- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Souter’s property

A businessman has asked the town of Weare, N.H., to seize the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter in order to build a hotel and museum on the property.

Logan Darrow Clements on Monday faxed a request to Chip Meany, Weare’s code-enforcement officer, seeking to start the application process to build a hotel at 34 Cilley Hill Road, the site of Mr. Souter’s home.

Justice Souter’s vote in the Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

Mr. Clements, CEO of Freestar Media LLC, said the town would gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Justice Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called the Lost Liberty Hotel, would feature the Just Desserts Cafe and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America, Mr. Clements said. Instead of a Gideon’s Bible, each guest would receive a free copy of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

Mr. Clements said the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site, being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

“This is not a prank,” Mr. Clements said. “The town of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter, we can begin our hotel development.”

Reid’s court picks

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid yesterday endorsed Republican Sens. Mel Martinez of Florida, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Michael D. Crapo of Idaho as possible Supreme Court nominees, should a vacancy occur.

“If you want names, I’ll give you names. I think Mel Martinez is a good name, Mike DeWine, Mike Crapo are three that come to my mind,” the Nevada Democrat said in response to reporters’ questions.

Mr. Reid said he has made those suggestions to the White House, and that he has also backed the idea of looking outside of the judicial system for possible nominees to the high court.

When asked whether President Bush should also consider Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who was on the Texas Supreme Court for seven years, Mr. Reid didn’t seem as enamored.

“I’ve told you the three that I think he should consider,” Mr. Reid said.

PBS and Playboy

Some House Republicans are not happy with a new PBS documentary about sex education that was funded, in part, by the Playboy Foundation.

“The Education of Shelby Knox,” which premiered June 21, is about a 15-year-old Texas girl who pledges to refrain from sex until marriage, but becomes an advocate for sex education that teaches teens about contraception and condom use. The teen also fights for a homosexual-heterosexual student alliance in her school.

The House Republican Study Committee put out a one-page document arguing that there is false information in the movie, and noting funding comes partly from the Playboy Foundation. The PBS Web site lists a number of groups that provided funding for the movie, including the Playboy Foundation.

House conservatives are also sending a letter to PBS asking for details on the exact nature of the link between PBS and the Playboy Foundation, sources said.

A 70 percent majority

Seventy percent of Americans would have no objection to posting the Ten Commandments in government buildings, and 85 percent would approve if the Commandments are included as “one document among many historical documents” when displayed in public buildings, according to a survey conducted for the First Amendment Center.

The State of the First Amendment survey, conducted since 1997, samples the American public’s opinion each year on a variety of First Amendment issues.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday on two cases, from Kentucky and Texas, concerning Ten Commandments displays. In a case involving Kentucky courthouse displays, it said county officials crossed a constitutional line and were, in effect, endorsing religion even though other documents were added. But in the Texas case, the court approved an outdoor display where the commandments are part of a larger exhibit on the grounds of the Statehouse that recognized the history of the nation’s legal system and religious heritage.

‘Duke’ subpoena

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed documents from a California congressman related to the sale of the lawmaker’s home to a defense contractor, who quickly put it back on the market and eventually sold it at a big loss, the Associated Press reports.

The subpoena issued to Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham was disclosed by his attorney, K. Lee Blalack, in a brief statement that did not specify what documents were being sought. The AP cited a person “familiar with the subpoena” as saying it involved the home purchase.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego declined to comment. Mr. Cunningham, 63, has said that he showed poor judgment in selling the house, but said he acted honestly.

The former Navy fighter pilot and eight-term Republican congressman sold his home in November 2003 to Mitchell Wade, a campaign contributor and close friend, for $1.7 million. Mr. Wade put it back on the market soon after and sold it for about $1 million in October 2004.

Mayor appeals

Attorneys for James E. West, the mayor of Spokane, Wash., who is accused of offering city jobs to men he met in a homosexual online chat room, are appealing a judge’s ruling allowing a recall-petition drive to proceed.

Mr. West, former state Senate leader and opponent of homosexual rights, has denied any criminal or unethical conduct and has rejected calls to resign.

“The citizens of Spokane deserve to know why I have decided to appeal,” Mr. West wrote in a letter submitted to the Spokesman-Review newspaper. “Simply put, it is because the charges are false, and the ballot statement they would vote on was improperly prepared and is prejudicial.”

Spokane resident Shannon Sullivan filed recall documents in May, shortly after the Spokesman-Review published a series of articles suggesting Mr. West sexually abused two boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

The newspaper also said Mr. West offered city jobs to men he met in a homosexual online chat room. The recall petition, which accuses the mayor of misfeasance, focuses on that accusation, the Associated Press reports.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com

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