but it’s entirely different when Al French uses your money to do it.

The parochial ethos of Spokane’s diminishing good ol’ boy class linger heavy at the county courthouse. It’s the last public treasury they have left to protect. The real Shakespearean tragedy is Al French thinks he can quietly spend public money discouraging free market competition to protect the interests of his buddies. I’m not sure what’s worse, the fact that he spends your tax dollars actively protecting the best interests of Spokane’s good ol’ boys or the contrived and fictional pretenses he deploys to justify doing it.


Perkins Coie 2018 invoices.

Perkins Coie 2017 invoices.

Perkins Coie 2016 invoices.

Perkins Coie 2015 invoices.

Perkins Coie 2014 invoices.

Perkins Coie 2013 invoices.

Perkins Coie 2012 invoices.

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The Phantom Hunter

The Basic Needs of the Kalispel Tribe