Local government officials want to garner more influence in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games by putting one of their own on the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's executive committee.
Last month the Utah League of Cities and Towns passed a resolution recommending that league executive director Kenneth Bullock, already on the SLOC board of trustees, be made a member of that body's executive committee. Now, various local entities are sending letters to Gov. Mike Leavitt urging him to abide by the resolution.The executive committee is basically a steering committee for the board of trustees that discusses issues before putting them before the full board for a decision. Trustees can also empower the executive committee to take action on their behalf between meetings.
The Salt Lake County Commission sent a letter to Leavitt last week, the Salt Lake City Council planned to send one Wednesday and other municipalities are expressing similar views.
"I just think it's important to re-emphasize the importance of the Olympics to local government," said County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi. "(Bullock's) voice representing all of local government would really be good. . . . We really do have some particular concern about the Games."
Local city governments, Salt Lake in particular, have expressed frustration at what they perceive as their lack of input into the process of putting on the Games. Bullock's appointment as a trustee, the locals feel, isn't enough.
"As the agenda of SLOC has grown, more and more decisions are being made in the executive committee without having the voice of communities throughout the state represented," the league resolution states.
Locals note that Utah cities gave up $30 million in sales tax revenue to build the Winter Sports Park and are financially affected in other ways. "Cities have a significant financial stake in the Olympics," said Rick Davis, spokesman for Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan.
The organizing committee's board of trustees decides whether to add new members to the executive committee, but the bylaws state that the governor and Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini, who jointly appoint most of the 33 voting trustees, must agree on any additions to the executive committee membership.
The original executive committee members required in the bylaws are the board chairman, the governor and the mayor or their designated alternates, and the five members of the U.S. and International Olympic committees. Those currently are SLOC Chairman Bob Garff; Nolan Karras, the governor's designee; the mayor; U.S. Organizing Committee President Bill Hybl; USOC Executive Director Dick Schultz; and the three International Olympic Committee members from the United States: IOC Vice President Anita DeFrantz, Jim Easton and George Killian.
There are also two other voting members, banker Spence Eccles and utility executive Verl Topham, and several ex-officio members including the organizing committee president and the Utah Sports Authority chairman.
All board members can attend executive committee meetings, but the meetings are not open to the public - the organizing committee is considered a private entity and not required to follow open-meeting laws.
That fact rankles the Salt Lake City Council. In a draft of its letter to Leavitt it urged him to have the organizing committee issue meeting agendas and background material earlier than it does now.
"Doing that would be one small way of allowing public discourse on issues involving the organizing committee," the draft letter states. "We believe public deliberation instead of public reaction to issues involving the Olympics will go a long way."
The Salt Lake City Council has continually grumbled about not being involved enough. Concurrently with the letter to Leavitt it is sending a letter to Corradini complaining about her support for giving President Frank Joklik a vote as a trustee. Council Chairwoman Deeda Seed and others have said they're miffed that Corradini supported the action without consulting them.