Local political leaders have as much going on right now as a three-ring circus. Make that five rings.

Olympic this and Olympic that is gobbling up more and more time among those at the helm of the state and Wasatch Front cities and counties.

It's almost getting to be all Olympics, all the time.

Take Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson. While his efforts have shifted from more time-consuming preparations to execution of plans, he finds himself much in demand since his well-chronicled pub crawl with out-of-town reporters.

Suddenly, the London Times is interested in city politics.

Anderson, city spokesman Joshua Ewing says, must be "the interview to get" for journalists covering the 2002 Winter Games. Requests are pouring in from all over the country as well as Canada, France and Japan, he said. So many, in fact, Ewing is looking to schedule group rather than one-on-one sessions.

At the same time, the mayor is conducting regular city business, though Ewing said it would be "sugarcoating" it to say that it's not difficult with the Olympics coming.

Gov. Mike Leavitt spends several hours a week prepping for the Games. Most of his time is spent devising ways for Utah to capitalize on the Games. He, too, has been in the spotlight, holding a press conference at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit last month or curling at the Ogden Ice Sheet.

Leavitt also has his hands full with the upcoming 2002 Legislature and state budget woes.

The governor and the mayor both rely on their staffs to keep them informed about Olympic plans. Both have offices dedicated solely to the Games where the real trench work is done.

Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman casts a much smaller Olympic profile than either Leavitt or Anderson, both of whom are headed to Greece this weekend for the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony. Workman is not going. She doesn't serve on any of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee boards nor does she attend SLOC meetings.

"I don't do the organizing committee thing," the first-term mayor said. "I don't know why that is."

Workman figures the change from a county commission to a mayor-council form of government might have something to do with it. She says previous commissioners apparently didn't involve themselves much because they knew they wouldn't be in office.

She said she isn't perturbed.

"I didn't run for office to get free tickets to the venues, so I don't worry about it," Workman said.

Nevertheless, the county, she said, is involved in the Olympics in a "huge way. It's taking up a huge amount of time."

Workman ticked off a long list of county responsibilities including health, security and emergency services. The county also oversees the Salt Palace Convention Center, which will become the main Olympic media center.

The Olympics don't make other pressing municipal issues go away.

"You can't let other things slide," West Valley City manager John Patterson said. "You just pick up the slack on Fridays and Saturdays, (days that city offices are normally closed). It's just part of the business. We're thrilled the Olympics are coming to West Valley City, so it doesn't bother us."

State and local administrators and elected officials say the bottom line is that they're putting in longer hours to keep things running.

Said Workman, "We'll all be exhausted when this is over."


E-mail: romboy@desnews.com