Former borough mayor's photo stolen, returned after porn plea

Associated PressMay 2, 2012 

An empty hook marks the spot where former Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor Jack Shay's portrait was hanging before sometime Monday morning, April 30, 2012, in Borough Assembly chambers in Ketchikan, Alaska. The photograph was stolen after he pleaded guilty to charges of possessing child porn.


KETCHIKAN -- Ketchikan Gateway Borough officials are weighing what to do with a photograph of former Mayor Jack Shay after it was stolen from its spot alongside pictures of other mayors, then put back up and removed again due to complaints, after the 80-year-old pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.

The photograph was pulled from the wall in the Assembly's meeting room and temporarily put into mothballs Wednesday.

That was two days after Shay entered his plea to seven counts of possessing child porn.

Shortly after the plea, an aide to U.S. Sen. Mark Begich stole Shay's photograph off the wall.

The aide, Bob Weinstein, a former city of Ketchikan mayor, admitted to taking the photo, Borough Clerk Kacie Paxton said. Video surveillance narrowed it to a few people entering the chambers, and she says he confirmed taking it.

Weinstein, who works in the same building as Assembly officials, did not immediately comment when reached by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

He faces no disciplinary action at work.

"While our office doesn't condone Bob physically removing the photo himself, his employment is not impacted," Julie Hasquet, a spokeswoman for Begich, D-Alaska, said in an email to the AP.

Shay's photo was returned to the wall Tuesday, as first reported by the Ketchikan Daily News. But that act prompted so many angry phone calls to the borough clerk's office and Assembly members that current Mayor Dave Kiffer decided it was time for a cooling-off period.

He ordered the photograph taken down Wednesday morning until the Assembly has a chance to decide its fate at next week's meeting.

"Obviously there's a hole in the wall now. We need to figure out how we want to deal with that," Kiffer told the AP.

Shay was a longtime public official who served stints as mayor for both the city and borough.

He was a member of the Ketchikan City Council when he was arrested in November. Police said he took his computer to a repair shop and employees found child pornography on it.

He had been charged with 91 counts of possession of child pornography but agreed to a plea deal Monday. He pleaded guilty to seven counts and in exchange, prosecutors dropped 84 charges and called for a sentence of 35 years in prison, with 18 suspended.

Sentencing was set for Aug. 3.

This isn't the first time Shay's photo has been stolen from the gallery, which included portraits of every mayor since the borough began electing one in 1975. The Ketchikan Daily News reports it disappeared shortly after his arrest, but it was found behind cookie sheets in a small kitchen just off the chambers.

People began calling shortly after Shay's arrest to have the photo removed, Kiffer said.

Kiffer's reply was that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"Now that the legal system has taken its course, it's time for us to have a community discussion whether the photograph should be there," Kiffer said.

There are numerous concerns over the photograph, including the possibility that a victim might see it while attending an Assembly meeting. Seeing his face also stirs up the deep-seated anger, sense of betrayal and extreme disappointment caused by his actions. Kiffer says those are feelings he shares with many in the community.

Part of the discussion going forward could include finding a way to note Shay's historical service besides having a picture hang on the wall.

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