Scroll To Top
World

Court schedule could delay Spokane mayor recall effort

Court schedule could delay Spokane mayor recall effort

West_james_mayor_3

It may be months before recall petitions can be circulated by opponents of Spokane, Wash., mayor James E. West, who contend he abused his office by offering internships to men he met in a gay Internet chat room. Should West appeal the move, state election law could delay signature-gathering until at least the fall--and an election until next year.

It may be months before recall petitions can be circulated by opponents of Spokane, Wash., mayor James E. West, who contend he abused his office by offering internships to men he met in a gay Internet chat room. Should West appeal the move, state election law could delay signature-gathering until at least the fall--and an election until next year, Dep. Atty. Gen. Jeffrey Even said. Spokane resident Shannon Sullivan filed recall paperwork after The Spokesman-Review ran a series of articles last month alleging that West used his city-owned computer to enter a gay chat room and offer City Hall jobs and perks to men he met there. The Spokesman-Review also implicated the mayor in the sexual abuse of two boys in the late 1970s and early '80s--allegations he denied. West subsequently acknowledged having relationships with adult men but said his dealings with government interns were aboveboard. Benton County superior court judge Craig Matheson on Monday ruled that one charge against West--that he "solicited internships for young men for his own personal uses"--was legally sufficient to begin circulating recall petitions. But West's attorneys say he's considering a state supreme court appeal, which he has 30 days to file. Based on the wording of the state recall law, petition organizers thought he had just 15 days to file, but Even said supreme court procedure trumps the statute. An appeal of a recall petition goes directly to the supreme court, without the usual stop in appeals court, but it wouldn't necessarily be on a fast track, Even said. He studied the law earlier this year when a recall of Secretary of State Sam Reed was proposed. Hopes for a speedy signature collection on recall petitions could also be complicated by the supreme court's schedule. The court's spring session ends June 30, well before that 30-day deadline lapses, and the court is not scheduled to be back in session until September 13. Meanwhile, recall supporters will draw up petitions and wait for the go-ahead to begin circulating them. After the petition wording is studied by an attorney, organizers will file it with the Spokane County elections office and put it on a Web site in a form that can be printed and circulated, recall supporter Rita Amunrud said. The petitioners could ask the high court for an accelerated review sometime during the summer recess, but the court would have to approve their rationale. If the matter is heard during the regular fall session, elections cases do take precedence over some matters, so the court might hear the case in September if both sides are ready. But a ruling would have to be handed down by September 23--just 10 days after the session begins--to make the state deadline for the November 8 general election. "It could mean they don't get it on the ballot until 2006," Even said. (AP)

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories