- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006

Recalled mayor of Spokane dies

SPOKANE, Wash. — Former Mayor James E. West, recalled from office over an Internet sex scandal, died yesterday at a Seattle hospital of complications from recent cancer surgery. He was 55.

The former Republican state Senate majority leader was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003 that later spread to his liver. A statement released by University of Washington Medical Center said his family and pastor were at his side.

Mr. West became the first Spokane city official to be recalled from office on Dec. 6, 2005, ending a 27-year career in city and state politics.

Seven months after the Spokesman-Review began publishing results of a computer “sting” it conducted to track the mayor’s online activities in a homosexual chat room, Mr. West was ousted on a single charge that he used his office for personal benefit.

Democrats eyeing early Nevada caucuses

National Democrats recommended yesterday wedging Nevada between the traditional one-two punch of Iowa and New Hampshire in the leadoff nominating contests for president in 2008.

South Carolina would move up in the election calendar, too, according to plan that awaits final action next month by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Democrats envision a 2008 lineup that begins with Iowa’s caucuses on Jan. 14, followed by Nevada’s caucuses, probably on Jan. 19. New Hampshire would hold its first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 22. South Carolina’s primary probably would come a week later. The dates are recommendations from DNC staff. The changes won approval by the party’s rules and bylaws committee, whose recommendations the DNC often accepts.

Bishop OKs blessings for gay couples

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Episcopal churches in Arkansas can offer blessing ceremonies for homosexual couples, the state’s bishop said in a letter to clergy.

“It is my belief that seeking ways of recognizing and blessing faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships falls within the parameters of providing pastoral concern and care for our gay and lesbian members,” wrote the Right Rev. Larry Maze, bishop of the 14,000-member Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas.

He said the ceremonies will be local observances in each church, not approved formal rites. Arkansas has banned same-sex “marriage,” so homosexual couples will have no legal standing in the state.

36 pit bulls euthanized in Denver

DENVER — Thirty-six pit bulls confiscated from a home were euthanized last week after their owner struck a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid jail time under Denver’s ordinance banning the breed.

Denver Animal Control killed the dogs Thursday after receiving a court order, the shelter’s executive director, Doug Kelley, said Friday.

Ex-teacher admits affair with student

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A former private-school teacher was convicted of having sex with an underage student after they carried on a two-year affair that began when the boy was 15.

Janelle Marie Bird, 25, a former teacher at East Hill Christian School, acknowledged the affair and testified that she loved the teen. She was charged in December and found guilty Friday.

The teen testified that he had loved Bird. But when a defense attorney asked him whether he still loved her, the 16-year-old responded with, “Uh … nah.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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