The “SPOKESMAN-REVIEW,” the paper of record in Spokane, Washington, has broken a story that the city’s Republican Mayor Jim West has a secret gay life, chatting with 17- and 18-year-old boys on line–and with a “forensic computer expert” posing as a teenager.
I don’t have time right now to detail all that the “SPOKESMAN-REVIEW” has reported. You can access the full package of their stories here. They mayor said, “My private life is my private life.” I agree with the statment. I believe a person’s private life should remain private.
Under normal circumstances, I would wonder why a city’s main paper has put as much effort as the “SPOKESMAN-REVIEW” has on a story like this. The mayor claims there is a “strong wall between my public life and my private life.” As long as he maintains that wall, it isn’t the public’s business to know about his online conversations as long as they are on a private computer on his own time.
But, it appears that, in all this reporting, there may be two newsworthy issues, one of concern to the citizens of Spokane and the other for criminal prosecutors.
The first, for the citizens of Spokane who elected him in 2003, is whether or not the mayor used city computers or city time to access gay chat sites.
The second issue for criminal prosecutors is whether or not he was involved (as has been alleged) in child molestation in the 1970s. If so, he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. West has denied the allegations. He should also be prosecuted if he used Internet chatrooms to solicit sex with minors.
Otherwise, this is a story of a man’s private life and should thus remain private.