- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2000

Scandals help defeat L.A. district attorney

LOS ANGELES District Attorney Gil Garcetti lost his bid for a third term as voters overwhelmingly chose Steve Cooley, ending a tenure that was tarnished by the Los Angeles police scandal and lingering resentment over the O.J. Simpson case.

Mr. Cooley, a longtime prosecutor who rose through the ranks and now heads the DA's welfare fraud division, said one of his top priorities will be to "get this justice system back on track."

With virtually all precincts reporting, Mr. Cooley had 64 percent of the vote to 36 percent for Mr. Garcetti.

Charges that police officers lied under oath and framed suspects have forced the district attorney to dismiss about 100 convictions. When Simpson was acquitted of murder in 1995, Mr. Garcetti was accused of micromanaging the case to its doom.

U.S. voter turnout tops 50 percent

Just over 50 percent of the U.S. voting-age population turned out to cast a vote in Tuesday's general elections, an electoral expert said yesterday.

Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, said his calculations showed a nationwide turnout of 50.7 percent, or 104.5 million people.

This was slightly higher than the 49 percent he had predicted before the poll.

Mr. Gans, who is attached to George Washington University, said that while the figure represents a 1.7 percent increase over the presidential election of 1996, it is still about 25 percent lower than turnout for the presidential races of the 1960s.

Controversial judge wins Alabama post

Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who made headlines a few years ago with his refusal to remove a copy of the Ten Commandments from his courtroom walls, was easily elected chief justice of the state Supreme Court Tuesday, winning by 878,668 votes (55 percent) to Democrat Sharon Yates' 727,653 (45 percent).

"I hope, by leadership and example, to restore the moral foundation of our law and establish a correct understanding of the Constitution of the United States," Judge Moore said yesterday.

He plans to take his Ten Commandments plaque with him when he moves to Montgomery, the state capital.

Judge Moore, 53, was criticized by his opponents for overly concentrating on religious themes. But other judicial candidates from both parties followed his lead in using religion in their campaigns, according to the Birmingham News.

In 1995, Judge Moore was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for not only displaying the Commandments behind his bench but also for opening court sessions with prayer. The case went to the state Supreme Court, which refused to rule on it.

Minnesota city scraps Jesse Ventura's name

The people of Ventura, Minn., have voted to take back their tribute to Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Voters there elected Tuesday to rename their fledgling city St. Augusta only six months after they named it for the grappling governor. St. Augusta is the traditional designation for the area 40 minutes north of the Twin Cities.

Of the 1,360 ballots cast, 946 almost 70 percent favored the change. Turnout on this contentious issue topped 80 percent despite a light snowfall.

The change is expected to be made official when the City Council meets Nov. 21.

Hartford dismantling ancient sheriff system

HARTFORD, Conn. Connecticut's centuries-old sheriff system is on its way to being dismantled.

With 32 percent of precincts reporting unofficially, 66 percent of voters cast ballots to abolish the system, while 34 percent voted to retain it.

If the office of county sheriff is erased from the state Constitution, deputies and special deputies will be moved to state control.

Gov. John G. Rowland made abolishing the 334-year-old system a key priority nearly two years ago.

Critics of the system have charged that it is riddled with corruption and patronage.

Ohio candidate loses twice

WAYNESVILLE, Ohio Waynesville Mayor Charles Sanders lost twice on Election Day.

Not only did the Democrat lose his bid to unseat Republican Rep. Rob Portman Tuesday, he was recalled from his mayoral post by voters in this southwest Ohio hamlet of 2,400.

Mr. Sanders, 53, serving his second term as mayor, upset residents when he accused the Police Department of racial profiling stemming from the arrest of three black men in a traffic incident last February.

His foes called for his resignation, but when he refused, they launched a petition drive that led to Tuesday's recall election.

Mr. Sanders is one of only three adult blacks living in the town.

Drunken driving costs Bush votes

George W. Bush's arrest for drunken driving in 1976 cost him some votes, exit polls suggest.

More than a fourth of voters said news of Mr. Bush's arrest for driving under the influence was somewhat or very important to their vote. They were about four times more likely to vote for Vice President Al Gore.

"I really don't like the fact that Bush had a DUI. It's not like he was a kid he was 30 years old," said Cathy Dodge of Sparks, Nev., who voted for Mr. Gore. "There's no excuse."

But about half of voters said the charge of driving under the influence was "not at all important," and they strongly favored Mr. Bush.

Transition office waits for president-elect

The computers are ready, staplers too. The support staff is poised to support. Now all the transition office for the president-elect needs is a president-elect.

The government has a home all ready for the administration-in-waiting, complete with a hodgepodge of surplus furniture in an office building two blocks from the White House.

June Huber, director of the General Services Administration's effort, had expected the office to open for business yesterday morning.

Instead, she called representatives of George W. Bush and Al Gore to diplomatically "let them know that GSA would be deferring." In other words, "we wouldn't be providing the space to anyone until the election results were clearer."

She said the candidates' representatives were "perfectly understanding."

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