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Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - Page updated at 02:01 PM

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Compton quitting council to work abroad

Seattle Times staff reporters

Seattle City Councilman Jim Compton said today he will resign effective Jan. 6 to pursue teaching opportunities in Romania and Egypt.

At a morning press conference, Compton, 64, said he plans to return to Romania to lecture and write about political dissidents he met more than 30 years ago as a Fulbright scholar. Some of those people, once persecuted by the former Communist regime, are now government officials themselves.

Compton also said he will lecture at the American University in Cairo, Egypt about broadcast journalism and democracy and work with a friend training young journalists. Before being elected to the council in 1999, Compton was a television correspondent for NBC and PBS.

Compton called the foreign jobs "remarkable opportunities" and said "each of them alone would be the chance of a lifetime." He insisted he was not bored with his council job, and said the opportunities arose after conversations with old friends.

Under the city charter, the remaining members of the council will have 20 days after Compton's resignation takes effect to appoint a replacement. If they can't decide on a replacement by that time, the council is required to meet each day and vote until a decision is reached.

The person who is selected will have to stand for election at the next municipal election.

Compton called fellow council members Tuesday night to tell them of his decision.

Councilwoman Jean Godden said she was "shocked" to hear the news from Compton. But Godden said Compton "seemed quite excited" about leaving. "Once a journalist, always a journalist," said Godden, a former Seattle Times columnist.

"I'll miss him. I think Jim's thoughtful," Councilman Richard McIver said. "He's done a lot of hard work on a lot of our water-quality stuff, as well as our broadband issues."

Compton was elected to a second four-year term in 2003. Earlier that year, he paid a $3,000 fine for two violations of the city's ethics code.

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Compton was cited for accepting a free trip to an NBA game aboard a private jet owned by billionaire Paul Allen and failing to disclose that he met with representatives of a strip club seeking a zoning change.

That ethics stain seemed to stunt Compton's political career. Before it, he was seen as one of the more forceful council members and one who enjoyed a good reputation from his years as a reporter for KING-TV.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174

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