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James Evans

Salt Lake County Republican Party chairman James Evans has asked the Salt Lake City Council to reprimand Mayor Rocky Anderson for the use of the word "slavish" in an anti-war rally speech last week.

Evans sent a letter Wednesday afternoon to his district councilman, Carlton Christensen, asking for the council's censure of Anderson. Evans wants the council to "take action" regarding the comment and Anderson's use of the city's Web site to post his speech, even though Anderson has stated his participation in the protest rally was not an official mayoral function.

Evans, who is black, said Anderson's comment during his Aug. 30 address at Washington Square, in which he referenced Evans by name, was racist and "out of bounds." Evans first complained about the comment the day after Anderson made the speech.

"I have no doubt it was purposeful," Evans said in a phone interview Wednesday. "Anyone he disagrees with or has disdain for, he's not above trying to offend them."

Evans is also concerned that Anderson's use of city personnel to respond to press inquiries and to set up interviews regarding the "non-official function" was inappropriate. He is asking the council to determine whether any additional and unauthorized city resources were used toward publicizing the rally.

"It's just a misuse of city resources for the mayor's political agenda," Evans said.

The council does not plan to discuss the letter and it is not on the agenda for tonight's meeting, council chairman Dave Buhler said.

Christensen said the issues deserve a more "independent review."

"The council's perception of the issues would just add to the politics of it," he said.

However, Christensen agrees that the city's Web site is not the appropriate outlet for Anderson's personal opinions. He said he plans to direct the letter to the city attorney, who has already asked the city's Web master to remove the speech.

"We've always given (the mayor) that right as a person. He certainly has the right for personal expression," Christensen said.

The speech was removed from the Web site late Friday, at the behest of the city attorney, but it has since reappeared on the site without notice to the city council, Christensen said. Evans name does not appear in the printed version of the speech on the Web.

In delivering the speech at the anti-war rally, Anderson said: "So James Evans and these folks who financed this massive radio campaign these last few days, let them understand that blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism. A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president."

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Anderson did not return a telephone call Wednesday evening seeking comment on Evans' request to the city council. In an e-mail last week regarding the accusation, he said Evans' complaint stems from an ongoing disagreement between the two.

"I didn't even refer to James or the Republicans who financed the recent radio campaign against dissent in my written speech but was moved while delivering the speech to make reference to them because of their partisan support of this disastrous presidency," Anderson wrote.

However unintentional the reference may have been, Evans still feels he was the target of a racial remark.

"He singled me out, and when he mentioned my name, it told me I was definitely on his mind," he said. "He knew what he was doing. He always retaliates."

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com