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Archive for Sunday, December 4, 2005

Spokane mayor facing recall

Newspaper exposed gay Internet chats

December 4, 2005

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— Mayor Jim West, a former Boy Scout executive and sheriff's deputy, says he no longer engages in gay sex and has stopped visiting Internet chat rooms.

"I wish there was a rewind button," he told The Associated Press. "Basically, that's what I'm asking the public for: a second chance."

However, polls indicate a second chance isn't likely when voters decide Tuesday whether to recall West from office.

He was caught in a newspaper's sting operation in which he offered a city job to who he thought was an 18-year-old man he met in a gay chat room on the Internet.

The young man was actually a ruse created by The Spokesman-Review to track the mayor's online activities. The newspaper has published more than 175 articles, editorials and columns accusing West of pedophilia and of using his city-owned computer to look for dates with men in cities he planned to visit.

West, 54, has acknowledged having relationships with young men but denies doing anything illegal. No charges have been filed but the FBI is investigating.

Polls indicated 60 percent of registered city voters would vote to recall the once-powerful Republican state senate leader.

"People just want to get it over with and move on," said Lance LeLoup, a Washington State University political science professor. "Spokane has been ready to move on since within a couple of weeks of this thing breaking."

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