Spokane City Hall

The Loneliest Floor in City Hall

The seventh floor of City Hall is an increasingly lonely place. How did Mayor Condon get into this mess? He’s neck-deep in scandal with his head corked-back just trying keep his nose above water. Like an episode of Lost, the more you watch the more questions you have. Without a doubt, Condon is in trouble. The best sideways compliment you can say at this point is: “at least he was smart enough to cover it up until after the election.” Because of that, he’s still got a puncher’s chance. The question is, at the risk of mixing cultural metaphors, are we dealing with Micki Ward, or Glass Joe?

When you’re at the top of the pyramid and article after article is published that point to a chain of contradictions and misinformation and the scandal grows deeper and deeper, what is Mayor Condon to do? If those damn reporters would just stop requesting public information, maybe this whole thing will go away?

The months to come will test Mayor Condon’s quality, to be sure. If he survives, he will be worthy of being called the first two-term mayor in modern-day Spokane. If he fails, he will be worthy of being called the first recalled two-term mayor in modern-day Spokane, and thus Condon’s legacy will be nothing more than a punchline in a Doug Clark column.

Simply from an observational standpoint, it’s fascinating that Mayor Condon and Theresa Sanders have managed to make a series of blunders that, in sum, have achieved the exact opposite of what they were trying to accomplish. It’s really quite astonishing — instead of quietly putting their brooms away after sweeping a sexual harassment complaint underneath the carpet, they are now part of a deep and complicated Mexican stand-off that includes, among others, the two best (and most aggressive) litigators in the region.

People are going to get paid on this one, and they will be paid handsomely.

Until this morning, it appeared the first check was going to be written to one Michael Hogan – Mayor Condon’s hand-picked investigator to sort out where all the blame is going to fall. Preempting the public record with your own hand-crafted wrist-slap is an interesting maneuver, I just prefer that Mayor Condon (and Theresa Sanders) spend their own money on it, not mine. Thankfully, City Council stepped in and insisted upon an independent investigation.

And while we’re on the subject, if he has not physically worked at City Hall since his removal and, from all appearances, is not producing any actual work products, can we take Mr. Straub off the payroll, please?

The funny thing is that, at least to date, Mayor Condon has not accepted any responsibility (much less given an apology) for the scandal, which makes guys like me consider a bit of game theory; that is to say: I wonder if Theresa Sanders is worried that she will become Mayor Condon’s scapegoat? Conversely, I wonder if Mayor Condon is worried that he will become Theresa Sanders’ scapegoat? Somebody is going to have to take the blame for this, right?

Thus, not only do we have the drama of the scandal yet to unfold, we also get to watch a game of chicken between Mayor Condon and Theresa Sanders. Politics is a cold hearted business, and those that point the blame first tend to control the discourse that follows. Condon and Sanders know this all too well, which is why they preemptively attempted to control the “investigation” into what happened.

But if the process of scandal management continues to slip through their fingers, and it becomes ever apparent that it’s every person for themselves, and in the last desperate throes of trying to salvage power, when does Mayor Condon throw Theresa Sanders under the bus? When does it click, “it’s me or her.”? Conversely, when does it crystalize within Sanders’ mind that “it’s his reputation or mine.”? Certainly, she has a contingency plan in the event Mayor Condon moves to place all the blame on her?

When does trust start to break down? When does doubt creep in? The seventh floor of City Hall must be a lonely place.