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LEAVITT VOWS NOT TO PLAY ANY POWER GAMES

Gov. Mike Leavitt said he's staying out of any conflicts over control of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee and leaving it to the trustees of the 2002 Winter Games to choose who should be in charge.

Leavitt said he has opinions about who would be the best choice, but unless the selection process goes "seriously off-track," he's keeping them to himself."If a political leader in my situation were to weigh in at this point, it would mean I wanted to run the Games, and I don't think that's appropriate or wise," the governor said in a Deseret News interview Friday.

Leavitt said he believes the trustees, whom he and Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini are appointing jointly, will make the right decision. "I will step in if necessary. But I'm confident (the process) will work," the governor said.

"It very well may be the most important decision those trustees make, (selecting) the person or persons who are going to guide the Games on a day-to-day basis."

The choice appears to be between Tom Welch and Frank Joklik.

Welch has led the effort to bring the Olympics to Utah since 1985, leaving a lucrative position as a corporate attorney to serve as the volunteer president of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee.

Joklik has chaired the board that oversees the bid committee since its creation in 1991. He retired as president and chief executive office of Kennecott Corp. in 1993.

Both are reluctant to discuss the issue of who should head the 2002 Winter Games, although Welch acknowledged Friday "there's a little bit of elbowing going on, but not of the magnitude that's being talked about."

Welch said he believes the question of who's in charge will "be resolved with no surprises. I don't think there'll be any changes in the role I'll play," describing it as president and chief executive officer.

Joklik, he said, will still be chairman of the board. The two men are getting along fine, Welch said, blaming gossips for stirring up stories of rivalry. "I'm starting to feel the pressure," he said.

The governor said that the current, corporate-like structure has worked. "You can't argue with the fact that it's been successful," Leavitt said. "We got the Games, and we were under budget."

But, he added, that doesn't mean it can't be changed.

"The question is if it's the right organization to sustain over the next seven years," the governor said. "That doesn't mean what we have now isn't workable. But there's always room for improvement."

Although the organizing committee trustees have already met once since Salt Lake City was picked as the host of the 2002 Winter Games in June, all of the members have not yet been named.

Leavitt said he and the mayor met for two hours last Wednesday to discuss their remaining appointments. Six trustees are up for reappointment, and up to seven more spots are open on the board, limited by law to 30 members.

Those positions should be filled within a month, the governor said. He and Corradini have already appointed former House Speaker Nolan Karras and Salt Lake Community and Economic Development Director Michael Danielson as trustees.