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Area officials say trial damaged Clinton, Congress
Saturday, Feb. 13, 1999
by Torie Knight

    Even though President Bill Clinton was acquitted Friday, local politicians and law enforcement officials believe the president is forever marred. "In a way it is best for the country, but, on the other hand, if you hold a high position like he is, he should be held accountable to the laws of the land," said Paul Leeper, a former Washington, D.C., undercover police officer.
    Leeper had responded to the call of a break-in at the Watergate Complex on Virginia Avenue in 1972. That made him a key player in the downfall of former President Richard Nixon, who resigned instead of facing impeachment. "When you hold that type of position, to me you have to be above the law," Leeper said Friday while watching youth at the West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth. "It doesn't say much for the leaders of our country."
    Clarksburg Mayor Louis Iquinto said he has been watching the impeachment trial all along and believes the House managers trying to convict Clinton didn't prove their case. "It was basically all about sex," Iquinto said.
He quotes U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., in saying that he believes Clinton is guilty of wrongdoing, but it isn't great enough to disrupt the country by removing him from office.
    Both Byrd and fellow Democratic Senator John Rockefeller voted not guilty on both articles of impeachment.
As for morals, Iquinto wouldn't place Clinton high on the list. "I think it is terrible what he did," Iquinto said. "My God, the man is the ruler of our country."
    West Virginia University Political Science Professor Robert DiClerico said Friday he expected acquittal but believes Clinton is far from being "out of the woods." "He is a lame duck president serving his last two years in office facing a Congress controlled by the opposite party," DiClerico said. The acquittal, the professor said, doesn't take away the fact that Clinton was impeached. He will remain a blemished president. "I don't think it is going to be a bed of roses," DiClerico said.
    Bridgeport City Manager Harold Weiler called the impeachment trial "a sad scenario" of a president who did wrong and the subsequent attacks of a Republican Congress. The highest price, however, will be for the American people, the city manager said. He believes Congress should have called it off when members knew they didn't have the votes against Clinton instead of continuing to spend tax payers" dollars for the trial. "They all ought to be ashamed of themselves," Weiler said. "It makes less sense than the O.J. Simpson trial."

Governor's bill targets nude dancing
Saturday, Feb. 13, 1999
by Troy Graham

    The governor unveiled a far-reaching pornography bill Friday that could effectively end the booming nude dancing industry in the state. The Child Protection and Family Decency Act would outlaw sex acts and nudity in public places, which includes private nude dancing clubs, said Underwood counsel Pat Kelly, who drafted the bill.
    The bill does not have a grandfather clause that would exempt any clubs already operating from the law. If the bill passes, no new strip clubs could open in the state and all existing clubs would be barred from having nude dancers. "We're not trying to put anyone out of business," Kelly said. "We were just trying to make sure that nude dancing isn't part of their business." Strip clubs could either become regular dancing clubs or become ordinary bars, he said.
    A local citizens group, led by Clarksburg businessman Mike Queen, had urged the governor to enact  a law that would restrict strip clubs from operating near homes, churches, schools or playgrounds. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a similar tactic used by New York City to zone out strip clubs.
    The administration instead chose to battle strip clubs on a public decency platform. "It's the same constitutional mechanism that says you can't walk around naked in the streets," Kelly said. Other states have enacted similar laws, but Kelly did not know if they had stood up to appeals.
    Nude dancing has been a controversial issue since Senator Ed Bowman introduced legislation to regulate the industry three years ago. Bowman, D-Hancock, introduced new legislation this year. When he learned that the governor's bill would outlaw nude dancing, Bowman said, "Quite frankly, that wouldn't bother me at all."  "I have continued to receive written comments and phone calls from people in West Virginia that want to see some regulation," he said. "There's no social or economic benefit to that kind of activity."
    Bowman said he could not pledge his support for the bill until he read it, but the governor has "a good start with me."
Queen was on his way out of town Friday morning as the contents of the bill were being released. Queen said he anticipated nude dancing would be prohibited by the bill and he would be disappointed if it fell short of that goal.
    The bill would also establish penalties for providing pornography to minors or employing a minor to engage in "sexually specific conduct." Kelly did not believe the bill would affect adult bookstores as long as the material was not accessible to children.
    The governor chose to take up the issue this year after listening to the complaints of citizens who have seen clubs open up in their neighborhoods, said Underwood Spokesman Dan Page. "We have worked night and day to develop our economy and expand opportunities for our citizens, but we cannot overlook destructive forces that can erode our communities and the quality of life we enjoy," Underwood said.

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