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Column updates: Spokane ‘angel’ helping with recall effort

Sun., Oct. 24, 2010

The recall effort against Coulee City Mayor Rick Heiberg has moved one step forward – with an assist from an old recall hand in Spokane.

Shannon Sullivan, who led the petition drive to recall Spokane Mayor Jim West in 2005, has thrown her support behind the recall effort in Coulee City. Jennifer Schwartz, one of the organizers there, called Sullivan “our new friend” in a news release issued last week.

“She has used her knowledge to help our little town,” Schwartz said in the release. “I have nicknamed her ‘Coulee City’s guardian angel.’ ”

Schwartz, a former City Council member, and former city clerk Lorna Pearce filed a complaint against Heiberg alleging 11 ethical or legal violations, ranging from improper use of city property to destruction of public records. On Oct. 15, a Grant County judge ruled that two of the allegations were sufficient to allow a recall effort to proceed: the charge that Heiberg improperly spent city money on a $15,000 truck, and the charge that he destroyed city records.

The judge’s ruling does not speak to the credibility of the charges; just that they would be legally sufficient to allow Heiberg’s opponents to collect signatures for a recall. State law allows a recall for acts of mis- or malfeasance or violating the oath of office – essentially illegal or improper activity.

Heiberg acknowledges making a mistake on the truck purchase but denies the other allegations. He purchased a truck for the public works department without council approval; after the council refused to cover the cost, he bought the truck himself.

He says he’s been the victim of a campaign mounted by political opponents. Schwartz is a longtime resident whose father resigned as city superintendent under Heiberg; Pearce was fired as city clerk and has sued the city and Heiberg over it.

Schwartz said they’d need about 80 signatures to put the recall on the ballot, “but we will likely get more.”

UI’s Cosmo finalist

Luke Howarth, Idaho’s entrant in the Cosmopolitan bachelor of the year contest, fell just short of the title in New York City earlier this month.

But he still felt like a winner.

“It was amazing,” Howarth said in an interview Friday between his first-year law classes at the University of Idaho. “My first trip to New York – it was very exciting.”

Howarth made the Top 3 out of 51 bachelors and went through a round of interviews with editors at the Hearst Corp. in New York. The winner was announced at a big party Oct. 12.

Part of the fallout from his appearance in the contest – which asked people to vote for their favorites online – has been a lot of e-mails from admirers.

“Some are, ‘I want to meet,’ ” he said. “Some, ‘I want to talk.’ Some, ‘I have a question about law school.’ ”

Howarth’s not ruling anything out, but he prefers meeting in person.

“I’m not really into meeting people on the Internet,” he said. “I’ve heard too many bad stories.”

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or

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