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Editorial: Commissioner Clark’s Corner Cafe 


By Kristen Hackbarth and Bob Conrad

Remember when many people couldn’t figure out what to post on social media so they just posted photos of their food? Washoe County Commissioner Mike Clark still does that, but it’s not because he’s a Facebook novice. It’s his style of activism. 

Since being elected, Clark has repeatedly said in commission meetings that he’s a big supporter of senior citizens and would like to see the county improve the atmosphere and services at area senior centers. Specifically, he wants to see improvements to the food. Those lunches are offered Monday through Friday for a $2 suggested donation for those aged 60 or older. 

Clark has repeatedly said the food is terrible. He bases his reviews on evidence gathered from eating at local senior centers several times each month as part of his Lunches with Seniors effort. His collection of photos includes images of plates with “mushy” vegetables, “greasy” meatballs and multiple preparations of chicken patties. He sometimes brings measuring cups to show portion sizes, which he says are too small. 

He’s also eaten at senior centers in nearby counties to see how the competition stacks up. If you’re wondering, Douglas County apparently serves delicious meals. Their salads use fresh spinach. Their dining room was packed the day Clark went in early March of this year.

Commissioner Mike Clark’s Facebook post.
Washoe County Commissioner Mike Clark takes to Facebook to review food served at area senior centers.

We’ll agree that the photos of the meals Clark has eaten at Washoe County senior centers aren’t terribly appetizing, and it’s not because he can’t take a good photo. Clark’s photo of a homemade lunch of saltine crackers and sardines makes the simple meal look like it was professionally styled. Washoe County’s meals could definitely use some plating and presentation help, and we agree that if you’re going to serve fish sticks there better be tartar sauce. 

Some of Clark’s criticisms are based on his own perspective, not necessarily that of the low-income and disabled older adults who rely on the county for food. As County Manager Eric Brown has noted, the meals need to be low in sodium and sugar based on senior nutrition guidelines. Makes sense. The portions are also on the small side, but for people who aren’t as active as they may have been in their prime, they’re probably not too far off from appropriate. And his complaint about canned green beans? A lot of people eat canned green beans.

Disagreements aside, we admire Clark for his commitment to the issue and his willingness to try and put himself in others’ shoes to see how the services they’re provided do or don’t stack up. Perhaps his next adventure will be sleeping at the Cares Campus.

That’s doubtful, however, as his recent visit to the campus with private investigator Tom Green led to hurt feelings all around, a threat of arrest, a still-ongoing dispute over property boundaries, a trespass threat that was rescinded and uncertainty over whether the sheriff’s office has any documentation about the incident. 

Green last week was still trying to get public records county officials strangely deny exist. 

“With a straight face, are we to believe that not ONE communication occurred that mentioned either myself or Clark following this incident? Not one text on a county phone? Not one [Microsoft Teams] message? Not one secure communication?” Green wrote.

Like him or not, Clark appears to be the only county commissioner not buying officials’ narratives hook, line and sinker, which, as an elected official, one might assume is a reasonable approach. While his questioning is often performative, he, unlike the other commissioners, at least asks questions rather than chronically advancing and protecting Washoe County PR narratives that are also performative — and incomplete.

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