Most Utahns sided with Gov. Mike Leavitt in his battle with Salt Lake City Council members over whether they should have a say on nominations to the board overseeing the 2002 Winter Games.

Last November, the council attempted to force the appointment of a community activist after advocates for disadvantaged Utahns demanded representation on the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee board of trustees.The governor - who makes appointments to the Olympic board with Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini - retaliated by getting the Legislature to take away the City Council's advice and consent power over the nominees.

Forty-eight percent of Utahns responding to a statewide Deseret News/KSL poll agreed with Leavitt by opposing the City Council having approval and veto authority over appointments to Olympic board.

Just 37 percent favored giving the City Council that authority. The poll of 607 Utahns was conducted March 2 through 6 by Dan Jones & Associates and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Leavitt was clearly pleased with the poll results.

"It's always gratifying to know that the public agrees with the way issues are being handled," the governor said Thursday through his spokeswoman, Vicki Varela.

He also reiterated his argument that the Winter Games belong to all Utahns, even though Salt Lake City is the official host, because the state has indemnified the city against any Olympic losses.

"Clearly, all Utahns have an interest in a well-organized Olympics, and I will work hard to address that interest," Leavitt said.

Despite the poll results, the Salt Lake City Council still feels a responsibility for the Olympics' impact on Salt Lake City.

"Irrespective of who is indemnified, Salt Lake has a major stake in this thing. Our name is all over it," said Salt Lake Council Chairman Keith Christensen. "No one refers to the Los Angeles Games of 1984 as the California Games, or the Games this summer as the Georgia Games. . . . Salt Lake does have a vested interested."

Christensen wasn't surprised by the poll results. They reflect Utah's strong trust in its governor, he said.

Although the new law silences the council's voice in the selection of trustees, the council will stay as involved with the board as it can, council member Stuart Reid said. "We are not interested in micro-managing the Olympics operations. We never have been."

But the council is vitally concerned with fostering community involvement, keeping an eye on costs and protecting the city's reputation. "We will remain vigilant in those three areas of interest, irrespective of what others feel about that," Reid said.

Relations between Leavitt and the council are still strained. "The governor has shown some reluctance to work with us. That's disturbing," said council member Deeda Seed. She referred to him as "the man who would be king."

The council recognizes that Leavitt won the dispute over appointments, but if Leavitt doesn't diversify the board, the council will still speak out, Christensen said. "The governor says he is interested in diversity. My feeling is let's let him prove himself. If he doesn't, we clearly don't have have advise and consent authority by reason of what the Legislature did, but it doesn't mean we can't speak out. . . . If the board continues to be all male and all white, the council will have a problem with that."

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

2 new appointments expected soon

Two new appointments to the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee board of trustees are expected to be announced this week by Gov. Mike Leavitt and Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini.

The Olympic trustees agreed Thursday to allow the governor and the mayor to appoint two new members. The governor has said without the new positions, he cannot deal with concerns raised about the need for diversity among the trustees.

The Salt Lake City Council joined advocates for poor and minority Utahns in calling for better community representation on the Olympic board, sparking a fight with the governor over appointment powers.

Leavitt has said the City Council will be pleased with the new appointments but has not agreed to their choice, community activist Maria Garciaz. Corradini, who makes the appointments jointly with the governor, has recommended Garciaz.

*****

Deseret News/KSL poll

Do you favor or oppose the Salt Lake City Council having approval and veto authority over appointments to the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee?

STRONGLY FAVOR 13%

SOMEWHAT FAVOR 24%

SOMEWHAT OPPOSE 20%

STRONGLY OPPOSE 28%

DON'T KNOW 15%

Poll conducted March 2-6, 1996. 607 Utah residents. Margin of error +/-4%. survey conducted by Dan Jones & Associates.

Copyright 1996 Deseret News.