Spokane mayor again refuses to resign
By Nicholas K. Geranios
The Associated Press
Monday, May 23, 2005
SPOKANE — Spokane Mayor Jim West today again denied allegations that he molested two boys decades ago, and rejected a demand by local business leaders that he resign for the good of the city.
In his first public comments in two weeks, West apologized to residents, apparently for trolling a gay web site. A former conservative state legislator who opposed gay rights, West denied using city-owned equipment for visiting that site.
"I have said before and I repeat again that the allegations that I molested young boys over 20 years ago are entirely false," West said at a brief news conference outside his office. "I have never had improper contact with a child."
West said he intends to serve the remaining 2 1/2 years of his term.
West did apologize to residents for at times using "poor judgment in my private life." He did not elaborate, but he had earlier acknowledged visiting Gay.com and said he had relations with adult men.
West again refused to answer questions from reporters.
About an hour before his news conference, business leaders in this city of 200,000 demanded that West resign. The Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce and Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau acknowledged that West and his business-friendly policies had been good for the city.
But they said the West situation is now distracting efforts to improve the community.
"There are over 50 CEOs on the chamber and CVB's boards and they have told us that they would not have their jobs today if they had done what Jim West has already admitted to doing," the groups said in a joint statement. "We believe that the community needs a new CEO."
"Instead of selling Spokane, we are defending it," the statement said. "We believe that it is in the best interest of our community that Jim West resign as mayor."
On May 5, The Spokesman-Review newspaper began publishing a series of stories that included accusations that West molested two boys in the 1970s when he was a deputy sheriff and a Boy Scout leader. West has denied those accounts, which were given by two convicted felons with drug problems.
West has acknowledged seeking dates on Gay.com, and the newspaper reported that he offered gifts, favors and jobs at City Hall to lure young men.
The FBI is investigating whether West improperly used his political office and city resources.
West, 55, on Monday denied offering jobs to anyone for personal gain.
"I have not used the Internet inappropriately while in City Hall or on city time and I have not used the city e-mail system inappropriately," he said.
West, who noted that he has undergone surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer since he was elected mayor, ticked off a list of civic accomplishments while in office, and said over 100 city employees have urged him to stay on the job.
"I intend to serve out the remainder of my term," he said. "When all the investigations are concluded, I expect to be exonerated."
Only a recall petition and public vote can remove him from office. One resident is pursuing a recall petition.
John McKay, the U.S. attorney for Western Washington, will direct a preliminary FBI investigation into possible federal criminal violations by West. Jim McDevitt, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, asked to be recused because he is a friend of West.
The city is conducting its own investigation into allegations that West violated city policies
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company