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By United Press International   |   Dec. 1, 2005 at 6:30 AM
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Republicans to 'date' lobbyists

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Utah Republicans are at odds over a new fundraising scheme that allows lobbyists to pay to meet state house members in what's being called a "speed date."

Speed dating is a concept in which people pay to spend a five minutes apiece chatting one at a time with a series of people.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports the Utah House Republican Caucus has organized a similar event on Jan. 5, but featuring Republican state representatives and lobbyists.

Rep. Kory Holdaway called the event "absurd" and said "payment for access" isn't the right way to go about raising cash.

The lobbyist payments would go to the party's state caucus.

Kat Dayton, the organizer of the event called it "a common-man fundraiser for the common-man office."

House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Urquhart likes the idea and called it "just an excuse to get together and have a good time."

Tony Musci of Common Cause, a politician watchdog group, called the event "unseemly" but not surprising.

He said the set up may be different but called lobbyists paying for access a "standard party fundraiser."

Seattle residents most literate

SEATTLE, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Seattle is tops in the country's latest literacy poll that ranked amount of reading done by residents in the 69 largest U.S. cities.

Dr. John Miller is president of Central Connecticut State University and lead author of the third annual nationwide study.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports the city ranked second last year and attributes their rise in 2005 to an additional category for judging -- the Internet.

It looked at online book orders, the number of public wired and wireless Internet connections as well as the percentage of people who read newspapers online.

Other categories include bookstores per capita, published media in the city, newspaper circulation and education of the population.

And then there are the libraries.

Andra Addison, a spokeswoman for the Seattle Public Library system said 80 percent of residents have a library card.

She said the growth of the library system -- 2 million more items checked out last year than in 2000 -- probably helped boost Seattle to No. 1 as well.

Seattle has 24 library branches besides the Central Library.

Camera records would-be thieves

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Police in Kansas City, Mo., sought two men caught on video surveillance stealing or attempting to steal four automatic teller machines, a report said.

The ATM thefts -- at least one of which was recovered -- were accomplished late Tuesday or early Wednesday using trucks stolen from a local auto shop, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported.

Surveillance equipment at one site captured images of two men wearing hooded sweatshirts trying to take the cash machines.

No arrests were made immediately, the newspaper reported.

Court says police lockup escape no crime

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Trying to escape from a Massachusetts police lockup cell is not a crime under a loophole in state law.

The state Appeals Court ruled in favor of 38-year-old Anthony Clay, who climbed into a crawl space above the cell ceiling the Cambridge police lockup in November 1999, but didn't get far.

The three-member panel of judges said prisoners can be charged with attempted escape only if they try to flee a penal institution or correctional facility, and a police lockup does not qualify as such an institution. There, prisoners typically have been arrested, not convicted, and have not been committed to a prison or jail.

The judges threw out his felony conviction for attempted escape, but also recommended the Legislature fix the law, the Boston Globe reported.

The victory trimmed six months from the 8 1/2-year prison sentence for convictions that included trafficking in cocaine.

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