West recall effort survives latest challenge
October 04 2005 12:00 AM ET
superior court judge has ruled in favor of proponents of an
effort to recall Spokane, Wash., mayor Jim West, tossing out
a petition that sought to invalidate a large signature
drive. On Friday, Chelan County judge T.W. Small
tossed out a petition filed by Spokane lawyer Steve
Eugster, a former city councilman, who had sought to stop
the signature validation process.
Eugster argued the signatures were collected
illegally because they were gathered before the state
supreme court issued its written reasons for allowing
the recall campaign to proceed.
The high court on August 24 issued an order
affirming a lower court's ruling that recall petitions
could be circulated, but Eugster contended that
signatures couldn't be gathered until the justices put their
reasons in writing. "I'm pleased. Justice prevails
again," recall sponsor Shannon Sullivan said after
Small's ruling. She appeared at Friday's hearing on
her own behalf.
Sullivan told Small that she "had heard a lot of
legal technicalities today," but for a person without
a law degree it appeared the supreme court's August 24
order was in fact a decision. Small agreed, saying it
was clear to him that the high court order was a decision.
Also on Friday, Spokane County auditor Vicky
Dalton said her office has passed the halfway point in
validating the 12,567 signatures needed to qualify the
recall for a mail-in ballot. Proponents of the recall
submitted 17,343 petition signatures on September 21. Dalton
said a mail-in election would likely be scheduled for
The recall campaign was prompted by articles in
The Spokesman-Review newspaper that accused
West of offering City Hall jobs, professional game
tickets, and cash to young men he met in an online gay
chat room. West has acknowledged poor judgment but denies
doing anything illegal. He has not been charged with a
crime, but the FBI is conducting a public corruption investigation.
petition specifically accuses West of abusing his office by
offering to help a man he thought was an 18-year-old obtain
a City Hall internship in exchange for sex. The chat
room participant was actually a computer expert the
newspaper hired to track West's online activities.